Genesis Chapter 4
Chapter: 4 has 26 verses
Attributed Author: Traditionally Moses
Historical Context: J is attributed to an author that favors the kingdom of Judah. At the time of the writing, there are two regions known as the kingdom of Israel (E) and the kingdom of Judah (J). Probably written around 950 BCE
Theme: Story of Cain and Abel
- “Man” has sex with Eve and bears the child, Cain, through God’s help
- She next bears Abel, and says that Abel is a sheepherder and Cain a farmer
- Cain and Abel bring their offerings to God. Cain brings fruit of the ground and Abel brings the fat of “first-ling” sheep
- God approves of Abel’s gift, but not with Cain’s
- Cain is upset at God’s dismissal of his offering
- God asks Cain why he is angry and asks a question; If you do well, won’t you be accepted? If you don’t do well, “sin is lurking at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it”
- Cain asks his brother Abel to go out into the field
- Once at the field, Cain kills Abel
- God asks Cain where his brother is and Cain responds by claiming ignorance and if “he is his brothers’ keeper”
- God asks Cain what has he done and that he knows that Abel’s blood screams to him from the ground and informs Cain that he is now cursed from the ground, and that the soil will no longer give its strength and foreshadows that he will be a fugitive and a wanderer on earth
- Cain declares that his punishment is too severe and realizes that his vocation (farming) is taken away from him, he will no longer be able to look onto God’s face and that he will wander the earth a wanted man and anyone he could meet would kill him.
- God tells Cain that we will not be persecuted for his crime and puts a mark on him so no one would kill him
- If anyone violates God’s command they would have a seven-fold vengeance put on them
- Cain is sent away from God and ends up in the land of Nod, east of Eden and has sex with his wife who is unnamed
- Genealogical information follows:
- Adam ->[Cain, Abel, Seth]
- Cain -> Enoch -> Irad -> Muhajael -> Methushael -> Lamech -> [Adah , Zillah]
- Adah -> [Jabal – ancestor who lives in tents and have livestock, Jubal]
- Zillah -> Tubal-cain – made tools of bronze and iron and had a sister named (Naamah)
- Lamech tells his wives that he has killed a young man for wounding/striking him and that if God’s vengeance for killing Cain is seven fold then Lamech’s is seventy seven fold.
- Seth -> Enosh
- After Enosh’s birth, people started to invoke the name of the lord; Yahweh. This is written by R for the redactor.
- God is referred to LORD God in most translations. LORD in this case is the word YHWH so it reads as “YHWH God”
- The word for Man is Adam
- Mesopotamia has been described as the land between the Tigris and Euphrates, also as the cradle of civilization.
- I think one of the best interpretations of the Cain and Abel story is found in the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. He interprets the story as an illustration of conflicts between hunter-gatherers/herders and farmers. Farming during the agricultural revolution differed significantly from farming prior to this.
- I suspect the genealogical information is provided to describe how different peoples came about in the land of the ancient Israelites. So to them, different ways of living translated to different genealogical trees which is why it was important for them to know who did what.
- Lamech strikes me as an asshole, but then again it could be another extrapolation of a tribe that is highly aggressive or territorial.
- The mark of Cain is never explicitly described. I suspect it could have been a tribal scar or tattoo from a tribe of territorial farmers. It is interesting to note that because the”soil doesn’t give its strength” anymore that this describes early health effects of farming such as decrease in height, cavities and a decrease in health/constitution. The visible health effects along with aggressive tribal behavior and farming could be the basis for this story
- Who and from where is Cain’s wife?
Misc and or Trivia:
- Abel is the first person to die in the bible
Funny YouTube Related Videos
- EbolaWorld.com – Messed-Up Bible Stories – Cain and Abel