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4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? 4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
4:11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; 4:12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
4:15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
4:18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
4:20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
4:21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
4:22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
4:23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
4:24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
4:25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

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King James Bible:Genesis
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 4

The Birth, employment, and religion of Cain and Abel. (1-7)
Cain murders Abel, The Curse of Cain. (8-15) The conduct of
Cain, His family. (16-18) Lamech and his wives, The skill of
Cain's descendants. (19-24) The Birth of another son and
grandson of Adam. (25,26)

1-7 When Cain was born, Eve said, I have gotten a Man from the
Lord. Perhaps she thought that this was the promised seed. If
So, she was woefully disappointed. Abel signifies vanity: when
she thought she had the promised seed in Cain, whose name
signifies possession, she was So taken up with him that another
son was as vanity to her. Observe, each son had a Calling. It is
the will of God for every one to have something to do in this
world. Parents ought to bring up their children to work. Give
them a Bible and a Calling, said good Mr. Dod, and God be with
them. We may believe that God commanded Adam, after the fall, to
shed the Blood of innocent animals, and after their Death to
burn part or the whole of their bodies By Fire. Thus that
Punishment which sinners deserve, even the Death of the body,
and the wrath of God, of which Fire is a Well-known emblem, and
also the sufferings of Christ, were prefigured. Observe that the
religious Worship of God is No new invention. It was from the
beginning; it is the good old way, Jer 6:16. The offerings of
Cain and Abel were different. Cain showed a proud, unbelieving
Heart. Therefore he and his Offering were rejected. Abel came as
a sinner, and according to God's appointment, By his Sacrifice
expressing Humility, sincerity, and believing obedience. Thus,
seeking the benefit of the new Covenant of Mercy, through the
promised Seed, his Sacrifice had a token that God accepted it.
Abel offered in Faith, and Cain did not, Heb 11:4. In all ages
there have been two sorts of worshippers, such as Cain and Abel;
namely, proud, hardened despisers of the Gospel method of
Salvation, who attempt to please God in ways of their own
devising; and humble believers, who draw near to him in the way
he has revealed. Cain indulged malignant Anger against Abel. He
harboured an evil Spirit of discontent and rebellion against
God. God notices all our sinful passions and discontents. There
is not an angry, envious, or fretful look, that escapes his
observing Eye. The Lord reasoned with this rebellious Man; if he
came in the right way, he should be accepted. Some understand
this as an intimation of Mercy. "If thou doest not Well, Sin,
that is, the Sin-Offering, lies at the door, and thou mayest
take the benefit of it." The same Word signifies Sin, and a
Sacrifice for Sin. "Though thou hast not done Well, yet do not
despair; the remedy is at Hand." Christ, the great Sin-Offering,
is said to stand at the door, Re 3:20. And those Well deserve
to perish in their sins, that will not go to the door to ask for
the benefit of this Sin-Offering. God's acceptance of Abel's
Offering did not change the Birthright, and make it his; why
then should Cain be So angry? Sinful heats and disquiets vanish
before a strict and fair inquiry into the cause.

8-15 Malice in the Heart ends in Murder By the hands. Cain slew
Abel, his own Brother, his own mother's son, whom he ought to
have loved; his younger Brother, whom he ought to have
protected; a good Brother, who had never done him any wrong.
What fatal effects were these of our first parents' Sin, and how
must their hearts have been filled with anguish! Observe the
pride, unbelief, and impenitence of Cain. He denies the crime,
as if he could conceal it from God. He tries to cover a
deliberate Murder with a deliberate Lie. Murder is a crying Sin.
Blood calls for Blood, the Blood of the murdered for the Blood
of the murderer. Who knows the extent and weight of a Divine
Curse, how far it reaches, how Deep it pierces? Only in Christ
are believers saved from it, and inherit the blessing. Cain was
cursed from the Earth. He found his Punishment there where he
chose his portion, and set his Heart. Every Creature is to us
what God makes it, a comfort or a Cross, a blessing or a Curse.
The wickedness of the wicked brings a Curse upon all they do,
and all they have. Cain complains not of his Sin, but of his
Punishment. It shows great hardness of Heart to be more
concerned about our sufferings than our sins. God has Wise and
holy ends in prolonging the lives even of very wicked men. It is
in vain to inquire what was the Mark set upon Cain. It was
doubtless known, both as a brand of infamy On Cain, and a token
from God that they should not kill him. Abel, being dead, yet
speaketh. He tells the heinous guilt of Murder, and warns us to
stifle the first risings of wrath, and teaches us that
Persecution must be expected By the righteous. Also, that there
is a future state, and an eternal recompence to be enjoyed,
through Faith in Christ and his atoning Sacrifice. And he tells
us the excellency of Faith in the atoning Sacrifice and Blood of
the Lamb of God. Cain slew his Brother, because his own Works
were evil, and his Brother's righteous, 1Jo 3:12. In
consequence of the Enmity Put between the Seed of the Woman and
the seed of the Serpent, the War broke out, which has been waged
ever since. In this War we are all concerned, none are neuter;
our Captain has declared, He that is not with me is against me.
Let us decidedly, yet in Meekness, support the cause of Truth
and Righteousness against Satan.

16-18 Cain cast off all fear of God, and attended No more On
God's ordinances. Hypocritical professors, who dissemble and
trifle with God, are justly left to themselves to do something
grossly scandalous. So they throw off that form of Godliness to
which they have been a reproach, and of which they deny the
power. Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and we never
find that he came into it again, to his comfort. The land Cain
dwelt in was called the land of Nod, which means, 'shaking,' or
'trembling,' and So shows the restlessness and uneasiness of his
own Spirit, or 'the land of a Vagabond:' they that depart from
God cannot find Rest any where else. Those On Earth who looked
for the heavenly City, chose to Dwell in Tabernacles or tents;
but Cain, as not minding that City, built one On Earth. Thus all
who are cursed of God seek their settlement and satisfaction
here below.

19-24 One of Cain's wicked race is the first recorded, as
having broken the Law of Marriage. Hitherto, one Man had but one
Wife at a time; but Lamech took two. Worldly things, are the only
things that Carnal, wicked people set their hearts upon, and are
most clever and industrious about. So it was with this race of
Cain. Here was a Father of shepherds, and a Father of musicians,
but not a Father of the Faithful. Here is one to teach about
Brass and Iron, but none to teach the good knowledge of the
Lord: here are devices how to be rich, and how to be mighty, and
how to be merry; but nothing of God, of his fear and service.
Present things fill the heads of most. Lamech had enemies, whom
he had provoked. He draws a comparison betwixt himself and his
ancestor Cain; and flatters himself that he is much less
criminal. He seems to abuse the patience of God in sparing Cain,
into an encouragement to expect that he may Sin unpunished.

25,26 Our first parents were comforted in their affliction By
the Birth of a son, whom they called Seth, that is, 'set,'
'settled,' or 'placed;' in his seed mankind should continue to
the End of time, and from him the Messiah should descend. While
Cain, the head of the apostasy, is made a wanderer, Seth, from
whom the true Church was to come, is one fixed. In Christ and
his Church is the only true settlement. Seth walked in the steps
of his martyred Brother Abel; he was a partaker of like precious
Faith in the Righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
and So became a fresh Witness of the Grace and influence of God
the Holy Spirit. God gave Adam and Eve to see the revival of
religion in their family. The worshippers of God began to do
more in religion; some, By an open profession of true religion,
protested against the wickedness of the world around. The worse
others are, the better we should be, and the more zealous. Then
began the distinction between professors and profane, which has
been kept up ever since, and will be, while the world stands.

E2 Modern Biblical Commentary
The Book of Genesis, Chapter 4

This chapter of Genesis relates the story of Cain and Abel, brothers and the children of Adam and Eve. This chapter deals with murder and the full integration of sin into the human race.

This chapter is where humanity as a race really begins. Adam and Eve begin to have children, and one of these children, Cain, slays another of the children, Abel, thus committing the first murder. Beyond this, this chapter deals with sex and its role in life, as well as addressing the issues of revenge and the true cost of an eye for an eye.

Five Key Verses

Genesis 4:1 - And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.

The third word of this verse is the key one. Knew. In this context, "knew" of course means to have sexual contact with, as evidenced by the fact that following this "knowing," Eve began to conceive children.

The direct association here between knowledge and sex is an important one. It imples that sex is the most intimate of acts in that it seals a physical, emotional, and spiritual relationship by providing a complete knowledge of the partner. This is the Biblical definition of marriage, and it is summed up like this: marriage is an acceptance of complete understanding and knowledge of one's partner.

Genesis 4:7 - If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

This verse indicates a general principle of life. The context of this verse is that Cain offered a sacrifice to God, but God didn't accept it because of Cain's general attitude. However, God is offering Cain the chance to try again.

The idea here is that one has two choices when failing at something: one can work to improve, or one can be jealous and desire the victories of others. It is implied here that the best course is to work on improving oneself. However, Cain was to choose the other path.

Genesis 4:8 - And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

This is where the first murder occurs, and an example of how little sins and mistakes can escalate into something greater. In this case, Adam and Eve had only committed a small sin -- eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 -- but their example of taking sin into their lives provided an example for their children. The sin of the parents was only against God, but Cain sinned against both God and man.

What can we take from this? We are fallible, and we are bound to make mistakes in life and commit sins. Rather than letting them grow, though, we should ask for help in dealing with them, from our fellow man and from God, and actually listen. Cain looked for help from both God and then from his brother, but he was unwilling to take the advice, and the result was murder.

Genesis 4:15 - And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

This verse very clearly speaks out against the idea of an eye for an eye. God's simple word is that even though Cain had committed a murder, it is not appropriate to respond by killing Cain.

In this, one can clearly see that acts of revenge are not the best way of handling things. It also speaks in a modern context in terms of the death penalty: after reading this, can you imagine that God would be in favor of the penalty?

Genesis 4:17 - And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

So, where did Cain get this wife? The only humans alive were Adam, Eve, and his siblings, so where did Cain's wife come from?

We know from the first chapter of Genesis that Adam and Eve had numerous children; they were to "replenish the Earth" according to Genesis 1:28. So there were likely women available for his choosing. But what about the question of inbreeding? At this stage, with the limited family structure of mankind at the time, inbreeding wouldn't be an issue because of the genetic purity, and besides, they did not have a choice in the matter as there were no other partners available.

Also of note is the fact that Cain left the others to start his own city. This is an explanation for how there came to be separate civilizations and races on Earth.


Modern Perspective on Genesis 4
This chapter gives us a lot to consider. Let's look at two of the key issues important to modern life that are dealt with here.

Sex and adultery: This chapter doesn't forbid nonmarital sex or adultery. Instead, though, it makes clear the reasoning for such a belief. The chapter views sex as an intimate form of knowledge and provides a part of a very deep bond between two individuals. Thus, sex is the foundation of a deep and understanding relationship.

Murder: Murder is wrong, but murder in retribution for other murder is even worse. In other words, the tenet of an eye for an eye is a poor way of dealing with things, and the death penalty doesn't fit in with Genesis, either.

Basically, God values both life and knowledge, and these are two of the essential ingredients of love. To know someone is to love them.

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