Genesis 4 - Outline of Genesis (MENU page)
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.
Adam knew Eve his wife...- In the OT, this formula refers to sexual intimacy.
Cain and Abel may have been twins, since this formula is not stated separately for each birth, but occurs prior to the birth of their third son in v.25.
These boys will become very different men. But note that their differences cannot be blamed on genetics, upbringing or environment.
Cain- means 'acquisition.' ''I have gotten me a man from the Lord.''
  • Eve apparently thought this child was the fulfillment of the Lord's promise in 3:15.
    But he, as a son of Adam, could not be the promised seed.
    Nor did he enter the world having a share in Adam's salvation by faith (3:20,21), since that was a spiritual gift from God.
    ''Whatever was natural, Adam, could in the way of nature, communicate to his children; but nothing more. Since he as the father was in a condition of ruin, his son could only be in the same. As is the begetter, so are they also who are begotten of him.'' [CHM] cp. Joh 3:6,7; 1Cor 15:45-48
  • Cain becomes a 'type' (or picture) of the man of the earth.
Abel- means 'exhalation,' 'that which ascends,' 'a vapor.'
Abel, through his approach to God, becomes a type of the spiritual man.
Compare-Mat 16:24,25Jam 4:13-15
the natural man -seeks to save his life...seeks to acquire earthly gain.
the spiritual man -is willing to lose his life in serving God...knows his life is transient.
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
{ie., angry}, 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.
Cain was religious. He approached God, but on his own terms.
He had an inadequate sense of sin and an inadequate sense of need for atonement.
Cain's offering was not accepted because it represented -
  1. his own works- A sinner's toil cannot remove the stain of sin.
    The toil of Adam & Eve in this regard had been in vain (3:7).
  2. the fruit of a cursed earth (3:17-19)- which bore testimony to the penalty due sin,
    could not set aside that penalty (even though that fruit was carefully cultivated).
Abel's offering was accepted because -
  1. it was offered 'by faith.' Heb 11:4; cp. Rom 4:5; 5:1; Eph 2:8,9
    Faith rests upon the Word of God (Rom 10:17; Heb 11:1). What Word did he believe?
    1. God had told Adam & Eve that the consequence of sin is death. 2:16,17
      Abel's sacrifice expressed his confession of sin and the penalty which he deserved.
    2. God had provided covering for the sin of Adam & Eve by blood sacrifice (3:21), thus foreshadowing His provision of a Savior who would deliver men from the power of sin and Satan (3:15,20).
      Abel's sacrifice expressed his faith in God's promise of Salvation.
  2. it was a 'more excellent sacrifice' (Heb 11:4) because
    it spoke of the Lamb of God, and His substitutionary sacrifice in behalf of the sinner.
    cp. Gen 22:8; Joh 1:29; Heb 9:22; 1Pet 1:18-20
Cain was angry... -
The requirement for blood sacrifice offends the flesh because it demands its death.
The offer of justification, by faith alone in the Lamb provided by God alone, offends the flesh because it makes God everything and man nothing. cp. Rom 6:23; 10:3
Cain's faith was in his own concept of what constituted an acceptable approach to God. cp. Prov 16:25
The difference between Cain & Able is defined simply by their sacrifices-
Able offered in self-condemnation, with faith in and submission to God's Word.
Cain offered in self-righteousness, self-deception and pride. cp. 2Cor 11:3,4
The Lord gave Cain another opportunity to come by His way (v.7) -
  1. if thou doest well {or, 'if you offer correctly', LXX}...
    shalt thou not be accepted? {lit., 'will there not be a lifting up' (ie., of your fallen countenance)}-
  2. if thou doest not well... - two possible outcomes await his decision, because
    the same HB word may be translated as 'sin' or 'sin offering'. -
    1. sin lies {crouches} at the door...- ie., like a lion ready to pounce.
      Sin, left untreated by God's means, will make a man it's slave. cp. v.8; Rom 5:12-15
    2. a sin offering lies at the door... - ie., a lamb ready for sacrifice.
      The Lamb of God, sets the believer free, and makes him victorious over sin's power.
      Such salvation is entirely a gift of God's grace, and must be received by simple faith. cp. Rom 5:20,21; 6:20-23
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.
{cp. 1Joh 3:11-15}
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?
{cp. Prov 28:13}
4:10 And he said, What hast thou done?
{cp. Luk 12:2}
the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
{cp. Rev 6:10}
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
{ie., a wanderer} 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.
The results of Cain's false and fleshly religion-
  1. murder (v.8) - cp. Joh 8:44; 16:2,3
  2. lies to God (v.9) -
    Cain's response expressed impudent disrespect for his brother and for God.
  3. a further curse (v.11-12)
Cain's response to God's judgment -
  1. expressed sorrow over the inconvenience of punishment (v.13),
    but not the sorrow of repentence from sin. cp. 2Cor 7:10
  2. expressed a fear of man which exceeded his fear of God (v.14). cp. Mat 10:28
the LORD set a mark upon Cain...- The mark was valid only during Cain's lifetime.
This mark is not borne by any race today, since Cain's line ended with the flood of Noah's day.
the voice of thy brother's blood...- cf. the blood ''that speaks better things...'' (Heb 12:24)
  1. the blood of Abel cried out from the ground for vengeance (God's wrath) against sin.
  2. the blood of Abel's lamb could not take away sins,
    but it spoke of the (then future) coming of the Lamb of God. Heb 11:4
  3. the blood of Christ cries out "It is finished,"
    secures God's mercy, puts away sin and purifies the sinner. Heb 9:14; 10:22
4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD,
and dwelt in the land of Nod
{ie., the land of ''wandering''}, 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
{ie., who wounded me},
and a young man to my hurt
{ie., who hurt me}.
4:24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
Cain went out from the presence of the LORD...- cp. Rom 1:18-23,28
The ungodly line of Cain is briefly traced in v.16-24.
The godly line of Seth will be seen in greater detail at v.25 and beyond.
The Way of Cain (Jude 1:11) - cp. Prov 16:25; Mat 7:13,14
Cain thought he could live very well without God. Therefore, he set out to make the world a respectable place and himself a respectable man. Being willfully ignorant of God's righteousness & man's sin, man rejects God's remedy to cleanse (by the blood of the Lamb) and replaces it with his own efforts to improve (by the work of his own hands & by the genius of his own mind).
Characteristics of the ungodly line-
  1. a developed civilization- Cain's offspring excelled at
    construction (a city) v.17, agriculture v.20, the arts v.21, and manufacturing v.22.
         It is as though, Cain sought to prove God wrong concerning the punishment pronounced upon him (that Cain would be "a fugitive and a vagabond" {ie., 'an unstable wanderer'} in the earth, v.12). Inspite of what God had said, Cain and his children established themselves and made a name for themselves, in the earth. But the impressive works of human brain and brawn, often hide the contents of their hearts.
  2. an ungodly culture-
    illustrated by Lamech's egotistic pride and willful ignorance of God's ways.
    • he took two wives- disregarding God's design. 2:24; Mat 19:5
    • he boasted of murder (with eloquence and poetry). v.23,24
    • he justified himself- reasoning that he had better reason to kill than Cain,
      and therefore, he was much more immune from judgment. v.15,23
    • he twisted God's words to suit his purpose-
      What God had spoken mercifully for Cain's protection,
      Lamech arrogantly applied to his neighbor's destruction (v.24).
      Contrast the merciful way in which the Lord Jesus applied "seven times" versus "seventy-times seven," in Mat 18:21,22.
''The earth, which on its surface displayed the genius and energy of Cain and his family, was stained underneath with the blood of a righteous man.'' It is now stained with Christ's blood. The blood which justifies the Church, condemns the world. v.10 [CHM]
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.
{cp. Gen 12:8; 26:25}
The Godly Line identified -
Seth means ''appointed.'' It was evident that the promised seed (3:15) -
  • would not come from Cain, because he was ungodly.
  • could not come from Abel, because he was murdered.
  • must come through Seth, whom God provided in place of the murdered spiritual man.
But their hope was not in Seth's son Enos (whose name means ''mortal''),
but rather in the LORD (the everliving One).
To 'call upon His name' is to appeal to all that He is. cp. Isa 55:6,7

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