Press "Enter" to skip to content

Genesis 4

My reflections on the reading in the Academy’s Sacred Scripture I course are written below as comments.

4:1. And Adam knew Eve his wife; who conceived and brought forth Cain, saying: I have gotten a man through God.

We see here that sex, in marriage, is for the sake of begetting children.

4:2. And again she brought forth his brother Abel. And Abel was a shepherd, and Cain a husbandman.

4:3. And it came to pass after many days, that Cain offered, of the fruits of the earth, gifts to the Lord.

4:4. Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat: and the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offerings.

4:5. But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect: and Cain was exceeding angry, and his countenance fell.

God’s judgment of their offerings was not based on the value or quality of their offering, but of each man’s disposition. Cain’s evil was soon to be revealed by his actions.

4:6. And the Lord said to him: Why art thou angry? and why is thy countenance fallen?

Note here we learn of the passion of anger in man.

4:7. If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.

God wishes for Cain to interpret his present rejection as a correction and challenge to improve himself. Cain takes God’s judgment as favoritism. Rather than improve himself, he envies Abel.

4:8. And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him.

We see Cain dissembling here. We see that Cain’s sin was not a sudden act of murder, but failing to subject his anger to reason.

4:9. And the Lord said to Cain: Where is thy brother Abel? And he answered: I know not: am I my brother’s keeper?

4:10. And he said to him: What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth to me from the earth.

Cain may have thought that no one would see him kill Abel, but the blood of Abel cries out to God for vengeance. This should warn us of our attempts to conceal our sins. We read nothing of the devil in this passage, but we see his schemes at work to bring done another man.

4:11. Now therefore cursed shalt thou be upon the earth, which hath opened her mouth and received the blood of thy brother at thy hand.

4:12. When thou shalt till it, it shall not yield to thee its fruit: a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be upon the earth.

For justice, the earth itself treats Cain as an outlaw, refusing to respond to his cultivation.

4:13. And Cain said to the Lord: My iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon.

Once again, we see man refusing to accept responsibility for his sin.

4:14. Behold thou dost cast me out this day from the face of the earth, and from thy face I shall be hid, and I shall be a vagabond and a fugitive on the earth: every one therefore that findeth me, shall kill me.

Cain is the only murderer on earth, yet he pretends to be worried about other men. We see this today as criminals complain of their treatment, as if they are victims.

4:15. And the Lord said to him: No, it shall not so be: but whosoever shall kill Cain, shall be punished sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, that whosoever found him should not kill him.

4:16. And Cain went out from the face of the Lord, and dwelt as a fugitive on the earth at the east side of Eden.

The thought of “going out from the face of the Lord” is painful to read. Lord, have mercy on us.

4:17. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived, and brought forth Henoch: and he built a city, and called the name thereof by the name of his son Henoch.

4:18. And Henoch begot Irad, and Irad begot Maviael, and Maviael begot Mathusael, and Mathusael begot Lamech,

4:19. Who took two wives: the name of the one was Ada, and the name of the other Sella.

Here we have an example of a man taking two wives, which is unnatural.

4:20. And Ada brought forth Jabel: who was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of herdsmen.

4:21. And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of them that play upon the harp and the organs.

4:22. Sella also brought forth Tubalcain, who was a hammerer and artificer in every work of brass and iron. And the sister of Tubalcain was Noema.

Notice here that the arts are said to be present with man from the beginning. There is no suggestion that the human race lives as “cave men” through any “stone age”. Men had tents, musical instruments, metals, etc., from the beginning. Note the presence of Tubalcain in this medieval painting.

4:23. And Lamech said to his wives Ada and Sella: Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech, hearken to my speech: for I have slain a man to the wounding of myself, and a stripling to my own bruising.

4:24. Sevenfold vengeance shall be taken for Cain: but for Lamech seventy times sevenfold.

It is said by some commentators that Lamech killed Cain, which seems to be supported by the fact that we read of Eve bearing another son below.

4:25. Adam also knew his wife again: and she brought forth a son, and called his name Seth, saying: God hath given me another seed for Abel, whom Cain slew.

4:26. But to Seth also was born a son, whom he called Enos: this man began to call upon the name of the Lord.

With Abel dead, Adam’s posterity was wicked in Cain. With the birth of Seth a new line is established, and a righteous line. Understanding these two lines of Adam’s descendants helps us to interpret the next chapter.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *