Genesis Chapter Four


Read Genesis 4:1-7 – Cain and Abel


v.1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.”


             Though Adam and Eve had several children we are only told about three, Cain, Abel and Seth.  Cain was the first born, the first man born on earth and the name he was given means “possession”.  Children are gifts from God, with a spirit given by God just as Adam was given a spirit.  Eve was justifiably proud of her new son; she had gotten a man from the Lord.


v.2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.”


            God blessed Adam and Eve with another son that they named Abel.  God did not leave these two young men idle; they had a calling, a vocation.  They indeed, Cain more so than Abel, had to earn their substance from their work or the “THE SWEAT OF THY FACE” as Adam was told when he was banned from the garden.


v.3And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.”


            In the process of time Cain brings an offering of the fruit of his labor and God’s blessing to God in worship.  What he brought was much the same that God commanded his people for worship in the latter dispensation.


Numbers 18:12All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee.”


But as we will see it was not pleasing to God in this dispensation of time, was not what God required the patriarchs to provide in worship.


v.4And 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:”


            Abel also brings an offering to God from the bounty that God has blessed him with, his flocks.  This also is very much the same as God commanded the Israelite nation:


Numbers 18:17But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the LORD.”


            If we were to present a lesson on giving to the Lord, this might be a good place to start.  This example along with the wisdom found in:


Proverbs 3:9Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”


            Abel’s offering was made “by faith”


Hebrews 11:4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”


            What does it mean make an offering to God “by faith” and what does that tell us about our offerings of worship today?  Since “faith cometh by hearing” (Romans 10:17), Abel offered what God had told his creation to offer in their worship.  It tells us that if we try to substitute what God has commanded in our worship to him, he will be just as displeased with us as he was with Cain.


v.5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”


            God had respect or accepted Abel’s offering but had no respect, did not accept Cain’s.  This made Cain very “WROTH” or angry and his “COUNTENANCE FELL”.  What does that mean?  He pouted, he let his mind dwell on God’s rejection and poisoned his soul.


v.6-7And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7If 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.”


            God addresses Cain much the same way that we would address a wayward child.  Why are you angry?  Why are you pouting because your worship was not accepted?  If you did not do well then there must be some transgression or sin that is the cause.  What is God’s definition of sin?


I John 3:4Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”


            Cain transgressed God’s law.  There is no record of what law God had given them concerning their worship but the result tells us that law had been given; law that Cain ignored just as people by the millions ignore today.


Read Genesis 4:8-10 – Abel’s Murder


v.8And 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.”


            Paul tells us:


Ephesians 4:31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:”


But Cain did not do that and it led him to take his brother’s life.  He was motivated by jealousy grown and nurtured in his heart and mind because of his brother’s right relationship with God.


I John 3:12Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.


v.9And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”


            We don’t know the occasion that caused God to question Cain.  Some commentators would have us believe that it was the next time that the family gathered to worship and God was present.  Able is now absent from the earth and God asks Cain where he is.

Cain is defiant and rebellious against God, perhaps even feeling some of the same anger against God as he felt against his brother whose worship God had accepted and approved.  In addition he lies to God, tells him that he doesn’t know where Abel is.  He even goes so far as to tell God, much the same as some would today, it wasn’t his job to watch and keep track of him.  But God knew the answer to his question even before he asked, and he wanted Cain to confess that perhaps he might be salvaged from his sin, but he doesn’t.


v. 10And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”


            God tells Cain that he knows what he did.  The blood of Able cries out for just punishment because of the sin committed; sin that has now been compounded by lies and an attitude of defiance.


Read Genesis 4:11-16 – Cain’s Punishment


v. 11And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;”


            It is as though the very earth is crying out because of the blood that was poured out upon it.  So God in his wrath for Cain’s multiple sins, murder, lying, defiant and rebellion places a curse upon him.  This is the second revelation to man of the righteous wrath of God that Paul warns the Roman Christians against:


Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”


v.12When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond (wanderer) shalt thou be in the earth.”


            Man had already been sentenced to eat by the sweat of his face (Genesis 3:19), now Cain, who was a tiller of the soil, is further cursed because his crops will not yield to him their bounty.  He will live as a fugitive and vagabond.  What does the word vagabond mean?  Wanderer, he will have not have a permanent home, no place to settle and know peace.


v.13-14And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14Behold, 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.”


            Cain appeals his sentence to God, his judge.  It is too much.  First of all he says he will be abandoned, or separated from God; a punishment that David begged God not to place upon him for his sin with Bathsheba:




            Secondly he says he will be fair game for anyone who wants to avenge the death of Abel.  Is this something that would be approved by God?  We’re not told but under the Mosaic Covenant, if a man committed murder he was in danger of being killed himself:


Numbers 35:19, 21The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.”  “Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.”


            Cain’s fear tells us that God may have given the same law to those of the patriarchal dispensation as well.


v.15And 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.”


            So God makes provision to protect Cain from the revenge of other men.  In addition he places a mark upon Cain so that any man who sees him will recognize that he is under God’s protection.  We don’t know what this mark was, though men have speculated, especially those who look for some mark to distinguish themselves from those whom they see as being inferior to themselves.  Marking thieves with a notch in their ears was a common punishment in times past as was branding a “D” on an army deserter.


v.16  And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”


            Cain is banished from the presence of God much as the remnant of Israel is banished to the captivity of Babylon:


Jeremiah 52:3For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.”


            What and where was the land of Nod?  One dictionary defines the name Nod as meaning “exile” and that would be logical.  Guy Woods in his writing calls it a place of wandering.  Cain is banished to a land of exile, or wandering, eastward from Eden.  We’re not told where or how far, it doesn’t matter because all men currently living on earth descended from Seth, not Cain and whatever offspring he generated would be destroyed when God destroyed all that was in the world by the great flood.


Read Genesis 4:17-24 – The Descendants of Cain


v.17And 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.”


            One of the vain and foolish questions that men spend their time in speculation about is where did Cain’s wife come from?  God simply does not tell us specifically but the only logical source would be from the descendants of Adam and Eve.  They are the first two people on earth, they are to be fruitful and multiply and even though God only tells us about Cain, Abel and Seth as specific people, he does tells us that they had “SONS AND DAUGHTERS” (Genesis 5:4).  Even though he was cursed to a life of wandering as a vagabond Cain built a city and called that city Enoch, the name of his son.  We must study these verses with care lest we confuse the names of the descendants of Cain with the descendants of Seth, as several of the names are the same.  Enoch the son of Cain is not the same Enoch who walked with God and whom God took (Genesis 5:24).


v.18And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.”


            From Enoch we have record of four more generations.


v.19And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.”


            In the sixth generation from Adam we have the first record of man changing God’s marriage law.  This is contrary to what God established and Jesus confirmed:


Matthew 19:4-5And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”


            Jesus didn’t say wives, he said wife.  We cannot be “ONE FLESH” with more than one but man wasn’t satisfied with God’s arrangement and still isn’t today.  Even under the Mosaic Covenant the king was forbidden to have multiple wives:


Deuteronomy 17:17Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”


A commandment that Solomon and even his father David violated.


v.20And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.”


            Even in their exile, God through his providence, continues to provide for the needs of mankind.  Jabal, the son of Lamech, was the father of those who lived in tents and herded cattle.


v.21And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.”


            His brother, Jubal, was talented in music and was the father of those who played the harp and organ.  Is this organ the same kind of instrument that we know today?  No, in fact in other translations the word is pipe.  Of course, today’s organ is simply a collection of pipes through which air is forced to make the sounds that we hear when it is played.


v.22And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.”


            Of his second wife, Lamech brought into the world the father of those who work metal, an instructor in the art of making things of brass or copper as it appears in some translations, and iron.  We note also that the name of Cain no longer carries the stigma that it probably carried in earlier generations since Lamech includes the name Cain in the name of his son.  We are also given the name of a daughter but no other information.


v.23-24And 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. 24If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”


            A situation arises, an altercation occurs and Lamech kills two men; one who wounded him (see other translations) and one who bruised or hurt him.  He refers to the curse placed by God upon anyone who would kill Cain and claims a curse eleven times that previously given by God.


Read Genesis 4:25-26  - Seth


v.25And 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.”


            We’re told in the next chapter that Adam and Eve had sons and daughters, yet we only told the names of three of their sons?  Why?  This verse tells us.  In Genesis 3:15 God promised to bruise the head of Satan by the seed of woman.  We understand that this “seed promise” is in fact the promise that a redeemer would come that would take away the power or authority of Satan over mankind.  This is symbolized by the bruising Satan’s head.

            It is but logical that God would tell us the name of the son through whom the seed promise was intended to be fulfilled.  In would also be logical that he would be a righteous man, a man “AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART”.  As in the enmity between Jacob and Esau; the source of the enmity between Abel and Cain was the fact that Abel was righteous and Cain was not.  We would be told the name of Cain because he killed Abel and prevented him from bearing the seed of promise.  We can see that Cain’s sin was compounded because he killed the one through whom the seed promise was to be fulfilled.  Also by the same logic, we are told the name of Seth because it is through Seth that the seed promise was fulfilled.  A declaration of fact from God but that the translators attribute to be the words of Eve, for the words “she said” do not appear in the original text.  If you are using a good study Bible, they are probably in italics because they were added for clarification of the original language.


v.26And 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.”


            The son of Seth was called Enos, but that is not the significant fact found in this verse.  It is “THEN BEGAN MEN TO CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.”  Man began to pay God the honor, homage and worship that he desired and deserved, much the same as the Psalmist writes:




Continued in the prophecy of Joel, fulfilled in Christ and confirmed by the Apostle Paul:


Joel 2:32And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”


I Corinthians 1:2Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”