YouVersion Logo
Search Icon

Genesis 4

The Story of Cain and Abel
1Now Adam had slept # 4:1 Or “knew his wife.” The Hebrew word for “knew” is yada’ and carries the implication of knowing intimately and experientially and implies a special relationship (i.e., sexually). It is possible that Eve’s conception of Cain had taken place while they were still in the garden, which is also implied in Gen. 3:20. with his wife, and she conceived and bore a son named Cain. # 4:1 Cain means “possessed” or “smith [fabricator].” Some have surmised that since God prophesied a coming “seed” of the woman, Eve believed that Cain was that promised deliverer. The triliteral root of the Hebrew verb qanah is the same root for the name Cain. Although the meaning of Cain is uncertain, some believe it could mean “acquired [one]” or “possession.” Some Hebrew scholars believe a more accurate translation would read “I have brought forth a man-Yahweh [the God-man],” meaning Eve believed the promise about her “seed” (Gen. 3:15) and presumed that Cain was the promised one. What a disappointment when Cain became a murderer! She said, “By the grace of Yahweh # 4:1 Or “Together with Yahweh” or “By the help of Yahweh”; or literally, “I gained a man-Yahweh” or “I brought him from Yahweh.” This utterance by Eve is the first time anyone speaks the divine name in Scripture. I have birthed a man!” 2Then later, she gave birth to Cain’s brother Abel. # 4:2 Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters (see Gen. 5:4), but Cain and Abel seem to have been the two eldest. Jewish tradition holds that they were twins. Abel means “vanity,” “puff of air,” or “fading away to nothingness.” Perhaps this is because their hope for the Messiah had faded. Or maybe they saw from the thorns and thistles and hard ground that life was much more difficult outside the garden than inside, and their joy faded away. Paul tells us in Rom. 8:20 that the world was made subject to vanity (or “futility”). Adam and Eve saw this vanity firsthand and named their son Abel. The Syriac name for Abel means “herdsman.” Abel grew up to be a shepherd, and Cain became a farmer, working the ground. # 4:2 Cain chose to work the ground, which was under the curse. 3After some time passed, # 4:3 Or literally, “From the end days.” In contrast, Abel brought the firstfruits (firstborn), while Cain brought the leftovers. He gave Yahweh his leftovers after he had satisfied himself. This is one reason why his offering was rejected. Cain presented an offering to Yahweh from the produce of the land. 4Abel also brought his offering, from among the finest # 4:4 Or “fattest.” Many Jewish scholars believe it was a lamb that Abel sacrificed to God. Sheep were not used for food prior to the flood (see Gen. 1:29), only for sacrifice. of the firstborn of his flocks. Yahweh was very pleased # 4:4 Or “to gaze upon [with favor and devotion].” It is possible that fire from heaven consumed Abel’s offering as a sign that God was pleased and accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice (see Lev. 9:24; Judg. 6:21). God also gazed upon Abel’s heart and saw his longings and was pleased, for Abel offered a sacrifice to God with faith. See Heb. 11:4. with Abel and accepted his offering, 5but with Cain and his offering, Yahweh was not pleased, # 4:5 Cain’s heart and character were not right with God (see footnote on Prov. 15:8). Some believe Cain picked inferior portions of produce (no mention of firstfruits) to offer to God, much like trying to please God with good works without faith. The curse could not be broken by a product of the curse. See Rom. 4:4–5; Heb. 11:6. making Cain very furious and resentful. # 4:5 Or “his face [countenance] fell,” a Hebrew idiom. 6So Yahweh said to Cain,
“Why are you so angry and bothered?
7If you offer what is right, won’t you be accepted? # 4:7 Or literally, “If you do well, uplifting?” Scholars consider this verse to be one of the more difficult verses in Genesis to translate. The implication is that God would lift up Cain with favor (forgiveness) and accept Cain if he did well by bringing an acceptable offering. This is not condemnation, but an invitation for Cain to change his ways. The Hebrew word for “uplifting” is taken from the root word nasa’, which means “to carry away,” “to take away,” “to lift up,” “to bear [iniquity],” or “to forgive.” Abel’s works were righteous, and Cain’s works were evil. See 1 John 3:12.
But if you refuse to offer what is right,
sin, the predator, is crouching in wait # 4:7 Or “crouching” or “resting outside the portal.” The Akkadian word for “crouching” (rabisu) is frequently associated with a demon. Sin is seen as a demon-beast crouching at the door of Cain’s heart. However, the word for “sin” can also mean “sin offering.” God could be telling Cain that there is a sin offering, as a resting lamb, lying outside his door to be the acceptable sacrifice. They were opening a portal to the presence of God. If the sacrifice was accepted, the portal (Hb. patach) to God’s presence would open. Both sin and Jesus are knocking on our hearts’ doors waiting to come in. See Rev. 3:20. outside the door of your heart.
It desires to have you, yet you must be its master.”
8One day Cain said to his brother, “Let’s go out into the field.” # 4:8 The words of Cain are missing from most Hebrew manuscripts but are found in the Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac. When they arrived at the field, Cain rose and attacked and killed his brother Abel.
9Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
He answered, “How do I know? Am I my brother’s keeper?” # 4:9 Or “guardian.” In a sense, Cain was saying about his shepherd-brother, “Am I the shepherd’s shepherd?”
10Yahweh said, “Listen—the voice of your brother’s blood # 4:10 Or “bloods” or “drops of blood.” Blood crying is a symbol of the soul crying out for the right to live, demanding for the punishment of the murderer. Bloodguilt calls for justice, even from the ground. It is as if the face of the earth blushes as it becomes stained by blood. Blood (spilled) outside the body is always plural in Hebrew, “Your brother’s bloods.” This speaks of his descendants that could have lived—their blood, too, cried out against Cain. The blood of Abel cried out for vengeance, but the blood of Christ cries out for mercy and pardon. Therefore the blood of Christ speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (see Heb. 12:24). is crying out to me from the ground! What have you done? 11Now you are banished # 4:11 Or “cursed [punished].” from the land, from the very ground that drank your brother’s blood from your hand! # 4:11 Bloodguilt not only stains the conscience but also defiles the ground. See Num. 35:33. We are told to avoid the way of Cain (Judah [Jude] 11), which would include (1) offering God what is cursed, (2) jealous anger toward another, (3) refusing to repent, (4) murder, and (5) wandering away from God’s presence. 12When you try to cultivate the ground it will no longer produce crops # 4:12 Or “yield its strength.” for you; and you will be a fugitive, a homeless wanderer!” # 4:12 Or “you will be a totterer and a wanderer.” Alienation from God is the ultimate consequence of sin.
13Cain said to Yahweh, “My punishment is more than I can bear! # 4:13 Or “Is my sin too great to be forgiven?” (LXX). The Hebrew word ‘avon refers to sin and its punishment. The Hebrew can be translated “My sin [or “my punishment”] is too great to bear.” 14Look—you’ve thrown me off the land today, and now I must hide from your presence. As a fugitive and wanderer on the earth, anyone who meets me may choose to kill me!”
15Yahweh responded, “Not so! If anyone kills you, I promise the seven-fold # 4:15 That is, seven times over—seven lives will be taken to avenge Cain’s death. Or it could mean seven generations will be avenged. The next murderer we find in Scripture is Lamech, the seventh generation from Cain. Jewish sages believe it was Lamech who killed his ancestor Cain. vengeance of Cain will be released upon him!” So, Yahweh put an identifying sign # 4:15 Or “mark.” It could have been a visible mark upon Cain as a warning that he was under divine protection. See Ezek. 9:4, 6. However, it is also possible that God showed a supernatural, authenticating sign to confirm to Cain that he would not be harmed. Ancient rabbis taught that the mark of Cain was a horn that grew on his head. on Cain as a warning so that no one would dare kill him. 16Then Cain left the presence of Yahweh and journeyed to the Land of Wandering, # 4:16 Or “Nod,” the Hebrew word for “wandering,” likely a symbolic place. There was a span of 130 years from the creation of Adam to the murder of Abel, which would have allowed for other sons and daughters of Adam to have spread over the earth. Some have calculated there could have been over half a million people alive at that time. See Gen. 4:25; 5:3. Scripture does not mention the line of Cain after this chapter nor mention Cain’s death. Within Jewish tradition there is a reference to Cain marrying his sister. See Jubilees 4:9; Sanhedrin 58b. east of Eden.
The Family Line of Cain
17Cain slept with his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch. # 4:17 Enoch means “dedicated,” “teacher,” or “initiated.” Cain was building a city # 4:17 Or “walled village.” God banished Cain to wander as a fugitive, but instead he built a city in rebellion to God. at the time, so he named it the Village of Enoch, after his son. 18Enoch’s son was Irad, # 4:18 Irad means “city of witness,” “wild donkey,” or “fugitive.” and Irad’s son was Mehujael, # 4:18 Mehujael means “God is combatting” or “smitten by God.” The Akkadian word mahlu means “ecstatic (seer).” and Mehujael’s son was Methushael, # 4:18 Methushael means “my god is husband” or “man of god.” Some suggest it is taken from a word in Ugaritic, mutba’al, which means “man of Baal.” Others view it as “man of Shael” or “man of Sheol,” the underworld. and Methushael’s son was Lamech. # 4:18 Lamech means “overthrower” or “one who brings low.” The Arabic meaning of Lamech is “strongman.” Lamech, the first polygamist, was the seventh from Adam in the line of Cain. He denotes the antichrist spirit with his prideful boasting.
19Lamech married two women, Dawn # 4:19 Or “Adah,” which means “dawn,” possibly related to the Hebrew word ‘adi, meaning “jewel.” and Dusk. # 4:19 Or “Zillah,” which means “dusk” or “shadow.” 20Dawn gave birth to Jabal, # 4:20 Jabal means “nomad” or “flowing.” the first # 4:20 Or “the father,” used also in v. 21. of those who lived in tents and raised livestock. 21Jabal’s brother was Jubal, # 4:21 Jubal means “joyful sound.” the first of musicians who played instruments. # 4:21 Or “the harp [stringed instrument] and flute [wind instrument].” The Hebrew word for play means “to hold” or “to handle” and later became associated with “to play skillfully.” Jubal invented musical instruments and taught others to play them. See Job 21:12; 30:31. Musicians today should dedicate their gifts and talents to God for him to be glorified. 22Dusk gave birth to Tubalcain, # 4:22 Tubalcain means “flowing from Cain.” He invented and taught others metallurgy. the first of blacksmiths who forged all kinds of bronze and iron tools. His sister was Naamah. # 4:22 Naamah means “pleasant” or “gracious.” The triliteral root, n-‘-m can also mean “to sing.” At least one Targum reference describes her as a professional singer. Ancient Jewish writings suggest that Naamah became Noah’s wife.
23Lamech boasted to his wives: # 4:23 The form of v. 23–24 is the first example of poetry in the Bible, known as parallelism. Many Jewish scholars view this “Song of Lamech” as a summary of a larger poetic composition describing the exploits of Lamech.
“Listen to me, Dawn and Dusk!
Mark my words, O wives of Lamech!
I have killed a man for wounding me,
and a young man for bruising me. # 4:23 Or “I would kill a man for my wounding, in fact a boy for a bruise.” There is a Jewish legend that states that Lamech killed Cain. If Lamech was boasting that killing others will be his practice, he became the world’s first terrorist.
24If killing Cain costs seven lives,
for Lamech, it will cost seventy-seven!” # 4:24 See Matt. 18:21.
25Adam slept with his wife again and she bore a son whom she named Seth, meaning “appointed,” for she declared, “God has appointed for me another son # 4:25 Or “seed.” to replace Abel, because Cain killed him.” 26After many years Seth had a son named Enosh. # 4:26 Enosh means “mortal” or “frail [man].” Seth humbly named his son Enosh, emphasizing the frailty of man. During his lifetime, people # 4:26 Or “he [Enosh].” With Enosh and his family line, we see the restoration of a longing to commune with God. began to worship Yahweh and pray to him. # 4:26 Or “call upon his name,” a biblical description of prayer that includes praise and worship. The name Yahweh expresses his personality, “He who Is and Causes to Be,” and reveals his desire to commune with human beings.

Currently Selected:

Genesis 4: TPT





Want to have your highlights saved across all your devices? Sign up or sign in

YouVersion uses cookies to personalize your experience. By using our website, you accept our use of cookies as described in our Privacy Policy