Genesis Chapter Four

The Downward Spiral

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In our study of Genesis chapter four, we look at how the curse of sin was passed on to the next generation. We will also see how that generation began a downward spiral that would eventually end in God's judgment by flood.

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Genesis 4:1 & 2

The man had sexual relations with Havah his wife; she conceived, gave birth to Kayin and said, "I have acquired a man from ADONAI." In addition she gave birth to his brother Hevel. Hevel kept sheep, while Kayin worked the soil.

So, Adam and Eve started the family with two boys. One, Kayin (Cain) was a farmer while the other Hevel (Abel) was a shepherd. At this time, as throughout the Bible, names were not just picked because they were different or popular but because they had a meaning. In this case, Kayin means acquisition in Hebrew while Hevel means breath or vapor. We must note, here, that the inclusion of the word "from" in the translation is not in the original Hebrew. In the original Hebrew, it says "et Adonai" and "et" is not a word that can be translated. The use of "et" in the original Hebrew points to a direct object meaning "Adonai" was an object or, to put it in simple terms, Havah (Eve) thought that Kayin (Cain) was Adonai (God), the promised one to "bruise the head" of the serpent from chapter 3. This tells us that Havah (Eve) understood that there was going to have to be a God man to deliver us from the effects of sin or simply they recognized the need for a messiah. In the name Hevel, we see the fleeting nature of life and the fact that God knew the end of Hevel's life before it even began.

Genesis 4:3 & 4a

In the course of time Kayin brought an offering to ADONAI from the produce of the soil; and Hevel too brought from the firstborn of his sheep, including their fat.

"In the course of time" speaks to the fact that these offerings were brought to the Lord on the Sabbath. We see that Hevel (Abel) brought fat portions from the firstborn of his sheep while Kayin (Cain) brought some of the grain from his crops. These offerings would have been brought to the entrance to the Garden of Eden as that was the dwelling place of God and they were probably to be the equivalent of an 'Olah (burnt offering) or Hata'at (purification offering). As we will see later in the Torah, the only acceptable sacrifice for these offerings was innocent animal life. This would not have been a new concept to Adam and the family as they knew that the clothes that they were were made by God by killing innocent animals to replace the plants that they had tried to use as clothes. They would have been reminded of the price of disobedience (sin) every day as they wore the animal skins.

Genesis 4:4b & 5

ADONAI accepted Hevel and his offering but did not accept Kayin and his offering. Kayin was very angry, and his face fell.

The Lord accepted the offering of Abel but not that of Cain. We may ask ourselves why this is so and the answer has two parts. First, we remember that this was probably for an 'Olah (burnt offering) for sin and the only proper offering for sin is blood. The second reason is more implied than the first as we see that when the offering of Hevel (Abel) is described it has an adjective before it while, when that of Kayin (Cain) is described, there is no adjective. This implies that Kayin (Cain) brought an ordinary offering while Hevel (Abel) brought the best that he had. This principle applies to us even today as God does not want the leftovers from your life. When you come to Christ, it is with repentance and a change of focus in your life where God is at the center. As with the offerings here, anything less than God at the center is unacceptable.

Genesis 4:6 & 7

ADONAI said to Kayin, "Why are you angry? Why so downcast? If you are doing what is good, shouldn't you hold your head high? And if you don't do what is good, sin is crouching at the door - it wants you, but you can rule over it."

God knows our hearts and, here, we see that in Cain's heart was the fear of losing the place of the firstborn. God is telling him to get this under control or this sin will lead him into other sin. We also see the assurance that we do not have to be slaves to a particular sin as God told Kayin (Cain) that he could "rule over it". That applies to us as well in that we have the power to decide that we do not want to do something just as we have the choice of what we want to do. Kayin (Cain) had a choice to make and God was reminding him of that fact.

Genesis 4:8

Kayin had words with Hevel his brother; then one time, when they were in the field, Kayin turned on Hevel his brother and killed him.

Here we see that Kayin (Cain) "had words" with Hevel (Abel) but that brings up the question of what were those words. The answer is found in the original manuscripts where it syas that Kayin said to Hevel "Let us go out to the field". The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (a western interpretation of the Torah from the land of Israel) gives more detail as it describes an argument between Kayin and Hevel over the fact that God had accepted Hevel's offering instead of Kayin's. Kayin's view was that “There is no judgment, and no judge, and no other world, and no giving of a good reward for the righteous, and no punishment of the wicked” while Hevel said “There is judgment, and there is a judge, and there is another world, and there is the giving of a good reward for the righteous, and there is punishment of the wicked”. In short, Hevel was sorta saying to Kayin that God was right and that they both got what they deserved. Understanding this fact, we can see that Kayin (Cain) had decided that he was a better judge than God. God had urged him to do what was right and warned him about the downward spiral of sin but he had not listened. This attitude of Kayin (Cain) where he elevates himself to the role of judge is even more prevalent in our world today but, when we come to Christ, it is a part of repentance that we acknowledge that God is the rightful judge of what is good and evil.

Genesis 4:9

ADONAI said to Kayin, "Where is Hevel your brother?"And he replied, "I don't know; am I my brother's guardian?"

When confronted by his sin, Kayin (Cain) denied what he had done as if it could be hidden from God.

Genesis 4:10

He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!

Just as his father and mother had done, Kayin (Cain) tried to hide from God what he had done. Kayin did not realize that God already knew and was only asking the question to get him to realize what he had done. God does not need us to confess our sins to know what we have done. He wants us to confess our sins so that He may forgive and forget them.

Genesis 4:11 & 12

Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood at your hands. When you farm the ground it will no longer yield its strength to you. You will be a fugitive, wandering the earth."

The Hebrew word "aror" is translated as cursed and it speaks of the removal of the influence of God so God is removing his influence from the ground and he will no longer cause the crops to grow for Kayin. Once again, we see that sin has a price and so Kayin (Cain) must wander the earth. Even then, God was giving him the chance to see and understand that it is he that is the provider of all things. This is the same thing that all of us (even Christians) struggle to understand and remember.

Genesis 4:13 & 14

Kayin said to ADONAI, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. You are banning me today from the land and from your presence. I will be a fugitive wandering the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."

Although travelling alone to us is no big deal, at that time being alone would be a sign that you were a stranger and did not belong to any group that you came across. As we saw in chapter two, God had declared that it was not good for man to be alone. Kayin (Cain) plead for God's mercy but he did so without repentance. In his plea, Kayin (Cain) never confesses his sin and so there cannot be forgiveness. The same thing is true for us, in that, we cannot see our need for a savior without a change of our minds (repentance).

Genesis 4:15

ADONAI answered him, "Therefore, whoever kills Kayin will receive vengeance sevenfold," and ADONAI put a sign on Kayin, so that no one who found him would kill him.

Cain feared for his life but God reassured him that his life would be spared even though he deserved death. Anyone who killed him would be completely dealt with by God as He put a supernatural mark on Cain to ensure his life. This is a picture of what was to come in the Passover (see Exodus 12) and is to come when God puts his seal on the witnesses in the last days (see Revelation 7). This mark was a sign that God, as creator of all things, is the only rightful judge and anyone that tries to take that place will be dealt with.

Genesis 4:16

So Kayin left the presence of ADONAI and lived in the land of Nod, east of 'Eden.

And so Cain went to live in the land of Nod (wandering) which once again was to the east of the garden.

Genesis 4:17

Kayin had sexual relations with his wife; she conceived and gave birth to Hanokh. Kayin built a city and named the city after his son Hanokh.

Once again we see the disobedience of Cain in that he was building a city even though God had said that he would be a wanderer. He had a son and named his work (the city) after Hanokh (Enoch). The name Hanokh (Enoch) means dedicated, initiated, or trained and here we see that Hanokh was brought up in the disobedience of his father and that he would continue the downward spiral.

Genesis 4:18 & 19

To Hanokh was born 'Irad. 'Irad fathered Mechuya'el, Mechuya'el fathered Metusha'el, and Metusha'el fathered Lemekh. Lemekh took himself two wives; the name of the one was 'Adah, while the name of the other was Tzilah.

Now, we see the downward spiral continue as the disobedience of Cain has led to the practice of polygamy (having more than one wife). We have already seen God's plan for a man and his wife but, just a few generations of disobedience have led to this. This is the same type of thing that we see in many families today as generations of wickedness have led to a complete disregard for the ways of God.

Genesis 4:20-22

'Adah gave birth to Yaval; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have cattle. His brother's name was Yuval; and he was the ancestor of all who play lyre and flute. Tzilah gave birth to Tuval-Kayin, who forged all kinds of tools from brass and iron; the sister of Tuval-Kayin was Na'amah.

We are introduced to the seventh generation of people and remember that seven is the number of completion throughout the Bible. Because of the fall, men were required to work and, here, we see the start of various occupations such as shepherd, musician, and ironworker. Although we are not told of Naamah's occupation, her name suggests that she was a singer.

Genesis 4:23 & 24

Lemekh said to his wives, "'Adah and Tzilah, listen to me; wives of Lemekh, hear what I say: I killed a man for wounding me, a young man who injured me. If Kayin will be avenged sevenfold, then Lemekh seventy-sevenfold!"

The downward spiral has continued to the point of murder. Not only do we see that Lamech went so far as murder but he was even proud of the fact. He compared himself to God's promise of avenging those that would kill Cain and elevated himself above God.

Genesis 4:25 & 26

Adam again had sexual relations with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Shet, "For God has granted me another seed in place of Hevel, since Kayin killed him." To Shet too was born a son, whom he called Enosh. That is when people began to call on the name of ADONAI.

God gave Adam and Eve a third son named Shet (Seth) and his name means "granted". He had a son (Adam and Eve's grandson) who he named Enosh which means "man" or "mankind". And so begins the population of God's creation and men acknowledged God the Creator.

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