by Robert Brow    (

Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: 2004

Introduction | Genesis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12| 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

31 | 32 | 33| 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41| 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50| PostScript

Table Of Contents:

Genesis 4:1 Genesis 4:18-19
Genesis 4:2-4 Genesis 4:20
Genesis 4:5 Genesis 4:21
Genesis 4:6-7 Genesis 4:22
Genesis 4:8 Genesis 4:23-24
Genesis 4:9-10 Genesis 4:25
Genesis 4:11-12 Genesis 4:26
Genesis 4:13-15  
Genesis 4:17  

GENESIS 4:1-7 (Two Brothers)

4:1   We noted Adam and Eve’s restoration from the sin that alienated them from their walk with the Son of God (3:21). One result of this was the beginning of their sexual intercourse. As in the experience of many mothers, Eve was conscious that her first born child was a gift from God.

4:2-4 Again, as in the experience of most parents, a second son turned out to be very different from his brother. Abel became a shepherd. Cain engaged in growing crops on the land. This resulted in two very different expressions of their worship. Cain offered some of the crops from his fields. Abel would kill a sheep for his family to eat. It is possible it was offered as a sacrifice to God with thanksgiving. "This animal is dying so we can eat." The fat and part of the animal was burned on an altar, and the family would sit down to eat the meat.


The LORD indicated his acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice (see Hebrews 11:4). Perhaps fire came from heaven to consume the fat he had offered. We might compare the dedication of the tabernacle, "Fire came out from the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar" (Leviticus 9:24). Similarly when the temple was dedicated "fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices" (2 Chronicles 7:1). As Elijah said on Mount Carmel, "the God who answers by fire, let him be the Lord" (1 Kings 18:24).

4:5 Cain was very angry that the fire from God (or some other sign) did not come down to recognize the cereal offering which he had made.

4:6-7 Evidently there was something wrong with Cain’s heart attitude. "If you do well, will you not be accepted.". John explained "We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous" (1 John 3:12).

It is hard to grasp the meaning of "sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." One possible explanation is that if Cain did not deal with the murderous thoughts in his heart, the sin of actually murdering his brother would be the outcome.

4:8-16 (The First Murder)

4:8 The murder was not in a fit of anger, but clearly premeditated. "Let us go out to the field."

4:9-10 When Adam had sinned the LORD lovingly asked him three questions to help him back into faith and restoration of fellowship. "Where are you?" and "Who told you that you were naked?" and "Have you eaten from the tree which I commanded you not to eat?" (3:9-10). To help Cain come to his senses he asked "Why are you angry?" (4:6) and "Where is your brother Abel?" and "What have you done?" As in the case of Adam, the LORD’s questions are not to gain information but to help the one he loves see what has gone wrong.

Instead of facing reality, Cain first lied by saying he did not know and then rudely rejected the LORD’s questioning. "Why ask me? Am I responsible for what happened to my brother?"

4:11-12 Blood crying out from the ground is a metaphor for a murder that has not been confessed or punished by the death of the murderer. "No expiation can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it" (Numbers 35:33). "Absolve, O LORD, your people Israel, whom you have redeemed; do not let the guilt of innocent blood remain in the midst of your people" (Deuteronomy 21:8). "The earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no longer cover its slain" (Isaiah 26:21). "The land is full of bloodshed" (Ezekiel 9:9).

Murder that has not been confessed and put right has continuing effects for the murderer. But it also impacts the surrounding land. We might expect to find evidence that in areas where murder has never been brought to light and corrected the land remains unproductive. As a result of the failure of his crops Cain had to leave home and become a refugee.

4:13-15  Cain complained that having to leave his land was punishment enough. He had also lost the privileges of his previous fellowship with God. And he was now exposed to being murdered himself. But the LORD assured him of his personal protection. Presumably this was because he was still loved, and the LORD hoped to find a way to help him back into faith. 4:16  As happens in the lives of many murderers who do not come to repentance and faith, the only solution is to move right away and begin a new life elsewhere. The whole story is so true to life in our modern world that we know it is not an ignorant myth, but expresses permanent truths of family life in every nation.

4:17-24 (The Line of Cain)

4:17 Cain seems to have married after the murder of his brother, so we wonder "Who was Cain’s wife?" Obviously Eve must have brought forth girls who are not listed in the family genealogy (see the refrain in 5:4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 26) . Only the name of the first-born son was recorded in the family lineage. The names of women in the family were only included when the family title deeds were in question (as in 4:19; 11:29-31; 16:1-2; 24:15, 25:1; 26:34; 27:5; 28:9, and the account of Jacob’s four wives and the twelve Jewish tribes (see Ishmael the Arab).

Ants, termites, and bees build complex cities. But the first truly human cities appear suddenly soon after 4000 BC. This supports our dating of Genesis Man much later than the hominids and Neanderthals who roamed our world for two million years before that. Cain’s son is not to be confused with the Enoch in the fifth generation of the line of Seth (Genesis 5:3, 18).

4:18-19 Here is the carefully retained genealogy of Cain who was still recognized as part of the family of Adam though he had moved away to the east. The descendants of Adam and his son Seth (4:25) apparently remained engaged in agriculture and shepherding in the area of south-east Turkey (see comments on 2:10-14).

4:20   For four generations Cain’s family lived in the city of Enoch (4:17). Here we have the account of one branch of the family who chose to be nomads living in tents.

4:21 Drums may have been used long before but melodic music is a typically human activity.

NOTE In terms of the arts we know that long before Genesis Man many generations of hominids engaged in agriculture and made pottery to store their food (compare the raising of aphids and food storage by ants and bees). It is often assumed that the painting skills of Stone Age Cro-Magnon people prove that these cave dwellers were fully human. In our model we count them as hominids who had learned to paint the animals they hoped to kill just as the Venus figurines were carved to encourage fertility.

4:22   Flint, stone, gold, and meteoric iron tools and ornaments had also been used by hominids that walked upright for hundreds of thousands of years. Tubal-Cain is credited with the invention of the metallurgical skills which made possible the bronze age in Anatolia (Turkey) from about 3200 BC and the iron ages from about 1200 BC.

4:23-24   In a fight with a younger man Lamech (4:18-19) had killed him. He admitted what he had done to his wives. He knew he was in danger of a vendetta revenge, but because the killing of the young man was not premeditated (see 4:8) he hopes he will have ten times as much divine protection as in the case of Cain (4:15). At least a hundred years after the event Lamech would have had in his possession the clay tablet describing the consequences of Cain’s murder.

4:25-26 (The Line of Seth)

4:25 The story now goes back to the line of Adam’s third son Seth. The genealogy of those descended from Seth begins on a new tablet in 5:1 (see note on 2:4-6).

4:26 We will discuss the long lives of the first Image-of-God generations in the next chapter. But in this verse we are intrigued by the information that people began to "invoke the name of the LORD" in the time of Enosh who was born 235 years after the creation of Adam (5:3, 6). What does this mean? We noted that the word LORD (in capital letters in the NRSV) refers to the second Person of the Trinity (see 1:26-27). He is described as the LORD God who created this earth and Genesis Man (2:4-8, 15-22: 3:1, 8, 13). This is also what Paul taught (Colossians 1:15-17, as in John 1:3, 10; Hebrews 1:2).

We also noted John’s statement that "No one has see God (the Father). It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18). That is why God the Father is never seen, but watches over us like a loving parent. The Holy Spirit is experienced as the one who inspires us from within the depths of our heart. But the Son of God keeps appearing to humans in a physical form (Genesis 3:8, 12:7; 17:1; 18:1, 22-23; 26:2). And he would eventually take birth among us.

Possibly after their expulsion from the garden Adam’s family had been afraid to engage in conversation with the Son of God. Now they began sharing in the reign of the Messiah among the nations (6:9; 7:1; 8:20; 9:8-9; 18:22-33).

Next Chapter...     Table Of Contents

Model Theology Homepage | Essays and Articles | Books | Sermons | Letters to Surfers | Contact Robert Brow