Gen. 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
Gen. 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
The record given here gives no indication of elapsed time between events. We just know that Eve became pregnant by Adam (probably soon after leaving the garden) and bore a son named Cain whom she recognized as a gift from the Lord. The only assumption you can make is that at least nine months later she gave birth to another son, Abel. As they became young men, Cain became a farmer and Abel became a shepherd.
My mom suggested that the wording implies to her that Cain and Abel were twins. There is no reference to another conception as is the case with Seth.
Gen. 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
Gen. 4:4 And 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:
Gen. 4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
Gen. 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
Gen. 4:7 If 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.
“in the process of time” – This allows for the birth of many brothers, sisters, etc. Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old (cf 5:3).
Now we are given the record of the presentation of the offerings to the Lord of each son. Cain brought some of his harvest, and Abel brought one of the firstborn from his sheep. The Lord accepted Abel’s offering and did not accept Cain’s. This made Cain angry. He patiently explains to Cain that if he makes the right offering, it will be accepted. (This implies that they had been given instruction regarding an acceptable offering before the Lord—either by their parents or by God Himself.) If he chooses not to present the right offering, then it would be because of sin/pride in his life (choosing to disobey).
Jon Courson made an interesting observation using a reference to Hebrew 11:4.
Hebrews 11:4 “By 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.”
“By faith Abel offered….” – Where does faith come from? By hearing. Hearing what? The Word of God.
Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
This helps confirm that Cain and Abel had been given instruction regarding what was an acceptable sacrifice to God.
Abel appears to be the innocent, trusting, obedient child; Cain, on the other hand, appears selfish, arrogant and disobedient.
“unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” – I am not real sure what this means. It is sort of like the wording used to Eve in 3:16. It’s like sin (Satan) desires to rule in Cain’s life, but that would not happen if he was obedient. Then, Cain would be the ruler over sin and Satan would have no sway in his life.
Gen. 4:8 And 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.
Gen. 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
Gen. 4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
Gen. 4:11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
Gen. 4:12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
It would be interesting to know the conversation between Cain and Abel. The end result is that Cain killed his brother. Again, the question from God is rhetorical; He already knows the answer. Cain refuses to admit his sin. (Pride once given a foothold becomes stronger and stronger.) So God tells Cain that Abel’s blood has called out to him from the ground. Obviously, the blood can’t speak, but life is given by the Creator and should only be taken by the Creator. Later on in scripture we are told that the life is in the blood. God knows the circumstances in each one of our lives. Cain is now told the consequences of his sin. The ground will no longer respond to his work and effort with strength and to its great capacity. He is condemned to be a wanderer in sorrow throughout the land.
Wayne Walter’s article on 2d Sedrah at www.lampresource.com provided some further insight.
“The word blood in the Hebrew is plural in form. In slaying Abel, Cain also slew Abel’s never to be born descendants.”
Gen. 4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Gen. 4:14 Behold, 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 thinks this punishment is more than he can endure. He sums it up:
The apostle John answers the question of why Cain killed Abel in 1John.
1 John 3:11–12 “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not 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.”
Boy, does this imply a lot that hasn’t been discussed yet. There are obviously other people on the earth besides Adam, Eve and Cain. Where did they come from? Obviously, they are brothers and sisters, etc. The sin nature has passed to all through Adam. This would prohibit the creation of other humans except through natural reproduction.
Chapter 5 talks about the years of Adam and his other sons and daughters. We don’t know when the incident with Cain and Abel occurred, but it had to be late enough in their lives for Cain to be worried about retaliation from his relatives. It seems obvious that families were large and women were having babies for a longer period of time.
Archibishop Ussher draws this conclusion in The Annals of the World: “When Cain, the firstborn of all mankind, murdered Abel, God gave Eve another son called Seth. Adam had now lived a hundred and thirty years (Gen. 5:3). From which it may be gathered that, between the death of Abel and the birth of Seth, there was no other son born to Eve. For then, he should have been recorded to have been given her instead of Seth. (Since man had been on the earth a hundred and twenty-eight years and Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4), the number of people on the earth at the time of this murder could have been as many as several hundred thousand. Editor.)”
Genesis 5:3–4 “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:”
Gen. 4:15 And 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.
God, as always with us, shows mercy and puts a protective mark on Cain. This mark was obviously unique and recognizable as God’s mark. It was so recognizable that anyone who saw it would know not to kill Cain or they would suffer the consequences from God.
Gen. 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
The people of this time were used to God’s presence in their lives. They are not surprised when He talks to them, and they respond to Him easily. Eden had been described as east, and Cain went further east from there to the land of Nod.
Gen. 4:17 And 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.
Gen. 4:18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
As always with sin in our lives, it affects those we love the most. He didn’t leave alone; he had a wife who had to suffer with him. His example also impacted his children.
Gen. 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
Gen. 4:20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
Gen. 4:21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
Gen. 4:22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
Gen. 4:23 And 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.
Gen. 4:24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
It’s interesting to note that Lamech—descended from Cain—is the first one mentioned with two wives. Sin begets sin. In v23 this same Lamech confesses to murder. Some commentators interpret this to mean that he killed in self-defense. I’m not sure I can buy that based on his arrogant response.
In v15 God declares that anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over. In v24 Lamech seems to think he can assert himself as equal to God by declaring vengeance on anyone who kills him 77 times over.
Most of our actions today seem to shout the same lie. We think we have more control over our life than God does. If we really believed that God was in control, we would make better choices. Many of our choices show we don’t fear His judgment.
I think it is interesting how the Holy Spirit tells us through the writer that Jubal’s descendants were musicians and Tubalcain’s descendants were skilled metal workers. We have been taught that man started out in caves with little expertise in anything. It seems God provided instruction along with a good intellect and inherent abilities from the very beginning. The first thing we see Adam doing is naming the animals. Once cursed, Adam had to work hard to grow food. Abel raised sheep. The descendants of Jabal lived in tents and raised cattle. This implies permanent structures were more common. So called “scientists” have really been successful in demeaning God’s creation.
Gen. 4:25 And 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.
Gen. 4:26 And 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.
Record is made of the birth of Seth and his son, Enos, to begin establishing the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus.
“then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” – This is an intriguing phrase. It seems that sin has grown to such an extent that men are seeing the need to ask for God’s intervention and help in their lives.
Guzik: “Some have called Genesis 4:26 the first revival, because it was the first indication of a spiritual resurgence after a clear decline.”
Further research has revealed a more negative interpretation.
From letusreason.org: “This can have two meanings to call upon the name of God, addressing Him by His proper name or it can even mean they began to call Him by other names, or His right name in a wrong manner.”
Clarke: “It must not be dissembled that many eminent men have contended that “huchal” which we translate began, should be rendered began profanely, or then profanation began, and from this time they date the origin of idolatry. Most of the Jewish doctors were of this opinion….”