Farmer slays the Rancher | Genesis 4

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Cain and Abel

4 Adam[a] made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.[b] She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth[c] a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so[e]; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden.

17 Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.

19 Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. 22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of[g] bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.

23 Lamech said to his wives,

“Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

25 Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth,[h] saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.

At that time people began to call on[i] the name of the Lord.


  1. Genesis 4:1 Or The man
  2. Genesis 4:1 Cain sounds like the Hebrew for brought forth or acquired.
  3. Genesis 4:1 Or have acquired
  4. Genesis 4:8 Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; Masoretic Text does not have “Let’s go out to the field.”
  5. Genesis 4:15 Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew Very well
  6. Genesis 4:16 Nod means wandering (see verses 12 and 14).
  7. Genesis 4:22 Or who instructed all who work in
  8. Genesis 4:25 Seth probably means granted.
  9. Genesis 4:26 Or to proclaim

Thought for the day

What we have here, is a description of two men, one a farmer (Cain) and the other a rancher(Abel) – A farmer grows his food from the ground, a rancher, raises animals for food and clothing.  There appears to have been a sacrifice system implemented at this point where they are ordered by God to perform in a certain way. Cain for one reason or another does not do it the way God asked.  So Cain now is the second person to defy God, only this time Cain introduces us to the fruits of Jealousy. When God accepts Able’s sacrifice and rejects Cain’s sacrifice; Cain kills Abel. God Banishes Cain from the land of Adam.

This chapter in Genesis causes many people a lot of grief because it summarizes time, and events in such a way that there are a lot of holes in our understanding of the customs of God’s first family, and his relationship them.  This chapter is one of a few, where it really helps to read it in multiple versions of the Bible so that we can get a better understanding of some key words. In the Living Bible, God tells Cain he will be “homeless” for all his years. To our modern understanding, he would be living under bridges and stowing away on trains.  Then in Verse 17, we have this huge apparent contradiction to that, as Cain is building a city. City planners, are not typically homeless.  When a contradiction like this appears, it is a sign that it is time to look at another versions of the Bible to get a better idea of what the translators had in mind. The NIV, says Cain will no longer be a successful farmer “The ground will no longer yield crops for you, and you will be a restless wanderer on the earth”. Many of us today are like that. We work hard and move from career to career  with no sense of security. Often someone is right there to steal the business we built, and as employee layoffs appear in economic downturns shaking the very foundation of our earthly lives. This sort of wondering is often forced due external change, and that appears to be what Cain Experienced throughout his life.

Upon being banished, Cain moves to the land of Nod or “state of wondering”, east of Eden, and has kids. This land, may or may not have been inhabited, but Cain took his wife and moved away from his family.  Since it was not forbidden by God, I believe the couples of the time, were brothers and sisters.  (Another Back to Eden practice we do not need to implement today. Now Cain is populating another section of the earth and building a city. We are not given enough information to know if he had other brothers and sisters wondering the land before him, or if everyone there was a child of his.  Interestingly enough in Verse 23, Lemech now kills a man, and takes it on his self to leave the city. Verse 23, leads me to believe that Cain’s and his descendants would never settle in one area, as we immediately see Cain’s Grandson carrying on the tradition of his grandfather.

Lastly we are told Eve is sad about Abel and makes a new child Seth to replace Abel. Seth’s son Enosh founded the first formal worship of God.

For one reason or another, Genesis leaves us with a lot of questions about how the earth as we know it was populated. This particular chapter is a difficult chapter; one that many people who claim special knowledge from God will try to tackle. Many hundreds of prophets have given us hundreds of explanations of this text.  Many first-rate preachers claim full knowledge of this text, but it is difficult to prove them right or wrong due to lack of historical evidence.

What we know from this text is that God had requirements in place for Cain and Abel, Cain did not measure up, and God was angry with Cain. We know that Cain was jealous of Abel since God approved of Abel’s offering. Cain chose to kill Abel to make himself feel better (I believe it was an emotional rage).  God had mercy on Cain, and banned him from the land but gave him protection against enemies. Why God chose not to protect Abel and to Protect a murderer? I have no idea, does not fit our world view. I am sure if you think about it you can come up with some ideas, but we are not explicitly told. My idea is that Abel was right with God and would be with God, God had more work to do with Cain. Maybe the saved are more likely to experience a hastened earthly death. We live in a fallen world, where God can intervene, but he knows the entire game plan, and may not do what is logical in our eyes.

Some might say chapters like Genesis 4. And Genesis 1:1 make the Bible a book of lies. I do not believe there are any lies here, I believe this chapter is discussing two major events without giving us enough back ground to fully assemble the circumstances and the lay of the land. If we read it for the point is was trying to make, Man is still defying God, and that God is still merciful. The chapter is solid and setting up the stage for what is yet to come.

Today we see the first true evil in the eyes of man. Being under the reign of an all knowing and perfect God, why does evil continue to exist? Read
“How Should Christians Approach the Problem of Evil? by E. Calvin Beisner and Chad Meister.

Have a wonderful day and choose to Serve Jesus Christ today and every day.

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