Genesis chapter 4

Cain murders Abel. The descendants of Cain. The birth of Seth.





VERSE 1. The man knew Havah his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Cain, and said, “I have gotten a man with the LORD’s help.”

knew. The Hebrew word is יָדַע (“yada”). It means “sexual relations.”

conceived. That is, became pregnant.

Adam and Eve begin to propagate the species. They conceive and bear children, who grow up, and then conceive and bear children.

They begin to fill the earth with their offspring. In this one single chapter, the family line is traced through eight generations.


VERSE 2. Again she gave birth, to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.


VERSE 3. As time passed, Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground.


VERSE 4. Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. The LORD respected Abel and his offering,

The LORD respected Abel and his offering. The LORD God favored Abel’s sacrifice of a sheep over Cain’s sacrifice of plants.

Some Christians interpret this to mean that eating meat is preferable to vegetarianism.

However, that interpretation does not fit the Book of Genesis. Thus far they were fruitarians. They did not eat meat at all. The eating of meat did not begin until after the Flood.


VERSE 5. but he didn’t respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and the expression on his face fell.


VERSE 6. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why has the expression of your face fallen?


VERSE 7. If you do well, won’t it be lifted up? If you don’t do well, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is for you, but you are to rule over it.”

sin crouches at the door. This is a very powerful depiction of sin.

you are to rule over it. We are to not let sin become our master. Rather, we are to achieve mastery over it.


VERSE 8. Cain said to Abel, his brother, “Let’s go into the field.” While they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him.

Cain … killed him. This is only the second generation of humans. And already a murder has taken place.

We humans are a violent species.


VERSE 9. The LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?” He said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Am I my brother’s keeper? This is where the famous expression comes from.

Deuteronomy 22:3. So you shall do with his donkey. So you shall do with his garment. So you shall do with every lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost and you have found. You may not hide yourself.


VERSE 10. The LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.


VERSE 11. Now you are cursed because of the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.


VERSE 12. From now on, when you till the ground, it won’t yield its strength to you. You will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth.”

Some Christians say if you sin, you will become poor. Therefore, they reason, if someone is poor or homeless, it is because they have sinned.

Conversely, they think, abundance is a blessing from God. It verifies that the person is in a right relationship with God.

We do not believe those interpretations.


VERSE 13. Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.


VERSE 14. Behold, you have driven me out today from the surface of the ground. I will be hidden from your face, and I will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth. Whoever finds me will kill me.”


VERSE 15. The LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” The LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that anyone finding him would not strike him.

The LORD appointed a sign for Cain. This is sometimes referred to as “the mark of Cain.”

Not many decades ago, some Christians taught that “the mark of Cain” was having dark skin. They reasoned that caucasians were blessed, and people of color were the cursed descendants of Cain.

We believe that interpretation stems from racism.


VERSE 16. Cain left the LORD’s presence, and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Cain left the LORD’s presence. In those early days, people imagined the LORD God had a fixed geographic location. God was “here” but not “there.”

In our day, we believe that God is “omnipresent.” That means he is everywhere.

However, even in our day, some people still imagine that God is limited to a specific locale such as a specific church building.

the land of Nod, east of Eden. The word “Nod” means “wandering.” Cain is portrayed as the ancestor of nomadic peoples.




VERSE 17. Cain knew his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch. He built a city, and named the city after the name of his son, Enoch.


VERSE 18. Irad was born to Enoch. Irad became the father of Mehujael. Mehujael became the father of Methushael. Methushael became the father of Lamech.


VERSE 19. Lamech took two wives: the name of the first one was Adah, and the name of the second one was Zillah.

Lamech took two wives. This is only the seventh generation of humans. And already polygamy has begun.

Previously, in Genesis chapter 2 the LORD God arranged that the husband and wife become one flesh. But in polygamy, three people become two fleshes.

Genesis 2:24. Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.


VERSE 20. Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.


VERSE 21. His brother’s name was Jubal, who was the father of all who handle the harp and pipe.


VERSE 22. Zillah also gave birth to Tubal Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of bronze and iron. Tubal Cain’s sister was Naamah.

Tubal Cain. Until this point, everybody had only one name. This is the first instance of two names for one person.


VERSE 23. Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice. You wives of Lamech, listen to my speech, for I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for bruising me.

I have slain a man for wounding me. This is only the seventh generation of humans. And already a second murder has taken place.


VERSE 24. If Cain will be avenged seven times, truly Lamech seventy-seven times.”




VERSE 25. Adam knew his wife again. She gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, saying, “for God has given me another child instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”


VERSE 26. A son was also born to Seth, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the LORD’s name.

men began to call on the LORD’s name. This is a whole new development. People are beginning to seek a relationship with God.

What sort of relationship did people had with God, prior to this verse?


next chapter »

« previous chapter


CHAPTERS: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 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, 4950

RESOURCES: Summary, Outline, Memorize

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.