Cain and Abel
1Now the man [a]Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have obtained a man (baby boy, son) with the help of the Lord.” 2 And [later] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept the flocks [of sheep and goats], but Cain cultivated the ground. 3 And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. 4 But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the [b]fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and [c]he looked annoyed and hostile. 6 And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? 7 If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” 8 Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain [d]attacked Abel his brother and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he [lied and] said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 The Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s [innocent] blood is crying out to Me from the ground [for justice]. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s [shed] blood from your hand. 12 When you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength [it will resist producing good crops] for you; you shall be a fugitive and a vagabond [roaming aimlessly] on the earth [in perpetual exile without a home, a degraded outcast].” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, You have driven me out this day from the face of the land; and from Your face (presence) I will be hidden, and I will be a fugitive and an [aimless] vagabond on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “[e]Therefore, whoever kills Cain, a sevenfold vengeance [that is, punishment seven times worse] shall be taken on him [by Me].” And the Lord set a [protective] [f]mark (sign) on Cain, so that no one who found (met) him would kill him.
16 So Cain went away from the [manifested] presence of the Lord, and lived in the land of Nod [wandering in exile], east of Eden.
17 Cain knew his [g]wife [one of Adam’s descendants] and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch; and Cain built a city and named it Enoch, after the name of his son. 18 Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech. 19 And Lamech took for himself two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he became the father of those [nomadic herdsmen] who live in tents and have cattle and raise livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he became the father of all those [musicians] who play the lyre and flute. 22 Zillah gave birth to Tubal-cain, the smith (craftsman) and teacher of every artisan in instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
23 Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah,
Hear my voice;
You wives of Lamech,
Listen to what I say;
For I have killed a man [merely] for wounding me,
And a boy [only] for striking (bruising) me.
“If Cain is avenged sevenfold [as the Lord said he would be],
Then Lamech [will be avenged] [h]seventy-sevenfold.”
25 Adam knew [Eve as] his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for [she said], “God has granted another child for me in place of Abel, because Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth, also, a son was born, whom he named Enosh (mortal man, mankind). At that [same] time men began to call on the name of the Lord [in worship through prayer, praise, and thanksgiving].
- Genesis 4:1 The name Adam is the Hebrew word for “man,” so when the word is used with the article (“the”) as it is here, it can be inferred that the writer (Moses) is referring to Adam as “the man.”
- Genesis 4:4 That is, the fat that covered the entrails of the animals. Later, in the Mosaic Law, the Israelites were forbidden to eat this fat (Lev 7:23), which was reserved as an offering to God, especially for sin (Lev 4:8, 26, 35; 9:10; 16:25).
- Genesis 4:5 Lit his countenance fell.
- Genesis 4:8 Lit rose up against.
- Genesis 4:15 Some ancient versions read, “Not so!”
- Genesis 4:15 Many commentators believe this sign not to have been like a brand on the forehead, but something awesome about Cain’s appearance that made people dread and avoid him. In the Talmud, the rabbis suggested several possibilities, including leprosy, boils, or a horn that grew out of Cain. But it was also suggested that Cain was given a pet dog to serve as a protective sign.
- Genesis 4:17 The simplest explanation for the origin of Cain’s wife is that she was one of his sisters, whom Scripture does not mention specifically, but implies (5:4). It is also possible that she was a niece or more distant relative descended from the original family, but in any case it is evident that the unrecorded children of Adam and Eve married each other. This was possible because the human gene pool was at its purest with Adam and Eve, so at some point their children could begin families of their own.
- Genesis 4:24 Lamech arrogantly declares to his wives that if someone kills him, he will be entitled to far greater vengeance since he merely retaliated for harm suffered, while Cain’s murder of Abel was by comparison unprovoked.