119 The Lonely-hearted Lord Gen. 4
Updated: Mar 26
In Genesis 4 we discover a God that is lonely for his child, Abel, who has just been murdered by his brother Cain. My how rapidly the venture with the devil away from God results in such a tragic event. It is hard for us to imagine what this was like for people who have yet to experience the death of another human being. Yet God puts a mark on Cain to protect him from further danger. God's mercy rises above the tragic results of sin.
Genesis 4:1 Westminister (online) Leningrad (library, 1000 year old) Codex (book)
And Adam (ha-adam=earthling) knew (yada) Eve (hawwah) his wife and she conceived and bore Cain and said I have a man from Yahweh.
“Yada” does not mean make acquaintance or befriend. It means to have a deep emotional experience with another person. Examples are sex, in-to-me-see, war, sorrow, great joy. Jesus wants us to yada God and himself (John 17:3).
4:3 Cain brings some of his fruit. Abel brings the best of his “fat portions.” The attitude is what counts not the actual “thing” they brought.
4:4 Westminister (online) Leningrad (library, 1000 year old) Codex (book)
And Abel brought also he of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat (/cheleb/kheh-leb) and looked favourably Yahweh upon Abel and his offering.
We have no evidence that Cain and Abel had become carnivores. The idea of associating the sacrifice with harvest means that the offeror would have presented something to eat. “Cheleb” could have meant milk, cream or cheese, which are all fat associated. Reading back from the death of Christ to insist that the animals were killed is to impose a meaning which is not necessarily true. Notice the issue is between Cain and the LORD, not with God.
4:5 Cain is angry and dejected because the LORD did not accept his gift or offering. Only CEB uses “sacrifice.”
Why did the LORD not accept Cain’s sacrifice?
4:6 The LORD confronts Cain over his emotional response. Unusual in OT.
4:7 Sin is crouching at your door. It wants to control you. Sin is a relational problem not law connected since at this point there are no laws stated.
4:8 Cain kills Abel in a private place. Is this the first death in the universe? He will suffer PTSD as a consequence, and it becomes apparent in his dialogue with the LORD.
4:9 Yahweh: “I am missing Abel.” Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper/guardian?”
4:10-12 blood cries out from the ground, banished from the ground, it is now infertile ground. The life of Abel (blood) has returned to the ground from which Adam was made. Ground is absorbing life not giving life.
4:13-14 Consequences for Cain: banished from the land, from God’s presence, a homeless wanderer, hated by all.
4:15 The LORD: I will protect you wonderfully and mark you with grace/forgiveness (was this some form of clothing?)
4:16 Cain settles in NOD east of Eden. Eden was in the east (2:8).
4:17-24 Cain, the homeless wanderer, founds the city of Enoch. Same name as his son. Paradox! Lineage of Cain for 7 generations is recorded. Lamech marries Adah and Zillah. A young man attacks Lamech and he kills him and boasts he will avenge himself 77 times while Cain will only be avenged 7 times.
4:25-26 Adam lineage is introduced. Seth (granted or appointed) replaces Abel. Enosh is born to Seth. At that time people first began to call on the name of the LORD (worshipped Genesis 12:7-8). Worshiping or calling upon the name implies a personal connection with God. In Abraham’s case, God appears to Abraham and then Abraham calls upon the name of the LORD after he has met God.