Genesis 4

Summary

Welcome to As He Leads – a Bible study podcast for busy women! Today we’ll be reading through Genesis 4 in the ESV translation. Genesis chapter 4 records the first murder in history and the devastation it cast onto Cain’s lineage. In today’s podcast, I reference information from Dr. Thomas Constable and The MacArthur Bible Commentary. I also wanted to include those notations here for you.

From The MacArthur Bible Commentary:

4:4-5 Abel’s offering was acceptable (cf. Heb. 11:4), not just because it was an animal, nor just because it was the very best of what he had, nor even that it was the culmination of a zealous heart for God, but because it was in every way obediently given according to what God must have revealed (though not recorded in Genesis). Cain, disdaining the divine instruction, just brought what he wanted to bring: some of his crop.

4:23-24 Lamech killed someone in self-defense. He told his wives that they need not fear any harm coming to them for the killing because, if anyone tried to retaliate, he would retaliate and kill them. He thought that if God promised sevenfold vengeance on anyone killing Cain, He would give seventy-seven-fold vengeance on anyone attacking Lamech.

4:25 Seth. With Cain removed as the older brother and heir of the family blessing, and with Abel dead, God graciously gave Adam and Eve a godly son through whom the seed of redemption (3:15) would be passed all the way to Jesus Christ (Luke 3:38).

From Dr. Thomas L. Constable’s Notes on Genesis 2020 Edition which can be viewed here in full.

Chapter 4 shows the spread of sin from Adam’s family to the larger society that his descendants produced. Cain became the first murderer and Abel the first martyr. Chapter 3 records the root of sin, and chapter 4 the fruit of sin. Not only did sin affect everyone, but people became increasingly more wicked as time passed. Human self-assertion leads to violence. Verses 1-16 show that the Fall affected Adam and Eve’s children as well as themselves. Verses 17-26 trace what became of Cain and Seth and their descendants. Note that the chapter begins and ends with the subject of worship.

Cain’s punishment consisted of his being banished from God’s presence (“from Your face I will be hidden”), unable to enjoy his family’s company and the fruitfulness of a settled agrarian life (“cursed from the ground will no longer yield its strength”; vv. 11-12, 14). He would have to wander from place to place (“a wanderer”), seeking food (“a vagrant”), rather than living a sedentary life. This punishment was appropriate and just, since he had alienated himself from his brother and God by his horrible crime.

The commentators have interpreted Cain’s “sign” or “mark” (v. 15) in a variety of ways. One view is that it was partial paralysis, based on the meaning of the word used to translate “sign” in the Septuatint. An old Jewish interpretation understood it to be the word “Yahweh,” and another viewed it as a long horn growing out of the middle of Cain’s forehead. Some medieval paintings represent Cain with a horn on his head following this view. Other ideas suggest that it was some other identifying mark on Cain, in view of parallels with other marks that identify and protect their bearers in Scripture (cf. Ezek. 9:4; Rev. 7:3; 13:16-18; 14:1)Still other interpreters believe that the mark was a verification of God’s promise to Cain. This last view rests on the usual meaning of “sign” in the Old Testament (cf. Judg. 6:36-40; 2 Kings 2:9-12; et al.), which the Hebrew construction supports here.