Genesis 4: Cain and Abel

Earnest Examination

To start, I’ve realized that I have never read the Bible front to back, and so would like to remedy that. On some of my posts, I quote from the Bible, which I feel is a little insincere if I’m not going to study the whole Bible. So this is my chance to get closer to the Word and really understand the book that I occasionally quote from. 

Originally, I was going to start with the New Testament as a friend has advised me to do, since when I started on the Old Testament I kept getting hung up on what I saw at the time were contradictions, and baseless wickedness and corruption. It repelled me from the Bible. She mentioned that that is exactly why Jesus Christ came. To do away with the “old” ways and bring about a new, better way of living. Which is to love and care about one another. The reason the Old Testament is so important is so that we know the conditions of how the world used to be, before Jesus Christ arrived to show us a more peaceful and loving way to be. 

Now that I feel I may have a better understanding of this, I am compelled to start from “The Beginning“, both literally and figuratively. After having attempted Matthew 3, I realize that I am constantly having the urge to go back through the Bible to check references and names, etc. Since my desire is to take this one step at a time and build upon the knowledge based upon the timeline laid out before us in the Bible, I have decided to revisit the time I tried to read the Bible front to back, and see if my old views still stand. 

Make no mistake, I will still have questions and ponderings about why God decided to do the things He’s done (and of course more questions on top of that), but I have learned not to condemn or judge such actions since I do feel some things are beyond our understandings and it is not my place to judge. I will try my best to look at it from an unbiased and simply curious, thoughtful mind. 

To lay it out in a way that I can manage, I have highlighted the texts of verses that I either don’t understand or have a comment or question about in yellow. And the comments I’ve left beneath it will be of a smaller font and using brown text.

I would love it if you’d join me in this journey and if you have any insights and/or knowledge of these chapters/verses etc., please feel free to share with me and the other readers. Any chance to get a clearer understanding of the Bible and Jesus Christ would be welcomed with open arms.

All verses used are from biblestudytools.com (NIV) Genesis 4

Cain and Abel

1 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.”
2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.
4 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,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

When I first read these verses, I was thinking, for one, why would the Lord care about material offerings? Like sacrifices? To me, to my understanding at the time, God wouldn’t be swayed by materialistic offerings. After all, even without attempting to study the Bible, it’s known to not place your heart and desire onto material things. So it confused me as to why He was so pleased by the offering that Abel gave him. And was there any significance in sacrificing the “firstborn” of his flock?
My second thought was, “does God have favorites?”. I know, it might seem a bit juvenile or amateurish, but to claim that one understands exactly what’s going on in the thoughts of God or any others for that matter, is presumptuous and only speculation.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
7 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.”

So after trying to come to an understanding about why God would be accepting of Abel’s offering and not Cain’s, it seems as if the answer lies in the thoughts and the intention of those making the offering. Since Abel gave up his (presumably) prized firstborn of his flock with the hopes of honoring God, while Cain, it seems, merely offered up his crops (and not the best ones – but just some regular crops… I suppose), Cain was more doing it out of an obligation than out of sincerity.
So it seems what this boils down to, is that God knows what’s inside our hearts, and if we are doing the right thing rather than just pretending or “putting on a show”, if you will, then you will find favor with the Lord. Since God knew already that Cain did not have pure intentions, his offering was looked down upon as not worthy.
Again, these are merely my interpretations of things that I gather from further studying of other sources and commentary, as well as trying to glean understandings from the Bible, so if this is completely wrong, then please address this with me. I would appreciate it!

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Well, that was fast.
This reminds me of when you watch a show or a movie, and there’s something obviously edited out of the portion you just watched, and it confuses you and makes you wonder what part was missing. This is exactly how I feel during these verses. Now it could be because we don’t get a first-person view of Cain’s thought processes during all this, but just the mere fact that right after God told Cain that he should do what is right and that he must rule over sin, Cain commits murder right in the next verse. I don’t know about you, but this seems a little premature.
Right after God tells him that speech? What other details happened in between that time? If any of us are at all familiar with the Bible and other influences into how the Bible came to be about, we would know about the many, MANY books that were edited out of the final version. Could there be additional answers and information that fill in the dots throughout some of the Gnostic / Apocrypha, and perhaps other texts that have yet to be found or have been destroyed?

9 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.

It’s interesting to me that God asked Cain where Abel is, although the notion is that God already knows. So was God asking this of Cain as a way to test him? Either way, God would already know what Cain’s answer will be, so can I surmise that God involves Himself in pretenses and, like I mentioned in a previous chapter, participates in the role that He was destined to fill? Perhaps it’s because Cain does not know about God’s omniscience, and so God was indeed testing the heart of these people (even if He already knew) because these people did not already know that this is what is going on.
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 ; 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.

I am confused about what Cain is describing as ‘the land’. Adam and Eve were already expelled from the Garden of Eden. To wander other parts of the Earth, I assumed. Now here is Cain, talking about being driven from the land, again, and being doomed to be a restless wanderer on the Earth. He says it like the part of land he did live in was separate than that of the Earth. Am I misunderstanding this verse or looking too much into it? Does it simply mean that he was driven out of one area of land into another?

Then we have God’s mercy on Cain even though Cain killed his brother allegedly right after God lectured him on doing the right thing. It seems as if Cain took the rebellious route anyway and latched on to his envy and pride and killed his brother knowing that it was wrong. Even while knowing the presence of the Almighty.

Think of it this way. Cain knew God and spoke with Him, literally offered up his crops to Him only to have his offerings rejected. But Cain knew His presence. Knew His existence. In today’s age, we have to have belief and faith and many of us have not seen God (that we know of) or spoken with Him, and we are still expected to stand for what’s right. Cain literally was in the presence of God and still sinned. How much harder would it be for the rest of us? (I am not condoning sinning just because we haven’t had the same situation as Cain and Abel, just pointing out how much more of a disadvantage those of us in today’s time would likely be compared to those in the Beginning.)
And again, even after Cain kills his own brother, God still shows mercy and protects Cain from being killed by any other.

16 So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Again, this verse alludes to the fact that the land in which Cain lived with his family was filled with God’s presence. I have already assumed that it’s not the Garden of Eden since Adam and Eve were expelled from there before Cain and Abel were even born. Is this correct? If so, am I to conclude that there are two different levels that the Adam and Eve family lived in before they came to Earth? The first being the Garden of Eden, for Adam and Eve. Then they were cast out of there onto a different land, but still within God’s presence, before Cain was expelled from this second place onto what we call Earth? Again, not all of the dots are filled and one can only theorize or speculate as to what these verses mean.
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 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.”

I decided to skip the verses above because most of those names I am unfamiliar with at this time. However, I wanted to point out that while Lamech killed someone for hurting him, are we to take this to mean that Lamech did this in self-defense? And is this why Lamech has a higher degree of being avenged? Because it was not a kill out of spite like that of Cain’s, but that of self defense? Also, if we want to get technical with the whole family line, then I am assuming that it was a family member that Lamech killed, since at the time, presumably, there are no other human beings on the planet besides Cain’s family (and Adam and Eve still in the different land that they live in – without anyone else since Cain killed his only other sibling). As a matter of fact, we are all related to each other if we all ultimately came from Adam and Eve.

For that matter, although this chapter briefly mentions genealogy, where did the two women that Lamech married come from? Again, I am assuming they came from within Cain’s own family line, so they’re all interbred with one another. We don’t get clear information on who Adah and Zillah are in relation to the others. And with that being said, where on Earth (no pun intended) did Cain’s wife come from?? What are we missing here? Did Adam and Eve have a daughter and this is who Cain married and had children with?
If this was the case, why does the Bible not expand upon this? Where is the information?

I want to mention, again, if one were to check out the Gnostic/Apocrypha texts, it starts to fill in holes that are left out of the Bible. What are we to make of this? Why were these texts not included if it provides more insight into what happened? Is there false information in these texts that are meant to mislead the reader? Or is there more truth in these texts that are deliberately being kept out? Or, as some people speculate, is the Bible a mixture of different religions/myths all rolled into one as an attempt at population control? The bottom line would be, what is the core message of the Bible and does it align with how we should be living on Earth? And the endless pursuit of Truth should lead us closer to the answers. (And as I’ve touched on “channeled material” and vibrations, if one takes consciousness and energy/vibration into account, does everything ultimately depend on our belief/thought system?)
25 Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”
Nowhere is it mentioned that Adam and Eve gave birth to a daughter (yet). So again, I have to ask, where did Cain’s wife come from? She didn’t just fall out of the sky. (Or did she…?)
Now perhaps the Bible didn’t feel it necessary to mention the daughter(s) for one reason or another. Still, it is highly suspect and has to make one wonder why this wasn’t touched upon. Maybe it does in later verses, but as of now we are left in the dark as to this mystery. And the specific way as to how this particular verse alludes to Adam and Eve creating another child to replace Abel neglects to mention the possibility of any other children. Perhaps the significance of male children (son Seth to replace son Abel) was to be focused upon instead of the daughter(s) at this time.

26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD.

Although I am only 4 chapters into Genesis, I already have many questions and ponderings as to the missing information that I feel would help fill in some of the gaps. As it is now, I do further studies and research into the questions I have, and, as we’ll see later on in the chapter, some of those answers are, indeed, found. If one were to look at the Bible as a mystery novel (for example), there would be no other alternative but to continue reading to see if further revelations will be revealed. Likewise, I can’t expect to have all the answers laid out neatly in a line. So I feel as if reading through and conducting additional research helps.

And again I want to reiterate that some of my thoughts and theories may be way off base, and I also research some other things on the side as well to try and get a broader understanding of what I’m reading, so please bear with me, or, even better, if you have insights that bring more light to these verses, please let me know.

I enjoy bouncing off theories and theology off of each other and love to hear other people’s perspectives on things. Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

Fact checking is extremely important. I want to reiterate not to take everything at face value; no matter what you read, where you read it from, or who you hear it from. And to be clear, do not rely on “fact checking” websites to give you accurate information either. These are just as likely, (if not even more likely…), to feed false information and false debunking accounts to manipulate the reader. Please take everything into consideration before adhering to a certain narrative – and always keep your mind open to other possibilities.

Fair use disclaimer: Some of the links from this article are provided from different sources/sites to give the reader extra information and cite the sources, but does not necessarily mean that I endorse the contents of the site itself. Additionally, I have tried to provide links to the contents that I used from other sites as an educational and/or entertainment means only; if you feel that any information deserves further citation or request to be clarified, please let me know through the contact page.