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Genesis: Chapter 4

Categories: GenesisTags: 3.5 min read

This chapter tells us about the descendants of Adam and Eve and the problems that they experienced. It also tells us about the offerings that they brought to God and how some offerings were acceptable to God and others were not. We discussed the lesson from this which seems to be that we cannot choose how we worship God; we have to do it in the way that He has appointed.

V. 1-4 Here we are told that Eve gave birth to two sons; Cain and then Abel. Cain grew crops and Abel kept sheep. When they brought offerings to God, Cain offered something he had grown in the ground whereas Abel offered a lamb. God was displeased with Cain’s offering but He accepted Abel’s.

We had quite a lot of discussion about the reason why God was pleased with the lamb but not the plant offering and it was pointed out that lamb offerings become very significant later on in Scripture. Perhaps Abel’s offering was acceptable because it pointed forward to other ‘sin’ offerings whereas Cain’s did not. In support of this idea we looked back at chapter 3 v. 21 where God replaced the clothes Adam and Eve had made from leaves with the skins of dead animals. God made it clear that nakedness or ‘sin’ could not be covered without the loss of life.

V. 5-8 We wondered why Cain was angry enough to commit murder when Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and his was not. Perhaps Cain was concerned about losing his God given pre-eminence over his younger brother and his birth-right. This is implied in v. 7 where God says to Cain “If thou dost well shalt thou not be accepted?” “and unto thee shall be his (i.e. Abel’s) desire and thou shall rule over him”. The same words were used to Eve when she was told that her choices would be subject to her husband’s will and that he would rule over her (Genesis is 3 v. 16). It would seem that God, in fact, provided Cain with a lamb that he could offer instead if he looked outside where a “sin-offering (Hebrew ‘chatta’ah’) coucheth at the door” but Cain refused to do this and instead went out and killed his brother in a jealous rage.

V. 9-15 Cain was told that he would be cursed because of this crime. He was told that the ground would not yield productively for him and that he was to be sent away from his family and home and become a wanderer and fugitive. This reflects and intensifies the curses placed on Adam in chapter 3 vv. 17 and 23. Cain was particularly upset because he thought that he would also be sent away from God’s presence (v. 14) which suggests that he had not yet appreciated that God is present everywhere. It was suggested that perhaps angels were still on the earth, instructing Adam and Eve in how to use its resources and Cain did not want to be banished from this advice.  Cain was also worried that if he was caught, he would be murdered in retaliation for what he had done. We discussed the fact that God forbad (v15) any such acts of vengeance and continues to do so.

V. 16-22 in these verses we learn about the descendants of Cain. We wondered where his wife came from and those of his children and thought that Adam and Eve must have had many more children after Cain and Abel and that some of these became wives of their brothers. This seems strange to us, but things were clearly very different then.

V. 23 We noted that Lamech, Cain’s great, great, great grandson, also committed murder which indicates how far from God and His ideals the descendants of Cain had drifted.

V. 24-26 Here we are told the name of another of Eve’s sons; Seth and of his son Enosh. We learned that after the birth of Enosh people began to call on the name of the Lord. Does this suggest that, in contrast to the descendants of Cain, worship and obedience to God was becoming more organised through the line of the younger brother i.e. Seth?

ADDITIONAL READING

FURTHER THOUGHTS

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