101-104-Genesis Part 1 Chapter 4
Cain and Able Chapter Four
Cain and Able is the story of the first two children of Adam and Eve. Cain and Able is a well know bible story, as each gave unto the Lord offerings from their labors. Cain was the eldest and the meaning of his name is possession, a spear. Cain was a tiller of the ground like his father Adam. Cain was a sullen, self willed, haughty, vindictive man. Cain was wanting in the religious element of his character, and defiant even in his attitude towards God.
Cain was later the name of a post-Flood town of the Kenites, a branch of the Midianites (Josh. 15:57), on the east edge of the mountain above Engedi; probably the “nest in a rock” mentioned by Balaam (Num. 24:21). It is identified with the modern Yekin, 3 miles southeast of Hebron.
Abel was the second born of Eve. The meaning of his name is a breath, vapor, or vanity. Able was a Sheppard and tended his flock of sheep. Though man had not yet been given animals for food his flock was most likely used for sacrifice.
There are several references to Able in the New Testament. Jesus spoke of Able as righteous. (Matthew 23:25) “The blood of sprinkling” is said to speak “better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24) it is also said that Able offered a more excellent offering to God than Cain. (Hebrews 11:4)
Cain and Able
Following the command of God Adam and Eve began to be fruitful and multiply. If they had not fallen to sin then their children would also have been born in a righteous state. But now after being expelled from the Garden of Eden for their disobedience to the will of God they had now lost the goodness of God and were enveloped with a sin nature as a result of their knowledge of evil and desires of the flesh.
The last phrase in the first verse, “I have gotten a man child with the help of the LORD”, causes some speculation. In Eve’s hope from the message of God in the Garden she may have felt that her first born was the promise fulfilled that this child was the one who would crush the head of Satan. Eve was however mistaken in her hope. Eve’s child was born with Adam her husband, and therefore born with a sin nature and unfit to be a sacrifice to cover the wages of man’s sin. Eve named the first born in that mistaken hope Cain, which means possession.
In verse two Eve gives birth to her second child, another son, who she named Able. Eve now more sensible of her mistake with the naming of Cain named her second child Able, which means vanity.
Either by choice or by the direction of their father, Adam, Able became a tender of a flock of sheep. Cain, like his father, became a tiller of the ground.
In verse four we read that in the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord. We are not told what that course of time is. Some speculate that it was on the Sabbath day, a day of rest and worship of the Lord. It may also be a time at the end of the harvest. In Exodus 23:16 the Israelite nation was instructed to have a Feast of the Harvest. Either way Cain brought an offering from his labors.
Verse five says that Able also brought an offering to the Lord. Able as a Sheppard brought the firstlings of his flock, the first born or the lambs. God was pleased with Able’s offering, as it signified the sacrifice that God himself would one day offer to man, His first born Jesus. We also note that Able brought the fat portions. In Leviticus 3:16 we read, “The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the LORD’s.” So by being the first born, as Jesus was, and the fattest which is most pleasing to the Lord, God was well pleased with Able’s offering.
In verse five we see that the Lord had no respect for Cain’s offering. In comparison to Able’s offering we make these observations. Able brought the first born of his flock. The young lambs that were without blemish and fatted. His offering was in respect for the sacrifice that God would make on man’s behalf. Able offered the best of the fruit of his labor not just a portion. Of Cain’s offering Tzeror Hammor observes, that Cain brought what was left of his food, or light and trifling things, flax or hemp seed. Also Cain’s offering was that of plant life. Nothing was sacrificed by his offering where as the life of a lamb was given by Able. Where is faith without sacrifice? If we do not give of our first portion where is our faith that God will bless it by replenishing it with abundance? The Lord was not pleased with Cain’s offering because it was not given in faith; his offering gave no respect to the sacrifice that God would make in sending His Son as the Messiah.
Cain became angry with the Lord whom he had given an offering and with his brother Able whose offering had been accepted by the Lord. “And his countenance fell”, Cain’s appearance became sullen, he no longer looked up to God but dropped his sight to the ground. His heart filled with revenge as he searched for away to vent his anger.
The Lord asked Cain why he was angry and why his countenance had fallen? The Lord knew what was going on inside of Cain’s heart; it was not that He needed Cain to explain why. The Lord asked these questions so that Cain would examine himself as to why his countenance had fallen. Cain had acted incorrectly and not in the will of God. God wanted Cain to consider the reasons He was not pleased with his offering and realize the fault did not rest upon God or his brother Able.
Then God in verse seven tried to give Cain council. God advised him that if hid did his work well his countenance would be lifted. It is one thing to just go through the motions because you have to. It is quite the other to do your work well, putting your heart into it and working in a manner that glorifies God. Cutting corners or not performing correctly will never bring forth the expected reward or satisfaction of the one whom you serve. If there is no recognition from the one you serve then there is neither personal satisfaction. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that whatever we do we should do it for the glory of God. All rewards come from God so our efforts must first be to please Him.
The Lord then gave Cain a warning. “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.” Man’s continuous fellowship had already been lost by his fall to sin in the Garden. With the knowledge of the goodness of God lost and evilness he now was tinted with, the relationship he once had with God was now gone. The power of God’s Spirit was now no longer in him. If we do not that which is pleasing to God, then we have created a weakness which our adversary not only wants but seeks to exploit. If we do not act with faith in God, if we do not trust and obey Him, then we have opened the door for Satan to come in. This is the desire of Satan, as we read in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Then God the instructed Cain according to the free will of his choosing, “but you must master it.” Cain had the decision to either repent and return to a righteous state before God or continue in the path of his unrighteousness.
In verse eight Cain talks with Abel, either about what the Lord had spoken to him or a friendly entreaty to persuade Able to go to the field with him. In the original Hebrew text there is a pause here but the Jerusalem Targum gives us an account of what passed between them when in the field. “Cain said to Abel his brother, there is no judgment, nor Judge, nor will a good reward be given to the righteous; nor will vengeance be taken of the wicked; neither is the world created in mercy nor governed in mercy; otherwise, why is thine offering received with good will, and mine not?” Abel answered and said to Cain there is a judgment, and so goes on to assert everything Cain denied, and to give a reason why the offering of the one was accepted, and the other rejected.” Whichever the conversation between Cain and Able the outcome enraged Cain. In Cain’s jealousy of Abel Cain slew him. Jealousy born of self pride that led to murder as Cain had completely fallen to the pleasure of Satan.
In verse nine the Lord then questions Cain and asked where his brother Able is? Not that the Lord did not know but in the same purpose when he questioned Adam and Eve in the garden concerning their first sin. The Lord questioned Cain in an effort to bring him to confess what he had done, to make him fully aware of the sinful act he was responsible for. To touch the conscience of Cain and bring him to conviction and remorse for what he had done. But Cain responded that he did not know where his brother was. Cain thought he could lie to an all knowing God. To this day many people think they also can lie to an all knowing God.
In a feeble defense Cain then questioned God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain’s response was very impudently spoken. It was seemingly that Cain had a sense of admiration of himself that God would have asked him such a question. Cain knowing that he was not in charge of his brother Able, as Able was of the age to care for himself. Perhaps Cain felt that the care of his brother belonged to God in His providence. Cain displays the hardness of his heart, the deepness of his iniquity. Cain had stretched out against his brother and killed him, and now was stretching out the same hand against God.
In verse ten God responds, “What have you done?” God knew what Cain had done. God knew that Cain had killed his brother, his only brother Able. Able was a holy, righteous, and good man, who never gave thee any offence, or any just occasion of shedding his innocent blood. Again in the longsuffering of the Lord an attempt is given to Cain to confess what he had done. Before the sentence was passed, that it might appear to all to be just, and of which there was full proof and evidence, as follows: “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.” This account is referenced by Jesus in Matthew 23:25 “so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous bloodshed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” It may be that Jesus was speaking of the wound Cain inflicted upon Him by the spilling of innocent blood. Every wound and every drop of blood spilled cries for vengeance on the murderer.
In verses eleven and twelve the Lord passes his judgment upon Cain. Cain who was a cultivator of the soil would no longer receive its benefit. “Now you are cursed from the ground.” From this day forward Cain would be poor and wander the earth in search of rest. “You will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”
In verse thirteen Cain pleads to the Lord. “My punishment is too great to bear!” in verse fourteen Cain responds that the Lord has driven him from the place of his home. Cain now is driven away from his parents and family. Driven to a strange land where none live. To wander the land for substance for the ground would no longer honor his efforts. “Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground.” The Lord also withdrew His favor from Cain. The loss of God’s providence is surely a thought of horror when realizing our complete dependence upon God. “And from Your face I will be hidden.” Fear overcame Cain, as now he was to live without the protection of God almighty. “Whoever finds me will kill me.”
God had placed His judgment on Cain that he should live without the favor of God, without God’s grace. Cain’s final judgment was to be reserved till after death. Therefore God placed a mark upon Cain that he would be recognized and not killed. The judgment upon the one who killed Cain was even more severe and would be passed down to seven generations.
Cain left his home and family and moved to the land of Nod which is east of the Garden of Eden.