The Life of Cain – Who are We to Judge?

Cain and Abel #15

In our previous post we discussed Genesis 4:17. We saw that Cain built a city and called it after his son, Chanoch (Enoch). But that was not the end of Cain’s dynasty. His descendants were instrumental to the evolution of human society and culture. Not bad for a person who, without the punishment for killing his brother, would have remained working the soil for the rest of his life.  The question we must never forget to ask ourselves when we read the Bible is why is it telling us this story. In other words, what can we learn from it, and how it is relevant to us?

Verses 18-22 are mostly a list of births. So instead of analysing it word by word, as we normally do, I will draw it as a chart.

Genesis 4:18-22: A chart of descendants in the life of Cain: Cain, Chanoch, Irad, Mechuyael, Methushael, Lamech. Lamech wives were Adah and Zillah
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The Better Life of Cain: When One Path Ends Another Starts

Cain and Abel #12

In Gen 4:14 Cain, not accepting the consequences of his action, continues to plead for leniency.  This, of course, supports our understanding that in verse 13 he was complaining about his punishment, not admitting guilt. But more than that, this verse teaches us that at times of change, as bleak as our future life may seem, end of one path presents us with new opportunities, often better than those we are leaving behind.  

Table which shows the English translation of Genesis 4:14 where Cain is speaking to God about his future life, next to the original Hebrew Bible text: 14. "Because you expelled me today from the face of the land, and I will be hidden from your face, I would become a wanderer of the land, and if someone found me, they would kill me.
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Does Cain Admit His Guilt?

Cain and Abel #11

In Genesis 4:12-13 God continues to elaborate on the consequences of Cain ’s action. This verse makes us wonder, again, if a punishment was handed by God, or is God elaborating on the consequences as a matter of cause and effect?

Cain follows with an ambiguous defence statement, which can be interpreted either as an admission of guilt, or the exact opposite.

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Who Punishes Cain?

Cain and Abel #10

Clearly, we cannot attribute human feelings, like anger or even love, to God. The Bible, written for people, uses the words of human emotions to describe God, knowing well that it is only for the sake of our limited human understanding. But under this limitation, was it out of anger that God confronted Cain in Genesis 4: 10 and 11? Does the text tell us who punishes Cain?

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