Cain and Abel #7
This is the second post about Gen 4:7. In the previous one, we discussed whether doing good deeds guarantees a reward (at least in this world). Here, the verse continues to discuss the concept of sin, warn us from his lust, and gives us the commandment us to reign over it.
לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ
The most common interpretation for לַפֶּתַח is ‘at the door’ where the proposition לַ indicates that what comes after it is a place, and פֶּתַח means ‘door or a physical opening’. However, I want to offer a different interpretation. לַ in Hebrew often means ‘for the purpose of’, as we can see, for example, in Gen 1:17
וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים, בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם, לְהָאִיר, עַל-הָאָרֶץ
And God gave them, in the sky, to give light upon the earth
If we interpret in our verse לַ in this way, then the word פֶּתַח can be translated as opening, but not in the physical sense, but as an opportunity. That is, sin is crouching waiting for an opportunity to enter into you and take over you. By the way, in Hebrew every noun is either a male form or a female form – sin is clearly a male.
And why does he want enter into you? The next part of the verse gives us this answer.
he lusts after you
It is important to notice that in this verse sin is described as something that exists outside you, not something you are born with or grows inside you.
The verse does not tell us that we desire sin, rather it is the opposite. It is the sin that desires us.
And if you remember our previous post, it desires you whether you are an evil man or whether you are a righteous man. Sin does not distinguish.
This verse is a strong warning from God to Cain and to all of us: it does not matter who you are or how righteous you might be, sin is patiently awaiting for the opportunity to enter you, the object of his desire.
So what makes a righteous man? The verse immediately gives us the answer
And you shall reign over him
This is, arguably, the first commandment in the Bible. Sin had already been released into the world and our duty is to reign over him. There is no middle way. Because if we do not reign over sin, it will find a way to enter into us and reign over us.