Birth of Cain and Abel.
1. Eve said, I have gotten a man from the
Lord—that is, "by the help of the Lord"—an expression
of pious gratitude—and she called him Cain, that is, "a
possession," as if valued above everything else; while the arrival of
another son reminding Eve of the misery she had entailed on her
offspring, led to the name Abel, that is, either weakness, vanity
39:5), or grief, lamentation.
Cain and Abel were probably twins; and it is thought that, at this
early period, children were born in pairs (Ge 5:4) [Calvin].
2. Abel was a keeper of sheep—literally,
"a feeder of a flock," which, in Oriental countries, always includes
goats as well as sheep. Abel, though the younger, is mentioned first,
probably on account of the pre-eminence of his religious character.
3. in process of time—Hebrew, "at
the end of days," probably on the Sabbath.
brought … an offering unto the
Lord—Both manifested, by the very act of offering, their
faith in the being of God and in His claims to their reverence and
worship; and had the kind of offering been left to themselves, what
more natural than that the one should bring "of the fruits of the
ground," and that the other should bring "of the firstlings of his
flock and the fat thereof" [Ge 4:4].
4. the Lord had respect unto Abel, not unto
Cain, &c.—The words, "had respect to," signify in
Hebrew,—"to look at any thing with a keen earnest glance,"
which has been translated, "kindle into a fire," so that the divine
approval of Abel's offering was shown in its being consumed by fire
(see Ge 15:17; Jud 13:20).
7. If thou doest well, shalt thou not be
accepted?—A better rendering is, "Shalt thou not have the
excellency"? which is the true sense of the words referring to the high
privileges and authority belonging to the first-born in patriarchal
sin lieth at the door—sin, that is, a
sin offering—a common meaning of the word in Scripture (as in
Ho 4:8; 2Co 5:21; Heb 9:28). The purport of the divine rebuke to
Cain was this, "Why art thou angry, as if unjustly treated? If thou
doest well (that is, wert innocent and sinless) a thank offering would
have been accepted as a token of thy dependence as a creature. But as
thou doest not well (that is, art a sinner), a sin offering is
necessary, by bringing which thou wouldest have met with acceptance and
retained the honors of thy birthright." This language implies that
previous instructions had been given as to the mode of worship; Abel
offered through faith (Heb 11:4).
unto thee shall be his desire—The high
distinction conferred by priority of birth is described (Ge 27:29); and it was Cain's conviction, that
this honor had been withdrawn from him, by the rejection of his
sacrifice, and conferred on his younger brother—hence the secret
flame of jealousy, which kindled into a settled hatred and fell
8. And Cain talked with Abel his
brother—Under the guise of brotherly familiarity, he
concealed his premeditated purpose till a convenient time and place
occurred for the murder (1Jo 3:12; Jude 11).
9. I know not—a falsehood. One sin leads
10. the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto
me—Cain, to lull suspicion, had probably been engaging in the
solemnities of religion when he was challenged directly from the
11, 12. now art thou cursed from the
earth—a curse superadded to the general one denounced on the
ground for Adam's sin.
12. a fugitive—condemned to perpetual
exile; a degraded outcast; the miserable victim of an accusing
13, 14. And Cain said … My punishment is
greater than I can bear—What an overwhelming sense of misery;
but no sign of penitence, nor cry for pardon.
14. every one that findeth me shall slay
me—This shows that the population of the world was now
15. whosoever slayeth Cain—By a special
act of divine forbearance, the life of Cain was to be spared in
the then small state of the human race.
set a mark—not any visible mark or
brand on his forehead, but some sign or token of
assurance that his life would be preserved. This sign is thought by the
best writers to have been a wild ferocity of aspect that rendered him
an object of universal horror and avoidance.
16. presence of the Lord—the appointed
place of worship at Eden. Leaving it, he not only severed himself from
his relatives but forsook the ordinances of religion, probably casting
off all fear of God from his eyes so that the last end of this man is
worse than the first (Mt 12:45).
land of Nod—of flight or
exile—thought by many to have been Arabia-Petræa—which
was cursed to sterility on his account.
17-22. builded a city—It has been in
cities that the human race has ever made the greatest social progress;
and several of Cain's descendants distinguished themselves by their
inventive genius in the arts.
19. Lamech took unto him two wives—This
is the first transgression of the law of marriage on record, and the
practice of polygamy, like all other breaches of God's institutions,
has been a fruitful source of corruption and misery.
23, 24. Lamech said unto his wives—This
speech is in a poetical form, probably the fragment of an old poem,
transmitted to the time of Moses. It seems to indicate that Lamech had
slain a man in self-defense, and its drift is to assure his wives, by
the preservation of Cain, that an unintentional homicide, as he
was, could be in no danger.
26. men began to call upon the name of the
Lord—rather, by the name of the Lord. God's people, a name
probably applied to them in contempt by the world.