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Cain Murders Abel


Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the L ord.” 2Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. 3In the course of time Cain brought to the L ord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the L ord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6The L ord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9Then the L ord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10And the L ord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 11And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13Cain said to the L ord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” 15Then the L ord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the L ord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. 16Then Cain went away from the presence of the L ord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Beginnings of Civilization

17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch. 18To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael the father of Methushael, and Methushael the father of Lamech. 19Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. 21His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

23 Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;

you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:

I have killed a man for wounding me,

a young man for striking me.


If Cain is avenged sevenfold,

truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

25 Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.” 26To Seth also a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the name of the L ord.

9. Where is Abel ? They who suppose that the father made this inquiry of Cain respecting his son Abel, enervate the whole force of the instruction which Moses here intended to deliver; namely, that God, both by secret inspiration, and by some extraordinary method, cited the parricide242242     “Parricidam citaverit.” The word parricide is contrary to its original import, applied to the murderer of any near relative. — Ed. to his tribunal, as if he had thundered from heaven. For, what I have before said must be firmly maintained that, as God now speaks until us through the Scriptures, so he formerly manifested himself to the Fathers through oracles; and also in the same meaner, revealed his judgements to the reprobate sons of the saints. So the angel spoke to Agar in the wood, after she had fallen away from the Church,243243     By leaving the family of Abraham, in which alone the true service of God was maintained. — Ed. as we shall see in the eighth verse of the sixteenth chapter: Genesis 16:8. It is indeed possible that God may have interrogated Cain by the silent examinations of his conscience; and that he, in return, may have answered, inwardly fretting, and murmuring. We must, however, conclude, that he was examined, not barely by the external voice of man, but by a Divine voice, so as to make him feel that he had to deal directly with God. As often, then as the secret compunctions of conscience invite us to reflect upon our sins, let us remember that God himself is speaking, with us. For that interior sense by which we are convicted of sin is the peculiar judgement-seat of God, where he exercises his jurisdiction. Let those, therefore, whose consciences accuse them, beware lest, after the example of Cain, they confirm themselves in obstinacy. For this is truly to kick against God, and to resist his Spirit; when we repel those thoughts, which are nothing else than incentives to repentance. But it is a fault too common, to add at length to former sins such perverseness, that he who is compelled, whether he will or not, to feel sin in his mind, shall yet refuse to yield to God. Hence it appears how great is the depravity of the human mind; since, when convicted and condemned by our own conscience, we still do not cease either to mock, or to rage against our Judge. Prodigious was the stupor of Cain, who, having committed a crime so great, ferociously rejected the reproof of God, from whose hand he was nevertheless unable to escape. But the same thing daily happens to all the wicked; every one of whom desires to be deemed ingenious in catching at excuses. For the human heart is so entangled in winding labyrinths, that it is easy for the wicked to add obstinate contempt of God to their crimes; not because their contumacy is sufficiently firm to withstand the judgment of God, (for, although they hide themselves in the deep recesses of which I have spoken, they are, nevertheless, always secretly burned, as with a hot iron,) but because, by a blind obstinacy they render themselves callous. Hence, the force of the Divine judgment is clearly perceived; for it so pierces into the iron hearts of the wicked, that they are inwardly compelled to be their own judges; nor does it suffer them so to obliterate the sense of guilt which it has extorted, as not to leave the trace or scar of the searing. Cain, in denying that he was the keeper of his brother’s life, although, with ferocious rebellion, he attempts violently to repel the judgment of God, yet thinks to escape by this cavil, that he was not required to give an account of his murdered brother, because he had received no express command to take care of him.

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