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(Isaiah 2:3)

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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

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Source of Dates Used

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית • B'resheet
(“In Beginning” or “At First”)
The First Book of Moses,
Commonly Called


~ 4 ~

Parashah 1: B'resheet (continued)
(In the Beginning, Gen. 1:1-6:8)

[Mesopotamia [MAP] 3972 BCE (R); 3974 (K) ]

H. First Three Sons of Adam and Havah (4:1-26)

1. Cain and Able Born (4:1-2a)

1The man had relations with his wife Havah, and she conceived and gave birth to Kayinקַ֔יִן Cain, “acquisition” or “possession”, and said, “I have acquired a man with the help of  Yehovah.”[GN]

[ca 3971 BCE]

2Later she gave birth to Kayhin’s brother Hevel הָ֑בֶל Abel, “breath”.[2a] Hevel was a keeper of sheep,[2b] but Kayhin was a tiller of the ground.

[ca 3847 BCE (R); 3944 (K)]

2. Brothers Bring Offerings (2b-7)

 3In the course of time,[3] Kayhin brought some of the fruit of the ground as an offering to Yehovah. 4Hevel also brought the best portions of the firstborn of his flock. Yehovah looked with favor on Hevel and his offering, 5but He had no regard for Kayhin and his offering.[5] So Kayhin became very angry, and the expression on his face fell. 6“Why are you angry?” Yehovah said to Kayhin,  “and why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you refuse to do what is right, sin is crouching at your door.[7a] Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”[7b]

3. The First Murder (4:8-9)

 8Kayhin said to his brother Hevel, “Let’s go into the field.” While they were in the field, Kayhin rose up against his brother Hevel and killed him.

9Yehovah said to Kayhin, “Where is your brother Hevel?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

4. Cain’s Punishment (4:10-16)

10Yehovah said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11Now you are cursed and banished from this land, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12From now on, when you till the ground, it will no longer yield its produce to you. You will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

13Kayhin said to Yehovah “My punishment is greater than I can bear.[13] 14Hinneh,[GN] today you have driven me out from the face of this land and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. Whoever finds me will kill me.”[14]

15“Not so!” Yehovah replied. “If anyone slays Kayhin, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” Yehovah placed a mark on Kayhin[15], so that nobody who found him would kill him.

16Kayhin left the presence of Yehovah   and settled in the land of Nod“wandering”, east of Eden.[16]

5. Descendants of Cain (4:17-22) [Nod, East of Eden]

 17Kayhin had relations with his wife.[17a] She conceived, and gave birth to HanokhEnoch, “dedicated”. Then Kayhin built a city,[17b] and named the city Hanokh, after his son. 18'IradIrad, “fleet” was born to Hanokh, and Irad became the father of Mechuya'elמְחֽוּיָאֵ֑ל ,Mehujael “smitten by God”. Mechuya'el became the father of Metusha'elוּמְתוּשָׁאֵ֖ל, Methusael, “who is of God”. Metusha'el became the father of Lamekhלָֽמֶךְ, Lamech, “powerful”.


Chamishi (Fifth) 19Lamekh married two wives:[19] the name of the first one was 'Adahעָדָ֔ה, “ornament”, and the name of the second one was Tzilahצִלָּֽה, Zillah, “shade”. 20Adah gave birth to Yavalיָבָ֑ל, Jabal, “stream of water”, who was the father of those who dwell in [nomads’] tents and raise livestock. 21His brother’s name was Yuvalיוּבָ֑ל, Jubal, “stream”, who was the father of all who play the lyreHebrew כננור, kinnowr, lyre or harp and pipeHebrew עוגב, 'uwgab, perhaps a flute, reed-pipe, or panpipes. 22Tzilah also gave birth to Tuval-kayinתּוּבַל קַיִן, Tubal-Cain, “you will be brought of Kayin”, the forger of every bronze and iron implement. Tuval-Kayhin’s sister was Na'amahנַֽעֲמָֽה, “loveliness”.

6. Lamech Confesses Killing (4:23-24)

23Lemekh said to his wives, “Adah and Tzilah, hear my voice. You wives of Lemekh, listen to my speech, for I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24If Kayhin will be avenged seven times, truly Lemekh seventy-seven times.”

7. Seth Born (4:25) [3845 BCE]

25Adam had relations with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son, and named him Shetשֵׁ֑ת, Seth, “compensation”, saying, “Elohim[GN] has granted me another child in place of of Hevel, since Kayhin killed him.”

8. Enosh Born (4:26) [3740 BCE, see Gen 5:6]

26A son was also born to Shet, and he named him Enoshאֱנ֑וֹשׁ, “man”. At that time men began to call on the Name of Yehovah.


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2a. Calvin says that Cain and Abel were probably twins, and that it is thought that, at this early period, children were born in pairs. I do not see this evidenced in Scripture. [BACK]

2b. 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 … character. (JF&B [Jamieson, Fausset & Brown]) [BACK]

 3.  Literally, “at the end of days” (Young’s Literal Translation); probably on Shabbat, as the “end of days” of the week. [BACK]

 5. Many teach that HaShem rejected Kayin’s offering simply because it was not a blood sacrfice. This cannot be the sole reason, because HaShem accepts all sorts of offerings that are not animals: the grain offering, the wine offering (libation), and First Fruits, for starters. However, if this were indended to be a sin offering, HaShem would certainly not have accepted it. I imagine (feel free to disagree) that is was Cain’s attitude rather than the actual quality of the offering. (“See what I am bringing? I did this with my own two hands!”) However, see note 7a, below.  [RETURN]

 7a. Sin, Hebrew חַטָּ֣את (ḥaṭ·ṭāṯ), is frequently used in Scripture to refer to the sin offering (as in Hosea 4:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 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 (Hebrews 11:4).” (JF&B) Whatever the case, verse 7 tells us that Cain had simply refused to do what he knew was right. [BACK]

 7b. Sin (our sin nature) desires to rule over us, but we are instructed to master (תִּמְשָׁל, tim·šāl), exercise dominion over) it; that is, we are to exercise control over our sin nature.  [BACK] 

13. Though he expresses misery over his punishment, there is no sign of regret or repentance over his crime, and no plea for pardon. [BACK]

14. “Whoever finds me will kill me” indicates that there was by this time a significant human population on earth. We have no record of how many children Adam and Eve produced over the course of many decades. We know that Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born (Gen 5:3), but Seth being the third named son means little in regards to birth rank. And think about it: 130 years is a long time for Eve to have had a mere three children! That’s only one child every 43 years. Seeing that Adam and Eve were commanded to reproduce (Gen 1:28), it might be assumed that Cain was born pretty early, perhaps a year or two after Creation Week. Abel was born after that, but not necessarily next. His name appears next, but this is because he is an important part of the story. Yet even if Abel was the second child, it is unlikely that Seth was the third. Cain may have been 130 years old, or older, when he murdered his brother, so that is likely that earth’s population numbered well into the thousands by this time. [BACK]

15. For years many racists taught (and surely there are some who still do) that black skin is “the mark of Cain.” This is utterly ridiculous. Except for Noah’s immediate family, the entire population of earth was wiped out in the Flood, including all of Kayin’s descendants. So whatever the “mark of Cain” was, it it was obliterated by the Flood and does not exist today. [RETURN]

16. Nobody knows where Nod was, only that is was an area somewhere east of Eden. Some have speculated that it might be as far east as India or China; that is mere speculation.  Hebrew נ֖וֹד (nō·wḏ) means “wandering,” so it may not be an actual place name; it may simply be “the land of wandering.” [RETURN]

17a. The old question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” is easily answered: he married one of his many sisters. He may well have been married before he murdered his brother, since his wife is mentioned as soon as Cain moves away. HaShem did not introduce a prohibition against marrying close relatives until 2,500 years later, in the time of Moses (Lev 18:10). Consider some of the important instances listed in the Bible: Noah’s grandchildren must have married each other (all of whom were cousins or siblings). Abraham married his half-sister Sarah (Gen 20:12). Abraham’s son Isaac married his closer-than-a-cousin Rebecca. And Jacob married his much-closer-than-cousins Leah and Rachel. In those early years, there was no prohibition against marrying close relatives. [RETURN]

17b. City-building clearly began with the second generation of humanity. There may have been a long history of “hunter-gatherers,” but not to the exclusion of city-dwelling communities. [RETURN]

19. This is the first polygamous marriage in human history, and it is always a source of misery. [RETURN]

Originally posted on Tuesday, 11 August 2020
Added some dates and comments on Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Page last updated on Monday, 27 March 2023 02:31 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

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