1. Children for the first man and mannin
Adam came to know the partner God had foreseen for him.
The Hebrew term “knew” speaks of intimate personal relationship (BDB 393, KB 390, Qal Perfect, cf. Jer_1:5). Whether this was the first sexual union between Adam and Eve is not stated. The Bible is silent about how many children they had and when they had them.
That Eve got “a man-child” with the help of the Elohim implies that this was a statement of faith by Eve based on the saying of the Most High that her desire was going to go to her man and she would come to conception. יהוה God told her that she would bring forth children in sorrow (Bereshith 3:16) .
Genesis 4:1-2 IAV And Adam knew Havah his wife; and she conceived, and bare Kayin, and said, I have gotten a man from YY . (2) And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Kayin was a tiller of the ground.
The name “Kayin,” or “Cain” (qayin, BDB 884 III, KB 1097, and BDB 888-89) is a sound play on the Hebrew word “gotten” (qaniti). It seems to affirm that Cain was a special gift with the help of YHWH (possibly even a fulfillment of Gen_3:15).
Some rabbis say that because the phrase “and Adam knew Eve” is missing in Bereshith 4:2 that Kayin (Cain) and Abel would be twins, but this seems highly unlikely.
The Hebrew term “Abel” means “breath,” “vapor,” or “vanity” (BDB 211 II, cf. Ecc_1:2). There are three possible implications of this name:
- this may reflect (a) Eve’s discouragement about her fallen condition or (b) a prediction about the shortness of his life;
- a possible link to the Akkadian word “son” (ibil); and
- others have asserted that it is related to the word “weakness” because of Eve’s discouragement over the curse of many children (cf. Gen_3:16).
2. Offers for God
From the seed of Eve comes the first generation. That generation we shall see shall have certain weaknesses. there may have been the discouragement of Eve concerning the horrible curse, she, her husband and her children going to have to face an end to their life. But with the know ledge they went wrong and should restore the relationship with their creator they wanted to please Him by bring offers to Him.
Genesis 4:3-7 IAV And in process of time it came to pass, that Kayin brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto YY . (4) And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And YY had respect unto Abel and to his offering: (5) But unto Kayin and to his offering he had not respect. And Kayin was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (6) And YY said unto Kayin, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
In this chapter we hear for the first time that offerings are brought for God. (BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil Imperfect). People should know when one wants to bring an offer to God, in a certain way everything belongs already to God and nothing is inherently inferior in a grain sacrifice versus an animal sacrifice. The significance is in the faith of the offerer, not the sacrifice itself. Possibly they brought the offering to the gateway of the garden of Eden. both wanted to please God, but their intention had not the same depth.
Abel bringing the “firstlings” (BDB 114) or the best of his flock, which showed an attitude of faith and respect. Whilst Kayn (Cain) did not bring the best of his agricultural produce. Apparently here and in later Judaism, the intestines and the fat connected to it were what was offered on the altar: (1) they were seen as the seat of the emotions or (2) the fat was a symbol of prosperity and health.
The SEPT, JPSOA, and NET Bible understand this phrase as referring not to the fat of the intestines offered on the altar, but as the best of the flock. This fits the context better.
The Elohim “looked upon” Abel his offering with a positive connotation (BDB 1043, KB 1609, Qal Imperfect, cf. TEV and NJB). We may not know how God communicated His joy for the one and His displeasure in the other, but they very well felt how god looked at their offering. It has been noted by commentators, both ancient and modern, that God accepted Abel first and then his offering. This is always the order (cf. Heb_11:4). The problem with Cain was his attitude. It is possible that God is showing His sovereignty by loving the younger not the older. This is seen throughout Genesis.
3. Desires and intentions
In the 5th verse of this chapter the Hebrew words are very intense describing Cain’s emotions (BDB 354, KB 351, Qal Imperfect plus the ADVERB “very,” BDB 547). We can read how Kayin was very angry at God and how the expression on his face fell. Instead of telling what he found of this reaction of God to God he takes his anger out on his brother. The context here is anger amidst worship. Possibly he was upset because he brought his offering first, but Abel’s was accepted and his was not.
There is a word play in “his countenance fell” between “fell” in Gen 4:5-6 (BDB 656, KB 709) and “will not your countenance be lifted up” in Gen_4:7. The term “lifted up” can mean “accepted” (BDB 669, KB 724, Qal Infinitive construct, cf. NKJV, NRSV, TEV).
Though the Hashem asks the son of Eve why he is so angry. God telling him that
Genesis 4:7 NEV If you do well, will it not be lifted up? If you don’t do well, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is for you, but you are to rule over it.
indicates that God wants man to think about what he does and why there are certain reactions. The Elohim wants to help the person to understand his own feelings and motives (cf. Gen 4:9; Gen 3:9; Gen 3:11; Gen 3:13).
As in the previous chapter chet is personified as a wild animal whose desire is to destroy (cf. 1Pe_5:8). There is a possible Akkadian connection with the word “crouching” which was used of the demonic (BDB 918, KB 1181, Qal Particible). This shows the true nature of sin in our world.
Bereshith 4:6-16 The Punishment of Cain
Bereshith 4:6-16 The Punishment of Kayin (commentary)
- Out of the Garden, part eight
- East of Eden and the Cain and Abel Story
- Mirroring of Genesis 3-4 on God’s Clock
- Genesis 4:1-17: Cain and Abel
- No. 65 Abel…
- Cain & Abel
- Cain & Abel (by awakened)
- Cain, Abel, and the Protection of Sacred Knowledge
- Cain and Abel: Is Violence Inevitable?
- Hall of Faith – Abel
- Sermon on “Ungrace”- 27th May 2018
- Daily Devotional – Genesis 4:1-15
- Stories Of Sacrifice
- Evil — Questions, Part 5