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- And Adam knew Eva his wife, and she conceived, and bare Cain; and
said, I have gotten a man through God.
- And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel became a keeper of
sheep, but Cain became a worker of the land.
- And after days it came to pass, that Cain brought of the
fruit of the earth a sacrifice unto the LORD.
- And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his sheep and of
the fat thereof. And God had regard unto Abel and to his
- But unto Cain and to his sacrifice he had not regard. And Cain
was very grieved, and his countenance fell.
- And the LORD God said unto Cain, Why art thou
become extremely grieved? and why is
- Hast thou not sinned, if thou hast brought it rightly but
not rightly divided [it]? be still, to thee [shall be] his
submission, and thou shalt rule over him.
- And Cain said to Abel his brother,
Let us go out into the plain: and it came to pass, when
they were in the plain, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother,
and slew him.
- And the LORD
God said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he
said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
- And the LORD said, What hast thou done? [the] voice of thy
blood crieth unto me from the earth.
- And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her
mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
- When thou tillest the earth also, it shall not
continue to give unto
thee her strength; a groaning and a trembling shalt thou be
upon the earth.
- And Cain said unto the LORD God,
My blame is too great for me.
- If thou drivest me out this day from the face of the
earth, and from thy face shall I be hid, and I shall be a groaning and
a trembling upon the earth, it shall be also, that every one
that findeth me shall slay me.
- And the LORD God
said unto him, Not so. Any that slayeth Cain
shall pay a sevenfold penalty. And the LORD God set a sign
upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
- And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in
the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
- And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and
he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of
his son, Enoch.
- And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and
Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
- And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was
Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
- And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in
tents, and of such as have cattle.
- And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such
as handle the harp and organ.
- And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every
artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
- And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice;
ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to
my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
- If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and
- And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his
name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead
of Abel, whom Cain slew.
- And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his
name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
- General: Abel as a Prefiguration of Christ:
In the Symposium of Methodius, Thecla says [xi, 2.11]: "Abel,
clearly prefiguring Thy death, O Blessed One, with flowing blood
and eyes uplifted to Heaven said: Cruelly slain by a brother's
hand, O Word, I pray Thee to receive me."
- General: Cain and Death:
Theophilus [Autolyc. ii 29] remarks:
"Thus did death get a beginning in this world,
to find its way into every race of man even to
this day." See also the note on v.
- General: Cain and Envy:
The story of Cain and Abel is very often cited
as a case of envy. [Apost. Const. vii 1.5
Greg. Dial., Past. Rule iii 10]
- General: Cain and Pride:
Cain's envy (see note above) was perhaps rooted
in pride. [Apost. Const. vii 1.5]
- General: Cain and Satan:
Theophilus [Autolyc. ii 29] declares that Satan
was angered by the increasing size of the human population,
and by the fact that Abel had pleased God; he therefore
"wrought upon" Cain to kill his brother.
- General: Cain's Punishment:
Some sources emphasise the greatness of the
punishment: if Cain,
who had no example to go by, was so punished, what of us?
[Chrysostom, In Gen. xviii, 25].
Others emphasise the opposite: "How great the
offence, the sentence how light!" [Cyril Jer. Catech. Lect.
- v. 1, "Adam knew Eva his wife":
As [shall be] discussed in the commentary on
Gen. 2:24, a number of opinions
may be found in patristic literature concerning the marital
relationship of Adam and Eve in Paradise. Most agree, however,
that the precise form of sexual life known today began after the
Fall, and that Cain was conceived outside of Eden.
- v. 1, "Cain":
Several etymologies have been proposed. The Zohar (54b)
says that it comes from qina, "nest", meaning of
demons. Other sources relate it to qina' (with
a final aleph), "wrathful", or, changing the first
letter, to Kion, in Hebrew
a synonym for "Saturn", who of course
appears in mythology as the first farmer.
- v. 1, "and said":
The MT explicitly indicates that Eve is
the speaker, and (although there is no pronoun in
the LXX) this is also assumed by the vast majority
of Orthodox Christian commentators. An exception
is St. Basil [S. Spir. v, 12], who considers Adam to be the
- v. 1, "I have gotten a man through God":
A famously difficult verse, even more so in the MT than in
the LXX. The MT follows "gotten a man" with eth JHWH;
ordinarily, eth marks the accusative case. This
has led a few commentators to suppose that Eve mistook Cain
for the promised Messiah. Most, however, claim that the
direct object particle eth is being used unusually as
a preposition, equivalent to the LXX's dia.
Basil [S. Spir. v, 12] cites dia in this phrase as an
example of "through" meaning "from", a point of importance
much later during the Filioque controversy.
Chrysostom (In Gen. xviii, 14), the phrase
emphasises that the continuation of the race is a gift of
God, taking place by grace rather than by nature.
St. Ephraim Syrus glosses: "Not by Adam who knew her,
but by the Lord," [Gen. & Exod. iii, 1].
- v. 2, "She again bare his brother":
The second child was a reward for Eve's gratitude,
expressed in v. 1 [Chrysostom, In Gen. xviii, 15].
- v. 2, "Abel": Hebrew Hebel,
"vanity" or "emptiness".
- v. 3, "after days": So both LXX and MT; the
King James translation is "in process of time". The so-called
86th Epistle of St. Cyril of Alexandria (probably an ancient Irish
text written during the Easter controversy) glosses "in March".
The Zohar gives a typically obscure interpretation [54b]:
"after days" means "the end of all days" or death.
- v. 3, "sacrifice": Cain intuited the
need for sacrifice [Chrysostom, In Gen. xviii, 15].
- v. 4, "fat": There was disagreement
about whether the text means "fat" or "fatlings". The issue is
discussed in the Talmud [Sebachim 116a].
- v. 4, "had regard unto": According to ancient
tradition, this "regard" was shown by sending fire from Heaven to
consume the sacrifice [Aphraat 63;
Cyril Alex., Glaphura, i, 3;
Ephraim Syrus, Gen. & Exod. iii.3;
Talmud, Aggadat Shir vi, 40];
Theodotion actually translates "and God burned it".
- v. 5, "had not regard":
whereas Abel offered his best animals, Cain selected
produce of inferior quality:
"either young grains or fruits that are found at the same
time as young grains", [Ephraim Syrus, Gen. & Exod. iii.2;
cf. Chrysostom, In Gen. xviii, 19];
otherwise, his offering, too, would have been acceptable.
Or, because Cain had a cruel and already murderous
character [Ephraim Syrus, Gen. & Exod. iii.2].
Not because a shepherd's way of life is superior
to a farmer's [Chrysostom, In Gen. xviii, 20].
- v. 5, "grieved": Why was Cain grieved?
Because his sacrifice was rejected. Or, not because his
sacrifice was rejected, but because his brother's was accepted
[Ephraim Syrus, Gen. & Exod. iii.3].
- v. 6, "extremely grieved":
Gk. perilypos. The MT has charah, "ablaze",
usually meaning "with anger".
- v. 7, entire verse:
The text is extremely
difficult, whether in Hebrew or in Greek, and
seems to have puzzled even early commentators.
The translation given here is Brinton's.
However, the MT is also worth considering, as
several commentators (notably St. Ephraim) follow
it rather than the Greek. The Literal Bible
translates it as: If you do well, is there
not exaltation? And if you do not do well,
sin is crouching at the door, and its desire
is toward you, but you should rule over it.
The phrase "at the door" is strangely glossed in
the Talmud [Sanh. 91b; Koh. 4.13;
Teh. 9.82], which explains that evil appears
at conception (the "door"), but good only at the age of 13.
- v. 7, "if thou hast brought
it rightly": The idea of sacrifice was good,
but the choice of an offering flawed [Chrysostom,
In Gen. xix, 4].
- v. 7, "be still":
The phrase has dropped out of the MT.
It is cited by the Apostolic Constitutions
[ii 3.16] to justify keeping repentant sinners
separate for a period of time rather than allowing them
to immediately participate in the life of the Church,
before it is certain their repentance is sincere.
- v. 7, "submission":
Gk. apostrophe, some kind of turning,
the same word used in
Gen. 3:16 for Eve's attitude to Adam after the Fall.
- v. 7, "rule over him":
But who is "he"? Sin, as in most interpretations
based on the MT?
Or Abel, who will remain a subordinate
younger brother? [Chrysostom, In Gen. xix, 4].
The sacrifice itself, the physical motion of
which Cain can control? [Some commentators mentioned by Chrysostom loc.
- v. 8, "Let us go out:"
Cain's speech has dropped out of the MT.
- v. 8, "plain":
Either they dwelt on a mountain near the gates
of Paradise, or Abel was grazing his flocks in
the highlands, [Ephraim Syrus, Gen & Exod. iii, 5].
In the IV Century, there was apparently a Jewish
tradition that the murder took place in
Damascus [Jerome, In Ezek. xxvii, 18].
The MT has "field"; Cain grew his crops in the
lowlands, and used the height of their growth
to conceal the murder, [Ephraim Syrus, Gen & Exod. iii, 5].
Into the plain, because their parents
lived elsewhere, [Chrysostom, In Gen. xix, 3].
- v. 9, "Where is ... ?":
One of the famous examples of God seeming
not to know something. It does not really mean
that God is ignorant, [Chrysostom, Nat. Incompr. ix, 6].
Clearly, if he did not know where Abel was, why
would He add "his blood crieth unto me"?
[Greg. Dial. Ep. 10, 39].
- v. 9, "brother's keeper":
Natural law makes older brothers responsible for the
safety of younger, [Chrysostom, In Gen. xix, 8].
- v. 10, "blood": The MT has
"bloods", which has been variously explained. According
to the Talmud [Sanh. iv, 5], it means his own
blood and that of his descendents. Theophilus [Autolyc. ii 29]
remarks that, observationally, soil "rejects" human and even
animal blood, i.e. when poured on the ground blood coagualtes
more rapidly than it is absorbed. This apparent revulsion
towards shed blood by the earth itself, he adds, is the soil's
testimony that man, not nature, is the cause of death.
- v. 11, "cursed":
who had no example to go by, was so punished, what of us?
[Chrysostom, In Gen. xviii, 25].
- v. 12, "the earth":
The Zohar [54b] notes that the curse of Cain exactly
parallels the curse of Adam.
- v. 12, "a groaning and a trembling":
Gk. stenon kai tremon. According to the Clementine
Recognitions [7:47], parricides are afflicted with
- v. 13, "blame":
Gk. aitia means "blame", "guilt", or "responsibility",
but not "punishment".
- v. 15, "sevenfold":
This verse is frequently juxtaposed with
the sevenfold or seventy-times-sevenfold forgiveness in
and is also included in lists of biblical "sevens".
Many sources interpret this verse counterintuitively,
as part of Cain's punishment rather than as any kind
of protection. Thus
acc. to Basil [Ep. 260, ii-iii], Cain committed seven sins:
envy, guile, murder, fratricide, bad example (as the
first murderer), causing grief to his parents, and lying
(to God), and ought to suffer sevenfold. Aware of this,
he hopes to be slain, because death happens only once.
God's reply means that whoever kills Cain is discharging
all seven punishments. [Cf. Jerome, Ep. 36]
- v. 17, "Enoch":
This Enoch is confused with
Enos son of Seth in the Clementine Recognitions
[4:14] and more surprisingly by Jerome [Cont. Jovin.
- v. 17, "builded a city":
"Cain's city is the world, which the devil, that accuser
of his brethren ... has built of vice." [Jerome, Ep. 46, vii]
- v. 23, Lamech's speech:
George Chumnos fills in the details:
Lamech, although blind, was a hunter of immense strength.
He relied on his small son to aim his powerful bow. On one
occasion, he heard a rustling sound in the brush, and had the
child aim the weapon, but upon firing it learned that the
sound had been the "groaning and trembling" of Cain, and that
he had slain his own ancestor. Enraged, he struck and killed the
little boy as well. Afterward, however, he repented, and thus
became the first sinner to be forgiven. Other traditions,
however, specifically deny that Cain was one of the two people
killed (e.g. Basil, Ep. 260, 5).
- v. 26, "call upon the name of the
LORD": Enos called, which is good, but St. Basil preached,
which is better [Greg. Theol. Panegyr. Basil]. Enos
hoped to call, and was commended for hoping to call,
not for hoping to know [Greg. Theol. Orat. 28 xviii].
Orthodox Library, St. Theodulus of Tripoli, 2006.
Have mercy, O Lord, upon Thy servants
the scribe John, the priest John, Marjean,
and the parishioners of the temple of Saint Andrew in Lubbock.
THE END, AND TO GOD BE THE GLORY!