Genesis 5:1-5

1 This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.

He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.

So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.

The main point of this section [Genesis 5:1-11:9] is that human depravity is here to stay—that it is, in fact, endemic to the human condition. This is driven home by the two grand narrative episodes contained in this section—the Flood and the building of Babel/Babylon. Both episodes make clear that depravity (i.e., the predilection to sin) is not the result of an environment or circumstance (though this may certainly exacerbate the expression of depravity)—that is, in the terminology of the modern debate, nurture—but rather it is the result of our nature, and hence to be found in every individual. It is essential, therefore, to the point of this last section that the scope of these two grand events be understood exactly as the text presents them—to wit, as events which, in both instances, encompass all (not most or the Middle-Eastern) portion of humanity. — Wechsler, page 127.

In the first verse of Genesis 5, the writer recalls again that God created man “in the likeness of God.” But then, in verse 3, he says that Adam “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth.” Between Adam and Seth intervened the Fall. Though Adam was created in God’s image, Seth was begotten in Adam’s image; he therefore partook of the fallen nature of his father (note Romans 5:12-14). — Morris, pages 150-151.

These verses [vs. 1-2] obviously refer to Genesis 1:26-28. The reason for this is clearly to tie this new section back to the first record. The first was the toledoth of “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 2:4), the “book of the toledoth of Adam” (5:1) has just been completed and now, much later, “the toledoth of Noah” (6:9) is beginning to be inscribed. It was necessary for Noah’s record to be identified with both of the others, as a continuation of the “official” history of the human race and specially of the line of promise. Furthermore, this brief summary then makes this section a complete record of the antediluvian patriarchs, from the date of Creation down to the birth of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It therefore provides the chronological framework of history from Creation to the Flood. — Morris, page 152. 

Genesis 5:5 gives Adam’s obituary announcement, fulfilling the physical aspect of the death sentence pronounced on him in Genesis 3:19 and assuring all of humanity that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). — Morris, page 153.

A straightforward reading of the biblical genealogies from the reliable Masoretic text shows that Adam was created about 4000 B.C. and that the Flood occurred around 2500 B.C. Contextual, linguistic, and historical analyses of the book of Genesis confirm that the chronogenealogies are a complete record with no gaps. Creationists who wish to push back the date of the Flood and creation to fit their geological or archaeological theories have no ground to do this based on the biblical record. — Taylor, page 129.

These opening verses reiterate the central idea set forth in 1:26-28, to wit: that mankind (both males and females equally) was created—uniquely among all living creatures—in the likeness of God. By repeating this point here, after mankind’s Fall from perfection, we are being reminded that this fundamental divine “likeness” remains intact—and so to, by implication, do we retain our pride of place as the crowning recipient of God’s blessing, both materially, as the administrators and prime benefactors of Creation, and spiritually, as those who have been uniquely privileged with the potential of experiencing spiritual “wholeness”—that is, unbroken and complete relationship with our Creator-Father. To this is also here added—and for the first time stated explicitly—that God named humanity in the day when He created them, the point of which, in the present context, is two-fold: one the one hand, as indicated by the act of naming in general, to underscored God’s continuing dominion over mankind (now despite the advent of depravity); and, on the other hand, to underscore God’s continuing paternal role as the Father of mankind, as underscored by the observation that both throughout this chapter, as in the Bible generally, the name of a son is given by his father. — Wechsler, page 128.

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Genesis 4:25-26

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”

26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.

The name Seth means “appointed” or “substituted,” and indicates that Eve had faith that it was through this son that God’s promises would eventually be fulfilled. … In the days of [Enosh] (meaning “mortal frailty,” an implicit testimony to Seth’s awareness of man’s deep spiritual need), the son of Seth, it is recorded that “men began to call upon the name of Jehovah.” — Morris, page 149.

As sons continue to be born to man and the population of mankind consequently increases, so too does the presence, realization, and aftermath of depravity, with the result that the name of the Lord (a synecdoche for the Lord Himself) in increasingly invoked. The purpose of this invoking or “calling upon” the name of the Lord would therefore be to seek His aid in deliverance from death or distress, as is consistent with this expression elsewhere in Scripture (cf. 2 Kings 5:11; Psalm 116:4; Joel 3:5)—including as well the complementary idea of invoking the name of the lord as an act of worship in response to His acts of deliverance and sovereign self-revelation (cf. 1 Kings 18:39; Psalm 105:1; Zephaniah 3:9). The use of this expression thus adeptly serves to bring this section to thematic-theological closure, implying not only the increasing depravity of man—consistent with the overall theme of 1:1–11:26—but also, on the positive side, God’s continuing solicitude for the welfare of man and His increasing glorification via the worshipful response of those who receive and recognize His solicitude. — Wechsler, page 126. 

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Genesis 4:16-24

16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.

17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch.

18 To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.

19 Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah.

20 And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.

21 His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute.

22 And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

23 Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me.

24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

Nod (v.16) = from a word that means “to move to and fro, wander”

This quote by Morris is surmise, but interesting.

Since, according to the record in Genesis 5, each named patriarch lived many hundreds of years and “began sons and daughters,” it is reasonable and very conservative to assume that each family had, on the average, at least six children. … If it is further assumed that, on the average, these children grew to maturity, married, and began to have children of their own by the time their parents were eighty years old, and that the parents lived though an average of five such “generations,” or four hundred years, then it can easily be calculated that the earth had acquired within its first eight hundred years (presumably approximately the lifetime of Cain, as a minimum) a population of at least one hundred and twenty thousand.

By the time of the Deluge, 1,656 years after creation by the Ussher chronology, even using the above conservative assumptions, the world population would have been at least seven billion people!

Not only did the population increase, but the technological and cultural level, at least of the Canaanitic civilization, seems to have been very high. Metal tools and implements of all kinds were available to produce creature comforts, as well as musical instruments to stimulate the emotional and esthetic senses. — Morris, pages 143-144.

Two of the names [of Cain’s descendants] end with el, the name of God, a fact which perhaps indicates that even those in the line of Cain continued to believe in God …

Authorities believe Irad means “townsman,” Mehujael means “God gives life,” and Methusael “God’s man.” … Lamech may mean “conqueror.”

Lamech apparently was the man who led the Cainites into open rebellion against God. He began by defying God’s ordained principle of monogamy (Genesis 2:23-24), taking two wives, Adah and Zillah. This was in the seventh generation from Adam, the same as that of Godly Enoch in the Sethitic line. These were presumably attractive women (Adah means “ornament” and Zillah means “shade”)… — Morris, page 145.

Jabal (“wanderer”) invented the tent, thus enabling him to carry his home with him and develop a nomadic life style. he also developed formal systems for domesticating and commercially producing other animals besides Abel’s sheep. The term “cattle” here includes camels and asses (Exodus 9:3) as well as kine, goats, and perhaps others.

Jubal (“sound”) … was an inventive genius, originating both stringed and wind musical instruments.

Their half-brother Tubal-cain was evidently the inventor of metallurgy, both in bronze and iron. — Morris, page 146.

[Lamech’s] character is revealed by this preserved fragment of a song [vs. 23-24] he had composed (the first recorded poem in history) and sung to his two wives Adah and Zillah, boasting of his prowess in combat and his determination to visit mortal retribution on anyone presuming to oppose him.

In punishing his ancestor Cain, God had nevertheless issued warning against killing Cain, stating that sevenfold punishment would overtake anyone doing so. But now Lamech says in effect: “Well, if God promises a sevenfold vengeance on anyone killing Cain, I myself guarantee a seventy-sevenfold retribution on anyone who even hurts me!” — Morris, page 148.

I have attempted to avoid the lectures on this passage that most commentators include. Their take is that Cain’s entire family was evil for attempting to make life easier for themselves by developing animal husbandry, music, and metal working. Instead, they should have been focusing on God. As I read these accounts, I was struck by their legalism. Until Lamech, the Bible doesn’t actually say that any of these people were wrong. They may have been—they were certainly sinners—but pointing out that fact doesn’t seem to be the purpose of this passage. Wechsler had a distinctly different view of Cain (see the previous study), and he continues it here.

The farsighted aspect of God’s gracious purpose for Cain is borne out in these verses (hence the reason for their inclusion in Scripture) by the reference to his marrying and begetting a flourishing line of descendants. There is absolutely no indication in Scripture that this line of descendants is to be viewed negatively, being somehow more depraved than the rest of humanity—indeed, it is from the line of Seth, not Cain, that the Canaanites, the biblical epitome of depravity, are descended. Quite to the contrary regarding the line of Cain: not only does this flourishing line of descendants bear out God’s general blessing of 1:28a, but it is Cain’s descendants specifically (in vs. 20-22) who develop and establish the fundamental elements of human culture as grounded in God’s continued (and uniquely anthropocentric) imperatives of 1:28b—to with, “ruling” over the animals, which is established by Jabal, “the father of those who dwell in tents and keep livestock” (farming in its broadest sense), and “subduing” the land (i.e., creatively using the land’s resources for human social benefit), which is established by Jubal, “the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe” (the fine arts), and Tubal-cain, “the forger of all the implements of bronze and iron (technology). Notably, these same three elements of human culture established by Cain’s descendants (farming, fine arts, and technology) are likewise present in later prophetic descriptions of redeemed humanity in the messianic kingdom (cf. Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 2:4; Jeremiah 31:4; 33:12-13; Obadiah 14; etc.). — Wechsler, pages 122-123.

There can be no question but that the two specific episodes of “crime and punishment” in this chapter are meant to be juxtaposed and compared by the reader, and that in do doing we are meant to deduce for ourselves the reason why God does not impose the penalty of “life for life” that He Himself later sets forth in the Law of Moses. In this second episode the crime consists of a young man’s causing an unspecified physical injury, described by Lamech in his poetic declaration. … Lamech responds with his own act of judgment by killing the offender—a penalty which, by the basic rule of “life for life,” is far more excessive than the crime deserves. By comparison with the previous episode involving Cain, the contrast that emerges and the conclusion that we are meant to draw is clear: God’s response to sin, consistent with His nature, is characterized by the fullest possible expression of mercy—which by definition is less than the sin deserves (the just penalty for Cain’s sin being “life for life”)—whereas man’s response to sin, consistent with his nature, is characterized by severe injustice—which by definition is more than the sin deserves (the just penalty for the young man’s sin being “bruise for bruise”; cf. Exodus 21:25). From this, therefore, we must further conclude that the … equal measure principle of “life for life,” etc. is not God’s ideal (i.e., what He Himself would do), but rather a compromise that God graciously legislated to ensure that depraved man does not exceed the bare standard of what justice alone requires. … For mercy to truly be mercy it must be a willing decision by the victim or judge to impose upon the offender less than the legal standard requires. … The real challenge … is to take up this profound example of the … obligation to imitate God (cf. Leviticus 19:2; Ephesians 5:1) and, in reacting to those who have offended us, to “be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). — Wechsler, pages 124-125.

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Genesis 4:8-15

Now Cain talked with Abel his [f]brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.

11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”

13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!

14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

15 And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

The anger in Cain’s heart does not immediately vent itself in murder, but rather—and in much more realistic fashion—move incrementally from the stage of inner enmity to verbal dispute. This is implied by the initial reference in this verse to Cain “speaking” with Abel. … The verb [should be translated] in the rarer sense of “disputed,” as the same verb is also used in Esther 1:18. In any event, the progressive escalation of inner enmity/anger, to verbal abuse/dispute, and finally—if not addressed—the act of murder, is likewise the patter supplied by Christ in Matthew 5:21-22, for which the present passage is almost certainly in view (cf. v.22: “everyone who is angry with his brother”). — Wechsler, pages 118-119.

The seed of the Serpent was quickly striking at the Seed of the woman, corrupting her first son and slaying her second, thus trying to prevent the fulfillment of the protevangelic promise right at the beginning of human history. — Morris, page 139.

When God had sought out Adam after his sin, Adam had responded in confession and repentance, but not Cain. He compounded his wickedness by blatantly lying to God and challenging His right even to question him. …

God, therefore, can no longer speak to Cain in mercy, but only in judgment. Cain had been able to still the hated prophesying voice of his brother, but he could not still the voice of his blood! “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” For the first time, “blood” is actually mentioned in the Bible in this verse, although its significance had been intimated several times previously. Abel, the type of the seed of the woman, was righteous before God and yet died violently at the hand of the first of the Serpent’s seed. Thus, Abel’s blood crying from the ground is the prototype of all the suffering inflicted on the righteous through the ages by the children of the wicked one. Its climax and fulfillment are seen in the conflict of Satan and Christ on Calvary.

But the blood of Christ “speaketh better things that that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). The blood of animals could never really take away sin, though it might enable their skins to be used for a temporary covering. But “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). — Morris, pages 139-140.

I think the verses Morris references are more evidence against the view that Cain’s sacrifice was rejected only because of his attitude. But his view (next quote) is much different than that of Wechsler (below).

God’s punishment of Cain is thus also a type of the ultimate crushing of the head of the Serpent, when he will be separated forever from God in the lake of fire. Cain was forever “driven out from the presence of the Lord”; likewise will all those who obey not the gospel of Christ “be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). — Morris, page 140.

Wechsler has a very different take on verses 13-15.

God shows Cain preemptive mercy—that is, He withholds from Cain, despite his lack of remorse, the full penalty that his sin deserves—which is precisely what it takes to crack Cain’s hardened shell of unrepentance and bring him to his knees, pouring out as he does so one of the most heart-rending expressions of remorse and confession to be found in Scripture. (In this respect it is important to bear in mind that the negative New Testament references to Cain in Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11 apply specifically to his depravity as described in verses 3-12, not explicitly to the portion thereafter, let alone to his life as a whole.)

Any sense of confession would seem to be quite far—even contrary—to Cain’s statement in this verse as typically translated—to wit, “My punishment is too great to bear!” … In point of fact, the Hebrew word typically translated “punishment” normally means “iniquity” or “evil,” and when used as the object of the verb “bear” always has the idiomatic sense of “bearing away (that is, forgiving) sin”! Thus, for example, these same two words are used by David in Psalm 32:5 in praise of God’s forgiveness: “And Thou didst forgive the iniquity;evil of my sin.” For some reason, however, we recognize David’s legitimate use of this idiom but not Cain’s—and yet David’s sin was even more extensive and premeditated, encompassing adultery, multiple murders (see 2 Samuel 11:16-17), and intentional cover-up (see 2 Samuel 11:22-25). Clearly it is inconsistent not to recognize this same idiom on the part of Cain, which is why it was recognized already in the ancient translations as well as by the majority of early Jewish interpreters that Cain is here expressing deep remorse and confession—i.e., “My iniquity/evil is too great to forgive!”—as prompted by the recognition of God’s preemptive mercy towards him.  Nor does verse 14, as is often claimed, contradict this expected idiomatic meaning, for the way in which one understands verse 14 depends largely upon the way in which one understands verse 13. If verse 13 is a complaint, then so too is verse 14; yet if verse 13 is an expression or remorse over the recognition of a sin so wicked that God’s great mercy is unacceptable, verse 14 makes perfect sense as an expression of the just penalty that the sinner not only affirms but in fact desires to be applied! Cain, in other words, is expressing the wish that someone else might execute the penalty of death from which God in His mercy refrained. Viewed in this way, per our straightforward idiomatic reading of verse 13, the latter part of verse 14 should therefore be translated (as is perfectly consistent with the Hebrew grammar): “And may it come about that whoever finds me would kill me!” 

As with his parents, so also with Cain God piles grace on top of mercy, bestowing upon His chastised and forgiven child that which he does not deserve—the very definition of grace (whereas mercy entails the withholding of the full punishment that one does deserve). Specifically, in response to Cain’s remorseful recognition of guilt (v.13) and consequent yearning for immediate, full punishment (v.14), God, with the parental foresight of His child’s best in view, gracefully appoints a sign for Cain to indicate that he is under divine protection and so to prevent any others from enacting the full punishment from which God Himself mercifully refrained. In popular culture, however, this “mark of Cain,” as it is commonly referred to, is figuratively employed in exactly the opposite sense to denote anything considered a sign of infamy! It is all the more essential, therefore, that the reader appreciate this sign for what it really is: an abiding supernatural indication of God’s grace and parental care for Cain. The word here for “sign,” in fact, is the same one previously used in Genesis 1:14, as normally, throughout the Bible, to denote miracles—i.e., testimonies to God’s active involvement in human history, usually in connection with a redemptive (and by definition, therefore, gracious) purpose. — Wechsler, pages 120-122.

Wechsler’s take on Cain is brand new to me, but I like it. I find it consistent with the record of God’s grace throughout the Bible.

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Genesis 4:3-7

 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.

Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,

but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Abel’s offering implies a previous instruction, for it was “by faith” (Hebrews 11:4), and faith is taking God at His word; so that Cain’s unbloody offering was a refusal of the divine way. — Scofield, page 9.

They [Cain and Abel] were both grown men … It is, therefore, quite probable that the offerings described in these verses were not the first ones offered by these two brothers. Rather, it must have become a regular practice, at certain definite periods of time, possibly on the Sabbath. The words in the Hebrew—literally, “at the end of the days”—seem to suggest this. Since this was the first occasion on which Cain received a rebuke, it would be inferred that his previous offerings had been acceptable to God.

The Bible does not actually say specifically whether such sacrifices had been commanded by God, or whether the practice arose merely as a spontaneous expression of thanksgiving and worship. If it was the latter, however, it is difficult to understand why God would not have been as pleased with an offering of Cain’s fruit as with an offering of Abel’s slain lamb. It seems more likely that God did give instructions, and that Cain had  disobeyed. The entire occurrence can only be really understood in the context of an original revelation by God regarding the necessity of substitutionary sacrifice as a prerequisite to approaching God. …

Cain himself had probably purchased from Abel a sheep for his own sacrifice each time they came to the appointed place. There came a time, however, when Cain began to resent this situation and finally decided to rebel against it. … At any rate, his heart was not right before the Lord, and his offering was not in faith as was his brother’s. Therefore, God rejected his gift. — Morris, pages 136-137.

Cain’s “glance” (a better rendering than “countenance”) had been haughty, but now it “fell” and he became bitterly angry. Though perhaps up to this point in his life, he may have seemed outwardly pious and obedient toward God, this incident finally revealed the inward pride and resentment that must have been festering in his heart for some time. The resentment was directed not only at God, but also at his brother Abel. Abel was an outward symbol of the fact that Cain’s works were not adequate to get him into God’s presence (since he must obtain Abel’s sheep for this purpose). — Morris, page 137-138.

In spite of Cain’s bitter anger, God graciously promised that he would yet be accepted if he would only “do well,” which undoubtedly meant to “obey His word.” If he continued in rebellion, however, “sin” (and this is the first use of the word in Scripture) was “crouching at his door.” — Morris, page 138.

Cain offered to Jehovah the fruit of a cursed earth, and that, moreover, without any blood to remove the curse. He presented “an unbloody sacrifice,” simply because he had no faith. … No doubt reason might say, What more acceptable offering could a man present than that which he had produced by the labor of his hands and the sweat of his brow? Reason, and even man’s religious mind, may think thus, but God things quite differently; and faith is always sure to agree with God’s thoughts. God teaches, and faith believes, that there must be a sacrificed life, else there can be no approach to God. — Mackintosh, pages 62-63.

“God is not worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything”; and yet Cain thought He could be thus approached—and every mere religionist thinks the same. — Mackintosh, page 64.

No doubt faith will produce feelings and sentiments—spiritual feelings and truthful sentiments—but the fruits of faith must never be confounded with faith itself. I am not justified by feelings, nor yet by faith and feelings, but simply by faith. And why? Because faith believes God when He speaks—it takes Him at His word; it apprehends Him as He has revealed Himself  in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is life, righteousness and peace. To apprehend God as He is, is the sum of all present and eternal blessedness. When the soul finds out God, it has found out all it can possibly need, here or hereafter; but He can only be known by His own revelation, and by the faith which He Himself imparts, and which, moreover, always seeks divine revelation as its proper object.

Thus, then, we can, in some measure, enter into the meaning and power of the statement, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Cain had no faith, and therefore he offered an unbloody sacrifice: Abel had faith, and therefore he offered both “blood” and “fat,” which, in type, set for the presentation of the life, and also the inherent excellency of the Person of Christ. — Mackintosh, pages 69-70.

Of Abel we read that “God testified of his gifts.” He did not bear witness to Abel, but to Abel’s sacrifice; and this fixes, distinctly, the proper ground of a believer’s peace and acceptance before God. 

There is a constant tendency in the heart to ground our peace and acceptance upon something in or about ourselves, even though we admit that that something is wrought by the Holy Ghost. Hence arises the constant looking in, when the Holy Ghost would ever have us looking out. The question for every believer is not, What am I? but, What is Christ? — Mackintosh, pages 71-72. 

Had Abel been accepted on the ground of aught in himself, then, indeed, Cain’s wrath, and his fallen countenance, would have had some just foundation; but inasmuch as he was accepted exclusively on the ground of his offering, and inasmuch as it was not to him, but to his gift, that Jehovah bore testimony, his wrath was entirely without any proper basis. This is brought out in Jehovah’s word to Cain—”If thou doest well, (or, as the LXX reads it, “if thou offer correctly”) shalt thou not be accepted?” The well-doing had reference to the offering. Abel did well by hiding himself behind an acceptable sacrifice: Cain did badly by bringing an offering without blood; and all his after-conduct was but the legitimate result of his false worship. — Mackintosh, pages 73-74. 

[Cain] is a type of the many in these times who will descant upon the benevolence and love the the Creator, and are ever ready to laud Him for those attributes, and claim the benefit of them, without any reference to their own unworthiness and sinful condition, without a thought of that perfect holiness and justice which are as much elements of the mind of God as love itself. — Pember, page 181. 

What does John mean when he says that Cain was of the wicked one?  [For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:11-12)] The Spirit means to bring out the idea that Cain was not only an ugly fratricide, but a tool of Satan to make an immediate and deadly attack upon the promised seed of the woman, but as usual, Satan overshot the mark for God made the death of Abel and wonderful picture of Calvary and gave Seth as a picture of the risen Savior (Genesis 4:25), who became a father of a holy seed after the cruel death of the innocent one. — Bultema, page 22. 

Only recently have I heard the take on this passage that the problem with Cain’s offering wasn’t that it didn’t involve blood, but that Cain had the wrong attitude. In other words, Cain’s fruit would have been acceptable to God if his heart had been in the right place. I can’t see it. There’s no denying that Cain didn’t have the right attitude, and that he should have. But if the problem was Cain’s attitude alone, then his standing before God would be based on his own performance—his works. But a sacrifice of blood isn’t acceptable based on the performance of the person doing the sacrifice, but rather on the work of Christ on the cross.

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Genesis 4:1-2

1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.”

Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

The following paragraph by Morris is conjecture, but I think it makes sense enough to be a possibility.

It seems reasonable to infer that, after the expulsion from Eden, God had made gracious provision to continue to commune with man, even though now “at a distance,” on the basis of His promise of a coming Redeemer, whose shed blood would be the price of redemption. He had shown Adam and Eve that an “atonement” required the shedding of innocent blood to provide a “covering” for the guilty. Probably at an appointed time and place, men were able to meet God, first being careful to approach Him by means of a proper offering, especially marked by the principle of substitution—the innocent for the guilty. — Morris, page 133.

This is the first use of the familiar Biblical euphemism for marital intercourse; “Adam knew his wife.” Such an expression uniquely emphasizes both the full harmony and understanding of man and wife (one flesh) and also an ideal awareness of God’s primeval purpose as implemented through the human capacity for sexual love and reproduction.

The name Cain means “gotten” and is obviously derived from Eve’s exclamation of joyful acquisition. … Eve not only was thankful for a child, but also that the Lord had enabled her to begat a man. This seems to be a further expression of faith that her babe would grow to manhood. It is possible that she hoped this might be the promised Deliverer, even though he was not in a specific biological sense a “seed of the woman.” As a matter of fact, he “was of that wicked one” (1 John 3:12), and thus was the first in the log line of the Serpent’s seed.

Cain’s younger brother, Abel, was truly in the household of faith, however, He is the very first mentioned in the long line of men of faith recorded in Hebrews 11 (v.4). He is called “righteous” and a prophet (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:50-51). … As a prophet, he must also have received God’s Word by divine revelation and preached it by divine enablement. But Cain refused it and disobeyed.

the name of Abel means “vapor” or “vanity,” and suggests that, by the time of Abel’s birth, Eve had become thoroughly impressed with the impact of God’s curse on the world. God had indeed made the creation “subject to vanity” (Romans 8:20).

As the boys grew, Cain became a farmer and Abel a shepherd. Both were honorable occupations, Cain’s fruits provided food and Abel’s sheep providing clothing for the family. In addition, it is probable that the sheep were to be used for sacrifice. … Man was not authorized until after the Flood to use animals for food (Genesis 1:29; 2:16; 3:19; 9:3). —Morris, pages 134-135.

In the persons of Cain and Abel, the first examples of a religious man of the world and of a genuine man of faith. Born, as they were, outside of Eden, and being the sons of fallen Adam, they could have nothing, naturally, to distinguish them one from the other. They were both sinners—both had a fallen nature—neither was innocent. …

What, therefore, made the vast difference? The answer is as simple as the gospel of the grace of God can make it. The difference was not in themselves, in their nature or their circumstances; it lay entirely in their sacrifices. This makes the matter most simple for any truly convicted sinner—for any one who truly feels that he not only partakes of a fallen nature, but is himself, also, a sinner. The history of Abel opens, to such an one, the only true ground of his approach to, his standing before, and his relationship with, God. It teaches him, distinctly, that he cannot come to God on the ground of anything in, of, or pertaining to, nature; and he must seek, outside himself, and in the person and work of another, the true and everlasting basis of his connection with the holy, the just and only true God. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews sets the whole subject before us in the most distinct and comprehensive way, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).

Thus the first dispensation ended in failure, yielding as its result a mournful proof that man is a being too weak to retain his innocence even in the most favourable circumstances. it now remained to be seen whether after the experience of the fall, after tasting the bitter consequences of sin, he could recover his position and become again obedient and holy. Of this God made trial in several ways.

First, in what we may term the age of freedom, during the lapse of which He left Adam and his descendants almost entirely to their own devices. Marriage had indeed been instituted: and they were instructed to approach Bod by means of typical sacrifices, and commanded to toil for their bread by tilling the earth. But beyond this God would neither Himself issue laws nor suffer men to do so. The sword of the magistrate might not be used for the repression of crime: even the murderer should be unpunished, as we may see by the case of Cain. No government was permitted: every  man should go in his own way, and do that which was right in his own eyes. 

Thus the fitness of man for a condition of extreme liberty, and the worth of a trust in the innate justice supposed to lie at the bottom of the human heart, have been already tested by the great Creator. — Pember, pages 165-166.

Eve’s statement is to be translated, “I have acquired a male, the Lord.” In other words, Eve’s expectation regarding Cain, her first male child, is that he is none other than the promised “seed” of 3:15, who, as God incarnate, would restore humanity to their pre-Fall ideal by “crushing” Satan’s head and ending the reign of sin over Creation. — Wechsler, page 116.

In their desire to worship, therefore, the brothers quite naturally present to the Lord that which is theirs to give—namely, a fruit offering and a flock offering. The reason Cain’s offering is rejected is not because it was a non-animal offering (this distinction is only  made later on in the Law of Moses, and even then fruit/grain offerings are specified as a legitimate type of offering; (cf. Leviticus 2:1.), but rather because Cain’s heart, or attitude, was not consistent with the act of worship. — Wechsler, page 116-117

I’ve heard Wechsler’s viewpoint before, but I don’t think I fully agree. Yes, the Mosaic law speaks of grain offerings, but as far as I can see from Leviticus 2, they are for memorials and worship, not for sin offerings. As Hebrews 9:22 says, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” There’s not blood in fruit. Yes, Cain’s attitude was wrong, but I don’t believe that was the only problem with his offering. That fact that Abel knew to kill a sheep to offer it to the Lord is evidence that God had revealed His will regarding blood sacrifices. Otherwise, there would have been no reason to kill the sheep.

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Genesis 3:22-24

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—

23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Verse 22 gives a brief insight into the inner councils of the tri-une Godhead. As in Genesis 1:26, such a council was recorded relative to the decision to make man, so now the council decrees his expulsion from the garden and the tree of life. In both passages, the divine unity is stressed (“And the Lord God said”) and also the divine plurality (“Us”). — Morris, page 131.

To “keep” ( or “guard”) the way of the tree of life, God placed at the east of the garden two cherubim, with a revolving swordlike flame …These creatures, apparently the highest in the angelic hierarchy, are described more fully in Ezekiel 1:4-28; 10:1-22; and Revelation 4:6-8. Satan himself had once been the “anointed cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14) on God’s holy mountain.

The cherubim are always associated closely with the throne of God (note Psalm 18:10; 80:1; 99:1) and it is thus intimated that God’s presence was particularly manifest there at the tree of life. Later, His presence was especially revealed over the mercy seat in the holy of holies in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:17-22; Hebrews 9:3-5), and it is significant that this mercy seat was overshadowed by two golden representations of the cherubim. It was here that once each year the high priest entered with the sacrificial blood of atonement to sprinkle over the mercy seat (see Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9:7-9; 24-28).

By analogy, it may well be that it was here, between the cherubim guarding the way to the tree of life, that God continued at intervals to meet with Adam and those of his descendants who desired to know Him. — Morris, page 132.

Fallen man, in his fallen state, must not be allowed to eat of the fruit of the tree of life, for that would entail upon him endless wretchedness in this world. To take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever in our present condition, would be unmingled misery. The tree of life can only be tasted in resurrection. To life forever in a frail tabernacle, in a body of sin and death, would be intolerable. — Mackintosh, page 55.

The verb “shakan,” translated “and he placed,” should be rendered “and He set up the tabernacle” as it has been so translated in Joshua 18:1, where the same verb is given its right meaning. Then we can understand how the two brothers could bring an offering unto the Lord. The Lord had a tabernacle at the East of the Garden of Eden.  — Bultema, page 19.

Adam and Eve, though forgiven, are no longer able to experience that ideal of intended intimacy with God in the garden, from which they are sent out towards the east: so too is Cain sent eastward as a consequence of his sin (4:16); and so too does man move further east before building the tower of Babel (11:2). This direction is first reversed in the Bible by Abraham’s father Terah, who sets out towards Canaan in 11:31, implying a desire on his part to draw closer to God. It is finally reversed by Christ Himself at His second advent, when, as described by Ezekiel, “the glory of God” (Jesus; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:7; Hebrews 1:3) returns to the Temple “from the way of the East” (Ezekiel 43:2). It is there, Ezekiel goes on to say, that God (the Son) will establish His throne and “dwell” for all eternity. — Wechsler, page 114.

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Genesis 3:20-21

20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

Adam called his wife’s name Eve (meaning “life”) because she was the “mother of all living.” He thus indicated his faith in God’s promises, not only that they would have children but also that through this means God would send the “seed of the woman” to bring salvation.  … In spite of their condemnation unto death, God promised they would indeed live long enough at least to have their children and raise them. They believed God’s word and so were saved. — Morris, page 129.

The robe which God provided was an effectual covering, because He provided it; just as the apron was an ineffectual covering, because man had provided it. Moreover, God’s coat was founded upon blood-shedding; Adam’s apron was not. So also now, God’s righteousness is set forth in the cross; mans’ righteousness is set forth in the works—the sin-stained works—of his own hands. … the sinner may feel perfectly at rest when, by faith, he knows that God has clothed him; but to feel at rest till them, can only be the result of presumption or ignorance. — Mackintosh, pages 54-55.

[God] took away their coverings of fig leaves, and clothed them with coats of skins. Most significant was the action: for by it He testified that their shame was not groundless, that there was need of a covering, but that the best the sinners could make for themselves was of no avail. … They must learn that only by life can life be redeemed; that if the sinner die not, there must be a Substitute; that the Most High is holiness and justice as well as love, and can by no means clear the guilty. — Pember, pages 158-159. (He proposes that it was at this point that God initiated animal sacrifice.)

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Genesis 3:17-19

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

cursed is the ground (v.17) — The word “ground” is the same as the word for “earth,” referring to the basic material of the physical world.

Thus, the entire “creation was made subject to vanity.” The earth began to “wax old, as doth a garment” and ultimately “shall perish” (Hebrews 1:10-12). Since all flesh is made of the earth’s physical elements, it also is subject to the law of decay and death and as “grass, withereth … and falleth away” (1 Peter 1:24). It is universal experience that all things, living or nonliving, eventually wear out, run down, grow old, decay, and pass into the dust. — Morris, page 126

The curse on man himself was fourfold: (1) sorrow, resulting from continual disappointment and futility; (2) pain and suffering, signified by the “thorns” which intermittently hinder man in his efforts to provide a living for his family; (3) sweat, or tears, the “strong crying” of intense struggle against a hostile environment; and finally (4) physical death, which would eventually triumph over all man’s efforts, with the structure of his body returning to the simple elements of the earth.

But Christ, as Son of Man and second Adam, has been made the cures for us (Galatians 3:13). He was the “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3); acquainted more with grief than any other man, He was wounded, bruised, and chastised for us (Isaiah 53:5), and indeed wore the very thorns of the curse as His crown (Mark 15:17); in the agony of His labor, He sweat as it were drops of blood (Luke 22:44), and “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7). And, finally, God brought Him into the “dust of death” (Psalm 22:15).

Therefore, because He bore all the curse Himself for us, once again the dwelling of God shall someday be with  men and “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it: and his servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). — Morris, page 127.

Adam’s chastisement is essentially identical to that of Eve, consisting of both a psychological component—namely, the specific desire to “master” the other, as already pronounced in v. 16—and a physical component—namely, the specific experience of toil, which  is in fact the same word used in v. 16 to describe the increased “pain” of the woman’s childbirth (and which may otherwise be translated “hard labor”). These intentional parallels between the chastisements applied to the man and to the woman serve to underscore the point that, despite their differing roles and responsibilities, the way in which God chastises the sin of children—whether male or female—is essentially the same, reflective of the fact that He is equally concerned for the restoration and ultimate “good” (i.e., that which is best) of each one. — Wechsler, page 109.

The physical death to which God refers in the last line of v. 19—”and to dust you shall return”—does not represent the still further chastisement of Adam being made mortal, for Eve—to whom no such statement is made—likewise eventually dies, and from v.22, in any event, it is clear that “immortality” was not part of their created nature, but in fact a quality conveyed by the tree of life. By this statement, therefore, God is simply indicating the endpoint of man’s life of hard toil—i.e., strictly physical death, or the “first” death—which is the inevitable consequence of being restricted from the tree of life. By the same token we see that it is the unrestricted access to this same tree of life—which appears again not surprisingly, in the New Jerusalem (i.e., the New Eden), in Revelation 22:2—that enables the redeemed children of God to live, as they were meant, in a fixed state of “incorruptibility” (i.e., sinlessness) for all eternity. — 

I really like the connection Morris makes between the curse delivered to Adam and the suffering of Christ who took our curse upon Himself. The parallels are unarguable and comforting.

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Genesis 3:16

16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

This is the traditional take, supported by several of my commentaries.

Although God’s grace was manifest in this particular way [the promised seed, Christ] toward woman—despite her being the vehicle through which Satan gained control over the world—she was nevertheless to be the subject of special judgment, though even this would be for the ultimate good of humanity. Eve shared in the curse on Adam, since she was also “of the man”; but in addition a special burden was placed on her in connection with the experience of conception and childbirth, the pain and sorrow of which would be “greatly multiplied.” It had been appointed to her to be the “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20), but now her children to all generations would suffer under the curse. Their very entrance into the world would be marked by unique suffering, serving as a perpetual reminder of the dread effects of sin.

The function of reproduction and motherhood, originally given as the joyful fruition of God’s purpose in her creation, but now marred so severely by her “lust” for withheld knowledge, which conceived and brought forth sin and death (James 1:15), would thus be marked by unique suffering in its accomplishment. Furthermore, she who had acted independently of her husband in her fateful decision to taste the desired fruit, must henceforth exercise her desire only to her husband and he would bear rule over her.

It is surely true that, in the Israelite economy outlined in the Mosaic code, and even more in the Christian relationships enjoined in the New Testament, the role of the woman is eminently conducive to her highest happiness and fulfillment … In nominally Christian countries, of course, and even in many Christian homes and churches, the proper roles of husband and wife have often been distorted in one direction or another. This can best be corrected by simple obedience to God’s revealed Word on such subjects (see Matthew 19:3-12; 1 Corinthians 7:1-10; Ephesians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 3:11-12; 5:14; Titus 2:4-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7, etc.). Morris, pages 122-124

Taylor has a more modern take.

The ideal state is for man and woman to be co-heirs, co-equals. There is nothing in this passage that prevents us striving for that. Remember, this is a curse, not a command. Over the ages, Christians have misinterpreted this verse as declaring the rightness of women’s inferiority to men. In fact, the opposite is being stated. God is saying that there will be natural tendency for men to rule over women, but that in fact this is not how matters were intended to be. … The curse merely explains that something went very wrong to cause the world to be unequal. — Taylor, pages 111-112

Wechsler, as always, digs deeper and finds a more satisfying take.

As God moves back up the chain of responsibility that was shamefully “up-ended” by Adam and Eve, God shifts from pronouncing judgment to the issuing of chastisement—which latter is always motivated by love and intended for improvement (CF. Psalm 119:75; Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6). His chastisement of the woman consists of two parts: the first is that He would “greatly multiply” her pain in childbirth, the ongoing reality of which is abundantly evident. Noteworthy, however, is God’s use of the expression “greatly multiply,” which implies that there was intended to be a certain degree of “pain” even in the ideal (i.e., pre-Fall) state! … Pain, which is in essence simply “an unpleasant sensation” serves a quite positive purpose, and one for which it need not be of an intense kind—to wit, it tells us when we have “pushed” our bodies too far or applied them beyond what they were meant to do or bear. With respect to childbirth in particular, pain serves the purpose of informing the mother that the baby is coming, for which process she must be physically prepared and able to adjust her body as necessary. 

The second part of the woman’s chastisement is that her “desire shall be for” her husband—the “desire” here being not the emotional desire that was unquestionably present in their pre-Fall relationship, but rather the psychological desire to dominate and control her husband. This this is so is clear from (1) the contrast with the following clause, “but he shall rule over you”—which, it must be stressed, is not intended as God’s “ideal correction” to the woman’s desire for masterly, but is in fact also part of God’s chastisement, according to which the man will likewise seek to exercise mastery and control over the woman (the ideal being that they were to rule together, with final authority and responsibility resting with the man; and (2) the word here used for “desire” is used again in the very next chapter (the only other occurrence of this word in the Pentateuch!) where it is again followed by a contrastive clause and paralleled  by the same verbal root for “rule” as in 3:16—i.e., God’s warning to Cain (4:7): “[sin’s] desire is for you, but you must master it.” Such parallels are clearly intentional, and hence intended to be similarly  understood—especially given the larger structural and thematic-theological parallels between God’s response to the sin of Adam and Eve in chapter three and that of their firstborn son Cain in chapter four. — Wechsler, pages 107-109

What to make of all this. That God wills that husbands be the head of their household is irrefutable. That God sees men and women as equals, but with different roles, is also irrefutable. Taylor’s take conveniently ignores all the verses (many of which are included in Morris’s quote above) that make these things clear. His explanation smacks of “explaining away,” not “explaining.” His use of the word “inferior” to describe women’s traditional role is a straw dog argument.

Wechsler’s take works for me. That God intended husbands and wives to be in a mutually-beneficial, loving, respectful partnership (under the headship of a loving husband who always has his wife’s best interest as his goal) is clear. That this isn’t often the case is also clear. That the curse creates a tension in the relationship makes sense.

That the Pauline verses linked above show the best way to reduce that tension also makes sense.

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