Genesis 6:5-7

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

every intent (v.5) = everything thought, every purpose, every conception

sorry (vs. 6, 7) = lit. “to sigh”

It is this verse [v.5], indeed, that clearly establishes the principle of human depravity—i.e., the principle that we not only have the potential of sinning through the commission of deeds, but that we are already sinners due to our inevitable post-Fall “commission” of wicked thoughts. Quite to the contrary of our society’s “conventional wisdom,” verse 5 thus makes clear that God’s assessment of who we truly are is based fundamentally on what we think as opposed to only what we do. This principle, not surprisingly, is reiterated time and again throughout the Bible as the unchanging ideal both for the Israelite who would faithfully follow the Law of Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 30:6; Proverbs 23:7a; Jeremiah 31:31) as well as for the Christian who would faithfully follow “the Law of Christ” (cf. Matthew 5:22, 28; Mark 7:20-23; Galatians 6:2). — Wechsler, page 135.

The opening clause of verse 6 is often translated “the Lord God was sorry that He had made man on the earth,” in which the expression “was sorry” should not be understood in the sense of “regretted,” but rather—as is also within the semantic range of the English verb—in the sense of “was pained” or “was sorrowful, grieved, or sad.” God is not “second-guessing” His decision to create man—for His decisions and actions are always perfect and exactly as they should be (cf. Numbers 23:19; Romans 11:29)—but rather, and quite consistent with the tenor already established in the opening chapters of Genesis, God is demonstrating an abiding and undiminished concern with man. Incredibly, what we do—even what we think—has a real impact on the heart of the One who created us and continues to take and active, loving interest in our lives. It is from this perspective, moreover, that we must understand the content of vs. 7-8—to wit: that God determines to “blot out man … from the face of the land” not merely because he has offended God’s righteous standard, but because such action is necessary for the welfare of man himself, to preserve man from the full effects of his unmitigated depravity. — Wechlser, pages 135-136.

Verse 5 helps me understand the reason behind the sick and twisted behaviors that have become not only accepted but celebrated in our culture. Some of these behaviors are not only evil, but make no logical sense whatsoever. There can be no benefit whatsoever to those who practice and promote some of the stuff that’s going on. And yet it continues and progresses toward even sicker and more illogical behaviors.

Why? Because man’s thoughts, once God is cast aside, are only evil continually. Evil becomes an end in itself. It’s an active pursuit of anything that is in opposition to God’s nature. I believe it’s often not even a conscious choice on the part of the individual. It’s that when people remove themselves from God, evil results every time, and more further removed they are, the greater the evil.

This is exactly what Paul was getting at in Romans 1:18-32.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,

25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.

27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,

30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;

32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

That is an exact blueprint of what is happening in our culture. There is no limit to the amount or quality of God’s grace, but there is apparently a limit to how many times He will offer it to someone who deliberately and knowingly rejects it over and over. And once He withdraws His offer of grace, there is no limit to man’s depravity.

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Genesis 6:1-4

1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them,

that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Some commentators believe that the “sons of God” in verse 2 simply refers to men from the line of Seth who followed God. They believe that these men married women from the line of Cain and their offspring followed their mother’s rejection of God. That view doesn’t make much sense to me. I lean toward Morris’s view as stated below.

The actual phrase bene elohim is used three others times, all in the very ancient book of Job (1:6; 2:1; 38:7). There is no doubt at all that, in these passages, the meaning applies exclusively to the angels. A very similar form (bar elohim) is used in Daniel 3:25, and also refers either to an angel or to a theophany. The term “sons of the mighty” (bene elim) is used in Psalm 29:1 and Psalm 89:6, and again refers to angels. Thus, there seems no reasonable doubt that, in so far as the language itself is concerned, the intent of the writer was to convey the thought of angels—fallen angels, no doubt, since they were acting in opposition to God’s will. …

The reason for questioning this obvious meaning, in addition to the supernaturalistic overtones is (for those who do not reject the idea of angels) the opinion that it would be impossible for angels to have sexual relations with human women and to father children by them. However, this objection presupposes more about angelic abilities than we know. Whenever angels have appeared visibly to men, as recorded in the Bible, they have appeared in the physical bodies of men. …

It is true that the Lord Jesus said that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). However, this is not equivalent to saying that angels are “sexless,” since people who share in the resurrection will surely retain their own personal identity, whether male or female. Furthermore, angels are always described, when they appear, as “men,” and the pronoun “he” is always used in reference to them. …

When Jesus said that the angels of God in heaven do not marry, this does not necessarily mean that those who have been cast out of heaven were incapable of doing so. It clearly was not God’s will or intention that angels mix in such a way with human women, but these wicked angels were not concerned with obedience to God’s will. In fact, it was probably precisely for the purpose of attempting to thwart God’s will that this particular battalion of the “sons of God” engaged in this illegal invasion of the bodies of the daughters of men. … Desiring to completely corrupt mankind before the promised Seed could accomplish Satan’s defeat, they seem to have decided to utilize the marvelous power of procreation … and to corrupt it to their own ends. — Morris, pages 165-167.

It is significant that the Septuagint renders the phrase “sons of God” as ‘angels of God.” This was the Old Testament version in dominant use in the Apostolic period, and thus this would be the way the phrase would have been read by Christ and His apostles.  … This interpretation is strongly implied, and probably required by three New Testament passages: Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4-6; 1 Peter 3:19-20. — Morris, page 168.

A solution seems to consist in recognizing that the children were true human children of truly human fathers and mothers, but that all were possessed and controlled by evil spirits. That is, these fallen angelic “sons of God” accomplished their purposes by something equivalent to demon possession, indwelling the bodies of human men, and then also taking (or “possessing”) the bodies of the women as well. … Thus, the “sons of God” controlled not only the men whose bodies they had acquired for their own exploitation, but also the women they took to themselves in this way, and then all the children they bore. — Morris, page 169.

This particular prophecy [his days shall be a hundred and twenty years v.3] was evidently given … just 120 years before the coming of the Flood. … God has always been long-suffering, even under such awful conditions as prevailed in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20). Though all had rejected Him, He still granted 120 years to mankind in light of the bare possibility that at least some might “come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). — Morris, page 171.

The children of the unions of the demonically controlled men and women of this period are the ones said to have become the “giants,” the mighty men of old. The word in the Hebrew is nephilim and comes from the verb naphal (“fall”). The natural and probable meaning is “those who have fallen,” probably a reference to the nature of their pseudoparents, the fallen angels. The name came also to mean “giants” and was applied later to the giants seen in Canaan by the Israelite spies (Numbers 13:33). — Morris, page 172.

Wechsler takes a different view.

Resolution in this matter is possible, though it depends, as always, on careful attention to the inseparable interpretative duo of context (the passage’s relationship to the surrounding text, both immediate and canonical) and language (how the passage’s terms and expressions are used elsewhere). Thus, though long-standing and popular, the view that these sons of God in verse 2 are angels who sinned by marrying human women is to be dismissed since it makes no contextual sense—whether in the immediate context of verse 3, in which God’s reaction is exclusively towards man, the slightly larger context of what precedes and follows this episode (i.e., Adam’s genealogy and the Flood, both focused on man, not the angels), or the broader thematic context of Genesis, this first “half” of which represents God’s prosecution of human, not angelic, depravity. Also, the one other occurrence of the term Nephilim, in Numbers 13:33, refers to men of large stature. Nor is there any evidence in Scripture that angels can in fact produce children (see Matthew 22:30) or, even assuming they could, that God would have permitted them such time to marry and produce children before He “cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). — Wechsler, page 131.

His view is as follows.

These four verses (which in the Hebrew text are not separated into a separate chapter) serve to “fill-out” the foregoing genealogy of 5:1-32 by clearly indicating (here for the first time) that the blessing of begetting offspring was taking place within the general context of marriage—that is, men (the sons of God) “taking” women (the daughters of men) in marriage. The expression “sons of God” should thus be understood, simply, as an idiomatic designation for men—reflecting the creation of man first by God—just as the expression “daughters of men” is clearly intended as an idiomatic designation for women, reflecting the subsequent creation of woman from man. … Unlike any of the other views, it is also consistent with the following statement, expressed by God in response to the activity of verses 1-2 that “My spirit shall not abide in man forever.” … The point of the verse in context is that in response to man’s expanding population, God dramatically limits the duration that the “breath” which he breathed into man (see Genesis 2:7) will abide or remain within him in his depraved state.  In other words, as an expression of His mercy and love—not judgment—God here acts to limit the potential expression of human depravity (and hence to limit his potential judgment) by reducing man’s lifespan from the multiple centuries attested in chapter 5 to the proximate duration of 12o years. — Wechsler, page 133-134.

He also believes that Nephilim shouldn’t be translated “giants” but “mighty men,” or literally, “proven warriors.

I’m skeptical. First of all, I think Morris answers all the objections regarding context. I think the verses in Jude and Peter that he quotes offer an explanation for when the angels were imprisoned. Wechsler doesn’t explain why all the similar phrases to Nephilim obviously refer to angels. He doesn’t explain why the offspring of men and women would produce particularly mighty men. I like Morris’s take that the 120 years refer to the time remaining before the Flood (in light of Peter’s reference to that same period). It doesn’t make sense to me that God was saying that man’s lifespan would be 120 years because ever since shortly after the flood, man’s lifespan has been considerably shorter. And a worldwide flood that sent all humans but 8 to a godless eternity in hell doesn’t feel like mercy.

I still lean toward the demon-possessed human men and human women, but I can’t claim a definite understanding of the passage any more than anyone else.

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Genesis 5:25-32

25 Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and begot Lamech.

26 After he begot Lamech, Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years, and had sons and daughters.

27 So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.

28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son.

29 And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”

30 After he begot Noah, Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years, and had sons and daughters.

31 So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years; and he died.

32 And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Many ancient and modern commentators have interpreted the name Methuselah as meaning “When he dies, it shall be sent.” If this suggestion is correct (and there is at least a possible basis for it), then a justifiable inference is that Enoch, the prophet of coming judgment had received—at the time of the birth of this son—a special revelation concerning the coming judgment of the great Flood. God, however, promised him that it would not come as long as Methuselah lived; and Enoch gave him a name to commemorate that prophetic warning and promise. This may possibly be the significance of the fact that Methuselah lived longer (969 years) than any other man in history whose age was recorded. “God is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). As He is long-suffering toward godless men today, so He was long ago, “when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing” (1 Peter 3:20). — Morris, pages 159-160.

Lamech (as well as Adam, Abel, and Enoch) was undoubtedly one of those in Peter’s mind when he spoke of “the times of restitution [or ‘restoration’] of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Noah, as the one who would by his ark preserve life as the cursed earth was being “cleansed” by the waters of the Flood, was only a precursory fulfillment of Lamech’s prophecy, of course. The promised Seed was still future, but in Him and His promised coming were true “rest” and “comfort.”

Lamech, like all the other patriarchs, “began sons and daughters” in addition to Noah. It seem probable that these brothers and sisters of Noah must have perished in the Flood. Moreover, there must have been many others in the Sethite line that also perished, since it could hardly have been only the Cainites who had begun to “multiply on the earth” (Genesis 6:1). Thus, the wickedness and corruption which had become rampant had affected both branches of the human family by this time, except probably for the godly remnant in the direct line from Enoch to Noah.

It may even have affected Noah’s family, though of this we cannot be sure. We are told only of his three sons who survived the Flood; but it seem rather likely that he also, like the others, “began sons and daughters,” particularly since the five-hundred-year age at which Shem, Ham, and Japheth began to be born is more that three hundred years older than the age at which any of the other named members of the patriarchal line were born. The reason for mentioning three sons by name (rather than only Shem, the next in the prophetic lineage) is that these were the ones in his family who elected to go with him into the Ark and who would, therefore, become the progenitors of the post-Flood nations. — Morris, page 161.

Although sin prevented Adam and Eve from experiencing the pre-Fall ideal of “strolling” in most intimate physical proximity to God, the possibility, nonetheless remains open to man to experience that more fundamental spiritual proximity  to God—which “proximity,” or “connection,” is perhaps best denoted by the English term “relationship.”

The hope of experiencing this pre-Fall ideal completely via not just spiritual, but also physical interaction with God (i.e., “walking” with Him in unrestricted proximity) is further highlighted in connection with Noah, whose father, Lamech (not the same as in Genesis 4:23), bases his son’s name in the expectation that Noah “will give us rest from the ground that God has cursed.” The clear messianic tenor of this statement is evident both from the name Noah (which derives from the same theologically-charged root meaning “to give rest” used to describe man’s initial state in Genesis 2:15—as well as from the specific reference to the ground that God cursed—which same terminology is used prior to this only in Genesis 3:17. Though the reason for this expectation concerning Noah is unstated (and hence not the point of the narrative), it is important to remember that the “messianic” hope is at this point still imminent—no less so, in light of what God has so far revealed, than it was for Eve when she expressed the similar expectation that her first-born son Cain was the promised human-divine Seed who would restore mankind to their pre-Fall ideal (Genesis 4:1). — Wechsler, pages 129-130.

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Genesis 5:6-24

Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begot Enosh.

After he begot Enosh, Seth lived eight hundred and seven years, and had sons and daughters.

So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died.

Enosh lived ninety years, and begot [a]Cainan.

10 After he begot Cainan, Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years, and had sons and daughters.

11 So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died.

12 Cainan lived seventy years, and begot Mahalalel.

13 After he begot Mahalalel, Cainan lived eight hundred and forty years, and had sons and daughters.

14 So all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died.

15 Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and begot Jared.

16 After he begot Jared, Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years, and had sons and daughters.

17 So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died.

18 Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and begot Enoch.

19 After he begot Enoch, Jared lived eight hundred years, and had sons and daughters.

20 So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died.

21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah.

22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters.

23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.

24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

We are probably by now used to the idea that Hebrew names have a meaning. However, the meaning of the names of the ten patriarchs provides a very interesting insight into the prediluvian world.

  • Adam means “man.”
  • Seth means “appointed.” Eve gave this name to show her faith in the fact that God would deliver the promised Messiah through the appointed son.
  • Enoch means “mortal.” This emphasizes once again that man is now mortal, because of sin.
  • Cainan means “sorrow.” The existence of sin causes sorrow. Imagine the sorrow of Adam and Eve at the death of their son, Abel. Death brings such sorrow that even Jesus was caused to weep at the tomb of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35).
  • Mahalalel means “the God who is to be praised.” All was not gloom and doom. There was a start to worship of the Lord God. Mahalalel’s name emphasizes the existence of those who want to worship God in faith.
  • Jared means “shall come down.” This is one of the more puzzling names, until we put them all together below.
  • Enoch means “teaching.” It seems that Enoch was a teacher and a prophet.
  • Methuselah means “his death shall bring.” We will see that there are two reasons for this. The first is that the Flood came the very year that Methuselah died. His death is prophetic, pointing to the way of salvation, and warning against doubt.
  • Lamech means “despairing.” It is perhaps significant that he died before he could see the salvation caused by the Flood. He was also a prophet, prophesying that Noah would “comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed” (Genesis 5:29). This is significant was well because Noah means “rest” or “comfort.”

There is a passage of the Bible that contains all these names, one after the other. It is 1 Chronicles 1:1-3: “Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.” Now that we know the meanings, this passage can be read as follows: “Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the God who is to be praised shall come down, teaching that His death shall bring the despairing rest.”

This is remarkable that in the very names of the ten patriarchs from before the Flood through whose line God was to send the Messiah, should spell out a dramatic statement of the gospel. This can surely be no coincidence. One of the exciting things about studying Genesis that we see over and over again is that it is foundational to the understanding of the entire Bible. God gave us hope right from the very beginning. Even in the midst of the dreadful evil before the Flood, God would not leave us without a way of salvation. — Taylor, pages 134-135.

I don’t know if the meaning of the names strung together are intended to convey a message, as Taylor writes above. Other commentaries give different (but at least vaguely-similar) meanings to the names. But I thought it was interesting enough to be possible.

There is no reason to think that there are any gaps in this record [of the genealogies] or that the years are anything other than normal years (except for the possibility that the original year was 360 days long). The record is perfectly natural and straightforward and is obviously intended to give both the necessary genealogical data the denote the promised lineage and also the only reliable chronological framework we have for the antediluvian period of history. … There was a total of 1,656 years from the Creation to the Flood. It is interesting to note that Adam lived until Lamech, the father of Noah, was fifty-six years old, and Noah was born only fourteen years after the death of Seth. Most likely, the oldest of the living patriarchs maintained the primary responsibility for preserving and promulgating Dos’ Word to his contemporaries. Since both Enoch and Lamech were outlived by their fathers, there were only seven men in the line before Noah who had this responsibility. This probably explains why, in 2 Peter 2:5, Noah is called the  “eight preacher of righteousness” in the “old world.” … The names are repeated in 1 Chronicles 1:1-4 and Luke 3:36-38. This confirms that they were accepted as historical by the later Biblical writers, of both Old and New Testaments. — Morris, pages 154-155.

Enoch “walked with God” and was a prophet of God. As such, he preached against the godlessness of his generation in fearsome, thundering words: “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14-15).

It is remarkable that Enoch would prophesy of what we now recognize as the second coming of Christ even before the Flood, but this is clearly the meaning placed on it by Jude. Actually, it may be considered as an amplification and exposition of the great prophecy of Genesis 3:15, the promise of the eventual crushing of the serpent, Satan, and his seed. God “left not himself without witness,” even in the days of the antediluvians. The promised “coming” in judgment had a preliminary and precursory fulfillment in the great Flood, but its final fulfillment awaits the glorious return and triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ. — Morris, pages 155-156.

The climax of Enoch’s testimony was an event all but unique in history. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him” (Hebrews 11:5). This is the inspired interpretation of the phrase here in Genesis: “he was not, for God took him.” Somehow, in actual physical flesh Enoch was supernaturally carried up into heaven, where presumably he still is today.

Nearly 25 centuries later, another prophet, Elijah, was similarly taken into heaven without dying (2 Kings 2:11). … One intriguing possibility to consider is that Enoch and Elijah may have been taken into heaven without dying because of a further ministry God has for them in the future—namely, that of serving as God’s “two witnesses” during the coming Tribulation Period. These witnesses are also identified as the “two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth” in Zechariah 4:14. These anointed ones, these witnesses are real men, not angels, as is evident from the fact that they are to be slain when they have “finished their testimony,” and then resurrected (Revelation 11:7-120 and translated.  — Morris, pages 157-158.

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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: on 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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