8. Cain and Abel: Genesis Chapter 4

Cain and Abel


After the fall, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden; they were cursed from the presence of God.  God made promises of the seed of a day, when the seed of the woman, would one day be victorious over the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).  In Chapters 4 and 5, we see the two seeds enter humanity.

Cain typifies the seed of the serpent, the one who rebels against God, challenging God, and then killing his brother.  His offspring continue in a like manner, amplifying his sin.

Abel typifies the seed of the woman, the Messiah, who was promised to come in Genesis 3:15-16, the “seed of the woman”.  The one who will restore and redeem humanity, Abel seeks after God.  He is listed as an example of the righteous who are persecuted by the wicked. 

These two chapters paint the two roads of destiny for the fallen humanity, one redeemed and one fallen.  In chapter 4, we see the progression of the line of Cain after he kills his brother Abel. We see how the wicked become more wicked as the generations progress through the Antediluvian era.  Then in chapter 5, we see the birth of Seth, a son who replaces the murdered Abel.  Another righteous son, through Seth the line of redemption is established as righteousness is again seen through his line.  Through Seth, the line of Noah is established and eventually the line of the Messiah as later scripture reveals.


Cain and Abel Born


Genesis 4

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

2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  Genesis 4:1-2


Adam knew:  The Hebrew word [dy Yada also means to know in as sexual intercourse.  Adam had relations with Eve. Cain is the first born, Abel is second born, and following them Adam and Eve had daughters and other sons.  The daughters would later become the wives of the sons.

Cain: !yq Qayin, The name means “possession” because she possessed a man from the Lord.. 

Abel: lbh Hebel  The name “Breath”.   

This time:  The two brothers had two professions, one was a farmer the other a shepherd. Animals were not to be used for food, but for clothing, at least prior to the fall.  God granted permission to eat animals after the flood.  In Genesis 9:3, God provides for man to eat living creatures, this provision was not given before Genesis.


"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. Genesis 9:3


The first time humanity would have experienced death would have been after the fall, when God Himself killed two animals to provide a covering for the man and the woman.  Which is what the word atonement means, to cover.  Interesting note, Adam and Eve first covered themselves with leaves; later God covered them with flesh of an animal.  Cain worked with plants, Abel worked with animals.


Cain and Abel Sacrifice



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

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

5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. Genesis 4:3-4


Process of time: How long from their birth and how old they were at this time is not known. Adam and Eve were raising their family outside of the Garden.  Adam probably had a pattern of worship and communion with God, its reasonable to assume this would have continued with his children, when they had come to age. Maybe at this point there were in their late teens or early twenties.

Cain brought:  There has been a debate regarding the sacrifice of Cain, whether it was appropriate to offer fruit, rather then animals before the Lord.  The point that is made later regarding Abel is he offered the first born and the fat.  While, we are told Cain brought “an offering”, Cain was performing a ritual, an event carried over from Adam and Eve. There is a big difference between performing a ritual out of habit, and an action of the heart. 

Abel brought: We can see are real difference in the hearts of these two people.  Abel offers the firstborn and their fat.  He did not hold back, the fat of the animal could be used for fire and other purposes.  The real difference was between the hearts of Abel and Cain.  We see grain and drink sacrifices in the Old Testament; there was nothing wrong with such a sacrifice.  God looks at the heart of the person making the sacrifice.


13 You also say, 'Oh, what a weariness!' And you sneer at it," Says the Lord of hosts. "And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?" Says the Lord.

14 "But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished-For I am a great King," Says the Lord of hosts, "And My name is to be feared among the nations.  Malachi 1:13-14



Cain’s Problem



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

7 "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."

8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Genesis 4:6-8


Lord said: Even though Adam and Eve were outside the Garden, God continued to communicate to His creation.   Here the Lord gives Cain the path to correct his walk.   God is asking Cain to examine himself, the reason Cain’s sacrifice was rejected was because Cain choose to offer that which was not acceptable.  The message is not only to Cain, but to all humanity alienated from God.  God is inclusive, God wanted to include Cain, but not on Cain’s terms.  Cain had to reform his actions to the Lord’s standards.

Countenance fallen:  Cain was jealous Abel was accepted.  Satan probably lied to Cain, telling him he did not matter, that he was rejected by God and his brother.  Satan attacked Cain’s significance, Cain listened to Satan rather then God’s instruction.  God instructs Cain, that he could be restored by doing what was required.  Satan uses these same lies today, to deceive us and cause hatred in fallen humanity.

If you do well: God simply tells Cain, to change his ways to do what is required.  In the book of Revelation, Jesus tells the Church of Ephesus to return to their first love.  God wants a relationship not  meaningless ritual.  Cain chooses meaningless ritual, over worship and relationship.  We see this same message to Israel, from Isaiah.


11 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the Lord. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.

15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. 16 "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.  Isaiah 1:11,15-17


Sin:  Here the word sin is used for the first time in scripture. Sin is personified as an animal waiting to pounce.  Stalking humanity, God gives the solution to sin, which is to master it.  We have no excuse, we are told to master our nature.  Like an animal waiting to pounce, sin is constantly threatening fallen humanity.  Cain was jealous of his brother, he envied his acceptance, he was not willing to change his ways to be accepted.

Killed him:   Cain choose not listen to God, instead he accepted Satan’s lies.  We see the progression of sin in the family of Cain.  Jesus proclaimed this was a real event, not some metaphorical event to illustrate “a point”.   The writer of Hebrew contrasts these two sons of Adam.


50 "that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation,  51 "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.  Luke 11:50-51


4 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


Here we see the first human killing, why do people kill people.  Why is there hatred?  What is the root cause?  God told Cain to seek his significance through his relationship with Him (The Lord), not to compare himself to his brother.  Cain worried that his brother had advantage on him, killed him, thinking everything would be better.  This is the same problem today.  We worry and compare ourselves to others, rather then seek our relationship with God.    God’s instruction to all of us is that we seek our meaning and significance through Him. In Jeremiah, He says if we seek glory, let it by because we know him, and act accordingly.


But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:24



Cain challenges God


9 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." Genesis 4:9-12


Lord said:  God questions Cain, so he might confess to his sin. Cain rather then confessing, like Adam and Eve, challenges God.  He lies to God and presents the ultimate question to plague humanity, from that day forward.  God is allowing Cain to speak for the “Seed of the serpent”.  The contrast cannot be clearer.  His brother is bleeding and dead in a field, while Cain lies to God, challenging Him.  We see the distance between man and God growing. 

We are our brother’s keeper; Jesus becomes our brother, to die for our sins, to restore us to God. 

He said: The blood of Abel is the picture of the conflict between the two seeds.  The seed of the Serpent pursues the righteous, persecuting and killing.  Jesus the ‘Seed of the woman” will one day crush the head to the serpent, ending its seed.

15 So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him That there was no justice.

16 He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.

17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak. Isaiah 59:15-17

When you: Cain is now cursed, sin has consequences.  God does withhold blessings as a result of sin. Nations which turn away from God can expect consequences.  Here God tells Cain, the ground will not bless him as before, because of his sin.  God intent is not cruelty, but mercy. The purpose of the curse is bring about repentance and a change of heart.  We see this principle applied again and again in scripture.


6 "Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me," Says the Lord.

7 "I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered.

8 So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, But they were not satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me," Says the Lord. Amos 4:6-8



Cain becomes a fugitive



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. Genesis 4:13-15


Cain said: Even at this point, Cain refuses to humble himself, admit his sin and repent for his actions. Its all about “Cain”, he just killed his brother and challenged God, yet we hear no remorse.  God warned Cain, he must master sin or it will rule over him.  We know sin, ruling over the life of Cain. 

Cain sin further separates him from the presence of God, this is what sin does.  When we turn to sin, we become separated from God.

Kill me:  Notice Cain was concerned the very thing he did to Abel might happen to him, yet still no sorrow for his brother.  The key to redemption, is to first understand the justice of God, we deserve his judgment for our actions.  Only when we understand our condition, can we turn to God seeking redemption.  Cain, is only concerned about Cain, he is not repentant, so he cannot seek redemption.  A heart refusing to admit guilt has nothing to be sorry about, why would it need redemption or rescue.

Lord said: Notice, God assures Cain even though Cain killed his brother and deserved death; God told Cain his life had meaning.  We see a demonstration of God’s mercy, something Cain did not deserve, nor do we.  God’s nature is mercy and grace.


Cain descendents



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. Genesis 4:16-17

Cain went: God still maintained a presence at the Garden of Eden, God communicated to fallen humanity, Adam at this point had other sons and daughters, though it is not explicitly stated here, it is understood.  So Cain left the community of Adam and Eve, exiled for the killing of his brother.

Presence of the Lord: God placed a Cherub at the gates to the Garden, which represented the place of God’s presence.  There Adam might have communed with God at the gates or in the area. 

Nod: A land located East of Eden; this would have been before the flood, therefore the land does not exist today. 

Wife:  This would have been one of Adam and Eve’s daughters or granddaughters.  Since Adam and Eve were the only ones to be made in the image of God with physical bodies.  Today, we still marry our cousins, since everybody on the earth is a cousin and related through the line of Adam and Eve and Noah’s family.

Enoch: Cain, separated from God in the land of Nod, begins the generation of the “godless”.  Enoch, not the same from the line of Seth, establishes this line.



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. Genesis 4:18-22


Enoch: The line of Enoch, the first born of Cain, demonstrates how sin is passed down from generation to generation. Cain becomes a benchmark his great-great grandson Lamech.

Lamech: Lamech typifies the fallen nature of man, he takes two wives, rather then one.  He kills a man, and glories in his murder. 

Two wives: Nature teaches one man and one woman, because of the birth statistics.  God also teaches this through the example of Adam and Eve.  Here we see the pride, lusts and sin of man being played out in the line of Cain. 

The father of: Jabal was the first to dwell in tents and heard livestock.   He was forefather of those who in the future would have the same profession.  There is a first in many aspects of humanity, since we have a starting point.  This man set the stage for future wanders who follow their livestock dwelling in tents.



Lamech Cain’s seed


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." Genesis 4:23-24


Lamech said: God gives a glimpse into the mind of fallen humanity.  We see the corruption of Adam’s seed illustrated by Lamech.  This man is filled with pride, he needs to be validated and to be lauded.  This is what a flesh demands, we need the world to praise us and look up to us.  For this reason our flesh cause us to do many things.  We need grand houses, buildings in our name, admiration of people and things to pump our egos.   We have an emptiness only God can fill, Lamech had this same need.  Also we see here the example of Cain played out in his offspring.  Cain set the model for Lamech, so he is headed down the same path of his “Father”.

Wives of Lamech, listen:

Killed a man:





Seed of Seth


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. Genesis 4:25-26


Men began:

Book of Adam


Genesis 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.

2 He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. Genesis 5:1-2

The book of:

Seth’s Seed



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

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

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

Genesis 5:3-5

Lived one hundred and thirty:

his own likeness:

his image:



Generations of Seth



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

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

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

9 Enosh lived ninety years, and begot 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. Genesis 5:9-20

Seth lived:




Noah’s line


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. Genesis 5:21-24


Enoch walked with God:

sons and daughters:

God took him








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. Genesis 5:25-27






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." Genesis 5:28-29





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.

Genesis 5:30-32


sons and daughters:

Noah was: