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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 4

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-16

Cain and Abel (4:1-16)

Adam and Eve’s first two sons, Cain and Abel, maintained a belief in God and presented offerings to him. Abel offered the best of his flock in humble faith and God accepted him. Cain’s attitude was arrogant and his life ungodly, and therefore God rejected him (4:1-5; cf. Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 3:12). Since the attitude and conduct of the offerer were more important than his gifts, God told Cain that if he wanted God to accept him, he would have to overcome the sin that threatened to destroy him. That sin was like a wild beast crouching at the door, waiting to attack its victim (6-7).

Cain failed to overcome his sin and in jealous anger he killed Abel. His taking of Abel’s life called out for revenge from the one who had given that life. God therefore drove Cain into the barren countryside, away from the place where people, though sinners, at least still worshipped God. Although Cain remained unrepentant, God in his mercy protected him from any possible revenge killing (8-16).

Verses 17-26

Cain’s followers and Seth’s (4:17-26)

Difficult though this new way of life was, the ungodly Cain was no doubt relieved to be free from the influence of God. The human population had been growing constantly, so in a plan to make himself secure Cain established his own independent settlement (17-18).
The beginnings of settled life were marked by both good and evil. People made some progress in the raising of sheep and cattle, and developed skills in various arts and crafts, but morally they became worse. Lamech not only murdered a boy who had done no more than slightly injure him, but wrote a song to celebrate his crime. Cain had at least looked for, and received, God’s protection against revenge killing, but Lamech was so arrogant and defiant that he challenged anyone to take action against him (19-24).
Cain’s descendants now disappear from the story. From this point on the story will be concerned with the descendants of another of Adam’s sons, Seth, for these were the ones who continued to worship God (25-26). Adam and Eve produced many sons and daughters (see 5:4), since part of their responsibility was to help populate the earth (see 1:28). Over a long period different racial groups emerged, as people settled in various regions and multiplied.

The Bible story, however, deals with the history of only a small portion of the human race, namely, that which produced the Semitic people, of whom the Hebrews were a part. This was the one line of descent through which people maintained a belief in the one true God (cf. Romans 1:20-23).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/genesis-4.html. 2005.
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