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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 4

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

Verses 1-26

Genesis 4:0

'Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, or it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which makes the advancing years a climax, and age the harvest of sweet memories in common.'

George Eliot, Middlemarch.

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4:3-5

We perceive that both these brothers recognized the duty and obligation of religious worship, but when their offerings were brought God did not receive them both alike.

I. From the nature of Abel's offering, through faith, he presented a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain. There is every reason to believe that the offering up of animals in sacrifice to God (which was the ancient way of worship) was no idea of man's; man would never, probably, have thought of such a thing had he not been taught to do so by Divine instruction. Adam, after his fall, was probably instructed in this, for the animals from whose skins they were clothed must have been slain, and as God did not then permit the eating of animal food, these animals will doubtless have been slain in sacrifice; the slaughtered animals being types of a crucified Saviour, the skins types of Christ's righteousness, in which every saved sinner must be clothed.

II. Still the reason why Abel was preferred to Cain was not merely the nature of his offering, but the spirit, the frame of mind in which he offered it. He had faith or belief in man's fallen condition, he believed in the entrance of sin, he believed in death, he believed in that Saviour in whose blood he himself and all others who would be accepted by God must alone be cleansed. On the other hand, Cain by his offering shows that he had no faith in the promise of a Saviour, that he did not believe in the fall no faith in the entrance of sin, no faith in the promise of a Saviour, that he did not believe in the cleansing blood of Christ.

E. J. Brewster, Scripture Characters, p. 1.

Reference. IV. 3-16. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Genesis, p. 14.

Abel the Undeveloped

Genesis 4:4

Abel personified something which did not pertain to any special age, something which was cosmopolitan and therefore everlasting. By that cosmopolitan quality Abel was kept alive alive amid the changing environment, alive amid the traces of the dead; he has a present voice he yet speaketh.

I. What is this quality of which Abel is the inaugurator, and by whose inauguration he lives? He is the representative of all the great who die young. The Picture is meant to declare that no really great work is ever interrupted.

II. Its simple features show that Cain is a child of the dust! Abel is a product of the Divine breath. Both the brothers are religious, so far as the form of worship is concerned, both offer a sacrifice. The difference between the dust and the divinity does not lie in the diversity of these men's gifts, but in the diversity of their spirit.

III. The offerings are made, and each brother retires to his home. Time passes; and by and by there happens a strange thing. These brothers meet with opposite destinies. Abel has a splendid year. For Cain the wheel of fortune has turned the opposite way, and he is filled with indignation. His is the anger of a man defrauded. To him the aggravation is not so much his failure as the fact that he has failed where his brother has succeeded. Cain has begun with covetousness and has developed into envy. The sin of the garden has become procreative. Adam had been content to say, 'All these things shall be mine'; Cain has reached the darker thought, 'They at least shall not be my brother's'.

IV. In the view of the early spectator, Abel has not finished his work of sacrifice. It is only a germ-cell that has appeared when he is called away. His was a protest in favour of the higher over the lower life; a protest against utilitarian worship, against buying and selling in the temple of God. But it was his own higher life that he vindicated.

G. Matheson, The Representative Men of the Bible, p. 45.

References. IV. 4. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 376. IV. 5-7. J. Oates, The Sorrow of God, p. 81.


Genesis 4:5

This cannot be considered too weak a motive to carry so enormous a crime. Even in a highly civilized age we find an English statesman saying: 'Pique is one of the strongest motives in the human mind. Fear is strong but transient. Interest is more lasting, perhaps, and steady, but weaker; I will ever back pique against them both. It is the spur the devil rides the noblest tempers with, and will do more work with them in a week than with other poor jades in a twelvemonth.'

Marcus Dods.

Cain Worship

Genesis 4:6-7

Sin came into the world with Adam and Eve; then its fatal seed was planted in human nature.

I. Cain's sin was not only the sin of murder, but it began as all sin does, in disobedience to God. All sin is against God because it is breaking God's law.

II. Ever since the time of Cain there have been two ways in which people have worshipped God either according to God's revealed commands or according to their own private opinion. There are a great many people who will tell you that it does not matter how you worship God, so long as you are sincere, but the Bible shows us again and again from the time of Cain right through its whole history that God will not accept worship which is founded on self-will and disobedience.

A. G. Mortimer, Stories from Genesis, p. 44

Reference. IV. 6., 7. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1929.

Genesis 4:7

'Amongst the proverbial sayings of the Welsh, which are chiefly preserved in the form of triads, is the following one: "Three things come unawares upon a man, sleep, sin, and old age". This saying holds sometimes good with respect to sleep and old age, but never with respect to sin. Sin does not come unawares upon a man: God is just, and would never punish a man, as He always does, for being overcome by sin, if sin were able to take him unawares; and neither sleep nor old age always come unawares upon a man.'

From Borrow's Wild Wales, ch. lviii.

References. IV. 7. A. W. Momerie, The Origin of Evil, p. 101. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Genesis, p. 22.

The Crime of Cain

Genesis 4:8-16

'In a famous picture in the Louvre, the painter shows us amidst wan lights pale crime fleeing, pursued by Truth and Justice. They hover as avengers overhead, armed with the torch and the sword. The criminal does not see them, perhaps, but the restless anxiety on his forehead tells us that he feels their threatenings I might almost say that their breath burns him. Human punishments are not always certain, for God reserves His hour; but the sinner, even if he does not always lose health, fortune, life, honour, feels none the less at his heels the pursuers who threaten to plunge him into the abyss where all is lost and broken. That fugitive, if we like, is Cain, the eternal image of the sinner even the sinner who is unknown to men the image of all those unknown Cains who have trembled, who tremble, or will some day tremble, at the mighty voice of God.... It was no fiction which Victor Hugo invented in his poem on "Conscience". It is the Bible he is transposing, it is the history of the sinner he is symbolizing when he represents him to us in his verses as "dishevelled, pale in the midst of tempests Cain, who is fleeing before Jehovah!" While his weary family are asleep, he can take no rest. He is haunted with the vision of the look of God, of conscience, which penetrates the thickest darkness.

Au fond des cieux funèbres

Il vit un ceil tout grand ouvert dans les ténèbres

Et qui le regardait dans l'ombre fixément.

Vainly does he pursue his sinister flight. Even if he went to the world's end, he would find there the same gaze and the same terror. Neither the canvas of tents nor the precincts of towers neither solitude nor the whirlwind of pleasure can tear the sinner away from himself; neither life nor the grave can tear him away from God. Against God, against remorse, we cannot wall up either the gate of cities or the gate of hearts. That ancestral criminal, that first homicide, the murderer of Abel, symbolizes all the others, not alone those who have shed blood, but those who have soiled their souls with more wicked murders or have dragged into evil the souls of others, their innocent brothers. For them as for him, under some dark vault, some lurking-place beneath the earth:

L'ceil était dans la tombe et regardait Cain!'

Jules Pacheu, Psychologie des Mystiques Chretiens, pp. 47-49.

Reference. IV. 8. A. Phelps, The Old Testament, p. 137.

The Evangelization of the World

Genesis 4:9

I. Your brothers! where are they? Ask Jesus Christ. Did He not say, 'When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men unto Me'? They are everywhere: they are not merely those who love and respect you, but those who despise and hate you, friends and enemies alike.

II. You are the guardians of your brothers. Their interests are your interests, their welfare yours. This general truth presents itself under two aspects. Man is twofold by nature. He has a body and a soul. He suffers in both. Hence arises a double mission, at once to relieve temporal miseries and to save souls.

( a ) You ought to compassionate and alleviate the temporal distresses of your neighbours.

( b ) If, however, you comprehend the true dignity of the soul, the spiritual life and its immortal destiny and bliss, will you not desire to awaken others to the higher realities and possibilities of this being?

III. The love of souls! All the time the Church has lived the life of the Master it has more than felt this love; it has been penetrated by it. This is why there is in the new age and in modern life a fact unknown to antiquity, a fact peculiar to Christianity, to wit, missions. Christianity alone could give birth to them. You may be disposed to disparage them, but have you ever seriously reflected what civilized Europe would have given to pagan populations if Christian missionaries had not been there? Rifles and other fire-arms wherewith to destroy each other: brandy and opium, to brutalize and to degrade!

IV. But souls to save are not only in the far distant plains of earth. They are in your family, in your dwelling, at your hearth. They are in your streets and fields and workshops. They ply your Christian calling. Whilst therefore you endeavour to cherish a love which would embrace the whole earth, let those whom God has given to you be yet the first recipients of that love.

J. Miller, from the French of E. Bersier's Sermons Literary and Scientific, p. 202.

Home Missions

Genesis 4:9

God's question! Man's answer! It is not God's first question, for He had already addressed to Adam as to the representative of the human race that personal inquiry which the Holy Spirit still brings home to every heart convicted of sin, to every man when he first realizes that he is naked before God and longs to hide himself from Him: 'Where art thou?' No! this is God's second question, 'Where is thy brother?' And just as the first question was addressed to man upon his first conviction of sin, so this second question is addressed to man after his first struggle with his fellow-man. It is asked of the victor concerning the vanquished in the cruel competition of life, 'Where is thy brother?' Cain's answer, 'I know not,' was a lie, as most selfish answers are; but the important point occurs in the latter part of his reply, wherein he embodied, in the form of a counter-question, the great principle which God had so far only implied. In doing so he sent ringing down the ages a question, the answer to which must, to the latest chapter of earth's history, divide men into two classes.

I. This Question is of the very Essence of the Gospel Principle. It is at the very centre, and not at the circumference of spiritual things in the system of Christ. It is absolutely fundamental in the new or Christian covenant: for whereas the Law asked a man the question 'Where art thou?' the Gospel passed on at once to the more far-reaching question, 'Where is thy brother?' It made a man essentially his brother's keeper, and the principles of spiritual citizenship were enunciated by our Lord with the express purpose of bringing home to each one of us, His followers, this responsibility, and enabling each one of us to discharge it.

II. What is the very First Principle of Heavenly Citizenship as laid down by Christ Jesus our Lord upon the mount? 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' And what did He mean by it? Surely that the first condition of heavenly possession is the absolute renunciation by the human spirit of all claim to personal ownership of any earthly possession, whether it be property or time, or talent or opportunity, with which it may have been entrusted by God. And what said He next? 'Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.' What did our Lord mean by this but that the second great principle of His kingdom is this: that it is an impossibility for His true follower to be really happy as long as some one else is sad; that even the enjoyment of the Gospel is to be considered imperfect as long as there be those who know not of it, or have not accepted it; that the heavenly citizen will feel his brother's sorrow, his brother's pain; that he will mourn for his brother's sadness. Are not these the two principles which have been ignored or slurred over by the modern Church of Christ? Do not we feel that we need their re-stating in no uncertain terms? Is it not just at this point that the Church of Christ has failed in her efforts to grapple with the Home Mission problem of our day? It is the greatest problem that the Church of Christ has got to deal with today; and it is the problem which is nearest to her hand that of the overgrown populations in the poorer parts of our great cities.

III. It is the Modern Lazarus who, by the exigencies of nineteenth and twentieth century life, has been laid at our gate full of sores.

( a ) Look at the physical sore, the unhealthy surroundings, the fetid air of the close alleys or filthy slums. That atmosphere is full of evil of all description.

( b ) Look at the social sore. The people are not only herded together, but they are so far of a dead level of one class of society and that the most helpless class that there is no man to become a leader amongst his fellows.

( c ) Look at the moral sore. See those public-houses at every street-corner, and abounding in all directions, like the links of a chain which bind the people to their sin so that they cannot break away.

( d ) Look at the financial sore. The poor are herded in one district by themselves, and the rich (who should be their leaven, the very stewards of God in this matter) are congregated together elsewhere. Time was when master and man lived near together, and they took an interest in each other's welfare; but the masters now live far afield, in the residential districts, and the men congregate in dense masses nearer to the place of their employment.

Such is the Lazarus of poverty and misery and sin which is at our gate the gate of every great city in our land today. We need not stay to ask how it came to be there or whose fault it is that things are as they are. Selfishness and sin, we may be pretty sure, have had much to do with it. The great point to notice is that in the providence of God this poor man, this Lazarus with all his sores, is laid at our gate, that he is our brother, and that he is in our keeping.

IV. What are we Going to do with Him? Social movements, political movements, labour movements, have all their own part and a very important part to take in this matter, but it will require the balm of Gilead, the spiritual medicine of the Great Physician, even of Christ, the anointing of the Holy Ghost, before these terrible sores can be healed. And to this intent some one must needs go to Lazarus and tend and care for him.

T. Brocas Waters.

Keeping Our Brother

Genesis 4:9

You remember the connexion in which these words were asked. They were the words of a man as he stood forth in the presence of Almighty God with his hands red with the blood of his murdered brother. It was an excuse which fell from the lips of a man who knew perfectly well that he was his brother's keeper, and it is the same excuse which has risen to the lips of men and women from that day forward men and women who have been false to a charge which has been given to them, to the souls and bodies committed to their care, who have disgraced their humanity by neglecting those whom God has put it into their power to help.

I. Who is my Brother? 'Am I my brother's keeper?' Who is my brother? Think of Calvary and of the outstretched arms of the Saviour, and see there the answer to the question who is my brother? Those arms stretched wide, that He might embrace the whole world. He teaches us, even though upon the cross, that all men are His brothers. And so when we ask 'Who is my brother; of whom am I the keeper?' the answer is, every one whom God has given you, every one whom you have the power to help, even though it be but by the kind word spoken we are their keeper, and God looks to you to see to it that they learn from you something of His love and care.

II. How am I to 'keep' him? 'Who is my brother; and how am I to help him?' Just look for one moment at the way in which Christ helped those across whom He came.

( a ) Help for the body. Christ was surrounded daily by crowds of sick and suffering and poor. Think of the bodily suffering in its two great forms in which you and I know it the suffering which comes from poverty and sickness and see how He dealt with it. You remember in the miracle of the feeding of the four thousand that Christ said: 'Ye seek Me not because ye saw the works, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled'. But though He knew it was simply curiosity sometimes, or bodily suffering, hunger and want and poverty, still out of the abundance of His heart He did not deny them. Simply because they were hungry and poor He gave them to eat. And so Christ tells us to do today. What we very often forget is that those He has left with us are His representatives. 'The poor, the hungry, the stricken in Body,' He says, 'they are My representatives, and He that does it to one of these does it to Me'.

( b ) Help for the Soul. But we not only think of the way Christ dealt with actual bodily suffering amongst the poor people He came across; we remember the duty that the Church of Christ has to souls of men. Christ rarely wrought a miracle without at the same time touching the soul. And so it is to be with His Church. All systems, however valuable, which would try to make men better off as regards their state avail nothing until they touch the soul.

( c ) The wider call. Next we must look away from our own home, and think of those in our neighbourhood, our town, our country, and even abroad. They are all our brethren, for whom we have work to do. We have to send the Gospel of Christ to those thousands of additional people who are annually crowding into our great cities. These vast multitudes of people spreading out from the centre of the town or city into the suburbs, what do they find? No religious privileges, no church, no minister at all. And you say: 'Of course, if they want a church they must build one'. Yes, but they do not want a church. They need it badly, but it is about the last thing that some of them want. We must be ready, therefore, whenever we are asked, to help those great Home Mission Societies which seek to take to these thousands of people the blessings of the Gospel. The Church laity as well as clergy has to remember the teaching of our Lord in the parable of the Great Supper, when all those who were bidden would not come and yet there was room: 'Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in'.

The Flying Angel

Genesis 4:9

It is a commonplace that responsibility places man in his true position in the scale of Creation, neither too high nor too low. The fact of his responsibility proves man's possession of an intelligent mind, a moral sense and will-power which he is bound to exercise deliberately and for the benefit of others. Thus, when a ship is wrecked and human lives are lost, we do not blame the winds and the waves. These blind forces of Nature simply carry out the laws imposed upon them. But we have a right to blame the captain if by neglect or incompetency he has run the vessel upon the rocks. When the lightning strikes the haystack and destroys the collected produce of the year the farmer must accept the inevitable. No other course lies before him. But if tramp or labourer has dropped a burning match among the hay the farmer is justified in expressing indignation for gross neglect of necessary precautions. Yes; man's place in Nature is too high, his power for good or evil too great, for him to attempt to shirk his unique responsibilities by classing himself with the beasts that perish. And yet, high as he is in the scale of Creation, man is not supreme. Above him stands God, the righteous Judge, against Whose decision there is no appeal; and, however much man may endeavour to delude himself with phrases such as fatalism and the like, his conscience admits that God is just in demanding at the Last Day an account of the deeds done in the body, and that upon that Great Assize should depend his own reward or punishment in the life beyond the grave.

I. Man is his Brother's Keeper. This lesson of responsibility is not an evolution of modern ethics. At the very dawn of human life we find the truth revealed and enforced that man is his brother's keeper. From the first, life stands revealed to us as linked with life in the collocation of family and tribe. For good or ill, father and his children stood or fell together, king and his subjects. This simple, this rough-and-ready principle runs continually through the earlier books of the Old Testament. It strikes our modern minds with a certain moral shock to read that not only Dathan and Abiram, but 'their wives, their sons, and their little children' were swallowed up in the common ruin; that when Achan was convicted of a theft which involved Israel in an unexpected defeat before their enemies, not Achan only, but his 'sons and his daughters' were stoned with stones, and their bodies burned with fire. But we must remember that in the nursery period of the education of humanity lessons are taught with a dramatic simplicity suitable to an age incapable of fine distinctions. As we ponder over these past incidents we must take care not to confuse temporal with eternal punishment. Again, we must not forget that life in family or tribe was linked together not only for special punishment, but for preservation also. Noah, preacher of righteousness, was saved from the waters of the flood. But he was not saved alone. God's protection was extended to his family also.

II. Fatalism and Responsibility. But as life became more complex moral difficulties began to perplex thoughtful minds and obstinate questionings arose. These difficulties increased as men directed their attention not so much to the central figure of influence, patriarch or king, head of tribe or family, but to those subordinate characters in the drama, those whom his actions so vitally affected for good or ill associated in the common salvation or the common ruin, the recipients of a special favour or the victims (so it seemed) of another man's sins. In dark days of depression or of national calamity a tendency emerged to doubt the justice of God, to despair of personal effort, as though after all it mattered not, when the many were punished, whether the individual did well or ill. This train of thought, we can see at once, was radically at fault, just because it missed the whole lesson by disregarding the central cause. The far-reaching results of good and evil, when rightly viewed, ought to have proved an added stimulus to the cultivation of character, a new call to personal righteousness of life. But in moments of despair it produced in weaker minds a contrary effect. Fatalism took the place of responsibility. The period of Jewish captivity witnessed the spread of pessimism, and the proverb passed from mouth to mouth: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'. It was to correct this spreading paralysis of personal effort that, by the Providence of God, Ezekiel arose with the exact message needed by the circumstances of his time. He begins by tracing the national judgment to continued national apostasy. But he goes on to explain that national apostasy is the sum total of individual apostasy. And individual responsibility cannot be evaded by attributing present calamity to the sins of a previous generation to the faults of forefathers. He enunciates the law of personal liability. God does not merge the individual in the nation. 'All souls are Mine,' He claims. And further, 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die'. A good father may have a bad son, and that bad son may in his turn beget a good son. But, as far as moral responsibility goes, each case in God's eyes is dealt with singly.

III. The Message of the Gospel. Ezekiel anticipates the message of the Gospel, and this in two ways. First, he calls to repentance with the promise of unconditional forgiveness. 'When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.' Next, he points to the larger life beyond the grave. He extends the horizon. 'Turn yourselves,' he cries, 'and live ye;' live, that is to say, the ampler, fuller life which, commencing here on earth, is continued beyond the grave. For these perplexing questions of cause and effect, of shades of influence good and malign, of rewards and punishments, can be viewed in their completeness only and finally in the Great Beyond. Then shall we understand the mystery of the reconciliation of perfect justice and perfect love; we shall learn how it is that 'mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.'

Bishop Harmer of Rochester.

My Brother's Keeper

Genesis 4:9

'How sin gains dominion over human nature.'

I. Among the ties which bind men together what is stronger or more enduring than the sense of consanguinity? Nothing can abolish a man's duty to the brothers who were boys with him in one home.

II. But we leave home, and go out into a world of fierce competition. And competition encourages us in selfishness. Can we honestly cherish brotherly feelings for our successful rivals? One chief secret of Christianity is that it puts Divine power and meaning into human brotherhood. Christ binds us to our fellow-men by binding us to Himself. The life of self-sacrifice has its origin and fountains not in man, but in the heart of God.

III. As soon as we recognize that this brotherhood even with the unthankful and the evil is a real thing, we wake up to feel the responsibility which it involves. My duty to my brother and especially to my weaker brother is to safeguard him from slipping away from duty, to keep him mindful of his pledges, and faithful to his vows. In life's practical business it is not easy to remember that we have a daily responsibility to God for the men and women we mix with, the people we employ, and the people also who employ us. We are debtors to the wise and to the foolish.

T. H. Darlow, The Upward Call, p. 288.

The Brotherhood of Man

Genesis 4:9

Humanity is one great body, and we as individuals are all members of that body.

I. Man is united to man, nation to nation; and so complete is the union that no man liveth to himself. Nor is this union of social formation only; the relationship is vital. It is a spirit relationship. A mere social relationship would be poor indeed, for the term 'socialism' conveys an idea of distinction. Certainly socialism is, in a measure, a means of unification, but it is also a means of separation. But while socialism has its distinctions, while it divides into classes, it is incapable of separating from the mass. If it is weak in uniting, it is impotent to detach. There is a felt though invisible something by which man is inseparably united to man.

II. The composition of this union may be difficult to explain. But I have thought that it is God in each answering to God in all. No life is entirely void of God. Divinity has never been utterly expelled from any man. In some God sits on the throne of the heart, and governs the life; in others He resides as an unrecognized guest, subjugated by the mind of the flesh.

III. This doctrine of universal brotherhood does not diminish the importance of that other great doctrine individual responsibility. It rather increases it. Personal responsibility may, as some one has said, 'exist independently of relative responsibility'; but the latter greatly enhances the importance of the former. We have not only to bear our own burden; we have also to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

P. H. Hall, The Brotherhood of Man, p. 5.

References. IV. 9. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 277. Bishop Goodwin, Parish Sermons, vol. iv. p. 72. Archdeacon Sinclair, Christ and Our Times, p. 298. J. Bateman, Sermons Preached in Guernsey, p. 18. D. W. Simon, Twice Born and other Sermons, vol. xxiv. No. 1399. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No. 1399.

Genesis 4:10

The famous preacher, John Geiler of Kaysersberg, used this text in an unusual way. As cathedral preacher in Strasbourg from 1478 to 1510, he was often called upon to deliver funeral orations for great men. His custom was to make the spirits of bishops and others speak in their own person, as it were, and to utter admonitions whose sternness the living preacher might have feared to imitate. Geiler's chief French biographer, the Abbé Dacheux, remarks on the truly apostolic freedom with which he was thus enabled to pour forth warnings. One of his most striking sermons was founded on the text quoted above. 'He effaced himself and made the dead speak in his own person. "Listen, my brothers," he said, "to the voice of your brother.... It says remember, 'Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return'." Borrowing the words of Job, he told, in the mournful accents of Holy Scripture, of our days which are so short and yet so full of misery; he showed the transient shadow, the scarce-opened flower which was already trampled under the feet of those who pass by. He reminded his hearers of the dread mysteries of the grave. "I have said to corruption, Thou art my father; to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister."'

Among those who listened to Geiler of Kaysersberg were the nearest relatives and successors of bishops and other cathedral dignitaries. His pulpit method may be compared with that of Bossuet and Massillon.

The Arabs have a belief that over the grave of a murdered man his spirit hovers in the form of a bird that cries, 'Give me drink, give me drink,' and only ceases when the blood of the murderer is shed. Cain's conscience told him the same thing; there was no criminal law threatening death to the murderer, but he felt men would kill him if they could. He heard the blood of Abel crying from the earth. The blood of Christ also crieth to God, but cries not for vengeance but for pardon.

Marcus Dods.

References. IV. 10. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol viii. No. 461; ibid. vol. xii. No. 708. IV. 15, 16. R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i. pp. 86 and 108. IV. 23, 24. H. Rix, Sermons, Addresses, and Essays, p. 18. IV. 26. E. A. Bray, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 354. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 381. IV. J. Monro Gibson, The Ages before Moses, p. 116. V. 1. J. Parker, Adam, Noah, and Abraham, p. 35. V. 2. J. Laidlaw, Bible Doctrine of Man, p. 98. V. 3. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 382. V. 21-24. J. Bannerman, Sermons, p. 24. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1307. V. 22. C. Maclaren, Expositions Genesis, p. 32. V. 23, 24. E. A. Bray, Sermons, vol. i. p. 157.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Genesis 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/genesis-4.html. 1910.
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