Click to donate today!
Fausset's Bible Dictionary
(acquired). For Eve said, "I have gotten a man from (or with the help of) Jehovah." She recognized this gift of Jehovah, though accompanied with the foretold "sorrow" of conception, as a first step toward fulfilling the promise of the Redeemer, "the seed of the woman" (Genesis 3:15). Cain, her supposed acquisition, proved a deadly loss. Parents' expectations are very different from after realities. Cain was of that wicked one (1 John 3:12), not associated with Jehovah, except as incurring His curse. Augustine (City of God, 15:1) says: "Cain, the author of the city of the world, is born first, and is called an acquisition because he buildeth a city, is given to the cares and pomp of the world, and persecutes his brother that was chosen out of the world. But (See (see), the beginner of the city of God, is born second, called 'vanity' because he saw the world's vanity, and is therefore driven out of the world by an untimely death. So early came martyrdom into the world; the first man that died died for religion."
Jealousy was Cain's motive, "because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." His "offering of the fruit of the ground," not "the firstling's of the flock," seems to have been an unhumbled self-willed setting aside of God's will (to be inferred from the "coats of skin," Genesis 3:21, involving animal sacrifices) that the death which man's sin incurred should be acknowledged as due by the sinner offering penitently a slain victim, and a substitution of his own act of will worship ("the error of Cain," Judges 1:11), a mere thankoffering. Jehovah "had not respect to Cain and his offering," but had to Abel and his offering; probably God gave the visible token of acceptance, fire from heaven consuming the sacrifice. So Theodotion; compare Genesis 15:17; Leviticus 9:24; Judges 6:21; Judges 13:19; Judges 13:21); 1 Kings 18:39.
Abel, according to Hebrews 11:4, "by faith offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain"; lit. a fuller sacrifice, partaking more largely of the nature of a sacrifice. "Faith" presupposes a revelation of God's will concerning sacrifice, otherwise it would have been an act of presumptuous will worship (Colossians 2:23), and taking of a life which man had no right to before the flood (Genesis 9:2-4). E. of Eden before the cherubic symbols of God was probably the appointed place of offering. "In process of time," lit. "at the end of days," namely, at some fixed sacred season, as the sabbath. Cain's "countenance fell" at the rejection of his sacrifice, which possibly involved the loss of his privileges of primogeniture. Jehovah, who still vouchsafed intercourse to man though fallen, argues with Cain as a wayward child, "If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted?" (or "have the excellency," namely, that belonging to the elder born. (Compare Genesis 49:3.) Literally, will there not be lifting up? alluding by contrast to Cain's fallen countenance.)
"But if thou doest not well (which is thy real case, and thy not confessing it, but offering a mere thank offering, leaves thee still under guilt), a sin offering (so 'sin' is used Hosea 4:8; Leviticus 6:26; Leviticus 10:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28) lieth at the door," i.e. is within thy reach (compare Matthew 24:33), you have only to go to the appointed place (probably E. of Eden where the cherubim were), and offering it in faith thou shalt be accepted and may have lifting up of countenance again (Job 11:15; Job 22:26). The explanation, "if thou doest not well (i.e. sinnest), sin lieth at the door ready to assail you as a serpent" is tautology. The "sin" feminine joined with the masculine verb in the Hebrew implies that a male victim is meant by "sin" or sin offering. "And unto thee shall be his desire" as that of a younger brother subordinate in rank to the elder.
You need not in jealousy fear losing your priority of birth, if you do well. Cain talked with Abel, proposing probably that they should go to the field, and when there away from man's eye rose up and slew him. Adam's sin now bears fratricide among its first and terrible fruits; and the seed of the serpent stands forth thenceforward throughout man's history, as distinguished from the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Adam hid in the trees and then confessed his sin; but Cain stoutly denies it, showing himself the child of him who is the father of lying and the murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). But God convicted him, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground." Herein God shows He takes cognizance of man's sin, though there be no other accuser; next, that innocent blood is too precious to be shed with impunity; thirdly, that not only He cares for the godly in life but "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Psalms 116:15) (Calvin).
Exile from the original seat of the human family and the scene of God's manifestations was the sentence, a mild one, in consonance with the mild administration of the divine government before the flood. "My punishment is greater than I can bear" marks Cain's unhumbled spirit, regretting only the punishment not the sin. "It shall come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay me," words implying that the human race had even then multiplied since Adam's expulsion from Eden, a fact also appearing from Cain having a wife, doubtless one of Adam's descendants; the sacred historian only giving one or two prominent links of the genealogy, not the sons, much less the daughters, all in full. God "set a mark upon," or set a sign for, "Cain," (what it was we know not) to assure him of safety from the blood avenger (Judges 6:17; Isaiah 7:14).
Cain, the second head of the race, namely, of the ungodly seed, must live, as the tares among the wheat, until the harvest, God reserving judgment to His own time and not allowing man to take avenging into his own hands. But after the flood God delegated in part the avenging of blood to man (Genesis 9:6). In Nod ("exile") he built a city and named it from his son Enoch (high dedication); the first step in the founding of the spiritual world city upon which the carnal fix their affections as their lasting home, instead of seeking the heavenly city and continuing pilgrims on earth (Psalms 49:11; Hebrews 11:10-16), To make up for his loss of unity in the fellowship of God and His people, Cain creates for himself and his an earthly center of unity. There civilization, but without God, developed itself, while the Sethites continued in godly pastoral simplicity (Genesis 4:26).
Lamech began polygamy; Jabal, nomadic life; Jubal, musical instruments; Tubal-cain, working in brass and iron. Lamech made his manslaughters an occasion for composing poetry in parallelism. The names of the women, Naamah (pleasant), Zillah (shadow), Adah (ornament), all imply refinement. But all this allied to godlessness, violence, and luxurious self indulgence, only prepared the world for the consummated corruption which brought down judgment, as it soon shall again in the last days (Revelation 17; 18; 19; Luke 17:26-37). The traditions of the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks, refer the invention of agriculture and breeding of cattle to prehistoric times, also the preparation of metals; whereas in the historic period these arts have made comparatively small advances.
But ethnologists from the art-formed flints in the gravel and drift formations on the earth's surface infer three successive ages, the flint, the bronze, the iron; also from the lower type of older skulls they infer that civilization was a slow growth from original barbarism. But Scripture does not represent man as possessed of superior intellectual power and refined knowledge. Adam was placed in Eden to until it, and his power of knowledge and speech was exercised in naming the beasts. China has been in a state of mental cultivation and art far beyond Adam, yet for ages has made no progress. All that Scripture states is man's original innocence, and that his state was not savagery but rudimentary civilization. High art in the valley of Ohio is proved by the dug up remains to have preceded the forests which the Red Indians tenanted. Cereals have been found among very early remains of man's industry, whether Cain cultivated them, or knew only roots, fruits, and vegetables. The oldest skulls are by no means all of low type.
These files are public domain.
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Cain (1)'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/c/cain-1.html. 1949.