The world’s first dysfunctional family
Eve raises Cain1 Adam had sex with Eve. She got pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I had a boy, with the LORD’s help.” 2 Later she gave birth to Cain’s little brother, Abel. When the boys grew up, Abel herded sheep. Cain farmed the ground. 3 Cain gave some of his crops to God, as a gift—an offering. 4 Abel killed the first lambs born to his prized sheep, and he gave the best part of the meat to God—the juicy, tasty fat. The LORD accepted Abel’s gift, 5 but he rejected Cain’s gift as unacceptable. Cain grew so angry that he couldn’t hide it.
6 “What’s wrong?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so upset? 7 If you do what’s right, won’t I accept you? If you don’t do what’s right, sin is waiting for you. It wants to control you. So you have to show sin who’s boss.”
Cain kills his brother Abel8 Cain told Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were there, Cain killed him. 7 Sometime later the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain answered, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s watchman?”
10 God said, “What have you done? Your brother is crying out to me—through his blood in the ground. 11 You’re a farmer no more. I’m banishing you from the ground you’ve polluted with your brother’s blood. 12 Anything you try to grow won’t grow; so don’t try. Hit the road. It’s your home now, drifter.”
13 Cain pleaded with the LORD, “I can’t handle that! 14 You’ve cursed the ground I farm. You’re kicking me off my property and out of your sight. You’re leaving me broke, homeless, and vulnerable. Anyone I come across will kill me.” 15 The LORD said, “That’s not going to happen. Whoever kills you will get seven times the payback." "Then the LORD put a mark on Cain—something that would keep people from killing him.
Cain moves east of Eden16 Cain left the LORD and settled in the Land of Nomads, east of Eden. 17 He had sex with his wife, who got pregnant and gave birth to a son named Enoch. Cain built a city and named it Enoch. 18 Enoch had a son named Irad, who had a son named Mehujael, who had a son named Methushael, who had a son name Lamech. 19 Lamech married two women: Adah and Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal, the first-known migrating herder. He raised livestock and lived in tents. 21 Jabal’s brother was Jubal, the first-known musician. He played harps and flutes. 22 Lamech’s other wife, Zillah, gave birth to Tubal-cain. He became a blacksmith who made bronze and iron tools and other implements. Zillah also had a daughter, Naamah.
23 Lamech said to his two wives, “Listen carefully to me. I killed a young man who attacked and hurt me. 24 If anyone who kills Cain gets seven times the payback, anyone who kills me gets 77 times the payback.”
25 Adam had sex with his wife and she gave birth to their third son. She named him Seth because she said, “God gave me another son because Cain killed Abel.” 26 Seth had a son named Enosh. That’s when people started worshiping the LORD and praying to him.
“Cain” sounds like a Hebrew word that refers to giving birth and could be translated: “I got,” “I gave birth,” “I brought into the world.”
Most ancient copies of Genesis don’t have “Let’s go out to the field.” Those copies don’t quote Cain. Instead, they simply say “Cain talked to his brother Abel.”
Nod, which sounds like a Hebrew word that can refer to a wanderer, traveler, or nomad.
“Seth” sounds like the Hebrew word for given or granted.
There are reportedly only four human beings on the planet when Cain kills Abel, apparently because Cain is jealous since it seems God likes Abel best. If you were telling this story to a child, what would you say is one of the ideas that the Bible writer is trying to make sure we don’t miss?
Why do you think God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s offering? Some Christians have said God likes blood sacrifices best. But other Christians remind us that God accepted grain offerings such as “a handful of the choice flour moistened with olive oil” (Leviticus 6:15 New Living Translation). What do you think was the problem?
Jewish law that Moses said came from God has this to say about murder: “Anyone who takes another person’s life must be put to death” (Leviticus 24:17 New Living Translation). Yet God doesn’t kill Cain. God doesn’t often answer “why” questions. So we end up having to guess his motives. Why would you guess that God didn’t execute Cain?
What have you heard preachers and teachers say about the mark of Cain? Some Christians before the Civil War argued that Cain’s curse was black skin, and for that reason black people deserved to be slaves.
Jewish tradition says the writer of Genesis was Moses (1400s BC or 1200s BC, scholars debate which century). Whoever the writer was, that author said Cain’s great-grandson, Tubal-cain, “became a blacksmith who made bronze and iron tools” (Genesis 4:22). For Christians who put the story of Adam and Eve at 4000 BC, what do you think their approach should be to the fact that the Iron Age did not start until about 1200 BC?
LIFE APPLICATION. Do you think Christians today should support the death penalty? Some argue that the ancient Jewish law no longer applies to us, given our ability to sequester dangerous people, along with the fact that we sometimes execute people who have been later found innocent. And, of course, there’s that case of Jesus freeing a woman caught in adultery—a sin that called for execution by stoning (John 8:1-11).