Last episode we discussed Cain and Abel, the offerings they brought to God, Cain’s murdering of Abel, and then God’s punishment of Cain. Part of which is that the ground would no longer yield to his efforts, which is ironic, seeing as that Cain was a farmer
As a reminder, and to sort of pick-up where we left off, God says to Cain, as the other part of his punishment, “You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain responds and says that “My punishment is greater than I can bear 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” And we ended the last episode asking the question, “Who were these other people?” Was it not just Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel?? And now, even Abel has been killed. So who else is there?? Who is it that Cain is afraid of?
Which brings us now to V15.
15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
One of the difficulties sometimes in doing a bible study is figuring out how to lay out and determine what order you want to address situations like this where there is so much going on, and so much material to cover. So with that said, let’s first talk about God’s response to Cain here
Cain says that if anybody sees him, they will kill him. God says, “Not so!” Or God would take out vengence on them sevenfold!! Wow! And we will get to this in a moment, but notice how Cain already knows that there are other people out there. And he is afraid of what they will do to him. Notice also that God doesn’t argue that fact. By His response, God is implying that He is also aware that there are other people out there. And if “they”, any of those other people, kill Cain, God will take vengence on them sevenfold. So what we know for certain based on this conversation is that there are definitely other people out there.
But God puts a mark on Cain, warning people about attacking Cain. To my knowledge, we do not know what this mark was. Some think it was something like a tatoo. Some have even suggested the mark may have been in the shape of a cross! But, we simly do not know. What we do know is, that whatever it was, it was sufficient to communicate to others, to warn them, they had better not attack Cain.
These verses tell us that Cain settled in the land of Nod, East of Eden. Here is something interesting. Did you ever realize that the word “Nod” in Hebrew means “wandering”? I believe this may be the only time Nod is mentioned in all of scripture, and we are not certain of exactly where the land of Nod was located, other than just being East of Eden.
But it is interesting that Cain, who is now alienated from God, is a wanderer, with no place to settle. I think that may be how we all are to some degree. Until we are no longer alienated from God, separated from God, just like Cain, we will not find rest. We will have no place to live or to abide in true peace. Regardless of how successful or happy you may be at times in your life, there will always be that something you will be looking for. That something which nothing else can satisfy. You are not going to find the true peace and happiness you are searching for. There will always be something missing, something lacking. Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy with our lives. There are plenty of people who would say they are happy with their lives apart from God. And although we may at times think we can find that place we are searching for, that we can somehow, through various means, substitute the lack of relationship with God with other things in our lives, the truth is that we can do no such thing. You can’t replace God with things. With material possessions, with other relationships, or accomplishments, making your mark on the world, or leaving behind a legacy.
The world is full of modern-day examples of people, whether celebrities, athletes, or CEOs of businesses, who seem to have it all, and yet are miserable. Even Alexander the Great, after conquering the known world, fell on his bed, crying that there were no more worlds to conquer. And just like Cain here, as long as we are alienated from God, we will not find sustained or lasting peace.
But why do you think God did not carry out the death penalty with Cain here? It would have been just. Perhaps God, in his mercy and grace, was giving Cain every opportunity and the time to repent. Just as He does with you and I. And although we cannot be sure how Cain ultimately responded to God’s mercy and grace, what is important is how we respond to that same mercy and the same grace God has extended to each of us.
So now let’s shift gears for a moment and talk about “those other people who were out there”, Who are those other people that Cain was afriad would kill him? Who are they and where did they come from? Because this is ultimately also going to help answer the question that is often asked, which is “Where did Cain get his wife?”
There seems to be two primary thoughts on this subject. One thought is that Adam and Eve were not the only couple in the beginning. That the Bible is merely telling us the story of Adam and Eve because they are the line and the family tree from which the Messiah would descend.
If this is correct, then there would have obviously been other people out there.
The other thought, is that these other people represent a rapidly growing and expanding family from the offspring of Adam and Eve
When people ask the question, Where did Cain get his wife?”, they seem to forget, or maybe they are simply not aware that scripture tells us in Gen 5:4 that Adam had other sons and daughters. So it wasn’t just Cain and Abel, and then later on Seth. We don’t know how many sons and daughters Adam had
We also don’t know how long it was before Cain killed Abel, so thre may have already been many sons and daughters, each of which could have had sons and daughters, and the population could actually have grown rather quickly, especially if the people lived to longer ages than we currently do.
If we look ahead to the geneology in chapter 5, it tells us that every descendant mentioned of Adam, all the way to at least Lamech, had “other sons and daughters”.
Now, if this is the intrepretation one choses, it obviously leads to the question of intermarriage among brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews, and so forth. And that may sound a bit strange to modern readers. Because we have laws that prohibit those types of marriages, and yes, before you ask, we even have those types of laws here in Tennessee! Believe it or not, our family trees here don’t always look like telephone poles!
But it wasn’t until God established the moral and civil laws for the nation of Israel in Leviticus that he ruled out marriage between siblings.
The reason we have these types of laws is due to the chance of biological and genetic defects. But the risks of genetic defects would have developed slowly, and would not have been a hgh risk until several generations. So there was no law that forbade the marriage of brothers and sisters and close family.
17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.
So again, Cain marries and has a son and names him Enoch. Not only that, but there are enough other people that Cain ultimately builds a city, naming it Enoch, after his son
There is a saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and maybe that is what is going on with Cain’s building of a city. The Hebrew word for city used here is “ir”, which can mean any permanently inhabited settlement that is protected by a wall. So it provides for some sort of civilzation and protection. It also provides for a relief from alienation and wandering.
Now there are some people who look at the long lifespans described in the early parts of Genesis and calculate the likely number of children that could be born, and argue that the population by this time could have easily been several hundred thousand. But as far as how many occupied the city of Enoch that Cain built, we have no way of knowing. The Hebrew word for city gives no indication as to the size of the city. And there is a difference between our modern cities and ancient cities, as well as differences between the ancient cities themselves, which makes defining what this city consisted of even more diffilcult.
18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 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 lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
So what we have here is a short description of some of the descendents of Cain. Lamech is said to have taken two wives, which is the first mention of polygamy in the Bible.
Jabal is associated with tent-dwelling and animal husbandry
Jabal has a brother named Jubal, who is linked with musical instruments, and the lyre and pipe are mentioned, which are essentially the harp and the flute
Their half-brother, Tubal-Cain, was associated with the metallurgy, or metal-working
So what we are seeing is an increased level of sophisticated civilization taking place. Notice also that this is being credited and taking place under a godless line of descendents from Cain. Don’t forget, even unbelievers are made in the image of God. Even unbelievers are creative, capable, intelligent human beings. They all have abilities. Even today we have large numbers of unbelievers who utilize their God-given talents and abilities to bring us new technologies and discoveries.
23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
So the most notable of Cain’s descendents is Lamech. And in this, which is actually the first instance of poetry found in scripture, Lamech is bragging about committing revenge, and he seems to sort of revel in his love of violence.
Lamech brags that if Cain is revenged sevenfold, then his is sevenyy-seven fold. Like he is more vengeful than Cain, more important, more bloodthirsty
This is a perfect example for why the Bible’s “eye-for-an-eye”, tooth for tooth” was so important. It limited the extent of revenge. It limited retaliation. The Bible in Exodus 21:24 outlawed the indescriminate justice celebrated by Lamech, and instituted retributive justice. So that the punishment would fit the crime.
As professor John Walton puts it, the text moves from unrepentent Cain to defiant Lamech. Violence is glorified, and the mark of Cain no longer stands as a stigma of exile, but a badge of honor. The human situation is degenerating
It is interesting that Lamech says that If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” Because listen to what Jesus told Peter in Matthew 18:21-22…” 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
And with that, we see the last of any mention of the decendents of Cain or Lamech. Their line may have been mentioned simply to point out the natural progression and outworkings of life apart from God, or perhaps to mention the beginning of urbanization. What we know for sure is that the focus now turns to Adam and Eve’s son Seth, and his line of descendents.
25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed] for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
So Adam and Eve have another son, Seth. We don’t know if he was the next in line, or how many other children they had prior to Seth. But Seth is mentioned here. Many times you will see in scripture that it is not necessarily the oldest or first that is focused on, but the one who will be most used by God. Remember, Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters, but only Seth is mentioned here.
Seth also has a son, and names him Enosh, and at that time, people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
The name Enosh actually means “weakness”. It is ironic, because it is the recognition of human frailty and weakness, symbolized by the name Enosh, that makes man aware that he needs God, that he is dependent upon God.
And it says that at this time, people began to call on the name of the Lord. This is the beginning of worship. It is actually an image of prayer, or to enter into an intense relationship. Like one who makes a petition to and praises the name of God, glorifying God, rather than glorifying humanity.