Arguments attempting to misuse and decontextualise the uses of the descriptor בני האלוהים B’nei haElohim by misteaching that it always refers to angels, are refuted outright by its contextual use to refer to human beings within the canon of the TaNaKh (OT) and by the writer of John’s Gospel:
This chapter seeks to firmly establish the generations of humanity under the heavens and on the earth following the record which was begun in chapter 2:4, and subsequently shows the tragic demise of humanity as it descended into a state of Godless hedonism and idolatry.
The historicity of these accounts can’t be overstated. As I’ve mentioned previously, the very lineage of our משיח Mashiyach (Messiah) is traced back to the single individual אדם Adam.
While the Hebrew, בן ben in its various forms can refer to a son, a child, a grandson, a grandchild, an ancestor and so on, it’s used here very specifically to refer to direct sons of certain individuals. This will soon give way to its wider meaning in the subsequent chapters. However, it’s essential at this point to read it in the present context alongside the very specific qualifying proper nouns and parental descriptors.
The story of קַיִן Kayin (spear) and הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour), is one of both the perpetuation of sin behaviour and the continued hope of redemption through sacrifice. Much has been said to belittle the significance of the sacrifices offered here, however, a correct understanding of the text will show that from the beginning blood covering atonement was the only means of redemption, both temporal and everlasting.
I wear a kippah (from kaparah, meaning covering, atonement: a.k.a yarmulke, skull cap) on my head to remind me that, “The life is in the blood” and that, “Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin”. If my kippah could speak and explain its significance it would begin before the beginning with Yeshua’s sacrifice, then it would explain the blood sacrifice that covered Adam and Chavah and as its story unfolded it would also illuminate the importance of Hevel’s blood sacrifice. The present is intrinsically connected to the past and the future.
Bereishit בְּרֵאשִית Genesis 4 (Translated by Yaakov ben Yehoshua)
Gen 4:1 And וְהָאָדָם the Adam knew, had known, had sexual relations with יָדַע yada that אֶת־חַוָּה specific Chavah (life, living) his wife; and she conceived, and bore that specific אֶת־קַיִן Kayin (spear), and said, “I have gotten a man from Adonay [HaShem] (YHVH).”
Some Jewish interpreters read, “Had known” and thus suggest that Adam and Chavah had children before they were driven from Eden. However, while their reading of the Hebrew is correct, the conclusion is not. We know this because any children born before the fall of אָדָם Adam and חַוָּה Chavah would be innocent of the sin that their parents engaged in and would therefore be kept from the punishment of being driven out.
It’s clear from the context of the present text, that the sexual relations mentioned are intended as the foundation for the birth of קַיִן Kayin, who, based on the context of the remainder of the chapter, is obviously born outside of Eden.
“My husband and I were created by God alone, but through the birth of Kayin we are parents with Him.”
רבי שלמה יצחקי
–Rashi (Rebiy Shlomo Yitzhaki)
“This man shall be my acquisition for the sake of God”
–Rambam/Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon)
These famous rabbinic commentators see Kayin as one whom Chavah and Adam dedicated to the service of God. Kayin is seen as both a gift from God to Chavah and an offering from Chavah back to God. Therefore, based on this rabbinic view, the obedience to the command to procreate and produce Kayin is seen as an act of repentance on the part of Adam and Chavah. However, Kayin will soon turn his back on God, whereas it will be the second son Hevel who chooses to honour God. Just as the second son Isaac would be honoured over the illegitimate son Ishmael, and the second son Yaakov (Jacob) would be honoured above Esau, all pointing to the second Adam Yeshua, who like Hevel, would choose to honour God above all (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Chavah’s expression, “I have gotten a man from HaShem (YHVH)” seems to indicate that at least in some way, she understood Kayin to be an affirmation of God’s promise of the seed that would crush the serpents head in days to come (Genesis 3:15).
Gen 4:2 And increasing, she bore his brother הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour). And became הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour) a shepherd of flocks, and קַיִן Kayin (spear) was a tiller of the ground (ha-adamah).
Jewish tradition suggests that both Hevel and Kayin were born with twin sisters, whom they would later marry (Shalshaleth Hakabala, fol. 74; Pirke Eliezer. c. 21.). There is no Biblical support for this.
Hevel means vapour or transient breath, a reflection of the Ruach wind which God breathed into Adam. This breath however is affected by the sin polluted creation and is therefore a vapour, not long for this world.
As a shepherd Hevel is a foreshadowing of Moshe, David and of course Yeshua (Jesus); all of whom were associated with the flocks of God and became shepherds of Israel. In fact, Hevel is primarily a representative of the greatest of Shepherds, God the Father, as revealed through His Son Yeshua.
The life of a shepherd is one of solitude and contemplation, of caring, nurturing and protecting the flock. It is a life that reflects the selfless devotion of a lover of God.
It’s worth noting that while shepherding denotes some difficulty in dealing with the ground, by way of finding green pasture etc., the task of shepherding doesn’t involve as much effort regarding the soil and its associated curse. The shepherd, rather than putting his effort into wrestling with the soil, instead focusses on wrestling the enemies of his flock, herding stubborn sheep and guiding new born lambs. He comes to understand that he is entirely reliant on God’s provision of rain and the grass that it produces. He can’t afford to spend time wrestling with the soil, if he does, the flock will suffer.
Tilling the ground is of course no less admirable. There are as many lessons in working the earth as there are in working on the earth. Kayin, whose name means spear, is perfectly equipped to work the soil in the face of the curse. However, in contrast to shepherding the flock, where one must learn to let go of control, the tiller of soil wrestles more fiercely with the desire to manipulate the elements in order to produce a crop which he may sometimes come to see as the produce of his own efforts.
A grower of crops who lacks rain, will soon devise an irrigation system to provide water from elsewhere, the result is often, at least in a minor way, an act of self-preservation, an act of control over one’s own destiny.
The worker of the soil may more readily say “I did the work that caused the plants to grow”, whereas the shepherd must rely more heavily on the provision of God. The d’rash here is that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works, lest anyone of us should boast.
On the other hand, if a shepherd leans on his evil inclination rather than his godly purpose, he too may devise ways to turn his back on God. This is why God speaks through His prophet saying, “My people have been lost sheep, their shepherds have caused them to go astray” (Jeremiah 50:6). In the end, it’s the humbling of the heart (core being) motivation of a person and their willingness to submit to God through the provision of His mercy that ensures the acceptance of their work. God gives, we either hoard or give back.
Gen 4:3 And it came to pass in the process of time יָמִים yamiym, that קַיִן Kayin (spear) brought of the fruit of the ground מִפְּרִי הָֽאֲדָמָה mip’riy ha-adamah an offering מִנְחָה minchah to יהוה HaShem (YHVH). Gen 4:4 And הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour), he also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat. And HaShem looked at, regarded and gazed upon, הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour) and his offering מִנְחָה minchah: Gen 4:5 But toward קַיִן Kayin (spear) and his offering מִנְחָה minchah He (God) did not look, regard or gaze upon. And becoming exceedingly furious, קַיִן Kayin’s (spear) countenance was downcast and he fell on his face.
The Hebrew, יָמִים yamiym literally translates, “days” and can refer to any number of days or even years (Judges 14:4).
Jewish tradition makes a correlation between the events of verses 3-5 and the festival ofפסח Pesach (Passover), citing a conversation that Adam had with his sons on this occasion:
“The night of the feast of the Pesach (Passover) came, and Adam said to his sons, on this night [in the future] the Israelites will bring the offerings of the Passovers [to come], [therefore] offer you also before your Creator.”
–Pirke Eliezer, c. 21.
Regardless of the time of year these events took place, both Kayin and Hevel bring an offering מִנְחָה minchah to the LORD.
God, Who deals equitably with all human beings, must have had good reason not to look upon, that is, approve of, Kayin’s offering.
The sages of Judaism rightly note a subtle but clear difference in the descriptions of the two offerings (Ibn Ezra; Radak). They suggest that Kayin simply brought fruit from the ground, whereas Hevel brought the firstborn and the fat of his flock (Lev. 3:16), an allusion to the best of his flock and the first fruit according to that which is later commanded by God through Moshe. Therefore, the lack of qualifying terms shows Kayin’s offering to be something other than the first fruits of his crop, something less than the best he had to offer. Thus, God accepted Hevel’s offering but turned away from Kayin’s offering.
There is, however, more to this interaction. One should remember that this historical story predates the giving of the Torah. And, as is the case from the beginning, the sinful actions of humanity are shown by historical record to reveal the need for the blood atonement alluded to in the Torah. Add to this the context of this account, which ends in murder and an increase of sinful behaviour. In fact it is on the coat tails of the murderous act of Kayin (spear) that humanity begins to desecrate and blaspheme the Name of יהוה HaShem (Gen 4:26).
Kayin chose to use his spear for murder rather than for tilling the ground in repentance. Hevel on the other hand offered the breath, vapour of life back to God.
Therefore we are given an opportunity here to recognize God’s provision through the tzadik (righteous one) Hevel (breath, vapour).
God sets an example of the need for blood covering for sin in Genesis 3:21. This example was certainly relayed to the children of Adam and Chavah. We know from elsewhere in Scripture that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
“For the נֶפֶשׁ nefesh (entire being) of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your נֶפֶשׁ nefesh (entire being); for it is the blood by reason of the נֶפֶשׁ nefesh (entire being) that makes atonement.”
–Leviticus 17:11 [Author’s translation]
“And with few exceptions all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom.”
–Hebrews 9:22 [Author’s translation]
We also know that prior to the Torah there were no commandments given concerning the need for offerings of any kind. In fact the only example of offering given to Adam and Chavah and subsequently to Kayin and Hevel, was that set by God Himself in the sacrificial offering required to cloth Adam and Chavah (Genesis 3:21) thus, allowing them to continue to live their temporary existence on the earth.
The phrase, “offered the firstborn of the flock with the fat” denotes a sacrificial blood atonement offering. This type of offering is only used in Scripture to redeem firstborn sons and atone for sin (Lev. 3:16). Therefore the offering of Hevel was an admission of guilt and a humble request for covering atonement and the remission of his sin. This was pleasing to God because it was a reflection of what Messiah had already done before the foundation of the universe was laid (Rev. 13:8) by an act that was yet to take place within the sin affected creation.
Hevel’s offering was not simply a gift of thanks to God, it was an admission of his need to be lifted up by God, forgiven, not through his own effort but as a result of the lamb provided by God for blood atonement.
Kayin’s offering on the other hand was neither required nor effective because it was offered as the leftovers of his produce, and due to its nature, did not have the ability to atone for sin. Kayin’s fruit offering is therefore an act of begrudging consolation, an unrepentant act that led to God’s turning away from both it and him.
Making offerings to God without having first addressed the need for the ultimate offering of the Messiah’s blood (which is a blood covering atonement for the remission of sin), is a redundant exercise; regardless of how great the offering may be. In Kayin’s case the offering was neither great nor a sufficient means of atonement.
By far the clearest distinction between the offerings of Kayin and Hevel, is made by the writer of the book to the Hebrews when he states:
“By faith emunah (trust) Hevel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Kayin, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his sacrifice: and by it he, although dead, still speaks.”
–Hebrews 11:4 [Author’s Translation]
Hevel trusted and had faith in God, and like Avraham, his trust was credited to him as righteousness, whereas Kayin did not trust in God, rather, he made a superstitious gesture toward God.
Gen 4:6 And saying, יהוה HaShem to קַיִן Kayin (spear), “Why are you furious? And why have you fallen on your face, downcast?”
God knows why Kayin is downcast and furious. The question is rhetorical. God is giving Kayin an opportunity to soberly assess his actions and repent.
It’s important to understand that while it is not sin to be disappointed or to suffer physiological symptoms of depression etc. It is sin to practice self-pity. Self-pity is the act of placing our trust in hopelessness rather than placing our hope in the trustworthy Creator.
Gen 4:7 “If you do good, will you not be lifted up?”
The Targums (2nd century C.E. Aramaic translation/paraphrase of the Biblical text) paraphrase this as, “if you do good your sin shall be forgiven you:”
Kayin is literally face down on the ground when God offers him a practical spiritual solution to his self-inflicted predicament: “If you do good, will you not be lifted up?” This is an opportunity for Kayin to stand upright. The use of this language mirrors the repeated phrasing concerning the creation itself in the sense of standing upright denoting completion, wholeness and goodness. Kayin’s sin has brought him face down in the dust, the dust being a symbol of curse and death. God is offering him life, an opportunity to repent and be lifted up.
Once again this is a d’rash concerning self-pity. As long as we choose to focus on our temporal circumstances our focus is not on God. It may be that in focusing on God we continue to suffer, however, in doing so we suffer with the eyes of the suffering Messiah gazing back at us in companionship and the hope of the resurrected Messiah before us.
Gen 4:7b And if you don’t do good, a doorway will open to חַטָּאת sin, missing the mark, guilt, wrong doing, punishment, which will וְאֵלֶיךָ֙ ve’eilehkha stretch out toward you, crouching to pounce and תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ teshukato its desire, craving, and longing will be on you, and you must rule over it.”
The Targums paraphrase the first clause of verse 7b as, "Your sin is reserved to the day of judgment,'' or “lies at the door of the grave, reserved to that day,”
The Targum of Yonatan, and the Yerushalayim Targum, paraphrase the latter portion of verse 7b as referring to sin, "sin shall lie at the door of your heart, but into your hand I have delivered the power to choose the evil action; and to you shall be its desire, and you shall rule over it, whether to be righteous, or to sin:''
This is a tacit way of alluding to the יֵצֶר הַרַע yetzer hara (evil inclination) and the יֵצֶר הַטוב yetzer hatov (good inclination), and the fact that human beings are accountable for our choices regarding how we rule our actions.
God knows Kayin’s heart (core) intention. He sees that Kayin’s fury has not abated, therefore He adds this warning, “If you don’t do good, a doorway will open to sin, which will stretch out toward you, and its desire will be on you, and you must rule over it.” This is a warning against idolatry, Kayin has opened the door of his heart (core being) to the evil inclination which is now ready to pounce on him at the nearest opportunity. He must choose life, making an intentional decision to do good, with God’s help, or the consequences will devour him, and block the way to redemption.
To rule over the evil inclination is to submit yourself to the rule of God.
What might right action have looked like in this situation? Kayin, in repentance, could have gone to his brother Hevel, who had the means for covering atonement and redemption (a lamb), and offering the very best of the first fruit of his crop, Kayin might have purchased a firstborn lamb, sacrificing it before God in repentance and humility. Then both Kayin and his atoning offering would have been looked on with favour by God. Unfortunately, while Kayin did speak with his brother, it was clearly not with right action in mind.
Gen 4:8a And spoke, קַיִן Kayin (spear) with הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour) his brother:
There are many explanations as to what may or may not have been said between the two brothers. The Samaritan text and the Septuagint link the conversation to the following clause: "let us go into the field"
As is the case with a number of seemingly cryptic verses elsewhere, it is impossible to know what was said here. The Targum Yerushalayim offers one possibility:
"Kayin said to Hevel his brother, ‘there is no judgment, nor Judge, nor will a good reward be given to the righteous; nor will vengeance be taken of the wicked; neither is the world created in mercy nor governed in mercy; otherwise, why is your offering received with good will, and mine not?’ Hevel answered and said to Kayin, ‘there is a judgment,’''
Likewise, the Targum Yonatan presents a similar story.
Gen 4:8b “And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that קַיִן Kayin (spear) rose up against הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour) his brother, and murdered וַיַּהַרְגֵהוּ va-ya-har-geihu (root: הרג horag) him.”
Some Jewish writers say that at the time these events took place Hevel was 100 years old (Josippon apud Abendana in Miclol. Yophi in loc.)
Kayin, “Rose up” through the evil inclination (yetzer ha-ra) rather than allowing God to “lift him up” (v.7) through the good inclination (yetzer ha-tov). Kayin acted in human pride, seeking to redeem his circumstances in his own strength rather than humbly accepting the offer of God’s grace. God had clearly explained that if Kayin relied on God by doing good, that he would be lifted up, made right with God. Kayin chose the opposite course of action.
No one can save themselves from sin through their own efforts. Anything done in an attempt to cover up wrong doing or in the pursuit of earning God’s forgiveness is in itself sin. Forgiveness comes in the receiving of God’s redemptive work on our behalf through the lamb of God Yeshua, Who takes away the sin of the world through His atoning blood.
It’s interesting to note the conjecture of the Midrash, which explains that, “rose up” means that Kayin had been overcome by his stronger brother Hevel and had subsequently begged for mercy saying: “We are the only sons in the world. What will you tell father if you kill me?” Hevel was filled with compassion, and released his hold, where upon Kayin rose up and murdered him (Midrash).
Based on the text however, the most likely scenario is that having had his face in the ground wallowing in self-pity he then rose up to strike and murder his brother. An act born of envy.
Gen 4:9 And speaking, יהוה HaShem (YHVH) said to קַיִן Kayin (spear), “Where is הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour) your brother?” And he (Kayin) said, “I don’t know: Am I the הֲשֹׁמֵר keeper, guardian of my brother?”
Once again the question is rhetorical. God knows all. The question is yet another opportunity for Kayin to repent and admit his sin. Instead, Kayin uses his brother’s role of keeping the flocks as the premise for a mocking retort saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Today, many mock the Shepherd Yeshua’s sacrificial death in a similar way, pretending that they are somehow not responsible to exercise their respective roles in the true brotherhood of humanity.
Gen 4:10 And God said, “What have you עָשִׂיתָ asiyta accomplished, formed, made from something, done? The voice קוֹל kol of the bloods דְּמֵי d’meiy of your brother cry out, clamour loudly צֹעֲקִים tzo-a-kiym (plural, intense) toward me from the ground הָֽאֲדָמָה ha-adamah.”
The question of God is not only rhetorical but also imploring, a Father who is broken hearted at a son’s intentionally evil choice. The text also indicates that sin is a negative kind of accomplishment, it accomplishes death.
The idiom, “voice of the bloods” denotes the cry of the life element as it pleads with God to act against injustice. This same understanding is reflected in the prayers of the martyred righteous ones as recorded in Revelation 6:10.
Deuteronomy 21:1-9 explains the process for removing guilt from the land when innocent blood is shed upon it. This reflects the understanding of the blood crying out as in the present account.
While the Hebrew, קוֹל kol (voice) is singular, the Hebrew, דְּמֵי d’meiy (bloods) and, צֹעֲקִים tzo-a-kiym (multiple criers) are plural. Rashi understands this to reflect the Talmudic notion which states:
“Whoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture [imputes] guilt to him as if he had destroyed an entire world”
-Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a: 36-42 [on Mishnah]
This is based on the premise that any progeny that might have come forth from the victim are also being killed in the single act of murder.
The Targum of Onkelos reads, “The voice of the blood of the seeds or generations that should come from your brother;”
The Targum Yerushalayim reads, “The voice of the bloods of the multitude of the righteous that should spring from Hevel your brother,”
While this may seem like hyperbole, the essence of the meaning is sound. Murder quite literally has a generational impact.
Whatever the intended meaning of the plural, “bloods” and their respective, “clamouring cries”, the intense impact of the injustice of Hevel’s murder is felt for generations to come.
The best way to understand the plurality of the crying of the innocent bloods is that HaShem is referring to the blood of all those righteous ones who will be murdered, from the beginning of sin’s entry into the world until the removal of sin affected creation and Yom HaDin the judgement.
“Behold, now, pay attention, I send prophets to you, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will murder and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, your community centres, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Hevel to the blood of Zechariyah son of Barachiyah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”
–Mattisiyahu (Matthew) 23:34-35 [Author’s Translation]
Gen 4:11 And now cursed are you from out of the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah, which has opened her mouth to receive the bloods דְּמֵי d’meiy of your brother from your hand;
In Adam’s case the ground was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin. Here it is from the ground that the curse is established on Kayin. The ground, a symbol of death, has opened her mouth to receive Hevel into Sheol (the holding place of those who have passed from this life). However, the physical life blood remains in the earth as a sign of injustice, marking Kayin with a curse he rightfully deserves.
Adam’s sin had broken the first commandment, “Love the LORD HaShem (YHVH) your God Elohim with all your heart (core being) and all your soul and all your strength.”(Deut. 11:13) Kayin had broken the second commandment, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18). Together they had defiled the entire Torah and Prophets, long before they were written down.
When asked which of the commandments of God was greatest, Yeshua responded in the following way:
“Rabbi, which of the mitzvot of Torah is the most important?” 37 He told him, ‘You are to love Adonay YHVH your Elohim God with all your heart (core being) and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great mitzvah. 39 And the second resembles it, ‘You are to love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.”
–Mattisiyahu (Matthew) 22:36-40 [Author’s Translation]
The ground was cursed as a consequence of Adam’s sin, and Kayin was cursed from the ground by his own hand. Hevel had shed the blood of a firstborn lamb and received forgiveness, Kayin shed the blood of his brother and received a curse.
Gen 4:12 Though you work the ground, no increase will be given to you of her strength; a fugitive, quivering, shaking, staggering, sifting, and a wanderer, showing grief, shall you be in the earth בָאָרֶץ ba’aretz.
The curse that Kayin has brought upon himself seems to indicate that he will be unable to succeed as a grower and harvester of crops. Through withholding his best from God and desecrating the field where he had gleaned crops with the blood of his brother, Kayin has destined himself to the life of a wanderer, someone who scratches out an existence in fear and trembling all the days of his life.
Gen 4:13 And speaking קַיִןKayin (spear) said to יהוה HaShem (YHVH), “This is a greater punishment than I can carry. Gen 4:14 Behold, You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground, land הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah; and from Your face shall I hide; and I shall be a fugitive, quivering, shaking, staggering, sifting and a wanderer, showing grief in the earth בָאָרֶץ ba’aretz,”
Kayin’s complaint concerning his punishment is not proof of repentance or even shame for his actions, it’s merely the sorrow of suffering under the consequences of his sin. His having been driven from the family land into the wilderness as a wanderer alerts him to his vulnerability.
Kayin himself has hidden his face from God through his intentional rejection of right relationship to God. If this aspect of the consequences of his sin is too much for him, he need only repent.
Gen 4:14b “and it shall come to pass, that every one that finds me shall try to murder יַהַרְגֵנִי yahor’geiniy me.”
The palpable irony of Kayin’s use of the Hebrew, הרג horag to describe what he proposes would be his own unjust death, is both sad and yet another proof of his unrepentant heart. He has no right to liken his own fate to murder. His death will be a just judgement upon his actions, regardless of the circumstances it occurs under.
Based on Scripture, a logical chronology, and the Jewish scribal tradition, these events are probably taking place nearly a hundred and thirty years after the creation of man (Gen 4:25; Gen 5:3). There might at this time be a large number of human beings on earth; Adam and Chavah having procreated children immediately after the fall, and very probably many more besides Kayin and Hevel, and thus, their progeny being very fruitful, bore many more, and adding to this that very few or none had yet died, the population must have been very great; based on the fact that we read very soon after this of a city being built (Gen 4:17).
Gen 4:15 And speaking יהוה HaShem (YHVH) said to him (Kayin), “Therefore whoever murders הֹרֵגhorag קַיִן Kayin (Spear), before seven generations, vengeance will be put on him. יהוה HaShem (YHVH) set a אוֹת ot mark, sign, warning upon קַיִן Kayin (Spear), lest any finding him should kill הַכּוֹת hacot him.
Rashi understands this verse as, “An abbreviated verse with an implied clause: Whoever slays Kayin will be punished (this phrase is unstated but understood). As for Kayin himself, only after seven generations will I execute my vengeance upon him, when Lamech, one of his descendants, will rise and slay him.”
The seven generations are counted from Adam, the seventh generation being the generation of Lamech, who is said by tradition to be Kayin’s killer.
In light of this reading we can read the last clause to refer to anyone who kills Kayin prior to the seventh generation, remembering of course that at this time in history human beings were living for hundreds of years.
Gen 4:16 And going forth קַיִן Kayin (spear) went out from the face, presence מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה of HaShem (YHVH), and dwelt in the land of נוֹד Nod (wandering), on the east of עֵדֶן Eden (delight, pleasure).
God had driven Adam and now Kayin to the east of Eden. Kayin was to become a wanderer in the land of wandering (Nod). The east became known as a place of refuge for murderers and those suspected of manslaughter. The cities of refuge which Moshe later commanded were to be set in the east, “the place of sunrise” (Deuteronomy 4:41).
Gen 4:17 And knowing, having sexual relations ידע yada, קַיִן Kayin (spear) with his wife; and she conceived, and bore חֲנוֹךְ Chanoch (dedicated) and he (Kayin) built a terrible city, and called the name of the terrible city, after the name of his son, חֲנוֹךְ Chanoch (dedicated).
The Rambam observes that to illustrate God’s attribute of patience, the Torah enumerates Kayin’s many descendants to show that God did not punish him until he had seen many generations of offspring.
We’re not given a chronology for the events that take place here, but they must have taken place some years after Kayin’s exile.
We’re not told the name of Kayin’s wife, only that of his progeny.
The Hebrew עִיר is used to refer to both a city and to terror. The city he builds is terrible, a reference to the sinful practices that take place there and the degradation of the line of Kayin.
Gen 4:18 And to חֲנוֹךְ Chanoch (dedicated) was born עִירָד Irad (fleet, a wild ass): and to Irad was born מְחֽוּיָאֵ֑ל Mechuyael (wiped out by God): and to Mechuyael was born מְתוּשָׁאֵל Metushaeil (man of God): and to Metushaeil was born לָמֶךְ Lamech (powerful). Gen 4:19 And taking Lamech two wives: named the one עָדָה Adah (ornament), and named the second, צִלָּה Tzilah (Shade).
Lamech is the first to introduce the sexually immoral practice of taking two wives, which is contrary to the first institution of marriage, the joining of one man and one woman (echad) (Gen 2:24).
The taking of two wives is said by Rashi to be a practice that was vindictive of the generation of the flood (a wicked generation). They are said to have taken one wife for producing children and another for pleasuring themselves. This is hinted at in the names of Lamech’s wives.
Gen 4:20 And baring עָדָה Adah (ornament), יָבָל Yaval (stream of water, irrigation): he was the father of those who dwell in tents, and herd cattle. Gen 4:21And the name of his brother was יוּבָל Yuval (stream, to lead, conduct, bear, and carry along): he was the father of all who play the harp and musical instruments.
The names of these two sons reflect the guild of practice that their ancestors had become known for in the time of Moshe. The two names are a play on words using the Hebrew root יבל yabal, meaning “to carry”, “A stream”, “irrigate”. One son will carry water in the deserts, the other will carry music to dry souls.
Gen 4:22 צִלָּה Tzilah (Shade), she also gave birth to תּוּבַל קַיִן Tuval-Kayin (good-sharp), who sharpens all metal, copper and iron: and the sister of Tuval-Kayin was נַעֲמָה Na’amah (loveliness).
Tuval-Kayin is obviously named for his craft. Na’amah is said by Rashi to be the wife of Noach (Noah) and is thus named, “lovely”.
Gen 4:23 And said לָמֶךְ Lamech (powerful) to his wives, עָדָה Adah (ornament) and צִלָּה Tzilah (Shade), Hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to my command: for I have murdered הרג horag a man and have been wounded, and a child ילד yeled I have bruised.
Rashi sites Jewish tradition, claiming that Lamech, who was supposedly blind, killed Kayin by accident and then as he beat his hands together in grief over the killing of Kayin he accidently struck and killed his own son.
Gen 4:24 If קַיִן Kayin (spear) shall be avenged after seven times, truly לָמֶךְ Lamech (powerful) seventy and seven times.
In keeping with the understanding of Kayin’s punishment being deferred for seven generations, Lamech notes that if an intentional murderer is punished after seven generations then one who kills a murderer accidentally must naturally have his punishment deferred for a much longer period. The Hebrew idiom, “Seventy and seven times” denotes a very long time rather than the exact figure seventy-seven. This same idiom is used by Yeshua to convey the need to perpetually forgive a repentant brother who has sinned against us (Matthew 18:22).
Gen 4:25 And אדם Adam (of the ground) knew, had sexual relations ידע yada with his wife again; and she bore a son, and called his name שֵׁת Sheit (appointed, a substitute, in place of): “For אֱלֹהִים֙ Elohim God,” said she, “has appointed me another seed in place of הֶבֶל Hevel (breath, vapour), whom קָיִן Kayin (spear) murdered.”
Sheit (substitute; appointed one) is a sign of hope for the future redemptive substitute of the Messiah. He is a foreshadowing of the resurrection.
Gen 4:26 And to שֵׁת Sheit (appointed, a substitute, in place of), to him also there was born a son; and he called his name אֱנוֹשׁ Enosh (mortal, man): at that time humanity began to profane, defile, pollute, desecrate הוּחַל huchal, when calling לִקְרֹא likro upon the name of יהוה HaShem (YHVH).
Thus begins the division between the children of God בני האלוהים B’nei haElohim and the daughters of man בנות האדם B’not haAdam. The former in the line of Sheit (appointed one; substitute) are those who continue to follow and worship God, honouring His Name, while the latter, who are in the line of Enosh (mortal man) introduce idolatry to humanity, practicing the defiling of God’s Name and character.
When understood in context, the descriptor “Children of God” cannot be misused to refer to the occult belief that sexless angelic beings mated with humans. This particular occult teaching has poisoned the writings of many foolish scholars for centuries and has no place among the body of believers. It is a satanic lie intended to mislead weak minded believers into occultic conjecture, a form of witchcraft. Something that is abhorrent to God.
Arguments attempting to misuse and decontextualise the uses of the descriptor בני האלוהים B’nei haElohim by misteaching that it always refers to angels, are refuted outright by its contextual use to refer to human beings within the canon of the TaNaKh (OT) and by the writer of John’s Gospel:
“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become בני האלוהים B’nei haElohim children of God.” -John 1:12
This is clearly a reference to human beings being born from above in Messiah and not to some kind of occult conversion of humans into angels.
Those who teach otherwise teach vile heresy.
Rashi notes that the generation of Enosh introduced idolatry, which became a blight on humanity for thousands of years. By ascribing God-like qualities to human beings and lifeless objects, they created the abominable situation in which, “humanity began to profane the name of HaShem (YHVH).” Sadly, this is an all too familiar observation that has been accurately observed in every generation of humanity from then and to this day.
© 2023 Yaakov ben Yehoshua Brown
Yaakov (Brown) Ben Yehoshua, founder and spiritual leader of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community, presents a series of in depth studies of books of the Bible. Yaakov approaches the text from a Messianic Jewish perspective, revealing seldom considered translational alternatives and unique insights into the timeless nature of the Word of God as it applies to the redemptive work of the King Messiah Yeshua.