Genesis 4 & 5
Table of Contents
Read/hear the portions: Genesis 4:1 - 5:32
Summary Synopsis - Eve gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain quarrels with Abel and murders him, and becomes a rootless wanderer with wicked descendants. A third son, Seth, is born to Adam. Enoch, the 7th from Adam walked with God, then was taken up without dying. Noah, the tenth from Adam, is the only righteous man in a corrupt world.
Genesis 4:1-5 THE BIRTH OF CAIN AND ABEL
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.
In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.
Adam and Eve believed Cain was the promised seed of the Messiah.
Of course he forfeited any hope of this by his unholy actions.
Isn’t it like us to expect prophecy to be fulfilled in our day and age?
Up until this point, no offerings were documented as being required, although there could have been such a requirement that wasn’t written down.
It is reasonable to assume this is not the first time they offered something – at some point, they must have been taught the right way and the wrong way to do it.
Jewish tradition holds that Adam went to Jerusalem after being banished from the Garden and built the first altar on Mount Moriah.
Therefore, tradition says that all of this took place on Mount Moriah, the place we know today as the Temple Mount.
First documented religious service; first competition; first murder. These three things are interconnected. When the irreligious see the bad behavior of believers, they naturally want no part of it.1
It’s been said that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship
A personal relationship with God and Jesus – Deuteronomy 6:5
A personal commitment to love our neighbors as ourselves – Leviticus 19:18
Abel accepted and Cain rejected
Was it because Cain didn’t offer blood?
No. This may be an example of Christians knowing just enough about the Levitical sacrificial system to be dangerous.
Both grain and meat offerings are later commanded by God, and the Torah explicitly allows a person to bring a grain offering instead of an animal sacrifice for a sin offering.2
In fact, the word used in Genesis 4:3-5 is mincha, which is most closely associated with the grain offering in Leviticus 2.3
Cain’s occupation was a worker of the ground – he would be expected to bring an offering from the produce grown.
I tithe in dollars not pounds, because my income is in dollars.
Someone in England would not be expected to tithe in dollars.
Thus, the position that Abel’s meat offering was favored solely because it was a meat offering may have some typological merit in that foreshadows Jesus’ sacrifice, but it has little basis in fact.
We should always let the Bible be our first go-to reference.
The Apostolic writings often provide more detail than we are given in the Hebrew Bible.
In this situation, John and the writer to the Hebrews tell us exactly why Cain’s offering was rejected.
Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
1 Jn 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
The biblical answer to why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted Is as follows:
Abel’s offering was accepted because he was a righteous person.
Cain’s offering was rejected because he was a wicked person.
- In other words, we can reasonably conclude that Cain had something in his heart that polluted his gift to God.
Isa 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
God would rather not have any offering than one made with a polluted heart.
It’s the same with us.
Mat 5:23-24 “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
We aren’t required to bring any offers, such as a tithe, but if we do we should never do it begrudgingly or if we are holding a grudge against someone else.
Jesus makes this point in Matthew 5
The scary thing is we aren’t told whether our gifts are accepted or not. Sure, the church cashes our checks but that’s not the same thing as an offering pleasing to God
In this same sermon, Jesus also teaches in Matthew six that if we don’t give in secret, then any accolades we receive from men may be our reward. So the end of year tax deduction letter I get may not accrue any reward in heaven.
Suffice it to say, God looks at the heart as He says in 1 Samuel 16. Our offering is just what man sees. The heart was the difference between Cain’s offering and Abel’s
Genesis 4:6-7 GOD GIVE CAIN A SECOND CHANCE
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 4:8-15 CAIN MURDERS ABEL
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 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.” 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.
The above conclusion that Abel’s gift was accepted because he was a good person presents a problem if our “New Testament” theology holds that “all our righteousness was as filthy rags and we can’t bring any good work before the Lord.”
The Bible teaches that our works matter – here God is imploring Cain to repent and do good deeds if he wants to be accepted.
This is not just an “Old Testament” teaching because, as we’ve just seen, the Apostolic authors affirm it, as does Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Note also that Hebrew says Abel was righteous by faith (Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain).
So you may be asking which is it? By faith, or by works? The answer is “yes.”
“There is no difficulty here. Abel’s deeds were righteous because he was a man of faith.”4
If we have faith, we should be displaying good works. We don’t do good works to get saved; we do good works because we are saved.
Sin croucheth at the door
Note immediately after the promise of a Messiah from Eve in Genesis 3:15, there is an immediate satanic attack on Eve’s firstborn.
God’s warning to Cain went ignored.
We have an enemy who tempts us to sin but we must rule over it.
We have the moment-by-moment choice to sin or not to sin.
Mat 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Cain committed the murder in his heart in verse 5 and with his hands in verse 8.
Abel as first martyr
- Mat 23:34-35 (Luke 11:49-51) Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,  so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
No words of Abel are documented
Was he killed strictly because of his right standing position with the Lord?
So within a few minutes, his good deeds were earning him favor with God and those good deeds would also get him martyred.
Is there someone else who was killed for who He was without opening His mouth?
In opposition to “name it and claim it,” Jesus promises us the same kind of tribulation and hatred by the world.
In a sense, if the world doesn’t hate us, we might be doing something wrong.
The blood speaks out
Rev 6:10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Heb 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Jewish tradition holds that Abel’s soul still speaks condemning every murder and every time an innocent drop of blood is shed.
There may be a lot more going on with our blood than we realize.
Tradition also says that Cain’s “fugitive and wandering” soul has no rest.5
Mark of Cain
Clearly, there were now more than three people living since Cain is worried about a relative of Abel acting as the “Avenger of blood.”
We don’t know what the mark was – it was unlikely to be a tatoo or some type of mutilation since both of these are later prohibited in the Torah.
The Hebrew word is “ot” which means a literal or figurative sign (and is even the word for “letter” as in “a”, “b”, “c”…)
Noah’s rainbow is another “ot” (Gen 9:12)
God’s words are to be an “ot” on the right hand and they shall be as frontlets between the eyes (Deut 6:8)
Thus the “sign” could simply be a promise from God, who knows the end from the beginning, that Cain was not to be touched.
In His Dust
- Cain’s sin had long-term consequences. In Jewish thought if you kill a life, you have killed a generation. If being evil has severe negative consequences in this life, how much more is the opposite true? How much more will our righteous acts be a blessing to others in this life as well as be credited as “gold silver and precious stones” in the next! If we teach a young person to follow Yeshua and take his or her Bible seriously, we are impacting not only that person’s life but who knows how many people in future generations
Genesis 4:16-24 THE CHILDREN OF CAIN AND A GODLESS CIVILIZATION
Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. 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. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. 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. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
Enoch and Lamech – Cain’s descendants Enoch and Lamech are not the same as the Enoch and Lamech in Seth’s line in Genesis 5.
A common “newbie” question is “where did Cain get his wife?”
The answer is in Genesis 5:4, “The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters.”
In 930 years, Adam and Eve could have had a lot of kids, and they would have had a lot of kids.
Cain married his sister or his niece – there really was no other option at that point.
Here is the first mention of polygamy and it’s very much in a negative context.
Lamech was a bad dude and he is recorded as being the first polygamist.
Practical reasons for polygamy:
Women may have outnumbered men
- We don’t know this, but it wouldn’t be surprising given what was likely a high rate of maternal as well as infant mortality
Polygamy resulted in being fruitful and multiplying the earth faster than monogamous relationships would have.
More workers allowed farming and hunting efforts to be more productive.
But God clearly said “TWO shall become one flesh.”
It is wrong to use our circumstances around us as a rationale to violate God’s commands, which is what Lamech and the Biblical polygamists (including the venerated patriarchs) did.
- Multiple partners led to big trouble for Abraham and Jacob!
It appears Cain’s line is bad news.
Jewish tradition hold that Lamech killed Tubal-cain
Feinberg notes the contrast between the detail we get of Seth’s line in Genesis five with the rather limited detail of Cain’s line.
We aren’t told explicitly but it’s a reasonable inference that Cain’s line was wicked.
Jude refers to the “way of Cain”: Jud 1:11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
We do know that everyone apart from Noah was evil and the world was not a good place to be.
Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Lamech’s sons were pioneers in the areas of technology and the arts, and apparently were celebrated for their achievements.
We aren’t told anything to the effect of these kids not walking in the ways of their father, so we can conclude that Lamech did not raise his sons to know the Lord and that they used their talents for self-serving purposes, turning their back on the one in whose Image they were created.
We too are blessed with diverse talents, skills, and creative abilities.
Are we using these for our own glory or for his?
“Godless progress is not progress.”6
Seventy times seven
It’s safe to say, Lamech had “an overdeveloped sense of vengeance. It’s going to get (him) into trouble one day.”7
He didn’t hesitate to murder at the slightest offense.
We begin to see how bad the days of Genesis 6:5 were.
Lancaster writes, “Jesus corrects Lamech’s sadistic mathematics by turning the same equation around and applying it to forgiveness.”8
Mat 18:21-22 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?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
The next time we are injured or offended, we should remember Lamech’s position and then immediately substitute that with Jesus’ instruction
Genesis 4:25-26 THE BIRTH OF SETH
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.”
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.
Eve, no doubt still hopeful that her direct offspring would be the promised Messiah named Abel’s replacement “Seth”, which in Hebrew is שׁת
This is linguistically connected to Genesis 3:15: אשׁית = “I will put” or “I will appoint”
Eve hoped that Seth would be the appointed Messiah who would come to correct the evil state the world was in.
Genesis 5:3 tells us that Adam was 130 when Seth was born.
Apparently, a lot of bad stuff happened in those 130 years and in the remaining 800 years of Adam’s life.
Imagine knowing Eden and now seeing the thoughts and deeds of his offspring focused on “only evil all the day.”
Enosh means man but in the sense of mortal man, not in the sense of Adam, mankind.
“Call upon the name of the Lord”
Like many Hebrew verbs, the word here for “call”, Qara, can have a wide range of meanings.
We have this in English too. Calling by name has a very different meaning than “name-calling.”
An unnuanced reading might suggest men who had previously forgotten about God now began to invoke His name once again.
Other scholars note man’s general descent into evil and would read this as “men began to profane the name of the LORD.”
Genesis 5:1-20 Adam’s Genealogy
This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan. Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel. Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died. When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared. Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died. When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch. Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died.
Jesus Genealogy in Matthew begins identical to Genesis 5:1 and Jesus’ genealogy in Luke is identical to Genesis 5 (Luke goes in descending order)
Matthew 1:1 (KJV) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Luk 3:36-38 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Jewish tradition regarding Adam says he died in Jerusalem and was buried on Mt. Moriah.
Genesis 5:21-24 Mysterious Enoch
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
After Genesis 5, Enoch is only mentioned one other time in the Hebrew Bible (1 Chr 1:3 as part of a Genealogy), but by virtue of his mysterious ending, he is the subject of a large body of work in Jewish mysticism.
He might be largely forgotten about by Christians were it not for two mentions, one in Hebrews and one in Jude:
Heb 11:5-6 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
- The Septuagint uses the Greek word for “pleasing” in Genesis 5:24 where it says “walked with God.” In greek the thought is “Enoch was pleasing to God.”
Not only does the Book of Revelation bear a striking resemblance to the book of 1st Enoch, Jude directly quotes from 1 Enoch:
Jud 1:14-16 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (quoting 1 Enoch 1:9). These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.
Early believers expected Enoch and Elijah to return prior to the second coming of the Messiah.9
The early church father Tertullian wrote, “Enoch was translated and so was Elijah. They did not experience death; it was postponed, and only temporarily. They are most certainly preserved for the purpose of suffering of death so that, by their blood, they may extinguish Antichrist.”
In other words, Tertullian and others suggest that Enoch and Elijah are the two witnesses of Revelation 11.
Rev 11:3-5 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.
The Jewish Midrash states that Enoch was a shoemaker (perhaps because of all the walking with God he did).
In contrast to the evil world around him, Enoch stitched each shoe with care and perfection in order to give his customers pleasure.
In other words, “his main motivation was to help others rather than merely to sell shoes for a living.”10
Note that his heart was 100% on God, but that did not detract from his work.
“No matter how mundane one’s vocation may be, it can be elevated by keeping in mind that one is helping others.”11
Genesis 5:25-32 Enoch to Noah
When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech. Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died. When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died. After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Somehow, they knew Noah was going to be a big deal.
- A boat captain wasn’t on their radar, so they naturally assumed he might be the messiah who will set things straight and remove the curse of painful toil.
Methuselah had the longest recorded life of anyone in the Bible – 969 years.
His name means “his death sends” or “his death brings” – Mot is death and selach means to send.
If we do the math, we see the Flood came in the very year Methuselah died.
Thus his name is a prophecy – his death shall bring the judgment
The fact that he has the longest life also suggests God’s mercy –
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Grace – getting what you don’t deserve
Mercy – not getting what you DO deserve
As we shall see in chapter 6, God’s mercy does not last indefinitely.
The Gospel Message in Hebrew
Name Approximate Meaning
Adam - Man
Seth - is appointed
Enosh - A (mortal) man of
Cainan - sorrow
Mahalalel - The Glory of God/the blessed God
Jared - shall come down
Enoch - instructing/teaching
Methuselah - his death shall bring
Lamech - those sinking down in despair
Noah - comfort/rest
GOSPEL MESSAGE “HIDDEN” IN GENESIS 5
“Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the blessed God shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing comfort and rest.”
D. Thomas Lancaster, Unrolling the Scroll, ed. Boaz Michael and Seth Dralle, 2nd ed., vol. 1, Torah Club 1 (Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2014), 30. ↩︎
Daniel T. Lancaster, Depths of the Torah, ed. Boaz D. Michael and Steven P. Lancaster, 2nd ed., vol. 1, Torah Club 4 (Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2017), 34. ↩︎
John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, (E-Sword) (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2000), loc. Gen 4:1-7. ↩︎
Lancaster, Depths of the Torah, 1:35. ↩︎
Lancaster, 1:35–36. ↩︎
Lancaster, Unrolling the Scroll, 1:21. ↩︎
The Princess Bride (20th Century Fox, 1987). ↩︎
Lancaster, Unrolling the Scroll, 1:21. ↩︎
Lancaster, Depths of the Torah, 1:39. ↩︎
Zelig Pliskin, Love Your Neighbor: (Brooklyn, New York: Bnay Yakov Publications, 2004), 35. ↩︎
Pliskin, 35. ↩︎