Summary: The Divine blessing—“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’"

September 10, 2013

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson I.C.1: Cain and Abel.

Gen. 4.1-8 (KJV)

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.


1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Adam and Eve have been exiled from Eden, but God in mercy has covered them with His grace; therefore, they are animated by hope, assured of the Divine forgiveness, and filled with a sweet peace. The first pair has entered their new life, in which they must experience hard work and sorrow, and the human race begins its headlong progression of development, perhaps in sight of the mystic cherubim and flaming sword.

And Adam knew Eve his wife;

In this verse the first husband and wife become father and mother. This new relationship must be very fascinating to both, but especially to the mother. This is the first fulfillment of all the intimations she had received with reference to her seed. God said pain and sorrow in childbearing would be multiplied, but she was to be the mother of all living, and her seed was to bruise the serpent's head. Her remembrance of what He said must have added greatly to her natural interest in becoming a mother. Her feelings concerning this child are revealed in the name she gives to her son and the reason she gave it. She "bare Cain and said, I have gained a man from Yahweh." “Cain” occurs only once as a common noun, and is rendered by the Septuagint as "spear-shaft." The original meaning of the root word is “to set up, or to erect, as a cane;” therefore, it means “to create, and make one's own,” and is applied to the Creator in Genesis 14:19—“and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth”; and the parent in Deuteronomy 32:6—“Is this the way you repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” Therefore, the word here seems to denote a thing gained or achieved, a figurative expression for the birth of a child. The gaining or bearing of the child is evidently the foremost thought in Eve's mind, as she names the child. Knowing the reason behind Eve naming her child Cain helps to explain the sentence, and therefore the sentence is to be rendered "I have gained (borne) a man (with the assistance) of Yahweh."

“And Adam knew Eve his wife” is the first specific mention of sex in the Bible. It is a euphemism, or modest expression of the sexual relations between a husband and wife. The term “knew” or “to know” is a polite way of saying they had sexual relations and the term is used often in the Bible in this sense (Genesis 4:17, 4:25, 38:26, Judges 11:39, 1 Samuel 1:19). There is power in this way of referring to sex. It shows the high, interpersonal terms in which the Bible sees the sexual relationship. Most terms and phrases people use for sex today are either coarse or violent, but the Bible sees sex as a means of knowing one another in a committed relationship. “Knew” indicates an act that contributes to the bond of unity and the building up of a one-flesh relationship. There is one opinion that interprets it, "had known", instead of “known.” It says they had relations even before he sinned, and was drove out of the garden; but if Adam had fathered children while he was in a state of innocence, they would have been free from sin, and their nature would not have been tainted with the corruption it contracted afterwards. But others think it was a considerable time after they were driven out of paradise; as long as thirty years. However, we have no reason to believe Adam and Eve did not have sex before this. Adam and Eve were certainly capable of sexual relations before the fall, because there is nothing inherently impure or unclean in sex.

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