My Brother’s Killer, Genesis 4:1-5

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” Genesis 4:1-2.

There is a lot about this chapter that most folks either misinterpret or do not understand. Let us start with the first problem, “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived”.

The term knew his wife, is a euphemism for sex, a euphemism is the substitution of a mild or inoffensive word for one which is thought to be, or have the possibility of being offensive.

Here is the problem. Because this term is first used here in chapter four, folks have a tendency to think that this was the first time the couple had sex.

By extension it is possible to come to the conclusion that sex is dirty because it is the result of the fall into sin. But the Bible is not a chronicle of everything man has done; it only records the necessary events that apply to its narrative.

It is quite likely that Adam and Eve had sex in the garden too but it is not recorded because such a thing is understood, and also no one’s business.

Since the word, knew, used in this context is always used with the word conception or words to that effect, the sex act is always referred to in this manner in connection with conception and always concerning sex between man and wife.

The possible exception to the use of the word knew Biblically would be between the patriarch Judah and Tamar recorded in Genesis 38. However, notice its use in Genesis 38:26.

The Bible does record acts of adultery, fornication, and rape, the consequences are also recorded but the word knew, with one horrifying exception in Judges 19:25, is not used.

The name of Eve’s firstborn son was Cain, which, it is speculated, means spear. Eve then said of Cain, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” It is quite possible that Eve had God’s promised redeemer in mind when she said that.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15.

Mercifully, Eve did not know just how long and how miserable man’s history would be. It was not until about four thousand years later that Christ would be born in Bethlehem; and it has been two thousand years more since then. And the world plods on.

The second child Eve bore was named Abel which means breath, or nothing. Somehow there is sadness to that name which can still be felt as we survey the things that are going on around us today.

But as the world writhes in death throes, which are actually birth pangs (sorrows, Matthew 24:3-8) heralding the imminent return of Christ. And Christ gives life and hope to all who will receive Him, and to those who are His now and waiting in anticipation of His return to receive us as His own.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Another thing people often miss is that Cain and Abel are the only ones mentioned in this chapter because they are the main actors on the stage at this time; there is no need to mention anyone else until Genesis 4:17. In fact even Adam is not mentioned again until near the end of the chapter, Genesis 4:25, when another important person is introduced.

Another thing that is often misunderstood is that since this is about Cain and Abel, Scripture does not indicate that while these men were growing up Adam and Eve had many other children.

Eve was easily healthier and more fit than any Olympic athlete in the world today or ever, male or female.

Her genes were unaffected by radiation, pollution, disease, or tainted food. The same could be said for Adam, together they produced many healthy disease free children, for hundreds of years, since Adam lived to be 930 years old.

Scripture also states that “…he begot sons and daughters.” Genesis 5:4. God would have made this so because of His command:

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Genesis 1:27-28.

The next important thing that we see is that, “Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” verse 2b. We are told that no one ate meat until after the flood. It would follow that it would be a waste of time to keep sheep if you did not eat them. However, you could have goats to milk for cream, cheese and milk, and sheep to shear and make woolen garments.

This brings us back to Cain who was a tiller of the ground. It is doubtful that Cain just tended the family garden; rather it indicates that he was a full blown farmer, and one who loved his job at that.

“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” Genesis 4:3-5.

This is the beginning of two types of religion, those who come to God on their own terms, and those who come to God on His terms. With all the different religions in the world today this can be refined down to two kinds of religion, the need to do something to come to God, and those who realize that the way to God is already done in Christ.

All the world’s religions may differ in many ways, but they all have one thing in common; you have to do something to get to heaven, Paradise, Nirvana or whatever it is called. Noble as all this sounds, it is still the way of Cain, and God plainly rejected that.

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit [the Spirit’s leading us to salvation and continual work in us], whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

Heaven is a level playing field; no one will have gotten there by their great works of charity, their own goodness, or wonderful oratory skills.

Everyone will stand before God in heaven because they have admitted that they have sinned grievously against God and have accepted His remedy for sin; the shed blood of Christ for sin.

Abel shed the blood of a lamb to cover his sin, because God gave the ordinance which was a picture of the Lamb of God who would be slain to expunge sin entirely in the future.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29.

This is why even though Cain may have given the finest of his vegetable crop with the best of intentions it was worthless and a direct contradiction to God’s desired sacrifice.

“But this Man [Jesus Christ], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12-14.

Before we move on to the next verses in this chapter, let us look carefully at the first phrase in verse 3, “And in the process of time…” The marginal note in my Bible says that this phrase is literally, “at the end of days”.

One commentator noted that this means that the end of days is a reference to the end of the creation week meaning the seventh day of the week, or the Sabbath. It is an intriguing thought that sacrifices were made on the Sabbath even at the beginning of time.

Whatever the case may be, there is an even more important lesson to be learned from this phrase. In the process of time could also mean that as time went on; one day these men came together to make their sacrifices.

Many drawings or paintings of Cain and Abel making their sacrifices show them as young men or men who look in their thirties. These visual images are nice, but it is important to understand how old these men may have been when Cain murdered Abel.

This chapter describes the killing of Abel. At the end of the chapter Eve gave birth to another son and named him Seth stating that God had appointed them another seed to continue for Abel.

For this to happen, Seth would have been born perhaps within months after the murder of Abel.

In the genealogies given in Genesis chapter 5, it is written that Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born. This being the case there is the greatest likelihood that Cain and Abel were as much as 120 years old or more.

The age of these men is of little consequence until you consider that Adam and Eve may have had children for perhaps most of Adam’s entire 930 years on earth giving us an enormous population by the time Cain killed Abel.

A rough example of how this could work goes like this: if someone offers to give you a penny for your birthday and double it daily for 30 days, take it.

On day one you receive a penny, day two you receive 2 pennies, day three 4 cents, day four 8 cents, day five 16 cents, pitiful. However, it keeps doubling for another 25 days, on day 30 you receive $5,368,709.12.

There is one model for population growth that is similar to the above penny example which means that in time the population would have grown exponentially by the time Cain murdered Abel.

I admit that I am no expert; however, I have read that the population of the earth by the time of the flood of Noah’s day was one billion people.

And yes, some men would have had to marry their sister, but with the lack of disease and stronger genetics it would not be harmful like it is today.

As an afterthought you might consider that today’s population growth is hindered by war, famine, disease, crime and abortion.

Imagine what it was like in an almost perfect environment with no lack of food, near genetic perfection and an average life span of around 500 to 700 years. Talk about a population explosion!

My Brother’s Killer, Genesis 4:1-5 taken from posted on 8-13-14, updated on 10-22-21.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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