Genesis Chapter Four
1. Did Eve think that she has given birth to the offspring promised in Genesis 3:15?
Genesis 4:1 says, “… She [Eve] said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” This translation does not necessarily mean that Eve believes her son is the Savior. The grammar seems to indicate this is the correct translation.
Some scholars believe the verse is translated, “With the help of the Lord, I have brought forth the man.” The use of the article “the” rather than “a” would show that Eve thought that specific son was the promised Savior recorded in Genesis 3:15. This may also explain why Abel, the second son, was given a name meaning, “vapor, breath, vanity, nothingness, temporary.”
2. Compare the two offerings of Cain and Abel. Why was one acceptable and one not?
Abel brought his best. This is known because Abel brought a firstborn of his flock, and he brought the fat portions, which were most pleasing to God.
In comparison, the text does not say that Cain brought the firstfruits of his crop. It implies that Cain brought a thoughtless offering that was not his best.
The contrast between an offering between crops and livestock is not the focus. The Bible tells us that God accepted grain offerings.
Ultimately, God is not interested in the sacrifice itself, but in the heart of the person who is giving the offering.
3. Did God physically speak with Cain?
Some critics believe that when the Bible says God “spoke” with people after the Fall, it was a conversation all in the person’s mind. Since the text of Genesis is not symbolic but literal, it is best to interpret the entire text literally. The text says God spoke to Cain, and other sections of Scripture give examples of God manifesting Himself. Because of this, there is no reason to believe that God was not physically speaking with Cain.
4. Does God teach works righteousness (earned Salvation) in Genesis 4:7? (“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”)
No. God is not focusing on the act of giving a good offering. If Cain has given a good offering, it would have represented his faith, and his faith would have been found acceptable to God.
5. Read 1 John 3:12 – “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.” What does this indicate about the curse in Genesis 3:15? (“I will put enmity [hostility] between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”)
There would be hatred between children of Satan, children of the world, and children of God. Believers have always been under persecution from the time of the Fall.
6. Read Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” What does this teach us about God?
It is not the death that is precious; God counts each life as precious. The word “precious” here does not mean “highly valued,” but it means, “carefully watched over.” God is closely involved with His creation. Another way of wording this verse is, “The Lord cares deeply when His loved ones die.” We see this in God’s reaction to the death of Abel.
7. Did Cain make a confession of sin to God?
Cain made an excuse. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” he asked in Genesis 4:9. Then Cain said in Genesis 4:13, “My punishment is more than I can bear.” The Hebrew word for “punishment” is generally the same word for “sin.” A few Bible translations record this verse to say, “My sin is more than I can bear.” The use of the word “sin” would indicate this to be a confession. Luther agreed with this translation. Most Bibles, however, use the word “punishment,” due to the context of the paragraph; in the next sentence, Cain does not talk about his sin, but his punishment.
8. Did God place a physical mark on Cain?
The Hebrew leaves room for interpretation whether the mark was a physical sign on Cain or a symbolic sign on behalf of Cain. The emphasis is not on what the mark was but on what the mark meant: God punished Cain, but He allowed Cain to live. He spared Cain.
9. Why did God preserve Cain?
God is gracious. He preserved Adam and Eve. He preserved Cain. He preserves us.
10. Why is the genealogy [family tree] important in Genesis 4:17-18?
God cares for His whole creation, enough to name them in His Word.
Note: My husband, DH, is teaching a weekly Bible study on the book of Genesis during his vicarage (internship). These are my notes from his classes. Questions, comments, and respectful debate are welcome.
DH has a B.A. in religious studies and biblical languages.
I have a B.A. in English, history, and Lutheran education.