|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:8-15 Malice in the heart ends in murder by the hands. Cain slew Abel, his own brother, his own mother's son, whom he ought to have loved; his younger brother, whom he ought to have protected; a good brother, who had never done him any wrong. What fatal effects were these of our first parents' sin, and how must their hearts have been filled with anguish! Observe the pride, unbelief, and impenitence of Cain. He denies the crime, as if he could conceal it from God. He tries to cover a deliberate murder with a deliberate lie. Murder is a crying sin. Blood calls for blood, the blood of the murdered for the blood of the murderer. Who knows the extent and weight of a Divine curse, how far it reaches, how deep it pierces? Only in Christ are believers saved from it, and inherit the blessing. Cain was cursed from the earth. He found his punishment there where he chose his portion, and set his heart. Every creature is to us what God makes it, a comfort or a cross, a blessing or a curse. The wickedness of the wicked brings a curse upon all they do, and all they have. Cain complains not of his sin, but of his punishment. It shows great hardness of heart to be more concerned about our sufferings than our sins. God has wise and holy ends in prolonging the lives even of very wicked men. It is in vain to inquire what was the mark set upon Cain. It was doubtless known, both as a brand of infamy on Cain, and a token from God that they should not kill him. Abel, being dead, yet speaketh. He tells the heinous guilt of murder, and warns us to stifle the first risings of wrath, and teaches us that persecution must be expected by the righteous. Also, that there is a future state, and an eternal recompence to be enjoyed, through faith in Christ and his atoning sacrifice. And he tells us the excellency of faith in the atoning sacrifice and blood of the Lamb of God. Cain slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous, 1Jo 3:12. In consequence of the enmity put between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the war broke out, which has been waged ever since. In this war we are all concerned, none are neuter; our Captain has declared, He that is not with me is against me. Let us decidedly, yet in meekness, support the cause of truth and righteousness against Satan.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When thou tillest the ground,.... Which was the business he was brought up in and followed, Genesis 4:2.
it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; the earth had been cursed for Adam's sin, and was not so fruitful as in its original state; and now it was cursed again for Cain's sin; not the whole earth, but that part which belonged to Cain, and was cultivated by him; and so it must be supposed to be cursed, not only in the spot where he had been settled, but in every other place where he should come and occupy, and which through this additional curse became so barren that it did not yield such good fruits, and such an increase of it as before; it lost its native and vital juice, by which seed cast into it became not so fruitful, and did not increase; but instead of this, though much pains were taken to manure it, and much was sown, yet it brought forth little, at least but little to Cain, whatever it did to others; and therefore it is said, "shall not yield unto thee"; it would not turn much to his account, or yield much profit and increase to him, or bring forth much fruit; see Job 31:38.
a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth; being obliged to quit his former habitation, and remove to a place at some distance from the house of his father Adam, which was near the garden of Eden, as Aben Ezra observes; and to wander about from place to place, having no quiet settlement in anyone place: the Septuagint render it "groaning and trembling"; the guilt of his sin lay heavy on his conscience, and filled him with such horror and terror that he was continually sighing and groaning, and was seized with such a tremor that he shook in all his limbs; so the Arabic writers (t) say, that he was trembling and quivering, and had a shaking in his head all the days of his life; and Aben Ezra observes, that there are some that say that the first of these words signifies to moan and lament; but it may be, it was not so much his sin, at least the evil of it, that he lamented, as the mischief that came by it, or the calamities and misfortunes it brought upon him.
(t) Patricides, apud Hottinger. Smegma Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 223.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. a fugitive—condemned to perpetual exile; a degraded outcast; the miserable victim of an accusing conscience.
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