Genesis 4:1
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
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(1) She . . . bare Cain, and said . . . —In this chapter we have the history of the founding of the family of Cain, a race godless and wanton, but who, nevertheless, far outstripped the descendants of Seth in the arts of civilisation. To tillage and a pastoral life they added metallurgy and music; and the knowledge not only of copper and its uses, but even of iron (Genesis 4:22), must have given them a command over the resources of nature so great as to have vastly diminished the curse of labour, and made their lives easy and luxurious.

I have gotten a man from the Lord.—Rather, who is Jehovah. It is inconceivable that eth should have here a different meaning from that which it has in Genesis 1:1. It there gives emphasis to the object of the verb: “God created eth the heaven and eth the earth,” that is, even the heaven and even the earth. So also here, “I have gotten a man eth Jehovah.” even Jehovah. The objection that this implies too advanced a knowledge of Messianic ideas is unfounded. It is we who read backward, and put our ideas into the words of the narrative. These words were intended to lead on to those ideas, but they were at present only as the germ, or as the filament in the acorn which contains the oak-tree. If there is one thing certain, it is that religious knowledge was given gradually, and that the significance of the name Jehovah was revealed by slow degrees. (See on Genesis 4:26.) Eve attached no notion of divinity to the name; still less did she foresee that by the superstition of the Jews the title Lord would be substituted for it. We distinctly know that Jehovah was not even the patriarchal name of the Deity (Exodus 6:3), and still less could it have been God’s title in Paradise. But Eve had received the promise that her seed should crush the head of her enemy, and to this promise her words referred, and the title in her mouth meant probably no more than “the coming One.” Apparently, too, it was out of Eve’s words that this most significant title of the covenant God arose. (See Excursus on names Elohim and Jehovah-Elohim, at end of this book.)

Further, Eve calls Cain “a man,” Heb., ish, a being. (See on Genesis 2:23.) As Cain was the first infant, no word as yet existed for child. But in calling him “a being, even the future one,” a lower sense, often attached to these words, is not to be altogether excluded. It has been said that Eve, in the birth of this child, saw the remedy for death. Death might slay the individual, but the existence of the race was secured. Her words therefore might be paraphrased: “I have gained a man, who is the pledge of future existence.” Mankind is thus that which shall exist. Now, it is one of the properties of Holy Scripture that words spoken in a lower and ordinary sense are often prophetic: so that even supposing that Eve meant no more than this, it would not exclude the higher interpretation. It is evident, however, from the fact of these words having been so treasured up, that they were regarded by Adam and his posterity as having no commonplace meaning; and this interpretation has a suspiciously modern look about it. Finally, in Christ alone man does exist and endure. He is the perfect man—man’s highest level; so that even thus there would be a presage of immortality for man in the saying, “I have gained a man, even he that shall become.” Grant that it was then but an indefinite yearning: it was one, nevertheless, which all future inspiration was to make distinct and clear; and now, under the guidance of the Spirit, it has become the especial title of the Second Person in the Holy Trinity.

Genesis 4:1-2. Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters, Genesis 5:4 : but Cain and Abel seem to have been the two eldest. Cain signifies possession; for Eve, when she bare him, said, with joy, and thankfulness, and expectation, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” Abel signifies vanity. The name given to this son is put upon the whole race, Psalm 39:5, “Every man is, at his best estate, Abel, vanity.” Abel was a keeper of sheep — He chose that employment which did most befriend contemplation and devotion, for that hath been looked upon as the advantage of a pastoral life. Moses and David kept sheep, and in their solitudes conversed with God.

4:1-7 When Cain was born, Eve said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. Perhaps she thought that this was the promised seed. If so, she was wofully disappointed. Abel signifies vanity: when she thought she had the promised seed in Cain, whose name signifies possession, she was so taken up with him that another son was as vanity to her. Observe, each son had a calling. It is the will of God for every one to have something to do in this world. Parents ought to bring up their children to work. Give them a Bible and a calling, said good Mr. Dod, and God be with them. We may believe that God commanded Adam, after the fall, to shed the blood of innocent animals, and after their death to burn part or the whole of their bodies by fire. Thus that punishment which sinners deserve, even the death of the body, and the wrath of God, of which fire is a well-known emblem, and also the sufferings of Christ, were prefigured. Observe that the religious worship of God is no new invention. It was from the beginning; it is the good old way, Jer 6:16. The offerings of Cain and Abel were different. Cain showed a proud, unbelieving heart. Therefore he and his offering were rejected. Abel came as a sinner, and according to God's appointment, by his sacrifice expressing humility, sincerity, and believing obedience. Thus, seeking the benefit of the new covenant of mercy, through the promised Seed, his sacrifice had a token that God accepted it. Abel offered in faith, and Cain did not, Heb 11:4. In all ages there have been two sorts of worshippers, such as Cain and Abel; namely, proud, hardened despisers of the gospel method of salvation, who attempt to please God in ways of their own devising; and humble believers, who draw near to him in the way he has revealed. Cain indulged malignant anger against Abel. He harboured an evil spirit of discontent and rebellion against God. God notices all our sinful passions and discontents. There is not an angry, envious, or fretful look, that escapes his observing eye. The Lord reasoned with this rebellious man; if he came in the right way, he should be accepted. Some understand this as an intimation of mercy. If thou doest not well, sin, that is, the sin-offering, lies at the door, and thou mayest take the benefit of it. The same word signifies sin, and a sacrifice for sin. Though thou hast not done well, yet do not despair; the remedy is at hand. Christ, the great sin-offering, is said to stand at the door, Re 3:20. And those well deserve to perish in their sins, that will not go to the door to ask for the benefit of this sin-offering. God's acceptance of Abel's offering did not change the birthright, and make it his; why then should Cain be so angry? Sinful heats and disquiets vanish before a strict and fair inquiry into the cause. - Section IV - The Family of Adam

- Cain and Abel

1. קין qayı̂n, Qain (Cain), "spear-shaft," and קנה qānah, "set up, establish, gain, buy," contain the biliteral root קן qan, "set up, erect, gain." The relations of root words are not confined to the narrow rules of our common etymology, but really extend to such instinctive usages as the unlettered speaker will invent or employ. A full examination of the Hebrew tongue leads to the conclusion that a biliteral root lies at the base of many of those triliterals that consist of two firm consonants and a third weaker one varying in itself and its position. Thus, יטב yāṭab and טיב ṭôb. So קין qayı̂n and קנה qānah grow from one root.

2. הבל hebel, Habel (Abel), "breath, vapor."

3. מנחה mı̂nchâh, "gift, offering, tribute." In contrast with זבח zebach, it means a "bloodless offering".

7. חטאת chaṭā't, "sin, sin-penalty, sin-offering." רבץ rābats, "lie, couch as an animal."

16. נוד nôd, Nod, "flight, exile; related: flee."

This chapter is a continuation of the second document. Yet it is distinguished from the previous part of it by the use of the name Yahweh alone, and, in one instance, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym alone, to designate the Supreme Being. This is sufficient to show that distinct pieces of composition are included within these documents. In the creation week and in the judgment, God has proved himself an originator of being and a keeper of his word, and, therefore, the significant personal name Yahweh is ready on the lips of Eve and from the pen of the writer. The history of fallen man now proceeds. The first family comes under our notice.

Genesis 4:1

In this verse the first husband and wife become father and mother. This new relation must be deeply interesting to both, but at first especially so to the mother. Now was begun the fulfillment of all the intimations she had received concerning her seed. She was to have conception and sorrow multiplied. But she was to be the mother of all living. And her seed was to bruise the serpent's head. All these recollections added much to the intrinsic interest of becoming a mother. Her feelings are manifested in the name given to her son and the reason assigned for 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 δόρυ doru, "spear-shaft." The primitive meaning of the root is to set up, or to erect, as a cane, a word which comes from the root; then it means to create, make one's own, and is applied to the Creator Genesis 14:19 or the parent Deuteronomy 32:6. Hence, the word here seems to denote a thing gained or achieved, a figurative expression for a child born. The gaining or bearing of the child is therefore evidently the prominent thought in Eve's mind, as she takes the child's name from this. This serves to explain the sentence assigning the reason for the name. If the meaning had been, "I have gained a man, namely, Yahweh," then the child would have been called Yahweh. If Jehovah had even been the emphatic word, the name would have been a compound of Yahweh, and either אישׁ 'ı̂ysh, "man," or קנה qı̂nâh, "qain," such as Ishiah or Coniah. But the name Cain proves קניתי qānı̂ytı̂y, "I have gained" to be the emphatic word, and therefore the sentence is to be rendered "I have gained (borne) a man (with the assistance) of Yahweh."

The word "man" probably intimates that Eve fully expected her son to grow to the stature and maturity of her husband. If she had daughters before, and saw them growing up to maturity, this would explain her expectation, and at the same time give a new significance and emphasis to her exclamation, "I have gained a man (heretofore only women) from Yahweh." It would heighten her ecstasy still more if she expected this to be the very seed that should bruise the serpent's head.

Eve is under the influence of pious feelings. She has faith in God, and acknowledges him to be the author of the precious gift she has received. Prompted by her grateful emotion, she confesses her faith, She also employs a new and near name to designate her maker. In the dialogue with the tempter she had used the word God אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym. But now she adopts Yahweh. In this one word she hides a treasure of comfort. "He is true to his promise. He has not forgotten me. He is with me now again. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He will give me the victory." And who can blame her if she verily expected that this would be the promised deliverer who should bruise the serpent's head?


Ge 4:1-26. Birth of Cain and Abel.

1. Eve said, I have gotten a man from the Lord—that is, "by the help of the Lord"—an expression of pious gratitude—and she called him Cain, that is, "a possession," as if valued above everything else; while the arrival of another son reminding Eve of the misery she had entailed on her offspring, led to the name Abel, that is, either weakness, vanity (Ps 39:5), or grief, lamentation. Cain and Abel were probably twins; and it is thought that, at this early period, children were born in pairs (Ge 5:4) [Calvin].The birth of Cain and Abel, and their employment, Genesis 4:1-2. Cain’s offering, Genesis 4:3. Abel’s sacrifice, and God’s acceptance, Genesis 4:4. Cain’s rejected; his discontent, Genesis 4:5. God expostulates it with him, Genesis 4:6-7. He murders Abel, Genesis 4:8. God makes inquiry after Abel, Genesis 4:9. The cry of his blood, Genesis 4:10. God’s curse upon Cain, Genesis 4:11-12. His complaint, Genesis 4:13-14. God mitigates it, Genesis 4:15. Its execution, Genesis 4:16. Cain’s posterity, Genesis 4:17-18. Lamech’s two wives, Genesis 4:19. They bear unto him sons, who dwell in tents, Genesis 4:20; invent musical instruments, Genesis 4:21; have skill in brass and iron, Genesis 4:22. His boasting, Genesis 4:23-24. The birth of Seth, Genesis 4:25. His son; the revival of religion, Genesis 4:26.

This modest expression is used both in Scripture and other authors, to signify the conjugal act or carnal knowledge. So Genesis 19:8, Genesis 24:16, Numbers 31:17 Matthew 1:25 Luke 1:34.

Cain, whose name signifies a possession. A man, a male child, as Genesis 7:2, which was most welcome.

From the Lord; or, by or with the Lord, i.e. by virtue of his first blessing, Genesis 1:28, and special favour. Or, a man the Lord, as the words properly signify: q.d. God-man, or the Messias, hoping that this was the promised Seed.

And Adam knew Eve his wife,.... An euphemism, or modest expression of the act of coition. Jarchi interprets it, "had known", even before he sinned, and was drove out of the garden; and so other Jewish writers, who think he otherwise would not have observed the command, "be fruitful and multiply": but if Adam had begotten children in a state of innocence, they would have been free from sin, and not tainted with the corruption of nature after contracted; but others more probably think it was some considerable time after; according to Mer Thudiusi, or Theodosius (t), it was thirty years after he was driven out of paradise:

and she conceived and bare Cain; in the ordinary way and manner, as women ever since have usually done, going the same time with her burden. Whether this name was given to her first born by her, or by her husband, or both, is not said: it seems to have been given by her, from the reason of it after assigned. His name, in Philo Byblius (u), is Genos, which no doubt was Cain, in Sanchoniatho, whom he translated; and his wife, or the twin born with him, is said to be Genea, that is, "Cainah": the Arabs call her Climiah (v) and the Jewish writers Kalmenah (w); who are generally of opinion, that with Cain and Abel were born twin sisters, which became their wives.

And said, that is, Eve said upon the birth of her firstborn:

I have gotten a man from the Lord; as a gift and blessing from him, as children are; or by him, by his favour and good will; and through his blessing upon her, causing her to conceive and bear and bring forth a son: some render it, "I have gotten a man, the Lord" (x); that promised seed that should break the serpents head; by which it would appear, that she took that seed to be a divine person, the true God, even Jehovah, that should become man; though she must have been ignorant of the mystery of his incarnation, or of his taking flesh of a virgin, since she conceived and bare Cain through her husband's knowledge of her: however, having imbibed this notion, it is no wonder she should call him Cain, a possession or inheritance; since had this been the case, she had got a goodly one indeed: but in this she was sadly mistaken, he proved not only to be a mere man, but to be a very bad man: the Targum of Jonathan favours this sense, rendering the words,"I have gotten a man, the angel of the Lord.''

(t) Apud Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 6. (u) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. c. 10. p. 34. (v) Abulpharag. ib. (w) Shalshaleth Hakabala, fol. 74. 2.((x) "virum Dominum", Fagius, Helvicus, Forster, Schindler, Luther, Pellican, Cocceius; "virum qui Jehovah est", Schmidt.

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

(a) Man's nature, the estate of marriage, and God's blessing were not utterly abolished through sin, but the quality or condition of it was changed.

(b) That is, according to the Lord's promise, as some read Ge 3:15, To the Lord rejoicing for the son she had born, whom she would offer to the Lord as the first fruits of her birth.

1. Cain … gotten] Heb. ḳanah, to get. The word “Cain” does not mean “gotten”; but Eve’s joyful utterance gives a popular etymology, which derived the proper name from the verb whose pronunciation it resembled. The word “Cain” (Ḳayin) means in Hebrew “a lance”; and by some the name is interpreted to mean “a smith.” Its relation to Tubal-Cain “the artificer” is doubtful (see Genesis 4:24). That the name is to be identified with that of the nomad tribe of the “Kenites” (cf. Numbers 24:22, Jdg 4:11) is a view which has been strongly maintained by some scholars. But the evidence seems to be very slight. The Kenites were not traditionally hostile to Israel, and did not play any important part in the history of the people so far as is known. The fact that the name appears in another form, “Kenan,” in the genealogy (chap. Genesis 5:9-14) should warn us against hasty identifications. Pronunciation notoriously suffers through transmission, and spelling of proper names is wont to be adapted to the sound of more familiar words.

Eve gives her child its name as in Genesis 4:24. It has been pointed out that elsewhere, where the mother is mentioned in J and E, she gives the name, cf. Genesis 29:32-35, Genesis 30:1-24 (but see Genesis 4:26, Genesis 5:29, Genesis 25:25); whereas, in P, the father gives the name, cf. Genesis 21:3. That the mother should name the child, has been considered to be a survival of a primitive “matriarchal” phase of society: see note on Genesis 2:24. But the inference is very doubtful.

I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord] Literally, “I acquired (or, have acquired) man, even Jahveh.” Eve’s four words in the Hebrew (ḳânîthi îsh eth-Yahveh) are as obscure as any oracle.

(i) The difficulty was felt at a very early time, and is reflected in the versions LXX διὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, Lat. per Deum, in which, as R.V., the particle êth is rendered as a preposition in the sense of “in conjunction with,” and so “with the help of,” “by the means of.”

König, who holds an eminent position both as a commentator and as a Hebrew grammarian and lexicographer, has recently strongly defended the rendering of êth as a preposition meaning “with,” in the sense here given by the English version “with the help of” (see Z.A.T.W. 1912, Pt i, pp. 22 ff.). The words will then express the thanksgiving of Eve on her safe deliverance of a child. It is a pledge of Divine favour. Child-birth has been “with the help of the Lord.”

(ii) The Targum of Onkelos reads mê-êth = “from” (instead of êth = “with”), and so gets rid of the difficulty: “I have gotten a man from Jehovah,” i.e. as a gift from the Lord. But this is so easy an alteration that it looks like a correction, and can scarcely be regarded as the original text. Praestat lectio difficilior.

(iii) According to the traditional Patristic and mediaeval interpretation, the sentence admitted of a literal rendering in a Messianic sense: “I have gotten a man, even Jehovah,” i.e. “In the birth of a child I have gotten one in whom I foresee the Incarnation of the Lord.” But, apart from the inadmissibility of this N.T. thought, it is surely impossible that the Messianic hope should thus be associated with the name of Cain. The Targum of Palestine, however, has “I have acquired a man, the Angel of the Lord.”

(iv) Another direction of thought is given by the proposed alternative rendering: “I obtained as a husband (i.e. in my husband) Jehovah,” in other words, I discern that in marriage is a Divine Gift. Perhaps the Targum of Palestine meant this, “I obtained as a husband the Angel of the Lord”: my husband is the expression to me of the Divine good-will which I have received. The objection, however, to this interpretation is that it is the reverse of simple and natural. It makes Eve’s words go back to marriage relations, instead of to the birth of her child.

(v) Conjectural emendations have been numerous, and ingenious. Thus, at one time, Gunkel conjectured ethavveh for eth-Yahveh, i.e. “I have gotten a son that I longed for”; the unusual word ethavveh accounted, in his opinion, for the easier reading eth-Yahveh. But in his last edition (1908) the conjecture does not appear.

Verse 1. - Exiled from Eden, o'er, canopied by grace, animated by hope, assured of the Divine forgiveness, and filled with a sweet peace, the first pair enter on their life experience of labor and sorrow, and the human race begins its onward course of development in sight of the mystic cherubim and flaming sword. And Adam knew Eve, his wife. I.e. "recognized her nature and uses" (Alford; cf. Numbers 31:17). The act here mentioned is recorded not to indicate that paradise was "non nuptiis, sed virginitate destinatum" (Jerome), but to show that while Adam was formed from the soil, and Eve from a rib taken from his side, the other members of the race were to be produced "neque ex terra neque quovis alio mode, sed ex conjunctione maris et foeminse" (Rungius). And she conceived. The Divine blessing (Genesis 1:28), which in its operation had been suspended during the period of innocence, while yet it was undetermined whether the race should develop as a holy or a fallen seed, now begins to take effect (cf. Genesis 18:14; Ruth 4:13; Hebrews 11:11). And bare Cain. Acquisition or Possession, from kanah, to acquire (Gesenius). Cf. Eve's exclamation. Kalisch, connecting it with kun or kin, to strike, sees an allusion to his character and subsequent history as a murderer, and supposes it was not given to him at birth, but at a later period. Tayler Lewis falls back upon the primitive idea of the root, to create, to procreate, generate, of which he cites as examples Genesis 14:19, 22; Deuteronomy 32:6, and takes the derivative to signify the seed, explaining Eve's exclamation kanithi kain as equivalent to τετοκα τοκον, genui genitum or generationem. And said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. The popular interpretation, regarding kani-thi as the emphatic word in the sentence, understands Eve to say that her child was a thing achieved, an acquisition gained, either from the Lord (Onkelos, Calvin) or by means of, with the help of, the Lord (LXX., Vulgate, Jerome, Dathe, Keil), or for the Lord (Syriac). If, however, the emphatic term is Jehovah, then eth with Makkeph following will be the sign of the accusative, and the sense will be, "I have gotten a man - Jehovah" (Jonathon, Luther, Baumgarten, Lewis); to which, perhaps, the chief objections are

(1) that it appears to anticipate the development of the Messianic idea, and credits Eve with too mature Christological conceptions (Lange), though if Enoch in the seventh generation recognized Jehovah as the coming One, why might not Eve have done so in the first? (Bonar),

(2) that if the thoughts of Eve had been running so closely on the identity of the coming Deliverer with Jehovah, the child would have been called Jehovah, or at least some compound of Jehovah, such as Ishiah - אישׁ and יהוה - or Coniah - קין and יהוה (Murphy);

(3) si scivit Messiam esse debet Jovam, quomodo existimare potuit Cainam ease Messiam, quem sciebat esse ab Adamo genitum? (Dathe); and

(4) that, while it might not be difficult to account for the mistake of a joyful mother in supposing that the fruit of her womb was the promised seed, though, "if she did believe so, it is a caution to interpreters of prophecy" (Inglis), it is not so easy to explain her belief that the promised seed was to be Jehovah, since no such announcement was made in the Prot-evangel. But whichever view be adopted of the construction of the language, it is obvious that Eve's utterance was the dictate of faith. In Cain's birth she recognized the earnest and guarantee of the promised seed, and in token of her faith gave her child a name (cf. Genesis 3:20), which may also explain her use of the Divine name Jehovah instead of Elohim, which she employed when conversing with the serpent. That Eve denominates her infant a man has been thought to indicate that she had previously borne daughters who had grown to womanhood, and that she expected her young and tender babe to reach maturity. Murphy thinks this opinion probable; but the impression conveyed, by the narrative is that Cain was the first-born of the human family. Genesis 4:1The propagation of the human race did not commence till after the expulsion from paradise. Generation in man is an act of personal free-will, not a blind impulse of nature, and rests upon a moral self-determination. It flows from the divine institution of marriage, and is therefore knowing (ידע) the wife. - At the birth of the first son Eve exclaimed with joy, "I have gotten (קניתי) a man with Jehovah;" wherefore the child received the name Cain (קין from קוּן equals קנה, κτᾶσθαι). So far as the grammar is concerned, the expression את־יהוה might be rendered, as in apposition to אישׁ, "a man, the Lord" (Luther), but the sense would not allow it. For even if we could suppose the faith of Eve in the promised conqueror of the serpent to have been sufficiently alive for this, the promise of God had not given her the slightest reason to expect that the promised seed would be of divine nature, and might be Jehovah, so as to lead her to believe that she had given birth to Jehovah now. את is a preposition in the sense of helpful association, as in Genesis 21:20; Genesis 39:2, Genesis 39:21, etc. That she sees in the birth of this son the commencement of the fulfilment of the promise, and thankfully acknowledges the divine help in this display of mercy, is evident from the name Jehovah, the God of salvation. The use of this name is significant. Although it cannot be supposed that Eve herself knew and uttered this name, since it was not till a later period that it was made known to man, and it really belongs to the Hebrew, which was not formed till after the division of tongues, yet it expresses the feeling of Eve on receiving this proof of the gracious help of God.
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