Behold, you have driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from your face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that finds me shall slay me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)thou hast driven me out, with public infamy, as the word signifies,
from the face of the earth, or, this earth, my native land,
and from thy face, i.e. favour and protection, as the public enemy of mankind, and as one devoted by thee to destruction.
Quest. Whom did Cain fear, when it appears not that there were any but his father and mother?
Answ. So ignorant people conceive; but it is a fond conceit to think that there were no more men than are expressed in this book, where God never intended to give a catalogue of all men, but only of the church, or those who had some relation to or concern with it. Nay, that there were very many thousands of men now in being, is very credible upon these rational grounds and suppositions.
1. That Adam and Eve did, according to God’s precept and blessing, Genesis 1:26, procreate children presently after the fall, and God’s gracious reconcilement to them; and consequently their children did so, when they came to competent age.
2. That those first men and women were endowed by God with extraordinary fruitfulness, and might have two, three, four, or more at a time, (as divers persons long after had), which was then expedient for the replenishing of the world; and the like may be judged of their children during the world’s infancy.
3. That this murder was committed but a little before the hundred and thirtieth year of Adam’s age, which appears by comparing Genesis 4:25 and Genesis 5:3. Before which time, how vast and numerous an offspring might have come from Adam, none can be ignorant that can and shall make a rational computation.
and from, thy face shall I be hid; not from his omniscience and omnipresence, for there is no such thing as being hid from the all seeing eye of God, or flying from his presence, which is everywhere; but from his favour and good will, and the outward tokens of it, as well as from the place where his Shechinah or divine Majesty was; and which was the place of public worship, and where good men met and worshipped God, and offered sacrifice to him: and from the place of divine worship and the ordinances of it, and the church of God and communion with it, an hypocrite does not choose to be debarred:
and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; as was threatened him; see Gill on Genesis 4:12,
and it shall come to pass, that everyone that findeth me shall slay me; that is, some one, the first that should meet him, for he could be slain but by one; so odious he knew he should be to everyone, being under such marks of the divine displeasure, that his life would be in danger by whomsoever he should be found: and this being near an hundred and thirty years after the creation of man, see Genesis 4:25 Genesis 5:3 there might in this time be a large number of men on earth; Adam and Eve procreating children immediately after the fall, and very probably many more besides Cain and Abel, and those very fruitful, bringing many at a birth and often, and few or none dying, the increase must be very great; and we read quickly after this of a city being built, Genesis 4:17. Cain seems to be more afraid of a corporeal death than to have any concern about his soul, and the eternal welfare of it, or to be in dread and fear of an eternal death, or wrath to come; though some think the words should be rendered in a prayer (x), "let it be that anyone that findeth me may kill me"; being weary of life under the horrors of a guilty conscience.Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. Behold, thou hast, &c.] Cain accepts Jehovah’s sentence as a banishment from the cultivated ground. “And from thy face shall I be hid,” Cain recognizes that banishment from the land, in which Jehovah’s presence was manifested, implied expulsion from Jehovah’s presence. In the desert to which he was to flee, Jehovah would not be found: Cain would be hidden from His face. The early Israelites believed that, if a man was driven from the land in which Jehovah was worshipped, he was no longer in the presence of Jehovah, but of other gods. Thus David says, 1 Samuel 26:19, “they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave unto the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve other gods.” The desert to which Cain would be driven was a region believed to be haunted by the demon Azazel (Leviticus 16:8) and dangerous spirits.
whosoever findeth me, &c.] Of whom was Cain afraid? Different answers have been given. 1. The wild beasts (Josephus). 2. A pre-Adamite race of Man 1:3. Other sons of Adam. 4. It has been suggested that the present story formed part of a tradition originally referring to a later time, when the earth was numerously inhabited, and has been adapted, on account of its moral significance, to the story of the first family. But it is unreasonable to expect from the detached narratives of early folk-lore the logical completeness of history. Cain’s words are rightly understood as a reference to the custom of blood-revenge, which went back to the remotest prehistoric age. The cultivated land was regarded as the region in which there prevailed social order and regard for life; but in the desert there would be none of the restrictions which regulated the existence of settled communities.
In the desert Cain, as the murderer, would be destitute of the protection of Jehovah. He would have no rights of kinship: anyone might slay him with impunity. He would find no friendly tribe; he would be an outlaw.Leviticus 18:28). In any case, the idea that "the soil, through drinking innocent blood, became an accomplice in the sin of murder," has no biblical support, and is not confirmed by Isaiah 26:21 or Numbers 35:33. The suffering of irrational creatures through the sin of man is very different from their participating in his sin. "A fugitive and vagabond (ונד נע, i.e., banished and homeless) shalt thou be in the earth." Cain is so affected by this curse, that his obduracy is turned into despair, "My sin," he says in Genesis 4:13, "is greater than can be borne." עון נשׁא signifies to take away and bear sin or guilt, and is used with reference both to God and man. God takes guilt away by forgiving it (Exodus 34:7); man carries it away and bears it, by enduring its punishment (cf. Numbers 5:31). Luther, following the ancient versions, has adopted the first meaning; but the context sustains the second: for Cain afterwards complains, not of the greatness of the sin, but only of the severity of the punishment. "Behold, Thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth, and from Thy face shall I be hid;...and it shall come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay me." The adamah, from the face of which the curse of Jehovah had driven Cain, was Eden (cf. Genesis 4:16), where he had carried on his agricultural pursuits, and where God had revealed His face, i.e., His presence, to the men after their expulsion from the garden; so that henceforth Cain had to wander about upon the wide world, homeless and far from the presence of God, and was afraid lest any one who found him might slay him. By "every one that findeth me" we are not to understand omnis creatura, as though Cain had excited the hostility of all creatures, but every man; not in the sense, however, of such as existed apart from the family of Adam, but such as were aware of his crime, and knew him to be a murderer. For Cain is evidently afraid of revenge on the part of relatives of the slain, that is to say, of descendants of Adam, who were either already in existence, or yet to be born. Though Adam might not at this time have had "many grandsons and great-grandson," yet according to Genesis 4:17 and Genesis 5:4, he had undoubtedly other children, who might increase in number, and sooner or later might avenge Abel's death. For, that blood shed demands blood in return, "is a principle of equity written in the heart of every man; and that Cain should see that earth full of avengers is just like a murderer, who sees avenging spirits (Ἐρινύες) ready to torture him on every hand."
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