And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.…
Another "genesis" is now described, that of sinful society, which prepares the way for the description of the rising kingdom of God.
I. THE DEVELOPMENT OF MORAL EVIL IS CONTEMPORANEOUS WITH HUMAN SOCIETY. We must still bear in mind that the aim of the narrative is not scientific, but religious and didactic. The sketch of the first family in vers. 1 and 2 is plainly an outline to be filled in. The keeper of sheep and the tiller of the ground are out in the broad world. We are not told that there were no other human beings when they were grown up. Probably from their employment it is meant to be inferred that the human family had already grown into something like a community, when there could be a division of labor. The production of animal and vegetable food in quantities can only be explained on the presupposition that man had increased on the earth. Then, in ver. 3, we are led on still further by "the process of time."
II. THE COMMUNITY OF MEN, THUS EARLY, HAS SOME PROVISION FOR RELIGIOUS WORSHIP. The two men, Cain and Abel, "brought" their offerings apparently to one place. The difference was not the mere difference of their occupations. Abel brought not only "the firstlings of the flock," but "the fat thereof," an evident allusion to the appointment of some sacrificial rites. The Lord's respect to Abel's offering was not merely a recognition of Abel's state of mind, though that is implied in the reference to the person, as distinct from the offering, but it was approval of Abel's obedience to the religious prescription which is in the background. The Lord remonstrates with Cain when his countenance fell and he was wroth. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door" (croucheth like a beast of prey ready to be upon thee). This may be taken either
(1) retrospectively or
(2) prospectively - sin as guilt, or sin as temptation; in either case it is at the door - not necessarily a welcome guest, but ready to take possession. Sin forgiven, temptation resisted, are placed in apposition to acceptance. "Unto thee shall be his desire," - i.e. Abel's, as the younger, - "and thou shalt rule over him," i.e. the natural order shall be preserved. Notice - 50. Divine love providing acceptance in the Divine order, in which religion is preserved, and natural life, with its appointments.
2. Divine mercy rescuing a fallen creature from the results of his own blind disobedience.
3. The righteousness of God maintained in the disorder and passion which spring out of human error and corruption. Sin is at the door; judgment close upon it. Yet God is justified though man is condemned. There is no great sin committed but it has been seen at the door first.
4. Doing not well precedes the direct presumptuous sin. "Cleanse thou me from secret faults." Cain was warned by God himself before his fallen countenance darkened his heart with crime and stained his hand with a brother's blood. What a picture of the gradual degradation of the conscience. Notice -
(1) The disobedience of a Divine commandment in some minor point.
(2) Sense of estrangement from God - loss of his "respect unto us."
(3) Sullen, brooding enmity against God and man.
(4) All these culminating in the violent outbreak of self-assertion, his own works evil, his brother's righteous, therefore he bated him. Ver. 8 is again an epitome. The talk of the two men with one another may represent a long period of angry debate. "It came to pass," on some occasion, in the field, the angry thoughts found their vent in angry words. "Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." The first blood shed had a religious occasion for its origin. The proto-martyr was slain as a testimony to the truth. Mark the significant omen for the subsequent human history. Marvel not if the world hate those to whom God shows special respect. The type is here of all religious wars. The Cain spirit is not mere bloody-mindedness, but all defiance of God, and self-assertion, as against his will and word. Infidelity has been as bloody as superstition. Both meet in the same perverted worship of self. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.