"Not so!" replied the LORD. "If anyone slays Cain, then Cain will be avenged sevenfold." And the LORD placed a mark on Cain, so that no one who found him would kill him.
|A Sign Given to Cain||M. Dods, D. D.||Genesis 4:15|
|Cain's Preservation by God||H. Bonar, D. D.||Genesis 4:15|
|God's Dealings with Cain||M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.||Genesis 4:15|
|God's Mode of Dealing with Cain||Prof. J. G. Murphy.||Genesis 4:15|
|Marks of Crime||M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.||Genesis 4:15|
|Marks on Conscience||John Bate.||Genesis 4:15|
|The Mark Upon Cain||G. Gilfillan.||Genesis 4:15|
|Antiquity of Husbandry||Bishop Babington.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Cain and Abel||G. R. Leavitt.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Cain and Abel||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Cain and Abel||Essex Remembrancer||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Cain and Abel||M. Dods, D. D.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Cain and Abel||I. Williams, B. D.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Cain and Abel||A. Jukes.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Domestic Life||J. S. Exell, M. A.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Formal Worship an Immense Curse||Homilist||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Lessons from the History of Cain||G. Gilfillan.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Naming of Children||Bishop Babington.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The Best Offering||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The First Age of the Conflict||J. M. Gibson.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The First Patriarchal Form of the New Dispensation||R. S. Candlish, D. D.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The Religion of Nature, and the Religion of the Gospel||D. Evans.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The Story of Cain and Abel||D. Rhys Jenkins.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The True and False Worshipper of God||J. S. Exell, M. A.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The Two Offerings||H. Bonar, D. D.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The Two Sacrifices||F. D. Maurice, M. A.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|Two Kinds of Offerings||Bishop Babington.||Genesis 4:1-16|
|The Condemnation and Judgment of the First Murderer||R.A. Redford ||Genesis 4:9-15|
How terrible this question to the murderer! He thought, perhaps, his act was hidden, and strove to put it out of mind. Perhaps did not anticipate effect of his stroke; but now brought face to face with his sin. "Where is Abel?" He knew not. He knew where the body lay; but that was not Abel. Had sent him whence he could not call him back. "Where is thy brother?" is God's word to each of us. It expresses the great law that we are responsible for each other's welfare. "Am I my brother's keeper?" some would ask. Assuredly yes. God has knit men together so that all our life through we require each other's help; and we cannot avoid influencing each other. And has created a bond of brotherhood (cf. Acts 17:26
), which follows from our calling him "Father." What doing for good of mankind? Not to do good is to do harm; not to save is to kill. Love of Christ works (Romans 10:1
; 2 Corinthians 5:14
I. WE ARE CALLED TO CARE FOR THOSE AFAR OFF. "Who is my neighbor?" We might answer, Who is not thy neighbor? Everywhere our brethren. Thousands passing away daily. Abel, a vapor, the character of human life (Psalm 103:15). Whither are they going? And we know the way of salvation. Light is given to no one for himself only (Matthew 5:13, 14). We are to hold it forth; to be as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15). It is God's will thus to spread his kingdom. Are we answering the call? Test yourselves (cf. 1 John 3:17). Deliver us from blood-guiltiness, O God. Thank God, the question speaks to us of living men. There are fields still to be reaped. The heathen, our brethren, claim a brother's help. How many varieties of Cain's answer: - You cannot reclaim savages; you just make them hypocrites; we must look at home first. And the lost masses at home are our brethren. Oh, it is in vain to help them; they will drink; they hate religion; they only think what they can get from those who visit them. Test these objections. Single out in thought one soul; compare his case with yours. You have instruction, ordinances, influences; and he the darkness of heathenism, or surroundings of vice. Yet Christ died for that soul. Can you let it depart without some effort, or even earnest prayer?
II. WE ARE CALLED TO CARE FOR THOSE AROUND US. For their sake, watchfulness and self-restraint (cf. Romans 14:15). We teach more by what we do than by what we say. The loving life teaches love; the selfish, ungodliness. Inconsistencies of Christians hinder Christ's cause. What art thou at home? Is thy life pointing heavenward? "None of us liveth to himself." "Where is thy brother?" - M.
This passage unfolds to us a mode of dealing with the first murderer which is at first sight somewhat difficult to be understood. But we are to bear in mind that the sentence of death has been already pronounced upon man, and therefore stood over Adam and all his posterity, Cain among the rest. To pronounce the same sentence therefore upon him for a new crime would have been weak and unmeaning. Besides, the great crime of crimes was disobedience to the Divine will, and any particular form of crime added to that was comparatively unimportant. Wrong done to a creature even of the deepest dye was not to be compared in point of guilt with wrong done to the Creator. The grave element in the criminality of every social wrong is its practical disregard of the authority of the Most High. Moreover, every other sin to the end of time is but the development of that first act of disobedience to the mandate of heaven by which man fell, and accordingly every penalty is summed up in that death which is the judicial consequence of the first act of rebellion against heaven. We are also to best in mind that God still held the sword of justice in His own immediate hands, and had not delegated His authority to any human tribunal. No man was, therefore, clothed with any right from heaven to call Cain to account for the crime he had committed. To fall upon him with the high hand in a wilful act of private revenge, would be taking the law into one's own hands, and therefore a misdemeanour against the majesty of heaven, which the Judge of all could not allow to pass unpunished. It is plain that no man has an inherent right to inflict the sanction of a broken law on the transgressor. This right originally belongs only to the Creator, and derivatively only to those whom He has entrusted with the dispensation of civil government according to established laws.
The Lord set a mark upon Cain.
What this mark was we cannot tell. It might be his name affixed by the pen of the lightning in red characters upon his brow, or it might simply be the stain of his brother's blood left by his own fingers, which he had raised up while yet wet and reeking to cover his forehead, rendered miraculously indelible; or it might be some general aspect of grief and guilt, which told too plainly that he had become the first murderer; or, perhaps, it was written on his brow, "Kill not this man, murderer as he is, lest thou thyself be punished."
Render — "Gave a sign to Cain." It is difficult to conceive of any visible mark which should warn men not to touch Cain, and a mark which should merely identify him would of course be rather a danger than a benefit. An interesting parallel occurs in the "Laws of Men," which enjoin branding as a punishment of certain crimes: —Let them wander over the earth
Branded with indelible marks,
They shall be abandoned by father and mother,
Treated by none with affection:
Received by none with respect.
But why is God so anxious to preserve Cain from death, and to give him the assurance of this security? Some reasons are obvious, besides those which run us up directly to the sovereignty of God.
1. God's desire is to manifest the riches of His grace, and the extent of His forbearance, and that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but wishes by His long suffering to lead him to repentance.
2. Death would not have answered God's end at all. It was needful that Cain should be preserved alive as an awful monument of sin, a warning against the shedding of man's blood.
3. Cain was spared, too, because of this partial repentance. God accepted Ahab's repentance (1 Kings 21:29), poor and hollow as it was; so does He Cain's; for He is gracious and merciful, looking for the first and faintest sign of a sinner's turning to Himself, willing to meet him at once without upbraiding, and putting the best possible construction on all he says and does. To what length is not the grace of our God able to gel Sin abounds, but grace superabounds. How desirous is Jehovah not to curse, but to bless; not to smite, but to heal; not to destroy, but to save.
()We may ask, with some degree of surprise, why God granted this uncommon indulgence to a murderer, who had insidiously killed his own brother? Did not God Himself give the distinct precept: "He who sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed?" Why was it necessary to take such anxious precautions to save a life forfeited according to human and Divine rights? We hesitate to speak with decision where the text is entirely silent. But we may venture the supposition that, if Cain's blood was to be "shed by man," it would also have been by the hand of a brother, for no other man existed; the firstborn of Adam's strength, and the pride of his mother, would have perished by a cold law of retaliation; the avenging of the crime would, in the result, have been as horrible as the crime itself; and the human family, just called into being, would have perpetrated self-destruction in its first generations. It was thus necessary that God should Himself exercise the duty of punishment, and dispense a chastisement commensurate with the unnatural and fatal offence. A long, laborious life in exile, with the fear of sanguinary retribution perpetually impending, was deemed equivalent to death; and the lamentations of Cain, when he heard the verdict of his flight, prove the bitterness of his pangs. And this is the other side of a profound Biblical idea which we have above pointed out. As the early death of Abel was no curse, so was the long life of Cain no blessing. He was permitted to protract an existence, veiled by the gloom of the past, and uncheered by any hope of the future. No earthly boon, not even long life, the greatest of all, is, in itself, either a pledge of happiness, or a mark of the Divine favour.
()Whatever was the mark which Cain carried upon his person after that murderous deed, there is no doubt that the mark on his conscience was more deep, more tormenting, more irremovable. Men who sin in these days often carry a mark upon them by which others know them to be sinners; but could you read the inner man you would see stronger marks there, by which they themselves know and feel that they are sinners more sensibly than you see it.
()We may find, in this part of our narrative, the important practical and philosophical truth, that the traces of crime are indelibly visible in the person of the criminal; the "human form divine" is degraded and corrupted by vice; it loses that sublime dignity with which a pure and noble soul never fails to impress it; the shy look, the uncertain step, the sinister reserve, the lurking passion, these and many other symptoms of the highest interest for the physiognomist, mark the outcast of society, and make the man conspicuous upon whose conscience weighs the burden of an enormous misdeed.
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