|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
A possession; a spear.
(1.) The first-born son of Adam and Eve (Genesis 4). He became a tiller of the ground, as his brother Abel followed the pursuits of pastoral life. He was "a sullen, self-willed, haughty, vindictive man; wanting the religious element in his character, and defiant even in his attitude towards God." It came to pass "in process of time" (marg. "at the end of days"), i.e., probably on the Sabbath, that the two brothers presented their offerings to the Lord. Abel's offering was of the "firstlings of his flock and of the fat," while Cain's was "of the fruit of the ground." Abel's sacrifice was "more excellent" (Hebrews 11:4) than Cain's, and was accepted by God. On this account Cain was "very wroth," and cherished feelings of murderous hatred against his brother, and was at length guilty of the desperate outrage of putting him to death (1 John 3:12). For this crime he was expelled from Eden, and henceforth led the life of an exile, bearing upon him some Mark which God had set upon him in answer to his own cry for mercy, so that thereby he might be protected from the wrath of his fellow-men; or it may be that God only gave him some sign to assure him that he would not be slain (Genesis 4:15). Doomed to be a wanderer and a fugitive in the earth, he went forth into the "land of Nod", i.e., the land of "exile", which is said to have been in the "east of Eden," and there he built a city, the first we read of, and called it after his son's name, Enoch. His descendants are enumerated to the sixth generation. They gradually degenerated in their moral and spiritual condition till they became wholly corrupt before God. This corruption prevailed, and at length the Deluge was sent by God to prevent the final triumph of evil. (see ABEL.)
(2.) A town of the Kenites, a branch of the Midianites (Joshua 15:57), on the east edge of the mountain above Engedi; probably the "nest in a rock" mentioned by Balaam (Numbers 24:21). It is identified with the modern Yekin, 3 miles south-east of Hebron.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
kan (qayin, "spear" or "smith," resembling in sound the root qanah, "get," "acquire," Genesis 4:1 the Revised Version, margin, but not necessarily derived from that root; Septuagint Kain):
1. The Scripture Narrative:
(1) In Genesis 4:1-24 Cain is the first son of Adam and Eve. His birth is hailed as a manifestation of Yahweh's help. He becomes "a tiller of the ground," and brings to Yahweh an offering of the produce of the soil, his brother Abel, the shepherd, bringing at the same time the fat of the first-born of his own flock. From Cain and from his offering Yahweh withholds the sign of acceptance which he grants to Abel. That the ground of this difference of treatment is to be found (so Hebrews 11:4) in Cain's lack of right disposition toward Yahweh is shown by his behavior (see ABEL). Instead of humbling himself he gives signs of strong indignation at Yahweh's refusal to favor him. Under the just rebuke of Yahweh he hardens his heart and is further confirmed in impenitence. His jealousy of Abel, unrepented of, increases until it culminates in deliberate murder. Deliberate, for in Genesis 4:8 we must restore a clause to the Hebrew text, all the ancient versions bearing witness, and read "And Cain said unto Abel his brother, Let us go into the field," etc. In the vain attempt to conceal his crime Cain adds falsehood to his other sins. He is cursed "from," i.e. away from, that soil upon which he poured out his brother's blood, and must become a fugitive and a wanderer, far from the immediate presence of Yahweh. Although his remonstrance against the severity of his sentence displays no genuine contrition, still Yahweh in pity appoints a "sign" for his protection. Cain takes up his abode in the land of Nod ("wandering"), and there builds a city and becomes the ancestor of a line which includes Jabal, forefather of tent-dwelling cattle-keepers; Jubal, forefather of musicians; Tubal-cain, forefather of smiths; and Lamech, like Cain, a man of violence. In Cain's character we see "a terrible outburst of selfwill, pride, and jealousy, leading to a total and relentless renunciation of all human ties and affection." "Among the lessons or truths which the narrative teaches may be instanced: the nature of temptation, and the manner in which it should be resisted; the consequences to which an unsubdued temper may lead a man; the gradual steps by which in the end a deadly crime may be committed; the need of sincerity of purpose lest our offering should be rejected; God's care for the guilty sinner after he has been punished; the interdependence upon one another of members of the human race; and the duties and obligations which we all owe to each other" (Driver). In Hebrews 11:4 Cain's spiritual deficiency is pointed out; 1 John 3:12 observes his envy and jealousy, as "of the wicked one," and Jude 1:11 makes him a very type of the ungodly.
With few and bold strokes the story of Cain as it stands paints for us the character of the first of murderers and the scene of his detection and condemnation. To the religious purpose of the narrative all other things are made tributary. But if we can not refrain from putting the familiar question, Who was Cain's wife? it is also impossible upon close study of Genesis 4, as it stands, to avoid asking what was the nature of the sign of Yahweh's acceptance (Genesis 4:4), or of the "sign" appointed for Cain (Genesis 4:15); or what we are to think of the introduction in the midst of the narrative, without explanation, of such important institutions as sacrifice (Genesis 4:3, 4) and blood-revenge (Genesis 4:14); who were the persons of whom Cain stood in fear (Genesis 4:14); who inhabited the city he built (Genesis 4:17); how the wanderer and fugitive could become the city-builder; and why the shepherd life should be represented as beginning with Abel (Genesis 4:2) and again with Jabal (Genesis 4:20); also whether the narrator means that not only the collection of men in cities (Genesis 4:17), but also animal husbandry, music and metal-working (Genesis 4:20-22) are to be looked upon with disfavor as having sprung from Cain or from his descendants? Most of these questions find their answers in one consideration: the narrative is not exhaustively complete and is not intended to be so. That a large body of racial traditions existed, from which, with the severest condensation, the author of Genesis selected his material, is the conclusion forced by close examination the Genesis narrative and comparison of it with the most ancient extant traditions. "In Genesis 4 these old stories are not told for their own sakes. The incompleteness and the difficulties left unsolved do not allow this assumption to be made. They form simply the material foundation, to which higher ideas and doctrines are attached" (Dillmann).
3. Critical Theories:
Without going outside the Scripture text we may find strong evidence that the narrative under consideration is founded in part upon ancient sources. Let the line of Cain (Genesis 4:17-24) be compared with that of Seth (Genesis 5:1-29):
The Hebrew forms of the names show even more clearly that Cain = Kenan, Irad = Jared, Methushael = Methuselah; a single transposition, that of the first and third names after Cain, brings the two Enochs together, and likewise the similar names Mehujael and Mahalalel. Thus we have six names nearly or quite identical; seven ancestors in one list and ten in the other, ending in both cases with a branching into three important characters. Resemblances equally certain, though not by any means so obvious, exist between the names in this double list and the names of the ten kings of Babylonia who reigned before the Flood, as the latter are given by Berosus, the Babylonian historian of the 3rd century B.C. (see Skinner, Driver, Sayce as below). Thus one source of which the author in Genesis 4 made use appears to have been an ancient list in genealogical form, by which the first of mankind was linked with the beginnings of civilized institutions and articles Another part of his material was the story of a brother's murder of a brother (Genesis 4:1-16). Many maintain at this point that the narrative must be based upon the doings of tribes, rather than of individuals. It is true that not seldom in the Old Testament tribal history is related under individual names (compare Genesis 49;, Judges 1, and the tables of tribes in Genesis 25:1-4); yet the tribe referred to can hardly be the Kenites of the Old Testament, who appear as the close allies of Israel, not especially bloodthirsty or revengeful, and haunted by no shadow of early crime against a brother tribe (see KENITES). The indications in Genesis 4:1-16 of a developed state of society and a considerable population may go to show that the narrative of the murder was not originally associated with the sons of the first man. Thus there is room to suppose that in the process of condensation and arrangement Cain, son of Adam; Cain, the murderer; and Cain, city-builder and head of a line of patriarchs, have been made one. The critical conclusions here epitomized are indeed reached by a delicate and difficult process; but it is asserted in their favor that they make possible the removal of difficulties which could be explained in no other manner. The question which will arise with many, What theory of inspiration can be held consistently with the application of such critical processes? is dealt with at length by most modern commentators (see CRITICISM; INSPIRATION).
A. Dillmann, Genesis (English translation); S. R. Driver, Genesis ("Westminster Commentaries"); H. E. Ryle, Early Narratives of Genesis; J. Skinner, Genesis (ICC); A. H. Sayce, "Archaeology of the Book of Genesis," The Expositor T, August, 1910, June, 1911. (2) In Joshua 15:57, the Revised Version (British and American) KAIN, which see.
See also KENITES.
F. K. Farr
Cain (18 Occurrences)
Hebrews 11:4 By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had testimony given to him that he was righteous, God testifying with respect to his gifts; and through it he, being dead, still speaks. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 John 3:12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one, and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because his works were evil, and his brother's righteous. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in Korah's rebellion. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:1 The man knew Eve his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Cain, and said, "I have gotten a man with Yahweh's help." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:2 Again she gave birth, to Cain's brother Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:3 As time passed, it happened that Cain brought an offering to Yahweh from the fruit of the ground. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:5 but he didn't respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and the expression on his face fell. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:6 Yahweh said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why has the expression of your face fallen? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:8 Cain said to Abel, his brother, "Let's go into the field." It happened when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:9 Yahweh said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?" He said, "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:13 Cain said to Yahweh, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:15 Yahweh said to him, "Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." Yahweh appointed a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should strike him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:16 Cain went out from Yahweh's presence, and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:17 Cain knew his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch. He built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:22 Zillah also gave birth to Tubal Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron. Tubal Cain's sister was Naamah. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:24 If Cain will be avenged seven times, truly Lamech seventy-seven times." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 4:25 Adam knew his wife again. She gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, "for God has appointed me another child instead of Abel, for Cain killed him." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 15:57 Cain, Gibeah, and Timnah; ten cities with their villages: (KJV WBS YLT)