Life After the Garden
After being removed from the Garden, life continued for Adam and Eve. Eve became pregnant and bore a son they named Cain. During Biblical times, it was common to give children names that had significant meaning. Often those names related to events surrounding the birth or the feelings and desires of the parents about the child. Cain's name means "acquired." Obviously, Adam and Eve acknowledge they acquired a son from God.
Sometime later, they had a second son whom they named Abel. Abel's name means "breath."
There were other children over time (see Genesis 5:4), but the recorded account concentrates on the three oldest sons. The children of Adam and Eve would have married each other. It was not considered incest during those days. (Who else would they marry?). The reason close relatives are not to marry today is because of the high probability birth defects. However, this close to the beginning of the world, there would be no problem with birth defects. The corruption of the genes came over time as this world decayed.
Cain grew up and became a farmer. Abel became a shepherd. Somewhere along the line, God must have required sacrifices. A sacrifice served several purposes. It reminded the person offering the sacrifice about the consequences of sin. Sin brought death into the world and the death of an animal served as a frequent reminder. Sacrifices also caused a person to give a valued possession up to God. Later, under the Law of Moses, God required the Israelites to give the best lamb of their herds. They could not give a damaged or blemished lamb that did not have much value to the owner. We do not know the conditions God placed on the sacrifice, but we can see a difference in the offerings of Cain and Abel.
Abel offered the best cuts of meat from the firstborn of his flocks to God. Such an offering showed that Abel wanted to please God. Cain chose to bring some produce from his farm. The wording in Hebrew is casual. Cain brought some of his grain when he got around to doing it. Unlike Abel, he didn't even select the first grains of his crop or the best selection from his harvest. Cain's sacrifice was not acceptable to God. Consider as well that while the vegetables were the product of Cain's labor, they could not serve as a reminder of the consequences of sin. Plants do not have life within them. Therefore, a plant does not die in the same sense as an animal or man dies. In Hebrews 11:4, the writer said that Abel's sacrifice was better because it was offered in faith. Faith is not just a belief in God, but it is a conviction that moves a person to do what God said (James 2:14-26). Abel believed God and was obedient to him. Cain chose to sacrifice in his own way.
Cain became angry when God rejected his sacrifices. He did not answer God's questions of his attitude. When the Lord asked Cain why he was angry, notice that Cain chose not to answer God's questions. As often happens, he did not direct his anger at God, but at his brother who was showing him up. God warned Cain that all he had to do was be obedient and God would accept his sacrifice, but if he continued the direction he was heading he would sin.
Cain did not heed God's warning. When they were alone in a field, Cain killed his brother and then tried to hide the fact. God asked Cain where his brother was. God did not ask because he did not know. God asked so Cain would have an opportunity to confess his sin. Instead of admitting his error, Cain pretended that he did not know what had happened to Abel. As result, God severely punished Cain. The ground would no longer be productive for Cain. Cain had spilt blood upon the ground and now the ground would reject his labors. Nor could Cain settle in any one spot. The rest of mankind would not accept Cain, so he would be forced to wander for the remainder of his life.
Cain thought the punishment was too harsh, showing he was unrepentant of his deed. He was especially afraid that someone would take revenge on him for Abel's death. He did not fear to kill Abel, but now he was afraid someone would kill him. Therefore, God declared that Cain would be protected from any act of vengeance. God gave some kind of mark to Cain so no one would accidently kill Cain and not know who he killed. Most scholars believe the mark was placed physically on Cain, but the verses do not say what the mark was or where it was placed. Cain spent the rest of his life wandering the land of Nod. Nod means "wandering" in the Hebrew language.
Some wonder why Cain was not punished with death for killing his brother. Later, in Genesis 9:6, a law was given that murderers would be punished by death. Many people have offered their guesses: Cain's miserable life would serve as a living example to the rest of mankind or perhaps God was giving Cain a chance to repent. Since we were not told the mind of God, we can only guess.
Verses 16-24 details Cain's descendants. Cain was the first man to build a city (literally a fenced in dwelling), though the wording of the passage leads us to believe he never completed the project. He named the place after his first son. The name Enoch means "beginning." Notice that the building of a permanent dwelling was in rebellion to God's curse upon him. Enoch named his son Irad, which means "townsman." Irad named his son Mehujael, which means "God gives life." Mehujael son was named Methushael, which means "man of God." Cain's great-great-great-grandson, Lamech, was the first man to have multiple wives -- in other words, Lamech was the first polygamist. Lamech did have two famous sons. His son, Jubal, became the first musician. We still give tribute to Jubal in our word "jubilee." Another son, Tubal-Cain became the first blacksmith.
Lamech, himself, was not a good man. Not only was he a polygamist, he was also a murderer. We have a record of his brag to his wives that he killed a young man in a fight. Lamech thought he was so important, he figured that if Cain's life was worth a sevenfold vengeance, then he should be worth a seventy-seven-fold punishment if someone tried to kill him.
Meanwhile, Adam and Eve had another son whom they named Seth. The name Seth means "appointed" or "substitute." They saw the birth of Seth as a man appointed by God to replace his brother Abel. It is the descendants of Seth that the Bible follows, because Seth and most of his descendants remained faithful to God. One of Seth's descendants was Enosh, who was the world's first preacher.
This ends Adam's account, which concludes with his signature line at the beginning of chapter 5, verse 1.