Genesis 4 v 17-26: It gets worse


Cain sets off with a mark of God on him as he goes make a new life for himself.  He was to be a homeless wanderer (v 14) afraid of everyone he met in case they wanted to kill him to avenge his brother’s blood.  God however had placed a mark on him which would warn anyone who met him not to kill him and that seven lives would be taken as revenge if anyone did.

Some translations call the land that Cain moved to “Nod” which meant “wandering” whic was to the east of Eden, possibly the area which became known as Babylon.

He tries to build his own life, a family and city.  His first son was called Enoch although this is not the Enoch mentioned later in Genesis who walked with God.

The next few generations are listed, Irad, Mehujael, Methushael and Lamech.  Lamech being the 7th generation with Adam the first.

By the time we reach Lamech, it seems that their regard for God had deteriorated further with Lamech taking himself 2 wives, Adah & Zillah which was against God’s prescribed order of one man and one woman (Genesis 2 v 24)

Adah had 2 sons, Jabel who was the ancestor of those who raised livestock, and Jubal who was the ancestor of musicians (v 20-12) while Zillah had Tubal Cain who was a tool maker and a daughter Naamah.  While Tubal Cain was making tools mainly for agricultural and construction use (they built a city) he was possibly making weapons too.

The conceitedness of Cain had obviously flowed down to his descendants as:

Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me: I have killed a young man because he struck me.  If seven lives are taken to pay for killing Cain, 77 will be taken for killing me” (v 23-24)

Some translations indicate that this may have been “I will kill” meaning that Lamech was declaring his intentions or certainly without any sense of remorse for what he had done (or intended doing).  Cain had fully intended to kill Abel and it seems that there was never any remorse or regret shown in his later years as this attitude had followed down to Lamech who was claiming the right for vengeance on himself, escalating the problems saying that 77 lives should be taken as vengeance for his.

We see a contrast to this in Matthew 18;

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”.  “No, not seven times” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18 v 21 – 22)

Some translations say seventy seven, some seventy sevens or seventy times seven.  Jesus was not giving permission to count and then take action, but was telling Peter to keep on forgiving as he keeps on forgiving us.  He does not count up saying “Well that’s 77 times or 490 times you’ve done something wrong so now I’m not going to forgive you any more” I’m sure it would not take long for some of us to reach that number, but he keeps loving us and gently guiding us to repent and learn to be more like him.

Lamech had become conceited – claiming the right to take vengeance himself instead of trusting God.  God says in Deuteronomy 32 v 35 that He himself will take vengeance and repay for evil.

Tell everyone who is discouraged, “Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your enemies (Isaiah 35 v 4)

In the next study we will move on to see the difference in the family line which does try to follow God


All quotes from The Good News Bible


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