The Mark of Cain


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Cain’s “Mark”

God confronted Cain with his sin. He could have done this in front of the family of Adam. (see Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown commentary.) But Cain was still not repentant. He tried to cover up (verse 9). The eternal did not waste time with Cain. He immediately told him his sentence (verses 10-12). God could have executed Cain, but he wanted the world to learn what Cain’s way would lead to. He wanted to let man, cut off from God, express his way so mankind could learn the ultimate result of wrong methods of living. After the eternal told Cain that he would be a fugitive and a vagabond as a result of his sin, Cain still did not change his negative attitude. His reply (verses 13-14) shows his consistently self-centred outlook. He blamed God for his problems, not himself. In a sense, he said, “what you’re doing to me isn’t fair. I don’t have a chance. I’m not getting a square deal.”

God did not execute Cain for his crime. But he separated him — excommunicated him — from the rest of the human family. This is the meaning of Cain’s “mark” (Gen. 4:15). It was not a brand on his forehead, a long horn growing out of his head, affliction with paralysis, his dog, or any other of the ridiculous guesses that men have put forth. It was a warning marker or boundary line set up to separate Cain from the rest of Adam’s family. A better rendering of the verse would make it more understandable: “and the eternal set up a marker (or, monument) for (or, against) Cain. Lest any finding him should kill him.” This was actually a religious segregation because Cain’s wrong attitude had made it necessary. God was saying, “I don’t want Adam’s family influenced by your selfish and sinful approach to life.” Yes, Cain was unfit to live in the same land with the rest of the people. God told Adam’s children, “you stay here in the this area. The rest of the world is for Cain to wander in” (see Deut. 32:8). Later, this separation included racial segregation; Cain became the ancestor of all the non-white people. Before the flood. Different races did exist before the flood as one can see, and these races passed through the deluge. The line and posterity of Cain did not cease with the flood. It has actually continued down to our day.

The Curse On Cain

Cain was now cut off from God. “Cain went out from the presence of the eternal.” (Gen. 4:16) he was now on his own; he was forced to wander; he could no longer call on God. He would have to solve his problems on his own. It was not a pleasant fate. This ostracizing of Cain is analogous to putting an individual out of God’s church. But Cain did not repent. He wanted his own way at all costs and started his own society and practices. When did the excommunication of Cain take place? The indication of Gen. 5:3 is that approximately a century and a quarter had elapsed since Adam’s creation. A logical deduction based on this verse is that Seth was born soon after Cain’s crime because he was to replace the murdered Abel (Gen. 4:25). Since Seth was born when Adam was 130, the death of Abel is likely to have occurred shortly before that birth.

By putting the Bible together with Josephus’ account. It is possible to determine Cain’s activities after he was separated from Adam’s family and cut off from God. He and his wife who was, of necessity, his sister, (Gen. 5:4) went to live in an area called “the land of wandering”. Which was east of Eden (verses 4:16). Then Josephus tells us that Cain and his wife “travelled over many countries.” (Antiquities I, II, 2.) Here is an indication that, after the expulsion: Cain actually spent a century or more wandering over the earth. Why did Cain become a wanderer or nomad? Why did he not settle down permanently in a specific area? Amazingly, the Bible and geology provide the answer. As a result of the sin of Cain the entire history of human society and the earth’s surface were remarkably changed. Notice what God had told Cain before his expulsion: “and now art thou cursed from the earth … When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive (or wanderer) and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth” (Gen. 4:11-12). Cain, Josephus records, was the first person who “contrived to plough the ground”.In addition, he greedily tried to get more crops faster by “forcing the ground.” Cain, in other words, sought to gain his livelihood by farming methods which depleted the soil. The curse on Cain was not some strange poisoning of the soil. Logically, it could mean only one thing — a change in the earth’s climate! The geological record tells us what God did to save the soil from utter depletion.

Mountain chains arose where there were none before. Seas dried up. The balmy semitropical climate of the world rapidly shifted into torrid and frigid zones. Wherever Cain wandered, his agricultural pursuits came to naught. Cain was forced to turn to food gathering — to hunting and gleaning the wild fruits and berries. He and the generations who followed him eked out a wretched living. Both geology and archaeology testify to these conditions.



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