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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 4

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Ver. 1. I have gotten a man from the Lord.] Or, that famous man, the Lord; as if she had brought forth the man Christ Jesus. These were words of hope not of substance { verba spei, non rei}; for "Cain was of that wicked one," the devil, [1 John 3:12] as all reprobates are. [1 John 3:10] Cain the author of the city of the world, saith Augustine, (a) is born first, and called Cain, that is, a "possession," because he buildeth a city, is given to the cares and pomp of the world, and persecutes his brother that was chosen out of the world. But Abel, the author of the city of God, is born second, called "vanity," because he saw the world’s vanity, and is therefore driven out of the world by an untimely death. So early came martyrdom into the world; the first man that died, died for religion. In a witty sense, saith Hugh Broughton, (b) Cain and Abel contain in their names advertisements for matter of true continuance and corruption. Cain betokeneth possession in this world; and Abel betokeneth one humbled in mind, and holding such possession vain. Such was his offering - sheep kind, the gentlest of all living beasts; and therefore the favour of God followed him. And the offering of Cain was of the fruit of the earth; as he loved the possession of this world, and the service of the body, which yet can have no continuance, and followed after bodily lusts; therefore the blessed God favoured him not. Thus far he cited from the Rabbins. Another English divine (c) hath this note upon these words, I have gotten a man from the Lord, Jehovah. Adam and Eve were all about the composition of Cain. His soul was inspired pure and holy; yet as soon as the vital spirits laid hold of it, it was in the compound, a son of Adam. A skilful artificer makes a clock of all its essential parts most accurately; only he leaves the putting of all parts together to his unskilful apprentice, who so jumbles together the several joints, that all falls to jarring, and can keep no time at all, every wheel running backward-way. So God most artificially still perfects both body and soul; but our accursed parents put all out of frame, and set every part in a contrary course to God’s will. Sin is propagated, and proceeds from the union of body and soul into one man, That phrase, "warmed in sin," [Psalms 51:5] is meant of the preparation of the body as an instrument of evil, which is not so actually, till the soul come.


Verse 3

Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

Ver. 3. In process of time.] That distance of time between the creation and the general flood, Varro, the most learned of the Romans, calleth ‘ Aσηλον, obscure or unknown, because the heathen had no records of that which we now clearly understand to have been then done, out of the Holy Scriptures.

Cain brought of the fruit.] They brought their sacrifices to Adam, the high priest of the family, who offered them to God in their name. (a) So in the Levitical law, though a man’s offering were never so good, he might not offer it himself, upon pain of death; but the priest must offer it. And the priest was to offer as well the poor man’s turtle, as the rich man’s ox. To teach that none may present his service to God, how good soever he may conceit it, but in the hand of the high priest of the New Testament Jesus Christ, the Just One, who will not only present, but perfume the poorest performances of an upright heart, with his odours. [Revelation 8:3]


Verse 4

Genesis 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

Ver. 4. Of the firstlings of his flock.] He brought the best of the best; (a) not anything that came next to hand, as Cain seems to have done, holding anything good enough, as did those rich wretches that cast brass-money (b) into the treasury. "But cursed be that cheat who has a male in his flock, and offers to God a corrupt thing." "Offer it now to thy Prince," will he be content with thy refuse stuff? Behold, "I am a great King," saith God. [Malachi 1:8; Malachi 1:14] He stands upon his seniority, and looks to be honoured with the best of our substance. Mary that loved much, thought nothing too much for her sweet Saviour. She brought an alabaster box of ointment of great price, and poured it upon him, and he defends her in it against those that held it waste. [John 12:7] Among the Papists, their Lady of Loretto hath her churches so stuffed with vowed presents of the best, as they are fain to hang their cloisters and churchyards with them. (c) Shall not their superstition rise up and condemn our irreligion, our slubbering service, and doughbaked duties? The Turks build their private houses low and homely, but their mosques or temples stately and magnificent. (d)

Had respect to Abel and his offering.] "The eyes of the Lord are still upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers": [1 Peter 3:11] he "looks" [Isaiah 66:2] upon such with singular delight, with special intimation of his love; he is "ravished with one of their eyes," lifted up in prayer, "with one chain of their graces"; [Song of Solomon 4:9] whenas he was no whit affected with the offer of all the world’s glory. [Matthew 4:8-10] He saith of such to the wicked, as the prophet said of Jehoshaphat to the king of Israel, "Surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee," - Cain [2 Kings 3:14] here, for instance.


Verse 5

Genesis 4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Ver. 5. But to Cain and his offering, &c.] Because he brought not the person but the work of a person { non personam, sed opus personae,} as Luther (a) hath it; who also calls those Cainists that offer to God the work done, but do not offer themselves to God. Works materially good may never prove so, formally and eventually. That which is fair to men, is abomination to God. [Luke 16:15] He rejected the swan for sacrifice, [Leviticus 11:18] because under a white feather it hath black skin. Sordet in conspectu Iudicis quod fulget in conspectu operantis, saith Gregory. A thing may shine in the night from its rottenness.


Verse 6

Genesis 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

Ver. 6. Why is thy countenance fallen?] Why dost lour and look so like a dog under a door? Vultu saepe loeditur pietas: Difficile est animum non prodere vultu (a) He was discontented at God, and displeased at his brother. He looks but sour and sullen upon him, and God takes him up for it. He so loves his little ones, that he cannot abide the cold wind should blow upon them. The sun must not smite them by day, nor the moon by night [Psalms 121:6] The north and south must both blow good to them [Song of Solomon 4:16] "Better a millstone," &c., than "offend one of these little ones," [Matthew 18:6] be it but by a frown or a frump. Better anger all the witches in the world, than one of God’s zealous witnesses: "For there goeth a fire out of their mouths to devour their enemies." [Revelation 11:5]


Verse 7

Genesis 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Ver. 7. Sin lies at the door.] Like a great bandog, ready to pull out the throat of thy soul, if thou but look over the hatch. Say this dog lie asleep for a while, yet the door is for continual pass and repass, and so no fit place for any long sleep. Your sin will surely find you out, saith Moses, as a bloodhound, and haunt you like a hell hag, as the heathen could say, Nemo crimen gerit in pectore, qui non idem Nemesin {a} in tergo. A late divine (b) by sin here understandeth a sin offering, and telleth us, that as God had read the first lecture of faith to Adam, [Genesis 3:15] so here he reads the first lecture of repentance to Cain, under the doctrine of a sin offering; telling him, that if he did well, he should certainly be accepted; and though he did not well, yet a sin offering lies at the door; if he repented, there was hope of pardon. (c)


Verse 8

Genesis 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Ver. 8. And Cain talked with Abel.] What talk they had is not set down. The Septuagint and vulgar versions tell us, Cain said, Let us go out into the field. The Chaldee adds, that he should say, There was no judgment, nor judge, nor world to come, nor reward for justice, nor vengeance for wickedness, &c. Certain it is that those that are set to go on in sin do lay hold upon all the principles in their heads, and "imprison them in unrighteousness," [Romans 1:18] that they may sin more freely. They muzzle the mouths of their consciences, that they may satisfy their lusts without control. But had Zimri peace that slew his master? or Cain that slew his brother? hath any ever waxed fierce against God and prospered? [Job 9:4]

Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew.] So Cain was the devil’s patriarch, and Abel the Church’s protomartyr. It is not long since Alphonsus Diazius, a Spaniard, an advocate to the Court of Rome, came from Rome to Neoberg, in Germany, to kill his own brother, John Diazius, a faithful professor of the Reformed religion, and a familiar friend to Bucer, who gives him an excellent commendation. (a) But it is worth the observing, says one, (b) that the first quarrel about religion arose propemodum inter media sacrificia, in the midst of the sacrifices almost. These theological hatreds (as I may call them) are most bitter hatreds, and are carried on, for most part, with Cain-like rage and bloody opposition. No fire sooner breaks forth, none goes out more slowly, than that which is kindled about matters of religion; and the nearer any come to other, the more deadly are their differences, and the more desperate their designs one against another. The Persians and Turks are both Mohammedans, and yet disagreeing about some small points in the interpretation of their Alkoran, the Persians burn whatsoever books they find of the Turkish sect. And the Turks hold it more meritorious to kill one Persian, than seventy Christians. (c) The Jew can better brook a heathen than a Christian; they curse us in their daily devotions, concluding them with a Maledic Domine Nazaraeis. The Pope will dispense with Jews, but not with Protestants. Lutherans will sooner join hands with a Papist than a Calvinist. And what a spirit had he, that in a sermon at Norwich, not long since, inveighing against Puritans, said, If a cup of cold water had a reward, much more a cup of such men’s blood! (d) Mortuus est Cain sed utinam ille non viveret in suis filiis, qui clavum eius, sanguine Abelis rubentem, ut rem sacrum, circumferunt, adorant et venerantur. The place where Cain slew Abel is by some thought to be Damascus in Syria, called therefore Damesec, that is, a bag of blood, (e)


Verse 9

Genesis 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: [Am] I my brother’s keeper?

Ver. 9. I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?] As if he had bid God, Go look. Let us not think much to receive dogged answers and disdainful speeches from profane persons. When they have learned to think better, they will speak better. As till then, pity and pray for them. These churlish dogs will be barking.


Verse 10

Genesis 4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

Ver. 10. What hast thou done?] Here God appeals to the murderer’s conscience, which is instead of a thousand witnesses. As oft as we feel the secret smitings of our own hearts for sin, think we hear him that is greater than our hearts, saying to us as here, What havae you done? And that there is no good to be done by denying or dawbing, for he knows all things, [1 John 3:20] and requires that we should see our sins to confession, or we shall see them to our confusion.

The voice of thy brother’s blood.] The blood of one Abel had so many tongues as drops, and every drop a voice to cry for vengeance. "Give them blood to drink, for they are worthy." [Revelation 16:6] Charles IX. of France, author of that bloody massacre of Paris, died of exceeding bleeding. Richard III. of this kingdom, and Queen Mary, had the shortest reigns of any since the Conquest; according to that, "Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days," [Psalms 55:23] anno 1586. (a) Walsh, Bishop of Ossery, in Ireland, a man of honest life, with his two servants, were stabbed to death by one Dulland, an Irish old soldier, while he gravely admonished him of his foul adulteries; and the wicked murderer escaped away, who had now committed forty-five murders with his own hand. At length, revenge pursuing him, he was by another bloody fellow, Donald Spaniah, shortly after slain himself, and his head presented to the Lord Deputy of Ireland. (b)


Verse 11

Genesis 4:11 And now [art] thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;

Ver. 11. And now thou art cursed.] The Pope contrarily blesses and saints traitors to their country, and murderers of their natural sovereigns; as Ravilliac, and others his assassins, those sworn swordsmen of the devil. Aphonsus Diazius, who killed his own brother for the cause of religion, as above said, fled to Rome, and was there highly commended for his zeal, and largely rewarded, as Bucer reports (a) But, driven thereto by the terrors of his own guilty conscience, like another Judas, he afterwards hanged himself upon the neck of his own mule, for want of a better gallows.


Verse 12

Genesis 4:12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

Ver. 12. A fugitive and a vagabond, &c.] The patriarchs were pilgrims, and stayed not long in a place. The apostles also were hurried about, [Romans 15:19] and had "no certain dwellingplace." [2 Corinthians 4:11] But first, God numbered their wanderings. [Psalms 56:8] He kept just reckoning of therein his count-book. Secondly, Their hearts were fixed, trusting in the Lord. [Psalms 112:7] They could call their souls to rest, when they had no rest in their bones; and fly up to heaven with the wings of a dove, when hunted on earth as so many partridges. So could not Cain the prisoner. He was not more a fugitive in the earth, than in his own conscience; (a) fain he would have fled from the terrors of it, but could not; he was prisoner to it, and must abide by it. Hence the Greek translates this text, Sighing and trembling shall you be on the earth; and so the word here used is applied elsewhere to the trembling of the heart, [Isaiah 7:2] to the walking of the lips, [1 Samuel 1:13] to the shaking of the forest by a violent wind, [Isaiah 7:2] to the leaping of the lintel at the presence of the Lord [Isaiah 6:4-8] And this, in all probability, was that mark that God set upon him. [Genesis 4:15] Not a horn in his forehead, as the Jews feign, but a hornet in his conscience, such as God vexed the Hivites with, [Exodus 23:28] stinging them with unquestionable conviction and horror. For assuredly a body is not so tormented with stings, or torn with stripes, as a mind with remembrance of wicked actions. (b)


Verse 13

Genesis 4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment [is] greater than I can bear.

Ver. 13. My punishment is greater than I can bear.] Or, mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven. In either sense he sins exceedingly, and worse perhaps than in slaying his brother, whether he murmur against God’s justice, or despair of his mercy. Mine iniquity is greater, &c. Mentiris, Cain , saith a Father. Cain did not say so, because it was so; but it was so, because he said so. Despair is Satan’s masterpiece; it carries men headlong to hell, as the devils did the herd of swine into the deep; witness Guarlacus, Bomelius, Latomus of Lovain, Johannes de Canis, our English Hubertus, a covetous oppressor, who made this will, - I yield my goods to the king, my body to the grave, my soul to the devil. Pope Paul III., that spent his time in filthy pleasures, after that he had heard of the death of his son Petrus Aloisius, died in a peevish rage, and crying out in despair, Peccatum meum contra me semper, My sin is ever against me; and so gave up the ghost. (a)


Verse 14

Genesis 4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, [that] every one that findeth me shall slay me.

Ver. 14. From the face of the earth.] That is, of this earth, this country, my father’s family; which in the next words he calls God’s face, the place of his public worship, from the which Cain was here justly excommunicated. And surely St Jude’s woe will light heavily upon all such as, going in the way of Cain, and not willing to hear of their wicked ways, do wilfully absent themselves from the powerful preaching of the word. They that will not hear the word, shall hear the rod. [Micah 6:9] Yea, a sword shall pierce through their souls, as it did Cain’s here; in whom was fulfilled that of Eliphaz; - "A dreadful sound was in his ears, lest in his prosperity the destroyer should come upon him. He believed not that he should return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword." [Job 15:21-22]

Every one that finds me shall slay me.] Quam male est extra legem viventibus! quicquid meruerunt semper expectant. (a) Fat swine cry hideously, if but touched or meddled with, as knowing they owe their life to them that will take it. Tiberius felt the remorse of conscience so violent, that he protested to the senate, that he suffered death daily; whereupon Tacitus makes this good note, Tandem facinora et flagitia in supplicium vertuntur. As every body hath its shadow appertaining to it, so hath every sin its punishment. And although they escape the lash of the law, yet "vengeance will not suffer them to live," [Acts 28:4] as the barbarians rashly censured St Paul, - to live quietly at least. Richard III., after the murder of his two innocent nephews, had fearful dreams and visions; insomuch that he did often leap out of his bed in the dark, and catching his sword, which, always naked, stuck by his side, he would go distractedly about the chamber, everywhere seeking to find out the cause of his own occasioned disquiet. (b) Polidor Virgil thus writes of his dream that night before Bosworth Field, where he was slain, that he thought that all the devils in hell pulled and hailed him in most hideous and ugly shapes; and concludes of it at last, "I do not think it was so much his dream, as his evil conscience that bred those terrors." It is as proper for sin to raise fears in the soul, as for rotten flesh and wood to breed worms. That worm that never dies is bred here in the froth of filthy lusts and flagitious courses, and lies gnawing and grubbing upon men’s inwards, many times in the ruffe of all their jollity. This makes Saul call for a minstrel, Belshazzar for his carousing cups, Cain for his workmen to build him a city, others for other of the devil’s drugs, to put on the pangs of their wounded spirits and throbbing consciences. Charles IX., after the massacre of France, could never endure to be awakened in the night without music, or some like diversion; he became as terrible to himself, as formerly he had been to others. (c) But above all, I pity the loss of their souls, who serve themselves as the Jesuit in Lancashire, followed by one that found his glove, with a desire to restore it him. But pursued inwardly with a guilty conscience, he leaps over a hedge, plunges into a deep pit behind it, unseen and unthought of, wherein he was drowned. (d)


Verse 15

Genesis 4:15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Ver. 15. The Lord set a mark, &c.] Some say it was the letter Tau; others, some letter of Jehovah: probably it was the perpetual trembling of his hands, and whole body, the very sight whereof made people pity him, till at length he was slain, say some, by his nephew Lamech. Cedrenus (a) tells us, if we may believe him, that Cain took his death by the fall of a house in the year of the world 931, the next year after the death of his father Adam. But however he died, sure it is, he had but an ill life of it. He was marked, says Philo, (b) but to his misery; he might not be killed by any, that he might everyday is dying, having a hell in his conscience, and standing in fear of every man he met with. He that would not hearken to God, so sweetly inciting and enticing him to do well, ([Genesis 4:7] has now Pavor and Pallor for his gods, as Lanctantius (c) reports of Tullius Hostilius, who had profanely derided the devotions of his predecessor Numa, as here Cain had done his brother Abel’s.


Verse 16

Genesis 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

Ver. 16. And Cain went out from the presence, &c.] But whither could he go from God’s Spirit? or whither could he fly from his presence? (a) [Psalms 139:7] From the presence of his power he could not: for,

"Enter, praesenter, Deus hic et ubique potenter."

God is "not very far from any one of us," saith St Paul. [Acts 17:27] Not so far surely as the bark is from the tree, "for all things consist in him"; [Colossians 1:17] so that a wicked man cannot wag hand or foot without his privity. But it was the presence of his grace, and use of his ordinances that this wretch fled from; as did likewise Jonah, [Jonah 1:3] in that, as wise as he, so going out of the grace of God into the warm sun, as we say. God fetched Jonah home again by weeping-cross, and made him feelingly acknowledge, for it had like to cost him a choking, that "they that observe lying vanities," as he had done, "forsake their own mercies." [Jonah 2:8] But Cain seated himself in the land of Nod, and there fell to building and planting, in contempt, as it is thought, of the divine doom denounced against him; or rather to drown the noise of his conscience, as the old Italians were wont to do the noise of the heavens in time of thunder, by ringing their greatest bells, and letting off their greatest ordinance. (b)


Verse 17

Genesis 4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Ver. 17. And he builded a city.] So, many drown themselves either in secular businesses, or sensual pleasures, and all to put by their melancholy dumps, and heart-qualms, as they call them; indeed to muffle up the mouths of their horribly guilty consciences. So Nicephorus Phocas, when, Zimri-like, he had killed his master, he laboured, like Cain, to secure himself with building high walls. After which, he heard a voice telling him, that though he built his walls never so high, yet sin within the walls would undermine all. (a) Besides that, one small drop of an evil conscience troubles a whole sea of outward comforts and contentments: a confluence whereof would no more ease conscience, than a silken stocking would do a broken leg. Silly are they that think to glide away their groans with games, and their cares with cards, &c.

Called the city after the name of his son Enoch.] That he might be styled, Lord Enoch of Enoch! This is the ambition of worldly men; their names are not written in heaven; they will propagate them therefore upon earth, as Nimrod by his tower, Absalom by his pillar, Cain by his city Enoch (which St Augustine fitly maketh a figure of Rome, because both of them were built by a parricide). "Their inward thought is," saith the psalmist, "that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations"; and therefore, "they call their lands after their own names." [Psalms 49:11] They seek to immortalise themselves upon their possessions; but the third heir seldom ever owns them. (b) Hence, houses and lands change masters so oft ( Olim eram Menippi, nunc Spensippi, &c., said that house in the Apologue). God justly crosses these "inhabitants of the earth," [Revelation 12:12] as they are called, in opposition to the saints, whose "conversation is in heaven," [Philippians 3:20] whereof they are fellow citizens. These know that they have here no abiding city, they look for one therefore above, not Henochia, but Heaven, "whose builder and maker is God." [Hebrews 11:10]


Verse 18

Genesis 4:18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.

Ver. 18. And unto Enoch was born Irad, &c.] Cain had a numerous offspring. Seven generations of his are here reckoned. Seth is not yet born, that we hear of. The wicked "are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes." [Psalms 17:14] "They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance." They dance to "the timbrel and harp," (as here Jabal and Jubal did,) but they suddenly turn into hell, and so their merry dance ends in a miserable downfall. [Job 21:11-13]


Verse 19

Genesis 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one [was] Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Ver. 19. Lamech took unto himself.] As his own lust led him, not caring for consent of parents. And two wives, (a) as little caring for the command of God, that "two," and no more, "should be one flesh," [Genesis 2:24] yea, though he "had the residue of the spirit," and so could have made many wives for Adam, yet "made he but one," saith the prophet (b) [Malachi 2:15] And wherefore one? but that he might seek a godly seed. Solomon’s polygamy was punished with barrenness. We read not of any son he had but one, and he none of the wisest neither, Rehoboam. This great king had but one son by many housefuls of wives, when many a poor man hath a house full of children by one wife. Erasmus tells a story of a poor English cripple, lame on both legs, that married a blind woman, and gave this reason, We shall the better agree, when neither can hit other in the teeth with our several defects and deformities. Nec fefellit hominem iudicium , saith he; it proved a happy match. They lived lovingly and cheerfully together, and God Almighty blessed them with a dozen lusty boys, that had not the least deformity about them. (c) Sardus tells us, that the old Britons would ten or twelve of them take one woman to wife. (d) Likely women were scarce among them. But yet that was better than the old Scots, of whom St Hierome reports, that they took no wives; but satisfied their lusts up and down as they wished, and wheresoever they liked, after the manner of brute creatures. (e) I have somewhere read, that not many hundreds of years since, they had a custom kept up among them, that the landlord might demand the first night of his tenant’s wife, as a chief rent. And Mr Fox relates, (f) that the friars in Germany were grown to that height of impudence, as to require the tenth night of every man’s wife, as a tithe due to them. Which to prevent, the Helvetians, when they received any new priest into their churches, they bargained with him before, to take his concubine, lest he should attempt any misuse of their wives and daughters. How much better were it, for the "avoiding of fornication, if every man of them had his own wife," saith Paul. [1 Corinthians 7:2] Not so, not so, saith Cardinal Campeius; (g) for if comparison should be made, much greater offence it is, a priest to have a wife, than to have and keep at home many harlots; for they that keep harlots, saith he, as it is naught that they do, so do they acknowledge their sin; the other persuade themselves they do well, and so continue without repentance, or conscience of their fact. A fit reason for a carnal cardinal. Such another was his brother, Cardinalis Cremonensis, who after his stout replying in the Council of London, against the married estate of priests, exclaiming what a shameful thing it was to rise from the sides of a whore, to make Christ’s body, the night following was shamefully taken with a notable whore. (h) This was bad enough, but that was worse in Johannes from Casa, Dean of the Pope’s chamber, who so far forgot humanity and honesty, that he set forth a book in Italian metre, in commendation of Sodomitry, saying that he never used any other. (i) This might better have become a Turk, than a bishop. Sodomy in the Levant is not held a vice, so debauched they are grown. (j) The Turkish bashaws, besides their wives, whereof they have ten at least, each bashaw has as many, or likely more calamites, which are their serious loves. For their wives are used but to dress their meat, to laundress, and for reputation. (k) Only when the great Turk gives his daughter or sister to any bashaw to wife, it is somewhat otherwise. For he gives her at the same time a dagger, saying, I give you to this man to be your slave and bedfellow. If he is not loving, obedient, and dutiful to thee, I give you here this cunzhare or dagger to cut off his head. (l) Yet can she not forbid him to marry more wives "to vex her," [Leviticus 18:18] and fret her, as Peninnah did Hannah, [1 Samuel 1:6] yea, to make her to thunder, as the word here signifies: for Turks may take as many wives as they are able to maintain. Hence it is that in jealousy they exceed Italians, making their women go muffled all but their eyes; and not suffering them to go to church, or so much as look out of their own windows. (m)


Verse 20

Genesis 4:20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and [of such as have] cattle.

Ver. 20. Adah bare Jabal.] Jabal, a good husband. Jubal, a merry Greek; whence the word iubilo in Latin, and our English jovial. Jabal, that dwelt in tents, and tended the herds, had Jubal to his brother, the father of hand and wind music. Jabal and Jubal, frugality and mirth, good husbandry and sweet content, dwell together. Virgil makes mention of a happy husbandman in his time, who

"Regum aequabat opes animis, seraque reversus

Nocte domum, dapibus mensas onerabat inemptis."

- Georg.


Verse 21

Genesis 4:21 And his brother’s name [was] Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

Ver. 21. As handle the harp and organ.] He invented Musicam, mentis medicinam maestae . The word here rendered organ is in the Chaldee Paraphrast, a pipe. It imports loveliness and delight: for men do naturally love and delight in music. Ezekiel’s hearers seemed to be much taken with his pulpit music, [Ezekiel 33:32] but proved at length like the Jassians in Strabo, who, delighted with the music of an excellent harper, ran all away as soon as the market bell rang, save only one deaf old man. These antediluvians likely were set all upon the merry mode, and not unlike the inhabitants of Tombutum in Africa, who are said to spend their whole time in piping and dancing.


Verse 22

Genesis 4:22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain [was] Naamah.

Ver. 22. And Zillah bare Tubal-cain.] Perhaps the same that the poets call Vulcan. He was a cunning artificer in brass and iron. Tools they had before, and instruments of iron: how else could they have ploughed the accursed earth? But this man, artem iam inventam excoluit ornavitque , saith Junius; and is therefore called, a whetter or polisher of every artificer in brass and iron. They had the art of it before: but he added to their skill by his invention; he sharply and wittily taught smith’s craft; and is therefore by the heathens feigned to be the god of smiths, says another interpreter. (a)


Verse 23

Genesis 4:23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Ver. 23. And Lamech said unto his wives.] Who, it seems, were troublesome to him with their domestic discords, and led him a discontented life. He therefore gives them to understand in this set speech, what a man he is, if molested by them or any other, and what slaughters he can make, if provoked by an adversary. I would slay a man, if but wounded, &c. This revenge he counts manhood, which indeed is doghood rather. So Alexander Phereus consecrated his javelin, wherewith he slew his uncle Polyphron, as a monument of his manhood, and called it his god Tychon. (a) So Sulla caused it to be registered in the public records, (b) that he had proscribed, and put to death, four thousand and seven hundred Romans. So Stokesly, Bishop of London, comforted himself upon his deathbed with this, that in his time he had burned fifty heretics, as he called them. (c) Is not this to "glory in their shame, and to have damnation for their end?" [Philippians 3:19] Is it not the devil which sets men working to do thus, as he did Saul to seek David’s life, and Lamech to domineer in this sort over his wives, seeking so to repress their strife? A certain Indian coming into a house of the New English where a man and his wife were brawling, and they bidding him sit down, he was welcome: he answered, he would not stay there; "Hobomack," that is, the devil, was there; and so departed. (d)


Verse 24

Genesis 4:24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Ver. 24. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, &c.] Boastful Lamech brags, and goes on to outdare God himself. For it is as if he should say, If God will take vengeance on them that condemn him, why may not I on those that condemn me, wives or other? Nay, though God will forgive evils against him, yet will not I evils against me. I’ll have the odds of him, seventy to seven; so Junius interprets it. A desperate expression, and somewhat like that of Pope Julius III., above mentioned, in the last note upon the former chapter; whereunto may here be added, (a) that the same Pope being forbidden by his physician to eat swine’s flesh, as being harmful and bad for his gout, he called for his steward in a great rage, and said, Bring me my pork flesh, al despito di Dio , in despite of God. O wretch!


Verse 25

Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, [said she], hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

Ver. 25. She bare a son, and called, &c.] Sic uno avulso, non deficit alter Aureus .{ a} Dead bones may revive, and out of the ashes of a phoenix another phoenix spring. Iana iacet phoenix nato phoenice ,& c. The two witnesses that were killed, received the Spirit of life from God again. [Revelation 11:11] John Baptist reviveth in our Saviour ( qui huic succenturiatus est), and Stephen in Paul; John Huss in Luther (the goose in the swan); and the suppressed Waldenses in the Protestants. The Papists gave out that when Luther died, all his sect would die with him: and when Queen Elizabeth’s head was laid, we should have strange work in England. A false Jesuit in a scandalous libel published it, (b) that she wished that she might, after her death, hang a while in the air, to see what striving would be for her kingdom. But she both lived and died with glory; her rightful successor came in peaceably, not a dog moving his tongue at him; the true reformed religion was established, and is hitherto maintained among us, evil the malice of Rome and hell. It was the legacy left us by our ancestors: the blood of those blessed martyrs was the seed of our Church, of which I may say, as he of his city,

Victa tamen vinces, eversaque Troia resurges:

Obruit hostiles illa ruina domos. ”

When the devil and his imps had got Abel into his grave, and saw Adam without another in his place for a hundred and thirty years’ space, or near upon, what a deal of joy was there, think we, among them, and sending of gifts! But God in due time sets up a Seth, instead of Abel, and so cuts the devil’s comb, confutes his confidence. He will have a Church, when all’s done. The Pope {c} could tell the Turk so much in a message,

Niteris incassum Christi submergere navem:

Fluctuat, at nunquam mergitur illa ratis. ”

{a} Virgil. The Duke of Florence gave for his ensign a great tree with many spreading boughs, one of them being cut off, with this posie, Uno avulso ,& c.


Verse 26

Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Ver. 26. Then began men to call upon, &c.] Publicly, and in solemn assemblies to serve the Lord; and to make a bold and wise profession of his name: "shining as lamps" (a) amidst that "perverse" generation of irreligious Cainites, "who said unto God, Depart from us," &c. [Job 22:17] This Job speaks there of these wicked, "which were cut down out of time, their foundation was overflown with the flood." [Job 22:16] The Jews translate it to this day, Then began men to fall from God; as Maimonides, their most learned rabbi, observes.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 4:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-4.html. 1865-1868.

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