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Cain

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(Hebrews Ka'yin, קִיִן, a lance [but see below]), the name of a man and of a city. (See KENITE); (See TUBAL-CAIN).

1. (Sept. and N.T. Κά Þ ν . The root seems to be קוּן, to beat, perhaps with allusion to the murder; the context, however, Genesis 9:1, makes this = קָנָה, to create, obtain; others, as Eusebius and Chrysostom, derive it from some root signifying envy; Von Bohlen, Introd. to Genesis 2:85, seeks it in the Arabic kayn, a smith, from the arts introduced by the Cainites; Josephus Grsecizes it, Κά Þ ς, - Þ ος, Ant. 1:2, 2.) The first-born (B.C. apparently cir. 4170) of the human race, and likewise the first murderer and fratricide,B.C. cir. 4043. His history is detailed in Genesis chap. iv; the facts there given are in brief these: He was the eldest son of Adam and Eve; he followed the business of agriculture; in a fit of jealousy, roused by the rejection of his own sacrifice and the acceptance of Abel's, he committed the crime of murder, for which he was expelled from the vicinity of Edemi, and led the life of an exile; he settled in the land of Nod, and built a city, which he named after his son Enoch; his descendants are enumerated, together with the inventions for which they were remarkable. Occasional references to Cain are made in the N.T. (Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Judges 1:11).

Among all the instances of crime, none impress the mind with a stronger feeling of horror than that of Cain. It is not, however, clear that he had fully premeditated taking the life of his brother, if, indeed, he was aware by what a slight accident death would ensue; for this was the first instance of human mortality. But it is certain that he had resolved upon somedesperate outrage upon his brother's person, and he deliberately took occasion to perpetrate it. Abel, as most think, brought two offerings, the one an oblation, the other a sacrifice. Cain brought but the former mere acknowledgment, it is supposed, of the sovereignty of God-neglecting to offer the sacrifice, which would have been a confession of fallen nature, and, typically, an atonement for sin. It was not, therefore, the mere difference of feeling with which the two offerings were brought which constituted the virtue of the one or the guilt of the other brother. "The malignity of his temper showed itself in his unwillingness to ask his brother for a victim from among his herd. He offered before God an unlawful sacrifice," because a bloodless one, Hebrews 9:22 (Jarvis, Church of the Redeemed, p. 14).

The circumstances connected with this offense are related in a brief but graphic manner in the Hebrews text, the force of which is not well brought out in the Auth. Vers. (Genesis 4:2-16). Abel, being a herdsman, naturally brought at the: end of the week (for the Sabbath was already a well-known institution) an offering of the first-born and fattest of his flocks, while Cain, as a husbandman (hence the greater severity of the curse which blasted his professional hopes), presented an oblation of vegetable productions. The undevout temper and wicked nature of Cain are sufficiently evinced by his resentment against the Aimighty, as if partial to his brother (see below). The Divine Being condescends to expostulate with him on his unreasonable behavior, and to warn him of the danger of cherishing the jealousy which he seems to have already entertained against Abel: "If thou reformest, there is forgiveness [with me for thy past. offenses]; but if not, [then beware, for] sin crouches at thy door [like a wild beast ready to seize thee on the first opportunity], and against thee is its design; but do thou subdue it [i.e. thy evil disposition]." Instead of heeding this advice, however, the ill-natured man, taking the first occasion to narrate the circumstance to his brother (probably in an upbraiding manner), fell into the very snare of Satan against which he had been warned; his feelings became' again excited, as they two were alone conversing in the open field, and, there being no one near to witness or avert the consequences, he suddenly turned against his brother, and by an angry blow (probably with some agricultural implement, in the formation of which he had doubtless already begun to exercise the mechanical ingenuity for which his descendants became famous) he laid him dead upon the ground. Instead of the penitence which the sight of his brother's blood ought to have inspired in his horror-stricken soul, the craven murderer insolently demands of the all-seeing God, when questioned as to his crime, "I know nothing about the matter; am I my brother's keeper?" But when conviction is fastened upon him, and the penalty-announced, with the despairin, but still impenitent remorse of Judas, the guilty wretch exclaims, "My iniquity is too great for forgiveness! (גָּדוֹל עֲוֹני מִנְּשׂוֹא ; Sept. μείζων αἰτία μοῦ τοῦ ἀφεθῆναί με· ) for thou hast utterly driven meout this day from the face of the ground [of this pleasant region]," and I shall be in danger of starvation, and even of perishing by the hand of every stranger whom I may meet. (See Kitto's Daily Bible I'lust. in loc.; Fechtii Hist. Abelis et Caini, Rost. 1704.)

The punishment which attended the crime admitted of no escape, scarcely of any conceivable alleviation. "He lost the privileges of primogeniture, was deprived of the priesthood, banished from the presence' of the divine glory between the cherubim, shut out from the hopes of mercy, and, with his descendants, delivered over unprotected to the assaults of the great adversary" (Jarvis, Church of the Redeemed, p. 14). Cursed from the earth himself, the earth was doomed to a double barrenness wherever the offender should set his foot. Physical want and hardship, therefore, were among the first of the miseries heaped upon his head. [Next came those of mind and conscience: "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." Nor did any retreat remain to him from the terrors of his own soul or those of Divine vengeance: "From thy face shall I be hid," washis agonizing and hopeless cry. The statement that "Cain went out from the presence of the Lord" represents him as abiding, till thus exiled, in some favored spot where the Almighty still, by visible signs, manifested himselfto his fallen creatures.

The expression of dread lest, as he wandered over the face of the earth, he might be recognized and slain, has an awful sound when falling from the mouth of a murderer. But he was to be protected against the wrath of his fellow-men; and of this God gave him assurance, not, says Shuckford, by setting a mark upon him, which is a false translation, but by appointing a sign or token which he himself might understand as a proof that he should not perish by the hand of another, as Abel had perished by his. This sign was probably no other than the Divine denunciation uttered at the time against any one who should venture to do him injury, and which, being well known, would prove a sufficient caveat. As such it is referred to by his descendant Lamech (Genesis 4:24). The passage may therefore be rendered, "Thus Jehovah appointed a token for Cain, so that no one who met him should slay him." What was the Divine purpose in affording him this protection it is difficult to determine. That it was not with the intention of prolonging his misery may be conjectured from the fact that it was granted in answer to his own piteous cry for mercy. Some writers have spoken of the possibility of his becoming a true penitent, and of his having at length obtained the Divine forgiveness (Ortlob, Cainus non desperans, Lips. 1706).

It may be worthy of observation that especial mention is made of the fact that Cain, having traveled into the land of Nod, there built a city; and further, that his descendants were chiefly celebrated for their skill in the arts of social life. In both accounts may probably be discovered the powerful struggles with which Cain strove to overcome the difficulties that attended his position as one to whom the tillage' of the ground was virtually prohibited. The following points also are deserving of notice.

(1.) The position of the "land of Nod." The name itself tells us little; it means flight or exile, in reference to Genesis 4:12, where a cognate word is used: Von Bohlen's attempt to identify it with India, as though the Hebrew name Hind (הנד ) had been erroneously read hazl-Nod, is too far fetched; the only indication of its position is the indefinite notice that it was "east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16), which, of course, throws us back to the previous settlement of the position of Eden itself. Knobel (Comm. in loc.), who adopts an ethnological interpretation of the history of Cain's descendants, would identify Nod with the whole of Eastern Asia, and even hints at a possible connection between the names Cain and China. It seems vain to attempt the identification of Nod with any special locality; the direction "east of Eden" may have reference to the previous notice in Genesis 3:24, and may indicate that the land was opposite to (Sept. κατέναντι ) the entrance, which was barred against his return. It is not improbable that the east was further used to mark the direction which the Cainites took, as distinct from the Sethites, who would, according to Hebrew notions, be settled toward the west. Similar observations must be made in regard to the city Enoch, which has been identified with the names of the Heniochi, a tribe in Caucasus (so Hasse), Anuchta, a town inSusiana (Huetius), Chanoge, an ancient town in India (Von Bohlen), and Iconium, as the place where the deified King Annacos was honored (EWald): all such attempts at identification must be subordinated to the previous settlement of the position of Eden and Nod. (See NOD).

(2.) The "mark set upon Cain" has given rise to various speculations, many of which would never have been broached if the Hebrew text had been consulted the words probably mean that Jehovah gave a siqn to Cain, very much as signs were afterward given to Noah (Genesis 9:13), Moses (Exodus 3:2; Exodus 3:12), Elijah (1 Kings 19:11), and Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:7-8). Whether the sign was perceptible to Cain alone, and given to him once for all, in token that no man should kill him, or whether it was one that was perceptible to others, and designed as a precaution to them, as is implied in the A. V. is uncertain; the nature of the sign itself is still more uncertain (but see above). (See Kraft, De Signo Caini, in his Obss. Sacr.1:3.) (See MARK).

(3.) The narrative implies the existence of a considerable population in Cain's time; for he fears lest he should be murdered in return for the murder he had committed (Genesis 4:14). Josephus (Ant. 1:2,1) explains his fears as arising, not from men, but from wild beasts; but such an explanation is wholly unnecessary. The family of Adam may have largely increased before the birth of Seth, as is indeed implied in the notice of Cain's wife (Genesis 4:17), and the mere circumstance on the ground that their lives furnished nothing worthy of notice. These neighbors must, of course, have been the relatives of Cain, who had now branched out into a considerable community, and as his banishment would necessarily estrange him from them, he entertained the natural apprehension lest in the course of his remaining life time they might even become his enemies, especially as they would regard him as a murderer. (See BLOOD-REVENGE). His wife must evidently have been one of his sisters (comp. "sons and daughters," Genesis 5:4). Tradition calls her Save (Epiphan. Hoer. 29:6) or Azura (Malalas, p.2); the Arabs call Cain himself Kabel by alliteration with the name of his brother (D'Herbelot, Bibl. Or. s.v. Cabil). (See ADAM).

(4.) The character of Cain deserves a fuller notice. He is described as a man of a morose, malicious, and revengeful temper; and that he presented his offering in this state of mind is implied in the rebuke contained in Genesis 4:7, which may be rendered thus: "If thou doest well (or, as the Sept. has it, ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς ), is there not an elevation (שְׂאֵת ) [of the countenance] (i.e. perhaps cheerfulness and happiness)? but if thou doest not well [there is a sinking of the countenance], sin lurketh (as awild beast) at the door, and to thee is its desire; but thou shalt rule over it." (So Gesenius and others; but see above.) The narrative implies therefore that his offering was rejected on account of the temper in which it was brought (Sticht, De colloquio Dei cum Caino, Alt. 1766). (See ABEL).

(5.) The descendants of Cain are enumerated to the sixth generation. Some commentators (Knobel, Von Bohlen) have traced an artificial structure in this genealogy, by which it is rendered parallel to that of the Sethites; e.g. there is a decade of names in each, commencing with Adam and ending with Jabal and Noah, the deficiency of generations in the Cainites being supplied by the addition of the two younger sons of Lamech to the list; and there is a considerable similarity in the names, each list containing aLamech and an Enoch, while Cain in the one=Cain-an in the other, Methusael =Methuselah, and Mehujael =Mahalaleel; the inference from this comparison being that the one was framed out of the other. It must be observed, however, that the differences far exceed the points of similarity; that the order of the names, the number of generations, and even the meanings of those which are noticed as similar in sound, are sufficiently Hieroz. 1:537.) (See PATRIARCH).

(6.) The social condition of the Cainites is prominently brought forward in the history. Cain himself was an agriculturist, Abel a shepherd: the successors of the latter are represented by the Sethites and the progenitors of the Hebrew race in later times, among whom a pastoral life was always held in high honor from the simplicity and devotional habits which it engendered: the successors of the former are depicted as the reverse in all these respects. Cain founded the first city; Lamech instituted polygamy; Jabal introduced the nomadic life; Jubal invented musical instruments; Tubal-cain was the first smith; Lamech's language takes the stately tone of poetry; and even the names of the women, Naamah (pleasant), Zillah (shadow), Adah (ornamental), seem to bespeak an advanced state of civilization. But, along with this, there was violence and godlessness; Cain and Lamech furnish proof of the former, while the concluding words of Genesis 4:26, imply the latter. (See ANTEDILUVIANS).

(7.) The contrast established between the Cainites and the Sethites appears to have reference solely to the social and religious condition of the two races. On the one side there is pictured a high state of civilization, unsanctified by religion, and productive of luxury and violence; on theother side, a state of simplicity which afforded no material for history beyond the declaration, "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord." The historian thus accounts for the progressive degeneration of the religious condition of man, the evil gaining a predominance over the good by its alliance with worldly power and knowledge, and producing the state of things which necessitated the flood. (See DELUGE).

(8.) Another motive may be assigned for the introduction of this portion of sacred history. All ancient nations have loved to trace up the invention of the arts to some certain author, and, generally speaking, these authors have been regarded as objects of divine worship. Among the Greeks Apollo was held to be the inventor of music, Vulcan of the working of metals, Triptolemus (see Hygin. 277) of the plough. A similar feeling of curiosity prevailed among the Hebrews; and hence the historian has recorded the names of those to whom the invention of the arts was traditionallyassigned, obviating at the same time the dangerous error into which other nations had fallen, and reducing the estimate of their value by the position which their inventors held. (See ART); (See ARTIFICER). Additional treatises: Stockmann, De Caino prcenmo wnto (Jen. 1792); Danz, id. (ib. 1681, 1732); Bosseck, D sacrisciis Caini et' Habel (Lips.1781); Niemeyer, Charakt. 2:57 sq.; Buttmann, lMythl. 1:164 sq.; Otho, Lex. Rab. p. 109 sq.; Eisenmenger, Entd. Judenth. 1:462, 471, 832, 836; Hottinger, Hist. Orientalis, p. 25; Hamb. verm. Biblioth. 2:945 sq.; Sack, in the Brem. u; Verd. Biblioth. I, 3:61; Rosenmü ller, Scholia, in. loc. Gen.; Philo, Opp. 1:185; Whately, Prototypes, p. 15; Dupin, Nouv. Bibl. p. 4; Kitto, Daily Bible Illust. in loc.; Evans, Script. Biog. 2:1 sq.; Hunter, Sac. Biog. p. 17 sq. (See MURDER).

2. (Hebrews, with the article, hkk-Ka'yin, הִקִּיִן, = "the lance;" but may be derived from קֵן, ken, "a nest," possibly in allusion to its position; Sept. Ζακανα μ v. r. Ζανωακείμ, by including the name preceding; Vulg. A ccain.) One of the cites in the low country (Shefe-lah) of Judah, named with Zanoah and Gibeah: (Joshua 15:56); apparently the modern village Yukin' a short distance south-east of Hebron (Van de Velde,'Memoir, p.300), now a Mohammedan station, said to be the place where Lot stopped after his flight from Sodom (Robinson, Researches, 2:190).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Cain'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/c/cain.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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