Citizen Cain: Fugitive from Justice or Sophisticated Urbanite?

I will indulge me (and I hope YOU will indulge me, dear polymaths) in exploring Genesis 4, the story of Cain, the first human to be born on Earth.
Everybody knows the outlines of the story: Cain is a farmer, and his younger brother Abel is a shepherd. They both sacrifice to God, but He doesn’t like Cain’s grilled veggies as much s Abel’s rack o’lamb, and Cain realizes that. God, who at this point is still walking round on Earth talking face to face with all the Adamses, sees that he’s angry, and asks why:

“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.”

But God doesn’t tell Cain why He “had not respect” unto Cain’s offering. Still angry, the next time they’re alone together, Cain kills Abel.

God then asks Cain where his brother is, and he famously replies “I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?”
God says, “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand: when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength: a fugitive nd a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.”

Okay, now Cain knows the jig is up, but he does not repent, nor does he beg for mercy despite his sin. He immediately begins negotiating for a reduced sentence.
And he gets it! After he argues that his punishment is greater than he can bear, and everyone he meets will try to kill him, God responds “ ‘Whoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”

It appears the rest of the sentence was commuted too, because Cain leaves the courtroom a free man, heads East of Eden and founds a city —man’s first city! We aren’t told that his life is any shorter than the rest of his family, who are then living about 850 years, and he has descendants, who give us music (Jubal), pastoralism(Jabal) and metallurgy (Tubalcain). (Are those supposed to be bad things?) And also, apparently, poetry: his grandson Lamech’s “Song of the Sword” (Genesis 4 23-24) an antediluvian lyric on the theme of revenge, is reputed to be the first “song” or bit of poesy ever!
And one female descendant of Cain is mentioned, unlike in any of the other genealogies: Naamah.
(At this point it gets confusing: there are more than one person named, respectively, Enoch, Lamech, Naamah…I reckon it took awhile for mankind to get creative with proper names.)

Oh, BUT, you may be thinking: Cain’s descendant’s were all wiped out in the Flood, right? Noah is a descendant of the godly Seth.
True—but the Bible doesn’t tell us the name of Noah’s wife, the mother of Shem, Ham and Japheth, from whom we are all descended…and some Jewish sources say she was Naamah, yes THAT Naamah, of Cain’s lineage.
The Flood appears to have been the result, not of God’s anger at Cain’s progeny, but at the “Watcher Angels” who were tempted into copulating with human women (Genesis 6:4-7). (Scofield to the contrary)
In short (yuh, I know: too late!) Cain appears to have enjoyed all the favors God traditionally bestowed on His favorites in the OT: worldly success, many illustrious descendants.

Why did God protect, prosper and increase Cain the fratricide?


I wrote about this in a comment on your earlier post, “The Work of Cain” on 2023-06-01.

Other examples which seem to me like a God learning on the job are when in Genesis 18:20–33 Abraham dickers with God about how many righteous must be found in Sodom in order to spare the city and negotiates God’s first offer of fifty all the way down to ten. In 18:33, when “the LORD went his way…”, one can imagine Him muttering, “Remind Me not to haggle with that guy in the bazaar”.

Or consider when the burning bush commands Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt in Exodus 4:10–16 and Moses doesn’t want to take the job, angering God. But Moses negotiates Him down until He appoints Aaron to be Moses’s spokesman in Egypt.

This is a unique characteristic of the God of the Old Testament—you can negotiate with Him, and He can be swayed by arguments made by His creatures. How different from the slaver god of Islam, for example!

There’s the old joke about the Ten Commandments:

When Moses got down from Mt Sinai, he was perplexed seeing his people going out of hand, so he said : “I’ve got some good news … and I’ve got some bad news,” the lawgiver yells to them. “Which do you want first?” “The good news!” the hedonists reply. “I got Him from fifteen commandments down to ten!” “Hallelujah!” cries the unruly crowd. “And the bad?” “Adultery is still in.”

This is much funnier than the Mel Brooks version of the Fifteen Commandments in History of the World, Part I.


Eeek, I forgot I DiD write about Cain here before…:face_with_hand_over_mouth:


Maybe He had no other extant choice without restarting the whole enterprise. If not Cain, who?


He had Seth’s line, or would. Plus Eve was still fertile. (Genesis 5:4)
God doesn’t actually get around to saying “Thou Shalt not Kill” until after the Flood (Genesis 9). Maybe He thought Cain shouldn’t be punished too harshly since he hadnt actually disobeyed an explicit command, like Adam and Eve had done?
As I wrote in my previous meditation on Cain, this is the first time a human —the first man born of woman—abrogates to himself the power of life and death.