Genesis 4:1-5

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 4:1
  • Genesis 4:2
  • Genesis 4:3
  • Genesis 4:4
  • Genesis 4:5

Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.

In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).

After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.

Genesis chapter 4 begins the account of life and experience after being exiled from the garden of Eden. In it we see the first children born, the first murder, and the first glimpses of civilization begin to sprout. Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother Abel due to his jealousy, and the effect of this sin starts the division between the godly and ungodly. However, the grace of God is manifested to Adam and Eve as their third son, Seth is born. Through Seth and his son, Enosh, the worship of God was restored. This chapter affirms to us how important it is for us to know God and follow His will.

Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. At the appointed time, Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the Lord. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s, which made Cain angry.


Adam and Eve named their first born son, Cain, which means “acquired.” The phrase “with the help of is added by translators. The original text just says the Lord. Taking as originally written, this would indicate that Eve believed her child was the child of the promise, that would fulfill the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, that the seed of woman would deliver mankind. Instead, Cain will be the first murderer, and an indication that the earth will soon fill with violence. Then, Eve gave birth to a second son, Abel, which means “breath” or “wind.” Cain became a farmer, one who works the soil. Abel became a shepherd of sheep and goats. Cain and Abel both brought offerings to worship God.

There was a  difference in the attitude of Cain and Abel as they offered their sacrifices. The book of Hebrews from New Testament explains the different attitudes of Cain and Abel as they gave God their offerings of worship. Hebrews 11:4 explains that By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. This begins a theme that will reverberate throughout the Bible, that God seeks those who will believe Him and believe His promises.

The text does not explain why God did not regard Cain’s offering, but it could be because Abel brought of the firstlings. This might infer that Cain gave of his surplus while Abel gave his first and best. In any event, we know Cain’s heart was not right with God. Cain was self-willed and rebellious. He knew the proper way to offer a sacrifice, yet he would not obey God’s instructions. When God rejected Cain’s offering, he became very mad, literally, he was “burning with exceeding anger.” His countenance fell means that his facial expression became visibly angry.

Biblical Text

1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” 2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So, Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

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