Introduction to Chapter 1

chapter 1 intro

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Just as with the earlier sections in Genesis, Chapter 4 exhibits awareness of Ancient Near Eastern  (ANE) traditions but often assesses entirely different interpretations to them.

The over-arching theme of Gen 4–11 depicts the horrific results of Adam and Eve’s disobedience (Gen 3).[1]

Furthermore, striking parallels of theme and structure occur between the story of Cain and Abel and that of their parents.[2]

Rather than the fall of humanity via the infiltration of sin, here Moses depicted the fall of the family due to the alienation which sin produces.[3]



Genesis characteristically traces the human race’s descent from Adam by a series of divisions in the family tree (eg. Gen 5; Gen 10) .[4]

As frequently occurs in Genesis, here God granted the favor due to the firstborn son to the younger brother. The text always delivers an explanation for this change in status (Gen 4:4–5; Gen 17:18–21; Gen 25:21–26; Gen 49:1–12, 22–26).[5]

Since the older brothers remained the firstborn, genealogies in Genesis list the descendants of the line falling outside the Lord’s blessing prior to the line of the son treated as the primary heir.

Ishmael and Isaac provide a prime example in Gen 25:12–23.[6] These older brothers experienced life with a lesser share of God’s blessing.[7]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Go to Eve Acquires a Man (Gen 4:1)

[Related posts include Their Eyes Are Opened (Gen 3:7); Hiding from God (Gen 3:8); A Day of Reckoning (Gen 3:9–13); An Anguishing Process (Gen 3:16); Thorns and Thistles (Gen 3:17–18); A Return to the Ground (Gen 3:19); A Renewed Covenant (Gen 3:20); Access to the Tree of Life (Gen 3:22); Driven Out (Gen 3:23–24); A Servant of the Ground and a Shepherd of a Flock (Gen 4:2‒5); Ancient Near Eastern Genealogies (Gen 5:1); Ancient Literature; and Author and Date of Genesis]

[Click here to go to Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Brothers (Genesis 4:1‒16)]


[1]Desmond T. Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land, 2nd Ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 117.

[2] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 96.

[3]Walton, Genesis, 273.

[4] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 96–7.

[5]Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land, 2nd Ed, 105.

[6] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 96–7.

[7] Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the Pentateuch, 117.