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The mark which the Lord placed upon Cain worked (Gen 4:15). Not only did he survive, he produced a family line (Gen 4:16–18).[1] Cain’s descendants introduced the first metal-working, poetry, and cities:[2] all hallmarks of great civilizations (Gen 4:19–22).[3]

However, in an ominous sign, the one who slew the first martyr built the first city (Gen 4:8, 17).[4] Furthermore, Cain chose to honor humanity rather than the Lord by naming the city “Enoch” after his son.[5]




People in the Ancient Near East (ANE) believed that cities represented the dwelling places of the gods. Therefore, they viewed divine guidance as essential for their construction. Indeed, in ANE mythologies, the gods themselves built cities.[6]

Cain’s city-building seems to contradict the Lord’s decree that he would live as a fugitive (Gen 4:11–14).[7]

Dwelling in a city put an end to his wandering alienation and provided security. Even after his rebellion, Cain and his descendants enjoyed the blessing of ruling and subduing the earth (Gen 1:26–28).[8]



Cain’s family line tragically depicts how sin distorts the image of God, leaving destruction in its wake. [9] Lamech’s violent temperament resembles that of his ancestor (Gen 4:23–24).[10]

He also practiced polygamy, which contradicts God’s design for marriage (Gen 4:19; Gen 2:22–24). Through him and his line we see increasing depravity. [11]

Yet, they also practiced and expanded the cultural mandate of Gen 1:28 to include the domestication and breeding of animals, musical arts, and metal crafts.[12]

Adah and Zillah no doubt had proudly watched their sons develop animal husbandry, music, and metallurgy. In contrast, Lamech’s violent boasting after murdering a man who wounded him must have filled them with horror.[13]

By embracing such great vindictiveness,[14] Lamech indicated that his depravity exceeded Cain’s.[15] For Lamech, taking the law into his own hands was a point of pride.[16]

This escalation of violence could easily erupt into warfare aided by swords, potentially one of the technological advancements of Tubal-Cain (Gen 4:22).[17]

Sin acts as a plague which spreads by contagion. Like a polluted river, it branches into tributaries until it contaminates parents, children, and grandchildren.[18]

Thus, Moses hinted that all of Cain’s descendants would face God’s judgment (Gen 6:5–8).[19]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Go to An Appointed Son (Gen 4:25)


[Related posts include Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); An Equal and Adequate Partner (Gen 2:21–23); Cain Arose against His Brother (Gen 4:8); Cursed from the Ground (Gen 4:11‒14); Banished from God’s Presence (Gen 4:15‒16); Cain Dedicated a City (Gen 4:17); Two Wives (Gen 4:18–19); Advancements in Civilization (Gen 4:20–22); Lamech’s Ode to Himself (Gen 4:23–24); God Grieves (Gen 6:5–6); Wiping Out Everyone (Gen 6:7); Noah Found Favor (Gen 6:8); and  Author and Date of Genesis]

[Click here to go to Chapter 3: Calling on the Name of the Lord (Genesis 4:25–26)]


[1]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 237.

[2]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 99.

[3]Walton, Genesis, 276.

[4]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 182.

[5]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 100.

[6]Niehaus, Ancient Near Eastern Themes in Biblical Theology, 83.

[7]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 237–8.

[8]Walton, Genesis, 277.

[9]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 100.

[10]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 112.

[11]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 238.

[12]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 100.

[13]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 114.

[14]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 100.

[15]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 114.

[16]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 241.

[17]Walton, Genesis, 278.

[18]Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, 53.

[19]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 114.