Cain and Seth

The birth of civilization.

Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city and he named it after his son Enoch (Gen. 4:17). Technically this account is not a children’s story but a fascinating continuation of Cain’s life from which we can draw much insight.

There is a principle in Biblical interpretation called “first mention.” It’s not a big deal but when you go to the place where important ideas first appear and read the passage in context, you’ll often pick up additional understanding. For example the first appearance of blood (Gen. 4:10) is in connection with Abel’s murder and introduces the idea that the blood is the life. In Gen. 9:4-6 this is expanded into instruction on proper meat eating (another first mention) and capital punishment (still another). Placing the blood of the lamb on their door posts preserved life for the Israelites at the first Passover, and the ultimate importance of this idea lies in the phrase “saved by the Blood of the Lamb.” His life exchanged for ours.

My Three Sons

The idea first mentioned in Gen. 4:17 is that of building a city. Disregard the fact that Cain married his sister (who else could she be) and focus on the parallel lines of Cain and Seth because that’s where the real story is. The seventh man from Adam in Cain’s line was Lamech, whose name comes from a root meaning “despairing.” He had three sons; Jabal a livestock breeder, Jubal a musician, Tubal-cain a toolmaker, and a daughter Naamah. We’re not given Naamah’s vocation, but her name comes from a root meaning pleasure. Maybe she founded “the Oldest Profession.” From these children came animal husbandry, manufacturing, the arts and music, and entertainment. In just 7 generations we see a recognizable civilization; cities in which to live, leisure and entertainment, and industry.

By the way, don’t be fooled into thinking of families as they are today with a mom and dad and two kids. These people had 800 year life spans. If on average they only bore children during 200 of these years and only had one every 5 years they would have died with over 2 million descendants each. Multiply that by just the number of people the Bible names and you have a huge population. Remember, they were told to be fruitful and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28).

I’m convinced this early civilization was the result of Cain’s efforts to find a way around the curse the Lord had pronounced on him. Since the ground would no longer yield crops, he and his descendants turned to livestock for their sustenance, wearing their skins and eating their meat, and banded together in cities for protection.

What’s My Line?

Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted (appointed) me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him (Gen. 4:25).” This verse takes us back in time to introduce the line of Seth. His name means appointed and he assumed the role of redeemer since Cain and Abel had both been disqualified. The seventh man down Seth’s line from Adam was Enoch (Gen. 5:18). His name means teaching, and in Gen 5:24 we read that “Enoch walked with God then he was no more, because God took him away.” Three generations later came Noah and the Great Flood; 10 generations from Adam, 1656 years after the creation.

The story of Cain’s line is the story of unregenerate man. Exalting himself in defiance of God’s commandments (Gen. 4:23-24), using God given talents to build an Earth centered civilization in an attempt to glorify himself and defeat God’s plan. The line of Seth tells a story of the faithful (see for more info). Due to man’s sin nature (ever notice how cities are always more sinful than rural areas?) Cain’s line attracted many converts while Seth’s dwindled to a small remnant.

When the Great Flood came all the line of Cain perished along with all the accomplishments of their Earth centered civilization. From the line of Seth only Noah and his family were found faithful. They were preserved through the flood to begin again and the line of Seth ultimately fulfilled God’s promise and brought forth The Redeemer; the Son of God, born of Mary a descendant of Seth through Noah’s son Shem.

What About Enoch?

What we have in the story of Cain and Seth is nothing less than a model of the age of man. At the End of the Age the Great Tribulation will judge humankind according to spiritual lines. Those who have rejected God’s ways in favor of an Earth-centered life will perish (the spiritual line of Cain). A small remnant will be preserved through this judgment to begin again (faithful Israel descended from Seth through Shem). But as it was with Enoch, another group in the line of Seth will be taken by God before the judgement comes. That group is the Church. One body, as Enoch was one body, and like Enoch born at Pentecost, charged with teaching the Gospel (Enoch means teacher) and commanded to walk with God in an unbelieving world. The Church will be taken by God and spared the Great Tribulation just as Enoch was taken by God and spared the Great Flood.

And that’s the adult version.