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Genesis 4:15-16 NIV “But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
I’ve always been curious what this “mark” might have been but haven’t found any indication of what it was as of yet. The nature of the mark on Cain has been the subject of much debate and speculation. The Hebrew word translated “mark” is ‘owth and refers to a “mark, sign, or token.” Elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, ‘owth is used 79 times and is most frequently translated as “sign.” So, the Hebrew word does not identify the exact nature of the mark God put on Cain. Whatever it was, it was a sign/indicator that Cain was not to be killed. Whatever the case, the precise nature of the mark is not the focus of the passage. The focus is that God would not allow people to exact vengeance against Cain. Whatever the mark on Cain was, it served this purpose.
Genesis 4:17 NIV “Cain made love to 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.”
So who did Cain marry? I’m assuming that Cain married one of his own sisters, considering that Adam and Eve’s children had a near perfect gene pool and God’s strict prohibition against siblings and other close relative marrying did not come until much later. It’s also noteworthy to observe the extended years that Adam and Eve and their descendants initially lived, which diminished over time as the purity of the gene pool also diminished (see Genesis 5:1-8). This is strictly conjecture on my part but I’ve read some interesting articles on this subject.
Genesis 4:25 NIV “Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”
Seth is mentioned among Adam and Eve’s children because it would be through Seth’s descendants that the Messiah would come.
Genesis 4:26 NIV “Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” To me, this signifies that people began to recognize and worship God through prayer, praise and thanksgiving.
Genesis 5:22-24 NIV “After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
Interesting to note that it indicates that Enoch walked faithfully with God twice (so as we don’t miss it) and that God took him. Note it doesn’t say that Enoch died, just that God took him. Hebrews 11:5 NIV backs this up.
Hebrews 11:5 NIV “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
Genesis 5:27 NIV “Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years and then he died.” Methuselah, Enoch’s son, actually lived longer than Adam, who died when he was 930 years old. Lamech, Methuselah’s son, was the father of Noah.
Genesis 5:32 NIV “After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.” Names you want to remember.
Genesis 6:1-5 NIV “When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.“
It’s noteworthy that the maximum duration that humans can live is pegged at 120 years. I’m pretty sure, according to what I have been able to see as “documented”, that limit has very seldom, if ever, been exceeded, after the flood. Others have indicated that it would be another 120 years before the flood would actually come, so God gave them additional time to change their ways, which He often does.
Who were the sons of God and who where the daughters of humans? Some think that the sons of God were the descendants of Seth and the daughters of humans were the daughters of Cain’s offspring. Others think that the “sons of God” were angelic beings. I’m going to give you my overview on this subject but please note that we are talking about conjecture here and there are a number of different theories out there. What is noteworthy is the result of these “unions” caused much depravity (Genesis 6:5).
However, just to give you something to think about, I will give you some insight into the following oldest interpretation on this subject, that suggests that the “sons of God” refers to angels who rebelled against God (we would call them demons), inhabited human bodies, married human women, and gave birth to the “nephilim” of verse 4 who roamed the earth as ancient tyrants and bullies. On its surface, the view seems strange and even bizarre but it is, in my judgment, what this passage is teaching. For one thing, the term “sons of God” in the Old Testament in all its other occurrences always refers only to angels. And this interpretation accords very well with Genesis 3:15, which emphasizes Satan’s long “war” against the “seed of the woman” that will eventually produce the Messiah. What better way to destroy the coming Messiah than to utterly corrupt the human race through the introduction of demonism? It’s also noteworthy to remember that demons were very active during the ministry of Jesus. And this truly is the oldest interpretation. This is how the Jewish scholars who translated the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint) understood the text approximately two centuries before the birth of Christ. This interpretation also helps us understand two cryptic passages in the New Testament:
“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:4-5 NASB).
“And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 6-7 NASB).
Both passages describe a very drastic judgment upon certain angels who not only sinned but “abandoned their proper abode.” Note that in the first passage, the angels are mentioned first, then comes Noah and the flood. In Jude the phrase “just as” joins the angels with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. And what was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? It was a form of “gross immorality” that consisted of going after “strange flesh.” That’s not just a reference to homosexuality. Genesis 19 tells us that the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were ready to rape the two angelic visitors who appeared in human form. Put it all together and it looks like this: In the days before the flood, certain angels rebelled against God and entered human bodies in a form of demon-possession, taking for themselves human wives. The resulting cohabitation produced a form of evil offspring called the nephilim who roamed the earth as giants, tyrants, and workers of enormous evil. For this hideous sin, the angels were sent to the pit of deep darkness and the existing civilization was wiped out in the great flood.
In the Gospels we learn that demons crave human bodies to inhabit. When the “legion” of demons was cast out of the Gadarene demoniac, they begged to be allowed to enter a herd of pigs (Mark 5:1-20). Since we know such things are possible, it should not surprise us that the total rejection of God led to bizarre sexual sin and an outbreak of evil unprecedented in world history.
One final note. I lean to this view because the context seems to demand some sort of extraordinary sin that would cause God to wipe out an entire civilization and start all over again. The hubris of those days was so great that men and women thought nothing of breaching the God-ordained boundaries on human conduct in the most evil way possible. Having said that, I also agree that this is a very difficult passage to interpret. We don’t have enough in the text to be certain about the meaning. This is one of those places where we wish Moses had added a few footnotes. Even though this is a fairly common interpretation, many notable interpreters take the first view (descendants of Seth and daughters of Cain) and they may well be correct. This is not an issue on the level of the Deity of Christ. I don’t think that anyone can say with total certainty what the text means in Genesis 6:1-2. I simply have shared the overview that I hold.
Genesis 6:7 NIV “So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”
Even though we see the result of the union between these two groups, we still see some descendants of Adam and Eve who followed God and were found pleasing in His sight. And we see that Noah was among them.
It’s also interesting to note that Jesus refers to the days of Noah and what transpired is, of it’s self, a warning to us.
Matthew 24:37-39 NIV “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
More to follow in Observations in Genesis – Part 3
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!