Genesis 6:5–10

65 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


The heroes of yore (heroes are necessarily good?) turn out to be powerful, but not good.

“Evil” seems to be more than has been described. It is said to be “great”. Note can be taken that a simple vocal shift can turn this from an adjective to a verb meaning “multiply.” Like heroes, multiplication is presumed as good for it is what was commanded.

Multiplication of vain imagining, of going it alone, of building cities, and mixing up what is G*D’s and what is ’adam’s seem to have no end. They become addictions, capturing an individual’s life force—captured at least through nurture, if not actual genetic change, and passed as a trait through the generations.

A heart set on itself has no room for another or an empathetic response to and interaction with them. A heart devising aggrandizement for itself is directly connected with the description of G*D’s pained heart—grieving a loss of partnership.

This grief is a response to a broken heart over the enlarged and weakened heart of humanity (both the powerful and the powerless) that brings us to a regret so large it will ultimately have to be regretted. [For extra credit: Compare and contrast “regretted” and “repented”.]

Made in the throes of regret, a decision to wipe out all of creation cannot be sustained. Even though it is in a direct line of the threat of death for tasting of good and not-good, it is now going to be enforced in a way similar to subsequent decisions made by kings who can’t take back a pronouncement for fear of losing face—a second plan attempts to mitigate the effect of a first rash decision. [For extra credit: Why is this situation regretted or repented, and changed, but not the prior one of banning ’adam and Eve* from Eden?]

An innocent yes-man was noted by G*D—Noah. Noah is as nondescript as was ’adam. This is fitting as Noah would be the first of ’adam’s line who would have been born after ’adam died. And we are back to a sense-less, pinball playing, Tommy character.

This section concludes with a mini-genealogy that Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth some 500 years later. G*D’s pained heart fed on regret for at least these 500+ years after ’adam’s death, before acting on it. (Note to the wise: beware accumulated regret, it becomes explosive.)

Genesis 6:1–4

[Note: That was an embarrassing prior post. There was not only “intermission” in the title, but in the typing and initial jotting. It has been edited a bit.]

61 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.


We have been dealing with a limited family tree. As we begin a new section, the family tree is becoming confused. Just try to follow the combinations and permutations of the sons and daughters of the main lines of the patriarchs. This is a good place to remember that the image of a family tree does not rest easily in a mythologic setting.

The setting for new difficulties begins with the injunction to be fruitful and multiply. Population growth has been exponential. Who belongs with which lineage comes too much to keep up with. Population growth continues to be problematic.

Much has been speculated about the odd phrase regarding the “sons of God” and the “daughters of man.” The connection between G*D and ’adam is one of partnership, friendship, family. Too split G*D and ’adam brings division, a separation, a suggestion of mixing and pollution of unequals.

An easy thought is to split the “sons of God” and the “daughters of man” into those descendant from Cain and Seth. Ultimately there will be no certainty as to which is which. The little information we have can support both cases. If we bring in Greek mythology with children from mixed species, parenting, this picture becomes even more confusing.

The one piece of information we have is that the age and ages of ’adam’s line is much reduced—to a maximum of 125 years. Such a reduction is one way to handle population growth. Much later, Malthus will turn this population reduction into an official theory identifying war, disease, and famine as regulators of population. The cherubim might be thought to become mobile and offensive, not just stationed in defense of a tree of life.

The Nephilim will be later described as giants in the book of Numbers. The Hebrew means “fallen ones”—fallen from the sky? fallen from the image of G*D? A shortened lifespan makes them larger than life as the ill-consequence of mixed (unclean) living will also grow with the numbers of people. These “heroes of yore” are not guardians of a galaxy, but those who see the “daughters” as desired by them and as tempting as Cain found murder as a resolution of his relationship with Abel, as tempting as Eve found the Serpent and a tree of good and not-good. Another exile can be felt to be arising.

Intermission

In one short chapter and one long genealogy, we hear a post-Edenic story—’Adam set to tilling and Eve* due to labor in childbirth. These mark the pain of separation.

’Adam, to this point, has gone along and gotten along. There has been no exertion with his naming, his anesthetized sourcing of Eve*, or his taking a second-bite with no remembrance or correction of the conversation between Eve* and Serpent. There was the making of fig leaf loincloths, but that might well be attributed to Eve*’s skill at making, still visible in her later naming of Cain. Lazy ol’ ’adam is bound for the pain of blisters and muscles as he wrestles with the soil (both literal ground and his own being formed from soil). ’Adam is caught between a first dust and a second. There is pain for a loss of ease and for this current reality to continue past the present, into the future.

Eve*, to this point, has walked the Garden in the cool of the evening, been a non-lonely artifact (’ish’s ’ishah), and enjoyed the seeming besting of a sneaky serpent. There may have been a pricked finger in trying to figure out a fashionable and practical wardrobe to deal with nakedness in an environmentally comfortable context, not needing clothes. Bored and clever, Eve* now finds pleasure at being able to carry these along into the pain of transition and separation of birthing—and to do it multiple times. The pain of no children and the pain of birth finds Eve* in the midst of pain.

A firstborn is born to continue the pain of tilling; a second born is born to wander amidst a flock of animals; a third born is born to replace the dead second-born with no assigned task, but the easy piety of ’adam. Additional sons and daughters were born to be swept away.

Eve* named the firstborn, the second has no naming story, the third was named by ’adam (based on 5:3). The line named by Eve* will come to an end (unless you speculate that Noah’s unnamed wife was a descendant of Cain). The line named by ’adam will continue as our story—Mr. Milquetoast will become Mr. Patriarch. At this point, try a thought experiment: What would it have meant to be part of the line of naive Abel? Would that be different than Seth’s line, primarily pious?

Whether of Abel or Seth, what would it mean to be, like Noah, a consoler of pains of separation? Is there comfort available for the grief of a loss of innocence and a living in chaotic times with no guarantee of a safe vault to live within? Even further, not only no guarantee but doomed to death?

Genesis 4:25–5:32

425 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

51 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.

9 And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.

12 And Cainan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel: And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.

15 And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared: And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.

18 And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.

21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

25 And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech. And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

28 And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed. And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.

32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


With he prowess of Lamech established, we return to ’adam and Eve* and the birth of Seth—a granted gift different from Eve*’s construction of Cain and his subsequent lineage that includes an Enoch… and Methusael and Lamech. Seth is seen as a replacement for Abel and through whom the storyline will continue.

A question lingers on as to whether YHWH is introduced in the third generation of Seth’s line with Enosh or much later with Moses. Both claims are made.

With a formal genealogy of ’adam we now follow Seth (Note: begotten by ’adam, not made by Eve*). The report of the generations is formulaic in reporting deaths until we get to Enoch. This is a different Enoch than Cain’s son and the namesake of the first city. The difference is in a claim of independence from G*D and a friendship with G*D.

Seth’s descendent, Enoch, begot Methuselah who begot another Lamech. These name links between the stories of Cain and Seth remind us how connected we still are from that first ’adam in G*D’s image, male and female, and another whose rib revealed ’ishah and ’ish.

Cain’s Enoch is city oriented, separated from G*D. Seth’s Enoch is not recorded as having died, but continuing to “walk” with G*D. This walking is the same descriptor used of what G*D did in Eden’s evenings. Seth’s Enoch is intimate with G*D and lives 365 years, a full solar year of years. There are echoes here of the seventh generation after ’adam with the seventh Mesopotamian king before the flood also being taken up with his gods. This Enoch begets Methuselah who lives 995 years, as close to an ideal millennium as anyone gets.

Cain’s Lamech is the end of a line of selfish independence. Seth’s Lamech lived a numerically significant 777 years and begot Noah. When looked at as a name, we see how Noah rounds out this post-Eden genealogy. Noah’s name means he will console or comfort us in, literally, “our work and the pain of our hands.” This word about pain only appears three times—with Eve*, ’adam, and, now, Noah. We will need all the consolation we can get as, after this genealogy, we hear the death consequences of tilling and laboring. Noah will be a new ’adam, and as frailly innocent as the first ’adam. With Noah, both Eden and East of Eden will be lost track of in the reprise of watery chaos with a small protected space in its midst. Mountain tops and rainbows will lead us onward. We will have to put down any expectation of return to a fantasized innocence.

Genesis 4:16–24

416 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.

19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.


’Adam and Eve* are already East of Eden. Cain’s land of Nod or Wandering may coincide with his parents and it may be even further east.

With the building of a city named after Cain’s son, Enoch, we come to a genealogy that wraps up the journey of Exile through Cain’s line. In its seventh generation we are introduced to key components of what we call civilization.

Jabel reestablishes animal husbandry, last seen with Abel. Surrounding the city, outside the walls, the resources of wandering nomads support the city. Within the city, Jubal entertains. Tubal-Cain begins technological tools that lead from copper and iron down to steel and carbon fibers. Naamah is conviviality herself.

Food, entertainment, technology, and a pleasant community—we are off and running as a self-sufficient unity that rolls on, providing its own meaning and persistence—attempting a place of safety past the fear of death.

A sign of this city, its progress beyond mere multiplication, is in Lamech’s boast that G*D may have protected Cain with a mark signifying a seven-fold retribution, but, through his own strength over man (the powerful) and boy (the weak), he can promise ten times seven, plus yet another seven retributions. We’ve run into the same sort of extension past G*D’s word with the lead up to nakedness after ingesting good and no-good.

A similar extension comes with Lamech responding to his existential loneliness by going beyond the “making” of Mother Eve* to the taking of two, count them, two, wives known only for their offspring and making those children his. Lamech is in charge in ways beyond either ’adam or Cain.

We might as well anticipate a next consequence that exceeds an exile. Time will tell.

Genesis 4:10–15

A request has come to add the biblical text in front of the comments, similar to what I had done with Mark. I’ll give that a try and will appreciate comments about how it works for you. Given copyright issues, there are a limited number of versions in the public domain. I’ll start with the King James Version (KJV).

410 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.


Attempts to wriggle away from accountability keep coming back to a basic point—consequence. There is no opening available to consider one’s self unique and separate from others and the whole of creation.

An intentional return to a version of Cain v. Abel, Ayn Rand’s selfishness, or Trumpian de-naming of opponents finds the lives of those disdained rising against them—consequences of setting individuals and classes against one another. Such accusations of unnecessary pain arise from the very base of any life at all—soil. To dust we return and harm to the youngest and perceived least along the return pollutes the journey back.

’Adam is sent to till for the sustenance of all (admittedly, to start with, only one other). Cain’s non-sustenance of Abel deepens the exile task of tilling—it will now provide no advantage over hunting and gathering. Where tilling provided a field, a place, for Cain, he will now wander—homeless (though later we find him founding a city—a remove from the land).

For the moment, forgetting ’adam and Eve*, Cain appeals what seems like an additional death threat—first exile from Eden and now restless wanderer available to be killed as he had killed.

Without relinking sacrifice to anything, the threat to Cain is met with a seven-fold threat in return. The issue of capital punishment is perennially with us; G*D does not execute (well, yet). Cain is given a sign of free passage, not a death sentence beyond the general one all exiles from Eden are under. It can be read that G*D’s first response to murder is compassion and a seven-fold judgment against any (including the state) who would execute a murderer.

Attempts to wriggle away from accountability keep coming back to a basic point—consequence. There is no opening available to consider one’s self unique and separate from others and the whole of creation.

An intentional return to a version of Cain v. Abel, Ayn Rand’s selfishness, or Trumpian de-naming of opponents finds the lives of those disdained rising against them—consequences of setting individuals and classes against one another. Such accusations of unnecessary pain arise from the very base of any life at all—soil. To dust we return and harm to the youngest and perceived least along the return pollutes the journey back.

’Adam is sent to till for the sustenance of all (admittedly, to start with, only one other). Cain’s non-sustenance of Abel deepens the exile task of tilling—it will now provide no advantage over hunting and gathering. Where tilling provided a field, a place, for Cain, he will now wander—homeless (though later we find him founding a city—a remove from the land).

For the moment, forgetting ’adam and Eve*, Cain appeals what seems like an additional death threat—first exile from Eden and now restless wanderer available to be killed as he had killed.

Without relinking sacrifice to anything, the threat to Cain is met with a seven-fold threat in return. The issue of capital punishment is perennially with us; G*D does not execute (well, yet). Cain is given a sign of free passage, not a death sentence beyond the general one all exiles from Eden are under. It can be read that G*D’s first response to murder is compassion and a seven-fold judgment against any (including the state) who would execute a murderer.

The teller of this small gem of a story gives a listener/reader much to work with regarding the meaning of life and doesn’t care about any later sensibility of consistency such as a demand to know who else there is (beyond ’adam and Eve*) who would concern Cain?

Genesis 4:8–9

Loss leads to loss. Diminishment demands diminishment. Such are the physics of relationships. A struggle begins to change outcomes, and it is a very difficult task—as troublesome as time travel to go back and redo what has already begun. Without a new force, the arc of devolving pertains.

The first-born, second-place sacrificer finds the easiest way to be first in everything—to have no rival; to be alone. Here aloneness returns us to ’adam, perceived to be alone. One was made two. Now two are made one. And around we go.

Distance and death are related. Cain begins with distance, “Let us go out to the field.” [A technical note—this line is not found in the Masoretic text, but is found in the Greek, Syriac, and Aramaic persons of this verse. Without this verse, the story is going to great beyond. With its presence, we find ourselves located in one of Cain’s fields, which grew his less than winning “sacrifice.”]

What better fertilizer to grow a better crop (as if that were the key issue in Cain’s loss) than the body and blood of the one who bested him—Abel’s.

We have just heard about a generalized temptation awaiting everyone, around every corner. That temptation is located in the arena of turning a relationship into a competition based on a zero-sum game regarding acceptance or assurance.

A brother is taken into distance and then to death. No remorse. After all, there has never before been a death. There is no social model developed as to how one should feel and respond to having killed (deliberately or not). There is no second thought. The delayed outcome of getting stuck on the horns of knowing and not-knowing has finally begun arriving and has continued to this day—the doom of death.

A previous question to ’shah and ’ish—”Where are you?”—echoes back—”Where is your brother?”

These questions are still alive and being asked. Where are you? Where are your siblings? Where did earth’s integrity/health go? And there is no wiggling away—we are the keepers of self, one-another, and creation.

Genesis 4:6–7

Poems are enigmatic by nature, always carrying more than the poet knows. Whether surface-level poesy or resolutely constructed language, doors open into dimly-known, evocative space. Poems can start with observation but push through it and deep enough into a wilderness beyond to return with a more profound reflection than a rapid response.

Incense and dejection flicker across Cain’s face at being bested. [It would be intriguing to have a description of Abel’s face. How do you, as a reader, think Abel projected his reception of favor?]

These recognized responses become the start of the poem in these verses. Where do Cain’s anger and collapse come from? An impossible question for even the most introspective. It might as well be asked which place of watery chaos welling up through the soil provided the conditions for the shaping of an ’adam? There will never be a memorial built there.

Though addressed to Cain, this poem is also for Abel, Seth, and every reader to the present. Whether you offer well or not, there is a serpent built into every setting—every choice. Like it or not, to choose is risky and to not choose even riskier.

The presence of mistake and sin is as ubiquitous as this whole strange scene of unasked for sacrificial worship covering over sibling testing and rivalry.

Neither innocence nor an internalized sense of good and not-good exempts from a provocative question or dare. This is a perennial state of affairs, no matter whatever the moral system lived within.

Even so, there is a word of hope that whether one is caught by a temptation or not, there is no such trap that holds ultimate sway.

Even this declaration contains a risk because poems—in general, and especially this particular one—are notoriously difficult to understand, much less translate into a current economic model or idolatry.

Genesis 4:3–5

Bitten by a tree, ’shah and ’ish reorient their relationship and cling to one another—leaving their parental home (see Gen. 2:24). A separation took place as g()d slammed the door behind them.

Presumably ’adam tilled their new world well enough to sustain them. A birth took place and was claimed by Eve*. There is no mention made of any continued conversation with G*D.

Time passed. Dividing the labor, the boys, Cain and Abel, each had established their part with their care of the land and care of the animals.

The myth of the Wild West (not to be introjected directionally into this story as it would put us nearer a closed-down Eden) is the iconic struggle between the farmer (Cain) and herdsman (Abel). How is dominion going to look given such a battle royal?

From an unknown quarter (did a passing serpent suggest such an action?), Cain brought a grain offering to G*D. Seemingly simultaneously (like all experimental jumps claimed by two or more inventors) there is a competition set up as to whose product is better. Does tilling or animal husbandry have more prestige and honor?

Who better to have as a third-party judge than the very Creator with power to have exiled ’adam and Eve*. This one truly has no favorites so a win here will mean something that can be taken to the bank.

Of course, a question needs to be asked about how G*D came to be present. Was G*D seen lurking in the underbrush spying on how things were going? Was an invitation sent to G*D via the cherubim? Did an inherent sense of g()d still live in Exile through stories told around a fire by ’adam and Eve* and was it strong enough to manifest?

At any rate, the story of an elder child being discounted in favor of a younger begins beyond Eden. [It would be worth a look at Eve* (a second ’adam) supplanting ’adam before younger sons followed Eve*’s lead and took over from older sons.]

As you consider the mystery of why Cain and Abel came up with their same activity of sacrifice, the presence of G*D to play the role of judge, and the fairness or unfairness of the result, imagine at least 3 plot lines of where the story will lead.

Genesis 4:1–2

’Adam now “knows” Eve*. The previous nude/naked distinction is clarified as a stage prior to sexual intercourse. This is where physical multiplication begins.

This concept of knowing has clear connections to a legitimate, paid-for, transaction—as distinguished from consensual happenstance or rape. This sets us on a continuing trail of distinguishing legitimate and non-legitimate (clean and unclean) sexuality. Such clarifications can assist individuals and their cultural context in finding a more whole and even holy experience of sexuality as a blessing beyond a gift. At the same time it can bedevil individuals and societies with false dichotomies and choices such as accepting one sexual orientation as legitimate and clean, excelling all others. It can also confuse categories of sex and love which can mix as chaotically as any other attempt at unifying that which cannot ultimately be joined together.

So it is two become both two, “’Adam and Eve*,” and one, “Cain.” And three become four with the multiplication continuing with “Abel.”

Remembering that Eve* was rib-constructed rather than clay-shaped, the naming of Cain continues the constructed imagery with Eve*’s announcement of having “made” a next maker (“smith”) who will make even more. Eve* claims she is partnering with G*D in making more, multiplying. We may even remember a distinction between name sources and the questionable value of etymology.

There is no such drawn out naming for a second child and this would be a good place to review your notes on family systems and where birth rank enters the conversation. Inquiring minds still want to know and so scholars have noted the similarity of Abel to another Hebrew word meaning “vapor” or “puff of air”—here today, gone tomorrow. This works as foreshadowing a short life but doesn’t address the connection with sheep (as distinct from Cain’s following the way of a tiller-of-the-soil and the valuing of connections with g()d—both intrinsic and extrinsic.