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Genesis 4:10-12

Context
4:10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? 1  The voice 2  of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 4:11 So now, you are banished 3  from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 4:12 When you try to cultivate 4  the

ground it will no longer yield 5  its best 6  for you. You will be a homeless wanderer 7  on the earth.”

1 sn What have you done? Again the Lord’s question is rhetorical (see Gen 3:13), condemning Cain for his sin.

2 tn The word “voice” is a personification; the evidence of Abel’s shed blood condemns Cain, just as a human eyewitness would testify in court. For helpful insights, see G. von Rad, Biblical Interpretations in Preaching; and L. Morris, “The Biblical Use of the Term ‘Blood,’” JTS 6 (1955/56): 77-82.

3 tn Heb “cursed are you from the ground.” As in Gen 3:14, the word “cursed,” a passive participle from אָרָר (’arar), either means “punished” or “banished,” depending on how one interprets the following preposition. If the preposition is taken as indicating source, then the idea is “cursed (i.e., punished) are you from [i.e., “through the agency of”] the ground” (see v. 12a). If the preposition is taken as separative, then the idea is “cursed and banished from the ground.” In this case the ground rejects Cain’s efforts in such a way that he is banished from the ground and forced to become a fugitive out in the earth (see vv. 12b, 14).

4 tn Heb “work.”

5 tn Heb “it will not again (תֹסֵף, tosef) give (תֵּת, tet),” meaning the ground will no longer yield. In translation the infinitive becomes the main verb, and the imperfect verb form becomes adverbial.

6 tn Heb “its strength.”

7 tn Two similar sounding synonyms are used here: נָע וָנָד (navanad, “a wanderer and a fugitive”). This juxtaposition of synonyms emphasizes the single idea. In translation one can serve as the main description, the other as a modifier. Other translation options include “a wandering fugitive” and a “ceaseless wanderer” (cf. NIV).



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