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Genesis 4:12-14

Context
4:12 When you try to cultivate 1  the

ground it will no longer yield 2  its best 3  for you. You will be a homeless wanderer 4  on the earth.” 4:13 Then Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment 5  is too great to endure! 6  4:14 Look! You are driving me off the land 7  today, and I must hide from your presence. 8  I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth; whoever finds me will kill me.”

1 tn Heb “work.”

2 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.

3 tn Heb “its strength.”

4 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).

5 tn The primary meaning of the Hebrew word עָוֹן (’avon) is “sin, iniquity.” But by metonymy it can refer to the “guilt” of sin, or to “punishment” for sin. The third meaning applies here. Just before this the Lord announces the punishment for Cain’s actions, and right after this statement Cain complains of the severity of the punishment. Cain is not portrayed as repenting of his sin.

6 tn Heb “great is my punishment from bearing.” The preposition מִן (min, “from”) is used here in a comparative sense.

7 tn Heb “from upon the surface of the ground.”

8 sn I must hide from your presence. The motif of hiding from the Lord as a result of sin also appears in Gen 3:8-10.



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