4:15 But the Lord said to him, “All right then, 1 if anyone kills Cain, Cain will be avenged seven times as much.” 2 Then the Lord put a special mark 3 on Cain so that no one who found him would strike him down. 4
4:24 If Cain is to be avenged seven times as much,
then Lamech seventy-seven times!” 5
1 tn The Hebrew term לָכֵן (lakhen, “therefore”) in this context carries the sense of “Okay,” or “in that case then I will do this.”
2 sn The symbolic number seven is used here to emphasize that the offender will receive severe punishment. For other rhetorical and hyperbolic uses of the expression “seven times over,” see Pss 12:6; 79:12; Prov 6:31; Isa 30:26.
3 tn Heb “sign”; “reminder.” The term “sign” is not used in the translation because it might imply to an English reader that God hung a sign on Cain. The text does not identify what the “sign” was. It must have been some outward, visual reminder of Cain’s special protected status.
4 sn God becomes Cain’s protector. Here is common grace – Cain and his community will live on under God’s care, but without salvation.
5 sn Seventy-seven times. Lamech seems to reason this way: If Cain, a murderer, is to be avenged seven times (see v. 15), then how much more one who has been unjustly wronged! Lamech misses the point of God’s merciful treatment of Cain. God was not establishing a principle of justice when he warned he would avenge Cain’s murder. In fact he was trying to limit the shedding of blood, something Lamech wants to multiply instead. The use of “seventy-seven,” a multiple of seven, is hyperbolic, emphasizing the extreme severity of the vengeance envisioned by Lamech.