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Genesis 4:13-15

Context
4:13 Then Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment 1  is too great to endure! 2  4:14 Look! You are driving me off the land 3  today, and I must hide from your presence. 4  I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth; whoever finds me will kill me.” 4:15 But the Lord said to him, “All right then, 5  if anyone kills Cain, Cain will be avenged seven times as much.” 6  Then the Lord put a special mark 7  on Cain so that no one who found him would strike him down. 8 

1 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.

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

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

4 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.

5 tn The Hebrew term לָכֵן (lakhen, “therefore”) in this context carries the sense of “Okay,” or “in that case then I will do this.”

6 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.

7 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.

8 sn God becomes Cain’s protector. Here is common grace – Cain and his community will live on under God’s care, but without salvation.



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