Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

own.

it could only arise from obedience, and I and satisfactory view of the coherency obedience (alone) could justify it.' Del- of the verse is obtained and the comaney. Thus the divine institution of mon, but somewhat forced version, 'a sacrifices would seem to be unquestion- sin-offering,' rendered unnecessary. able. Shalt thou not be accepted ? | The sense of the passage, then, may be An interrogation carrying with it the given thus :-If thou doest well, shalt force of an affirmation; implying that thou not enjoy the appointed preemithe principle of the divine dealings was nence ? (but if thou doest not well, sin so well known to Cain, that he might lieth at the door) and unto thee shall be directly and confidently appealed to be his obsequious respect, and thou respecting it. The scope of the pas- i shalt rule over him.' This construcsage is clearly to intimate that God's tion brings the first and last clauses of respect to sincere obedience was impar- the verse into immediate connection, tial; that he rewarded it wherever he and in such a way, if we mistake not, found it; and that if Cain's offering as to afford the only true key to the was not equally acceptable with that interpretation.—' There are some who of his brother, the fault was purely his affect to smile at the idea of sin lying

He had only to evince the same at the door: it is, however, an Eastern piety of spirit with Abel to receive the figure. Ask a man who is unacquaintsame tokens of approbation. The ori ed with Scripture, what he understands ginal word for acceptance properly sig- by sin lying at the threshold of the nifies lifting up, elevation, excellency, door; he will immediately speak of it and points not only to the removal of as the guilt of some great crime which his sadness, of that gloomy and deject the owner had committed. A man aoed air which he exhibited, and the lift-cused of having murdered a child, would ing up of his face in the erectness of be accosted in the following language: conscious innocence, but also that pre- - If you have done this, think not to cedence and preeminence which formed escape; no! for sin will ever lie at your a part of his birthright as the elder door: it will descend from generation brother. In this sense the word un- to generation. To a man accused of questionably occurs Gen. 49. 3, 'Reu- having committed any other dreadful ben, thou art my first-born, my might, crime, it would be said, “Ah! if I had and the beginning of my strength, the done it, do I not know sin would ever excellency of dignity (Heb. 18u ele- lie at my door?'' The idea is sin pervation, eminence).' From the latter sonified in the shape of some fierce anclause of the verse it is evident that imal crouched at the door. Its crimiGod alludes to the prerogatives of the nality and punishment remain. Tabirthright which Cain would be in no king the other view of it, scems to danger of losing if his conduct were amount to this; Now, Cain, if thou such as it ought to be. - 9 And if doest well that will be thy excellency, thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. thou shall be accepted : but if thou doHeb. 137 croucheth. That is, the est not well, it is a matter of no very guilt and punishment of sin await thee; great consequence, because there is a deserved judgment shall follow close sin-offering at thy door.' Roberts.upon thy transgression; it shall be 1 Unto thee shall be his desire. That like a fierce mastiff or furious beast is, Abel's desire. See this phrase exof prey crouching, as it were, at the plained in the note on Gen. 3. 16. That very door of thy house to seize upon the respect and honour implied in this thee unawares. By enclosing these expression was a distinction of the eldwords in a parenthesis, a far more clearl er brother forming an important part

8 And Cain talked with Abe! Cain rose up against Abel bis his brother; and it came to pass brotler, and slew him. when they were in the field, that

f Matt. 23. 36. 1 John 3. 12. Jude. 11.

of the birthright is clear from Gen. 27. him quietly.' 2 Sam. 20. 9, 10, To 29, “Let people serve thee and nations Amasa he said, Art thou in health, my bow down to thee; be lord orer thy brother? and took him by the beard brethren, and let thy mother's sons bou to kiss him;' but these pretences of down to thee.' If, as Venema supposes, friendship, like those of Cain on this Cain understood from the tokens of the occasion, were only to secure access divine approbation towards Abel that to their persons that he might with he had forfeited the birthright and that surer effect strike the degger to their it was now transferred to the younger hearts. In like manner Absalom combrother, it will account more satisfac- passed the murder of Amon, making a torily for the settled hatred which now hospitable entertainment a cover to effect took possession of his breası. Ii the destruction of his brother in the makes the case of Cain also entirely midst of his convivial mirth. Viewed analagous to that of Esau and of Jo- in this light the treachery of Cain awseph's brethren, whose disaffection to fully enhanced his guilt as a fratricide. wards the favoured one arose from pre- Had it been the effect of sudden wrath, cisely the same cause. See note on though criminal beyond expression, yet Gen. 37. 3, 4.

our instinctive feelings would have And Cain talked with Abel his found some apology for him ; but bebrother. Heb. · And Cain said unto ing the result of premeditation and conAbel his brother;' after which there is, trivance, of deceit and treachery, its in many of the Hebrew copies, a blank enormity is increased an hundred-fold. space left, as if something had been - Rose up against Abel his brothomitted. Accordingly the Sept. and er, and slew him. "And wherefore Sam. versions supply the supposed slew he him? Because his own works omission by adding the words, 'Let us were evil and his brother's righteous,' go into the fields;' but for such a sup. 1 John, 3. 12. In this fearful transaction plement there is no authority beyond we trace the legitimate results of an conjecture, nor is it at all necessary. indulged envious spirit. There is inThe meaning probably is that Cain dis- deed such a connection between the links sembled his hatred, conversing freely of the chain of eviis mentioned by the and familiarly with his brother, till an apostle, 'envy, debate, deceit, murder,' opportunity occurred of executing his that wherever the first is harboured the murderous purpose. Had he disclosed rest would follow of course, God in the sentiments of his heart, he would his infinite mercy did not interpose to have put his brother on his guard; limit the operation of our sinful propenwhereas by feigning affection towards sities. O envy, the corrosive of all him he would remove all fear and sus- ill minds, and the root of all desperate picion from the mind of his intended actions! The same cause that moved victim, and thus facilitate the accom- Satan to destroy the first man, the plishment of the fatal deed. To simi- same moves the second man to destroy lar means assassins have had recourse the third. If there be an evil heart in all ages. It was thus that Joab slew there will be an evil eye ;-and if both Abner and Amasa ; 2 Kings 3. 26, 27. these, there will be an evil hand. There He sent messengers after Abner, and never was an envy that was not bloody; took him aside in the gate to spcak with if not in act, yet in affection,' Bp, Hall.

9 | And the LORD said unto 10 And he said, What hast Cain, 6 Where is Abel thy broth-thou done ? the voice of thy er ? And he said, h I know not: brother's blood i crieth unto me Am I my brother's keeper ? from the ground.

g Ps. 9. 12. h John 8. 44.

i Heb. 12. 24. Rev. 6. 10.

Death thus began its ravages, and the question, as if he had no right to interfirst man that died, died a martyr for rogate him respecting it! "Am I my religion. But though his parents' hearts brother's keeper.' Is he not capable of must have bled over the mangled re-taking care of himself ? Does he need mains of their son, yet they doubtless a guardian? or was I appointed one felt acuter pangs for living Cain than over him? Had he been innocent the for dead Abel. He died in faith; and, question would have awakened the from a sinner on earth, became a deepest anxiety in his bosom; for a saint in heaven. He was the first of kindly concern for those who are near the noble army of martyrs, the first of to us by kindred is not only one of the human kind who entered the abodes of first duties of religion, but one of the the blessed.

must instinctive promptings of nature. 9. Where is Abel thy brother ? A But what a hardened indifference to a question proposed not for the sake of brother's fate is indicated in every obtaining information, but to awaken word, and what fearful impiety must in the culprit a sense of his crime and that have been which could give rise to thus to lead him to repentance. The such an answer ! Indeed were it not words 'thy brother would tend to re- for the indisputable record of the facts, mind him of the tender ties of flesh it would be scarcely conceivable that a and blood which he had broken, and if worm of the dust should have been he had any workings of conscience re- guilty of such heaven-daring effrontery. maining within him, must have pierced 10. The voice of thy brother's blood him to the quick. The circumstance crieth to me from the ground. He had affords moreover a striking instance of effectually silenced his brother's voice; the divine forbearance that God should so that no testimony could be borne have deigned to hold a colloquy with by him. But the blood which he had one whom his justice might have smit- shed had a voice which cried aloud; a ten down by a sudden stroke. But he voice which reached the throne of Alwould set an example of clemency mighty God and brought him down to by affording to the most guilty an op- plead the cause of injured innocence. portunity of speaking in his own de- Indeed every sin has a voice which fence. - I know not, am I my broth- speaks powerfully in the ears of God, er's keeper? Alas ! how inseparable the and calls for vengeance on the head of connection between guilt and falsehood! him who has committed it. But it is He who dares to commit sin will never not always that the vengeance wakes hesitate to cover it with a lie! It would so suddenly as in the present instance. hardly be possible to express in human The Hebrew instead of 'voice of thy language a reply more fraught with brother's blood' has'voice of thy brothfalsehood, insolence, and contempt of di- er’s bloods, which the Chaldee Tarvine authority than is couched in these gum thus interprets; – The voice of the words. He not only boldly denies all bloods of the generations (the multiknowledge of the fact, but with amaz- tudes of just men) which should have ing hardihood charges impertinence up-proceeded from thy brother.' The word on his Judge in putting to him this however in the plural usually signifies

11 And now art thou cursed thee her strength: A fugitive and from the earth, which hath open- a vagabond shalt thou be in the ed her mouth to receive thy broth-earth. er's blood from thy hand.

13 And Cain said unto the 12 When thou tillest the ground, LORD, My punishment is greater it shall not henceforth yield unto than I can hear.

He was

murder and its conscquent guilt, and cultivated soil. A curse superadded to the habitual perpetrators of this crime the original one denounced for Adam's are called by the Psalmist, Ps. 5. 7, offence should cause the earth comparmen of bloods.' This is probably its atively to withhold its increase; and import here. The original for crieth is not only so it should, in a sense, deny in the plural agreeing with bloodsare him a permanent abode. crying'-an idiom of peculiar emphasis, thenceforth to become a fugitive and a which cannot well be transferred into vagabond in the earth, condemned to English. In allusion to and by way of perpetual disgrace and reproach among contrast to this blood of Abel demand- men. Instead of dwelling in peace ing vengeance, it is said, Heb. 12. 24, among his own family and kindred, he that the blood of Christ speaketh bet- was to be banished from their society, ter things than the blood of Abel, i. e. and compelled to withdraw to some cries for pardon.

distant and lonely part of the earth, as a 11. Cursed from the earth. Heb. wretched outcast abhorred and rejected

A ground. That is, in regard to of all his kind. To this were to be adthe ground; as far as the ground is con- ded the stings of a guilty conscience, cerned. That ground which had drank the perpetual disquietude and horror the blood of a murdered brother was to that would not fail to haunt the breast become an instrument of inflicting the of the first murderer. Yet even in this merited punishment upon the guilty severe sentence there was a mixture of fratricide. Nature herself is here rep- mercy, inasmuch as he was not immeresented as setting her face against one diately cut off but had space given him who had violated the most sacred of to repent ; for God is long-suffering and human ties. The earth is made to not willing that any should perish. harden her bosom against the cruel

13. My punishment is greater than I wretch, who could so far conquer every can bear. Heb. 4379 my iniquity, my sin. fraternal feeling as to shed the blood of But we have elsewhere remarked (ch. an unoffending brother. The precise 19. 15,) that the original for sin is often manner in which this part of the sen- used but as another term for the puntence was to be carried into effect is ishment of sin, and such is perhaps the described in the ensuing verse.

true rendering here. Yet it may be re12. It shall not henceforth yield unto marked that the Heb. will admit the thee her strength. Heb. 'It shall not rendering, ‘My sin is greater than can add to yield.' A further explanation of be forgiven,' as if it were the exclamathe curse denounced above. The earth, tion of one who was just sinking in deas a general rule, was designed to afford spair. This mode of speech, it appears, its occupants sustenance and settlement. is still common in the East.

'Has a But both these are great measure person committed a great crime; he will here denied to Cain. The ordinary go to the offended individual and piteamount of labour would not suffice to ously plead for mercy, and at intervals procure the ordinary returns from the keep crying, ''Ah, my guilt is too great

14 Behold, thou hast driven 15 And the LORD said unto me out this day from the face of hin, Therefore whosoever slaythe earth ; and 1 from thy face shall eth Cain, vengeance shall be taI be hid ; and I shall be a fugitive ken on him, "seven-fold. And and a vagabond in the earth ; and the LORD set a mark upon Cain, it shall come to pass, m that every lest any finding him should kill one that findeth me shall slay me. him.

k Job 15. 20-24. 1 Ps. 51. 1. m ch. 9. 6. Num. 35. 19, 21, 27.

n Ps. 79. 12. 0 Ezek. 9. 4, 6.

to be forgiven. My hopes are gone.'' which I have hitherto inhabited and Roberts. On the whole, however, the cultivated. The original is not the former is, we think, the correct in- word usually rendered earth (na), terpretation, and yet we know not that but a term of narrower import frequentit is necessarily to be understood as ly implying tilled or improved ground a crimination of the sentence of the (722 7x), as in v. 11. It is evident that Judge. We take it rather as the volun- it cannot mean earth in its largest sense, tary acknowledgment and recital of the for in that he was to be a fugitive and overwhelming yet deserved misery vagabond. - From thy facc_shall I which he had brought upon himself by be hid. That is, from the place where his murderous act. As human nature thy presence is most peculiarly maniis constituted, we see not how the in- fested, from the visible symbols of thy ward insuppressible voice of conscience glory, and so from converse and comcould have failed to respond to the sen-munion with thee. See on v. 16.– -T tence uttered against him, and if it did Every one that findeth me shall slayme. so respond, it is scarcely conceivable Will attempt to slay me, will be promptthat these words were those of remon- ed to do it. Mr. Roberts remarks that strance. They were rather a natural modern usages of speech among the exclamation in view of the fearful Orientals illustrate this language of consequences of his guilt of which he Cain. 'Has a man escaped from prishad now become sensible, and which on; the people say, 'Ah, all men will he goes on to specify at length in the catch and bring that fellow back.' Has ensuing verse. Whether there was any a man committed murder; 'Ah, all thing of the working of penitence in men will kill that murderer.' This his confession, does not appear from means, the feeling will be universal; the text. The probability is that it was all will desire to have that individual the prompting of remorse rather than punished.' The question may here be of godly sorrow, and so was merely asked whom, besides his father and equivalent to the extorted confession of mother, Cain had to fear? To this it Judas, Mat. 27. 4, 'I have sinned in may be answered, that as the death of that I have betrayed the innocent blood.' Abel probably occurred somewhat up

14. Thou hast driven me out this wards of a hundred years from the creday. He now proceeds to specify the ation, ch. 5. 5, and Adam had many circumstances which conspired to make sons and daughters besides those here his doom so intolerable; and so well mentioned, ch. 5. 4, the population of assured is he of the execution of the the earth might at this time have insentence, that he speaks of it as already creased to many hundreds or accomplished. From the face of thousands of souls. It was by no the earth. Heb. ‘from the face of the means the object of the sacred writer ground.' That is, from that region I to give a full account of all Adam's

even

« VorigeDoorgaan »