Genesis 4

Study the Inner Meaning

English: American Standard Version      

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1 And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man with [the help of] Jehovah.

2 And again she bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah.

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And Jehovah said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door: and unto thee shall be its desire, but do thou rule over it.

8 And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

9 And Jehovah said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother's keeper?

10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

11 And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened its mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;

12 when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee its strength; a fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth.

13 And Cain said unto Jehovah, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the ground; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth; and it will come to pass, that whosoever findeth me will slay me.

15 And Jehovah said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And Jehovah appointed a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should smite him.

16 And Cain went out from the presence of Jehovah, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methushael; and Methushael begat Lamech.

19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents and [have] cattle.

21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and pipe.

22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

23 And Lamech said unto his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: For I have slain a man for wounding me, And a young man for bruising me:

24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth. For, [said she], God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel; for Cain slew him.

26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enosh. Then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, ...

Apocalypse Explained 817

Sacred Scripture 103

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 405

True Christian Religion 279


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 337, 346, 347, 348, 349, 485, 527, ...

True Christian Religion 466


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 427, 838

Spiritual Experiences 323, 4139

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:




Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 3:9, 23, 5:3, 6, 9:20, 12:8, 37:26

Leviticus 3:16, 26:20

1 Samuel 13:11

2 Chronicles 28:9

Job 15:13, 20, 24:12

Psalms 9:13, 49:12, 107:34, 127:3

Proverbs 19:3, 28:17

Ecclesiastes 4:4

Jonah 4, 9

Matthew 23:35

Luke 3:38, 11:51

Romans 6:12

Hebrews 11:4, 12:24

James 5:4

1 John 3:12

Jude 1:11

Word/Phrase Explanations

man
"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

Eve
The name 'Eve' comes from the Hebrew word חַוָּה or 'Chava,' a form of the word for life, which is why she is called 'the...

wife
It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

Cain
'Cain' signifies the doctrine of faith separated from love. See Arcana Coelestia 338 and the sections that follow it.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Jehovah
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

brother
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

Abel
Abel signifies charity or love, in Genesis 4:2. (Divine Providence 242, Arcana Coelestia 325, and Arcana Coelestia 341). Abel signifies celestial love, which is loving...

sheep
It’s pretty easy for most people to read the Bible and get a sense for what “sheep” means without any help. They are simple, peaceful,...

time
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

came to pass
The phrase “it came to pass,” often also translated as “it happened,” generally indicates the end of one spiritual state and the beginning of a...

Pass
'To pass,' as in Genesis 31:52, signifies flowing in. 'To pass the night,' as in Genesis 24:54, signifies having peace. 'To pass through,' as in...

fruit
In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

Flock
A flock, as in Genesis 26, denotes interior or rational good. A flock signifies those who are in spiritual good. A flock signifies natural interior...

Fat
Fat signifies the celestial principle. Fat things, full of marrow, signify goodnesses. Fat and blood signify interior goods and truths, and hence the Israelites, prior...

fell
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

Countenance fallen
A fallen countenance (Gen. 4:5) signifies that the interiors were changed.

well
A pit,' or 'well which has no water,' as in Jeremiah 2:13, signifies doctrines which have no truths.

lifted
The idea of "lifting" is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. In general, it means connecting with a higher spiritual state...

sin
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

Door
In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

over
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

field
When we have a desire to be good people and to do good things, the natural first questions are "What does that mean?" "What should...

rose
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

know
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

voice of thy brother's blood
'The voice of blood,' as in Genesis 4:10, signifies violence to charity. There are several passages in the Word where the word 'voice' is used...

Voice
'Voice' signifies what is announced from the Word. 'Voice' often refers and is applied to things that cannot have a voice, as in Exodus 4,...

blood
The internal meaning of “blood” is a little tricky, because Swedenborg gives two meanings that seem quite different. In most cases, Swedenborg links blood with...

cursed
The Lord is love itself, and his love for us never wavers and never changes. What does waver and change is the degree to which...

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

hand
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

Strength
Strength' relates truth and falsity. Strength,' as in Luke 10:27, signifies the will and understanding extended to extremes. Strength,' as in Revelation 1:6, signifies divine...

Wanderer
'A wanderer' denotes not knowing truth and good.

Earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

Punishment
Punishment' is the consummation of evil, because after punishment, reformation succeeds. This is why it says in Deuteronomy 25:3, 'that no more than forty stripes...

bear
Like many verbs, the spiritual meaning of "bearing" something depends greatly on context – what it is that's being borne, and why. It is further...

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

Face of the ground
The face of the ground being DRIED (Gen. 8:13) signifies regeneration, when falsities no longer appeared.

come
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

Slay
'To slay a man to his wounding,' means extinguishing faith, and 'to slay a young man to his hurt,' signifies extinguishing charity, as in Genesis...

Vengeance
'Day of vengeance' signifies a state of damnation.

Sign
'A sign' is mentioned in the Word in reference to the future, which constitutes revelation. This also refers to truth, when it constitutes testification. It...

smite
To strike or smite, when used in the Bible, means to attack, harm or destroy, and is usually in reference to an attack on someone’s...

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

Nod
'The land of Nod,' as in Genesis 4:16, signifies a state destitute of goodness and truth.

Eden
According to the Writings, “Eden” by itself means love, in most cases the love that comes from the Lord and our love for the Lord,...

Enoch
Enoch (Gen. 5:18) signifies the seventh church from Adam, and which consisted of those who had framed doctrines out of the things which had been...

City
In the ancient world cities were very nearly nations unto themselves – they existed within walls, with their own laws and customs, generally centered on...

called
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

after
According to Swedenborg, time and space don’t exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means...

son
Marriages in the Bible represent the union we all can have between the desire for good and the understanding of truth (or an understanding of...

born
In a general sense, being "born" in the Bible represents one spiritual state producing another, usually some form of love or affection producing or "giving...

Irad
'Irad,' the son of Enoch, in Genesis 4:18, signifies heretical doctrine derived from Cain.

begat
To beget or to be begotten is very similar in meaning to birth: It represents one spiritual state leading to the next spiritual state. "Beget,"...

Mehujael
'Mehujael' signifies heresies.

Lamech
Lamech,' as in Genesis 4:18, signifies the vastation of the church when there was no longer any faith. Lamech,' as in Genesis 5:25, signifies the...

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

wives
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has six different common words which are generally translated as "wife," which largely overlap but have different nuances. Swedenborg...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

Adah
Adah, Lamech's wife, (Genesis 4:9), represents the mother of the celestial things of faith.

Zillah
Zillah (Gen. 4) signifies the mother of the natural things of that new church which succeeded the church represented by Lamech.

Jabal
'Jabal, the father of people who dwell in tents, and of cattle,' as in Genesis 4:20, signifies doctrine concerning the holy things of love, and...

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

dwell
Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

Tents
'Ohalim' or 'tabernacles' signify the holy part of what is good.

cattle
Animals in the Bible generally refer to spiritual activity, the things we actually do on a spiritual level. "Cattle," as typically used in the Bible,...

Jubal
'Jubal,' as in Genesis 4:21, signifies the doctrine of spiritual things in the new church which succeeded Lamech. Being 'the father of the harp and...

Tubal
'Tarshish, Pul, Lud, Tubal, and Javan,' as in Isaiah 66:19, signify varieties of external worship.

Tubal-Cain
'Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron,' as in Genesis 4:22, signifies the doctrine of natural good and truth. Tubal-Cain is called...

Brass
Brass and iron as in Isaiah 48:4 and Daniel 7:19 signify what is hard.

Iron
'Iron,' in Deuteronomy 8:9, signifies natural or rational truth. Iron' signifies natural truth, and consequently, the natural sense of the Word. At the same time,...

Sister
The Lord calls people who are in truth from the good of charity from Him 'sisters,' as in Matthew 12:50. 'Sister' denotes intellectual truth, when...

Naamah
Naamah, the sister of Tubal-Cain,' as in Genesis 4:22, signifies a new church of the doctrine of natural good, and truth from that church.

hear
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

Hearken
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

Slain
'The slain' when referring to the Lord, as in Revelation 5, means the separation of everything from the divine. In denial of His divinity, He...

young
'The son of a cow' signifies the celestial natural level and natural exterior good.

truly
There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

seventy and sevenfold
'To be avenged seventy and seven fold' denotes damnation.

adam
Adam is one of the most crucial and most controversial figures in the Bible, dividing even the faithful into camps: those who believe he literally...

Seth
'Seth,' as in Genesis 4:25 , signifies a new faith which brings charity.

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

began
In the Word, "beginning" doesn't just mean the beginning of something in time. In the inner sense, it means the initial phase of a spiritual...

men
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

upon
'Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Abel, Keeper of Sheep
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Cain and Abel
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 My Brother's Keeper
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Questions Asked by God
Article | Ages over 15

 The Fifth Commandment: You Shall Not Murder
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord’s Great Mercy
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Two Brothers and Their Offerings
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14


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