Mark of Cain

For hundreds of years people have speculated one of the strangest and mysterious incidents that have been recorded in the Holy Bible. This incident is also considered to be one of the very first crime of humanity during which Cain, who also happens to be the son of world’s first humans Adam and Eve ends up killing his brother Abel out of jealousy and spite; because Cain did not like that God was satisfied with the sacrificial offering made by Abel while he was rejected.

There is a specific section in Hebrews 11:4 which indicates that the reason why God rejected Cain’s offering was because of his approach and intention.

When it was revealed that Cain was behind the murder of his brother, God decreed:

“Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:11-12, NIV)

God’s wrath and curse was doubled because Cain could no longer produce anything from the land he had and he was also banished by God.

Explanation as to Why God Marked Cain

After the decree was imposed Cain protested that it was far too punitive and he feared that other people around him would try to execute him so as to end the curse of barren lands which is why God opted to protect Cain in an unusual manner:

“But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.” (Genesis 4:15, NIV)

In Genesis it has not been clearly mentioned who these people were that Cain feared so much but it is mostly likely his siblings. Although Cain was the oldest son of Adam and Eve, it is not entirely clear how many children they had between births of Cain and Abel.

Meaning Behind The Mark

Bible is deliberately ambiguous about the mark Cain had, leaving it up to the readers to interpret, some say it is a horn, scar and even discoloration of the skin. However, there are certain concrete things that we can say with assurance are:

  • The mark was permanent and most probably on his face so that it could be seen by everyone.
  • It was easy for everyone to understand.
  • It was probably there to intimidate people, regardless of their belief or disbelief in God.

The whole incident has been contested over the passage of history and the focus isn’t on the mark or the story itself, instead the focal point is the moral value that projects the severity of Cain’s sins and God’s mercifulness; and to teach the lesson that despite courts not being established none of Abel’s siblings took matters in their own hands.