The new period bore a special stamp. Its chief purpose was to make plain what sin had actually effected in human nature. Therefore it was governed by three leading principles; it completed its course
(I) without special fundamental regulations from God (read Gen. 3: 14-19);
(2) with almost complete restriction of revelation to the witness of nature, conscience, and history;
(3) without fundamental earthly measures of supervision or of punishment for the sinner in the event of his disobedience.
On account of the second characteristic the period has been called "the age of human conscience." But inasmuch as conscience is not exclusively peculiar to this economy, but continues into later periods (comp. Rom. 2:15; I Pet. 3: 16), while the absence of all particular ordinances and basic principles of supervision or pumshment by God is the particular feature of this time, the name "period of freedom" appears essentially more correct. Nevertheless since "freedom' is much too ideal a conception, a still more suitable description is "the period of human self-determination." And because in that time God made Himself known to man not only through the witness of conscience, but through the threefold revelation in nature, conscience, and history, perhaps the best description of all would be "the period of general Divine revelation."
In the Paradise period there were prohibition and command (Gen. 2: 16, 17). The same was the case in all later economies here only, in the time between Adam and Noah, as the sole such period in the Divine plan of salvation, had mankind fundamental freedom to do or not to do what they would. No authority and no ruling power had been established by God to restrain the sinner in the self-revelation of his wickedness. Man was to have unrestricted opportunity to show what he could accomplish and to reveal what he would become when he "freely" evolves. Thus this second age of the plan of salvation became "the age of human self-determination,' or, as Delitszch says, the time of "testing of freedom" of the human race. But the end is-the Flood.
Cain was the creator of the civilization before the Flood. At the same time he is the original and primary type of the entire human history springing out of him, so far as this developed in severance from God and without fellowship with the Most High.
Cain was not a representative of religious indifference or open denial of God. On the contrary, he brought to God an offering and burned 1 with envy when he saw Abel's offering acknowledged and not his own gift. But from lack of inward piety, despite his outward devotion, he became the first man who was "of [lit. out of, drew his nature from] the evil one" (I John 3: 12).
1Gen. 4:5: literally: "It burned in Cain;" "it became glowing in Cain".
And from the false disposition of the offerer there resulted automatically a false element in his offering. While Abel brought his first and best (Gen. 4: 4), Cain offered no firstling sacrifice, but the first thing that came to hand, something or other that he had just found. And while Abel (surely in regard to the Divine institution of sacrifice on the clothing of the first pair with the skins of animals) offered up a sacrifice of blood, acknowledging thereby that his sin deserved death and could be covered before God solely through the substitutionary death of a guiltless sacrifice, Cain offered merely an expression of his dependence and thanksgiving, and this indeed a self-wrought production of his own strength. Thereby he became the prototype of all who dare to approach the sanctuary of God without the shedding of blood (Heb. 9: 22), who indeed own themselves dependent creatures but not death-deserving sinners.
And from this point onward these two "ways" run through human history.
On the one hand the "way" of Cain (Jude 11); a religion of the flesh, a self-willed worship, the self-satisfied justification by works and the insubordinate self-redemption, which relies on itself and rejects substitution-this "idealizing" of one's own power, this theology of the first murderer, this "faith" of the serpent's seed(comp. Jas. 2:19); but on the other hand, the "way" of Abel-the humble acknowledgment that sin demands death the reliance of the guilty on the sacrifice appointed by God Himself, the enduring of persecution for the sake of the eternal goal, the expectation of the triumph of the Divine redemption through the woman's seed.
But the end will correspond to the beginning, only in reverse the line of the murdered Abel will attain to eternal life (Heb.11: 40, 4), but the way of Cain will perish. The highest perfecting of "Abel" is Christ, and in Him the incarnation of the Holy God; but the highest development of "Cain" is the Antichrist and in him the self-deification of the curse-laden sinner (II Thess. 2:4). Therefore the one way ends in the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12: 22-24), but the other way in the lake of fire (Rev. 19: 20).
And as the first war in mankind was, as it were, a religious war (Gen. 4), so will also the last be, both before and after the earthly kingdom of God of the End-time (Rev. 16: 16; 19: 19; 20: 8, 9). But then the Divine patience will exalt itself to tne exultant power of victory, and thc faith of Abel will triumph over the religion of Cain.
With his principle of self-redemption Cain became the beginner of all God-estranged human development. He who, according to the Divine sentence, was to be wandering and fugitive" (Gen. 4: 12), in self-will resisted the curse, and, in defiant opposition to the Divine word, became the first of all men to build a fixed settlement, a "city" (Gen. 4: 17).
Thereby was given the basic tendency of all further human development, so far as it leads away from God; namely, overcoming the curse on the path of godless civilization, regaining Paradise without the experience of redemption, the combination of fleshly energy without the acknowledgment of God s sovereignty, and thus the self-redemption of mankind with the Deity excluded.
The name of this first human city is itself significant of this:"Enoch," "Inauguration," fresh start, overturning of all that preceded, the new beginning of a self-willed combined civilization in revolt against God (Gen. 4: 17).
Thereby this first city took its stand in opposition to the earliest gospel. Each is a fresh beginning after the collapse. But there it was a new beginning by God on the way of redemption; here it is a new beginning by mankind on the way of a God- excluding civilization .
The attainments of civilization are not in themselves contrary to God, but rather belong to the paradisaical nobility of man. Inventions and discoveries, science and art, refinement and improvement, in short, the advance of the human mind, these are entirely the will of God. They are the taking possession of the earth by the royal human race (Gen. 1:28), the discharging of a duty to the Creator by God's ennobled servant, a God-appointed sovereignty and service for the blessing of this earth-realm. And only entire misconception of the most simple laws of revelation could charge the Holy Scripture with a retrograde mode of thought and hostility to culture. No; what the bible rejects and what " Cain " is, is not civilization in itself, but the God-estrangement of millions of its representatives, the untrue religious make-believe, inconsiderate treatment of one's neighbours, the spirit of arrogance and rebellion, in brief, the revolt against the Most High.
And as unbrokenness and defiance characterized the "Cain" nature upwards and Godwards, so did oppression and violence mark its direction downwards and outwards to its fellow-men. In this way, Cain, the murderer of his brother, became the first agent of religious war and of warfare in general, the original type of all tyrants and sanguinary lords of the world, the father of the spirit of all mass-murder, of all brutality and barbarity. Thereore his city is the first foundation stone of all world empires that renounce God, so far as the spirit of the wild-beast rules in them (comp. Dan. 7: 2-8; 8: 3-7; Rev. 13: 1,2); the start which in many ways gave much fateful direction to the otherwise so sublime and rich world-history, "through which the history of revelation winds its way as the water of Shiloah goes quietly (Isa. 8: 6). The one issues from tears of repentance; the other exalts itself over a brother's blood. There God's power unfolds the promised blessing; here human power struggles vainly against the inner curse.
"As were the days of Noah, so shall be also the coming of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24: 37). As in the plan of salvation the divine principles, like a circle, turn back at the end to the beginning, so also in the history of civilization the final periods resemble the first. Therefore investigation of that ancient past is equally a message for later times, and especially is the Cainite civilization the germinal type for the world situation of the End-time.
It is this because of the following characteristics. 1
1See G.H. Pember, Earth's Earliest Ages, ch. 10.
(I) Rapid advance of all mechanical art. The decisive bent of man's mind before the Flood was the attempt to compensate for the lost Paradise by one that was artificial. The "ascent" was quicker by the Cainites than by the Sethites, for "in their generation the children of the world are shrewder than the children of light" (Luke 16: 8). Through Cain came settled life and city building; through the roving 2 Jabal, nomad civilization. Tubalcain, "the hammerer", became the father of the smith's trade, and Jubal, the "undulating" (which his name means), was the creator of music. The last three were all sons of Lamech.
2 From the Heb. "jabal", originally to flow, stream, undulate.
Thus the three chief occupations of human society had all arisen quickly, food, defence, and instruction, the tradesman, the warrior, the intellectual; and thus were promoted
feeding through Jabal-the material side of life;
defence through Tubal-Cain-the harsh side of life;
instruction through Jubal-the intellectual side of life.
As a worker in metals Tubal-cain became the founder of "industry" and of all work in metals and iron in general; and Tubal, who brought the tones of the lute to the "undulating", became the creator of all soothing and inspiriting efforts in art and music; while Lamech, his father, became the first representative of poetic art, as witness his song praising the sword (Gen. 4 :23, 24),
The most significant testimony to the pre-Deluge civilization is the Ark of Noah. Its measurements were gigantic. The Ency. Britt. (vol. II, 364) gives "roughly 450 feet by 150 feet by 45 feet". This would give a capacity of more than 3,ooo,ooo cubic feet. It is therefore comparable to our modern ocean vessels. As other examples also show, it is the very buildings of the greatest, indeed gigantic, measurements that belong likewise to immemorial antiquity, as the Pyramids and the Sphinx. In 1609 the Dutch Mennonite Peter Jansen had a ship built at Hoorn in Holland, to the same proportions but one-third of the size, and it was found that such a ship certainly moved more heavily, but as compensation for this it could carry one-third more cargo than an ordinary ship of the same cubic space. And it was for carrying, not specifically for sailing, that the Ark was intended. Arca (Latin)= chest, box, case.
(2) Great Increase of Population. "Men began to multiply" (Gen. 6: 1). Already in the time of Cain, apparently in his advanced age, a city could be built (probably at first simply an established colony), Gen. 4: 17. This is the less astonishing, since the life-energy of the youthful race must at the beginning have been very powerful. Also, with the long lives of the parents, the number of the children must have been much greater than later on; and, for the same reason, many generations must have lived alongside of each other at the same time. With an average of only six children per family, by the time Cain was only 400 years old he would have had far more than 100,000 descendants. Even at the present time the increase of the population of the whole earth has been enormous. According to Prof. Hennia, since the commencement of the nineteenth century the mass of mankind has more than doubled (from about 900 millions to some 2,000 millions).
The son "Enoch" that was born to Cain during the building of the city (Gen. 4: 17), was apparently not his firstborn. Similarly, in the case of the Sethites it is not the firstborn who are mentioned, but those who carried on the history, in this case the ancestors of Noah. This is proved by the years of their birth. For "even as Adam was not unmarried for 130 years, so neither was Seth for 105, nor Methuselah for 187, nor Noah for 500." See Gen. 5.
Cain's wife was one of the daughters (or female descendants) of Adam mentioned in Gen. 5: 4 (whom Cain "knew" in the land of Nod but did not first " take" there). Such alliances were at first necessary. Therefore to speak of the marriage of " brother and sister" is not correct, because in the very earliest period of mankind there were still no "families" at all, and therefore neither the particular love of "brother and sister;" for because all members of the same degree stood in equal "nearness" to one another they were also equally "distant." Therefore the reproach that these original unions were immoral is untenable.
(3) Disregard of the Divine Law of Marriage. Three women of the descendants of Cain are mentioned, but not even one in the genealogy of Seth. The names of these three Cainite women are Ada ("ornament," "morning," or "beauty"), Zilla ("the shady," possibly on account of the rich hair that veiled her), and Naama (" loveliness "). Their mention among the Cainites indicates that there the women took a more forward place than among the Sethites, and that outward beauty and sensual attractiveness were the chief features which were valued in them. But Lamech, the seventh from Cain, finally trespassed quite openly against the original marriage law (Matt. 19: 3-9) and became the first polygamist.
(4) Rejection of the Call to Penitence and Faith. Yet God sent witnesses to this apostate world with the warning cry to repent and return. But no one paid attention. No one gave heed,
neither in the days of Enosh, when the pious joined together for united worship of Jehovah, the Lord, as the covenant God and Redeemer (Gen. 4: 26. See App. I, the Names of God ;
nor in the days of Enoch, to the warning by this prophet of the coming world judgment (Jude 14, 15; Gen. 5: 21-24; Heb. 11: 5, 6);
nor also to Lamech, the Sethite, who waited for the promised " Comforter " and " Rest-bringer " (Heb., Noah), (Gen. 5 : 29);
and just as little to Noah, the "preacher of righteousness," one who testified against them for 120 years (Gen. 6: 3; II Pet. 2:5).
On the contrary, gradually the Sethites also were overcome by the spirit of the age, and so at last there developed this general situation:
(5) The Union of the Professing People of God with the World.
In consequence, after Lamech the Cainites are no longer mentioned as a separate race, and when shortly the Flood came they all perished together, the Sethites equally with the Cainites. Only Noah, the tenth from Adam, and his three sons, together with their four wives, were saved (I Pet. 3:20).
And yet this whole world, although doomed to destruction, was full of self-praise.
(6) Self glorification of Mankind. While Sethite piety reached its height in Enoch, the seventh (Jude 14), it was Lamech, the seventh, who embodied the summit of Cainite rebellion. In him the line of the Cainites reached its full development, its selfglorifying goal, and therefore is he in the Biblical record the conclusion of the history of the Cainites. As has been said above, the attainments of civilization are not in themselves contrary to God, but here all things served to the benumbing of the conscience.
Lamech's song is a "hymn of victory upon the invention of the sword " (Gen. 4:23,24). " The history of the Cainites begins with a murder and ends with praise of murder. In its seventh member everything is forgotten; with music, social amenities, luxury, and display everything is benumbed. The curse of loneliness is changed into city life, the curse of being unsettled is turned into love of travel, the bad conscience into heroism, which makes the remembrance of the curse of God's ancestors only a support of one's own God-blaspheming self-consciousness. Thus all is pleasure and splendour, entwined and crowned with the flower of human wit and the soul's creative power, poetic art."
If by the "sons of God" (Gen. 6: 1,2) fallen angels are meant (comp. Job 1: 6; 2: 1; 38: 7; Dan. 3:25; II Pet.2: 4; Jude 6, 7), then occultism and spiritism are likewise a distinct principle of the Cainite civilization. This explanation is upheld by the majority, e.g. Philo, Josephus, most of the Rabbis, the Septuagint, Kurtz, Delitzsch, Gunkel, Konig, Pember. 3 On the other side Augustine, Calvin, J. P. Lange apply the passage to the commingling of Sethites and Cainites. A fuller treatment is not possible here.
3[For a full examination, to the same effect, see the 15th edition of Pember's Earth's Earliest Ages, Appendix. Trans.]
But at last the Most High gave His answer, and His answer was the Judgment. After more than 1,500 years of Divine patience (See Gen. 5), in the tenth generation (ten is the number of completeness and of the conclusion of a completed development, even as, later, Abraham was the tenth from Noah-see Gen. 11:10-26), the Flood destroyed the God-estranged sinful human race.
In the year 1925, Prof. Riem, speaking of the traditions of the Flood, referred to no fewer than 35 traces and gave 268 detailed accounts. "Among these 268 accounts the Flood appears 77 times simply as the Flood, 80 times as an inundation, 3 times as a fall of snow, 58 times as rain. Among the last, once as rain of hot pitch, once the earth is overflowed by a flood of tears, and 16 times the great conflagration appears. Twenty-one times the rainbow is seen, and almost always with express mention of its reconciling power."
Previous Chapter/Table of Contents/Next Chapter