Explanation Of Difficult Texts -- By: Multiple Authors
Explanation Of Difficult Texts
By an Association of Gentlemen
I. Genesis 4:7
“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door: and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
This passage is so closely connected with the preceding context, that it is necessary to turn our attention to that for a moment, before we proceed to its explanation. Cain and Abel brought an offering to God, in accordance with the their respective employments: the former, “of the fruit of the ground,” and the latter, “of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof.” But the Lord did not have the same respect for the offering of Cain that he had for that of his brother, on account of which, he was enraged, and, as a natural consequence, appeared downcast. The Lord rebuked him by the significant questions: “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?” and adds, in the verse now under discussion: If thou doest well, instead of this downcast expression of countenance, thou wouldst naturally lift up thy head, and have a cheerful countenance as those do, who are conscious of rectitude of purpose and action. But if thou doest not well, but indulgest hatred on account of this distinction made between thyself and thy brother, sin croucheth at thy door, as a wild beast for his prey. Thou art a sure victim of thy sinful passions. Sin (which is here called a lier-in-wait) desireth to have possession of thee, but thou hast the power to resist and overcome it. The little heed given to this warning of the Most High, as well as its appropriateness, is but too plainly told in the unnatural and bloody tragedy that soon ensued, as a result of which it is said: The voice of thy brother’s blood calleth for vengeance from the ground.
It will readily be seen that some change or explanation of the text, as it stands in our English version, is necessary in order to make out the connected idea given above. The clause, shalt thou not be accepted, seems to have been suggested to the translators by referring the phrase, “if thou doest well (אִם יטִיב),” directly to the offering of sacrifice; that is, according to this interpretation, it was said to Cain: If thou offerest sacrifice rightly, thine offering shalt be accepted; which,
BSac 7:25 (January 1850) p.164
although undoubtedly true, yet does not appear to be the exact sense here. The Hebrew word , which is rendered shalt thou be accepted, is שְׂת, a form of the infinitive mode, from, נָשָׂא and signifies: a lifting up, elevation, and with the ellipsis of...
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