Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Mark of Cain by Ruth Mellinkoff


The story of Cain found in Genesis 4 is very short and highly ambiguous. It brings up more questions than it answers. Why did God accept Abel's offering, but not Cain's? Did Cain repent of his murder of Abel? Why did God protect Cain from being murdered himself? Why did Cain fear being murdered when the only other humans were his parents? How did Cain eventually die? Or did he? What was the mark of Cain?

Numerous theologians from antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times have attempted to fill in the blanks with their own interpretations. According to Ambrose and other commentators, the mark (or sign) of Cain was a protective symbol to keep Cain alive so that he had an opportunity to repent. However, Jerome and others assert that the reason God kept Cain alive was to torment him further and Basil considered the mark of Cain as a kind of scarlet letter proclaiming his crime rather than a protective symbol.

The Genesis Rabbah (Bereshith 22:12) gives multiple theories as to what the sign of Cain was: An event such as the Lord causing the sun to shine or suspending judgement until the Flood, a disfigurement such as giving Cain leprosy or a horn growing out of his head, and making Cain himself a sign to other murderers or penitents. One rabbi even supposes the Lord gave Cain a dog as a bodyguard to prevent others from murdering him.

In Revelation, marks on the forehead are used both for protection of the righteous (7:3, 9:4), and as a mark to identify those who are evil (14:9-10). The mark on the forehead is also a protection in Ezekial 9:4-6, and Aaron, the brother of Moses is instructed to wear a mark on his forehead (Exodus 28:36-38). Along these same lines, followers of Yahweh are instructed to wear a mark in Deuteronomy 6:8, 11:18.

Psuedo-Jonathan Targum to Genesis 4:15 states the mark placed upon Cain was one of the letters of God's name YHWH placed on his face. The Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer tells us that the mark was one of the letters of the alphabet placed on Cain's arm. The Zohar also states that God put one of the letters of the alphabet on Cain.

The most popular interpretation of Cain's mark for most of Christian history, cited by some early Christian works, such as The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, and the writings of Bede, state that Cain's trembling and moaning is the sign.

Others say that the mark of Cain was a physical deformity. In the Irish Lebor Gabála Érenn, the mark of Cain was the inability to grow a beard. Whereas the Irish Saltair na Rann states that the mark was a lump on his forehead. In the Saltair na Rann, Cain later dies when a tree hits him on the lump in a freak accident. Another account of Cain's death is found in Jubilees 4:31 where he dies from his house falling down on top of him. One of the versions of The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Benjamin 7 states that Cain died in the Flood.

The most popular deformity to assign to Cain throughout the centuries is the growth of a horn, which makes his descent Lamech mistake him for a wild animal and shoot him with an arrow (Midrash Tanhuma, on Genesis 11, Jasher 2:26-31). In the Armenian book called The History of Cain and Abel, the horn or horns cry out with a loud voice that Cain murdered his brother wherever he went. A Cornish play Gwreans an Bys gives Cain horns, but also makes him hairy.

Although it's more common for black skin to be the sign of Ham's curse (for seeing the nakedness of his father Noah), black skin has also been thought to be the mark of Cain. Midrash Rabbah Genesis 22:6 says Cain's face was blackened when God rejected his sacrifice. The Armenian History of Cain and Abel says God was so mad at Cain He beat his face with hail that was blackened like coal, and thus Cain's face became black. This tradition continues in Mormonism today (Moses 7:8,22, Abraham 1:22-24, Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie, Mormonism and the Negro by John Stewart, The Church and the Negro by John Lund). (As this book was written in 1981, Mellinkoff does not mention the current Mormon folk belief that Cain is in fact Bigfoot, an idea derived from the description of Cain found in The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.)

Mellinkoff also mentions a couple non-theological interpreations of Cain's sign. The medieval play, the Mactacio Abel, transforms the story of Cain into a satire on fifteenth-century legal practices with God's protection of Cain being compared to a King's pardon, which was much abused during the time. Demian by Hermann Hesse interprets the sign of Cain as being a certain expression on his face indicating intelligence and boldness and an unwillingness to go along with the herd.

Early Christians such as Ambrose, Augustine and Bede, associated Cain with the Jews and compared Cain's killing of Abel with the Jews killing Christ. The sign of Cain in this instance is that the Jewish race will never be killed, but forever be cursed to wander the earth. Isidore of Seville says that the sign of Cain is circumcision specifically, an idea several later Church figures adopted. In 1215, Pope Innocent III decreed that Jews wear clothing to distinguish them from Christians, making the sign of Cain literal, a practice that continued sporadically throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and Nazi Germany.

1 comment:

Michael Idarecis said...

Good day to you. Regarding Cain had felt this would give something to consider as to Cain's behavior and exchanges with God in The Bible. This was a quick response so have not fully expounded on what is presented.

What was Cain's offering? Cain offered his WILL to God or the fruits of His WILL.

What is the mark upon Cain? The mark is his inflated "I". Cain will always glorify himself when you consider the city of Enoch which was the name of Cain's son. The same inflated ego "I" mentality was passed down to Enoch.

Cain is marked never to be part of the death of Christ. That means the old man will never die so the rising of Christ within the person.

Romans 6:1-11 “1 What, then, shall we say? shall we continue in the sin that the grace may abound? 2 let it not be! we who died to the sin--how shall we still live in it? 3 are ye ignorant that we, as many as were baptized to Christ Jesus, to his death were baptized? 4 we were buried together, then, with him through the baptism to the death, that even as Christ was raised up out of the dead through the glory of the Father, so also we in newness of life might walk. 5 For, if we have become planted together to the likeness of his death, so also we shall be of the rising again; 6 this knowing, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of the sin may be made useless, for our no longer serving the sin; 7 for he who hath died hath been set free from the sin. 8 And if we died with Christ, we believe that we also shall live with him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised up out of the dead, doth no more die, death over him hath no more lordship; 10 for in that he died, to the sin he died once, and in that he liveth, he liveth to God; 11 so also ye, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to the sin, and living to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

A magnified version of this which is pain to see is how very rich people isolate themselves or are isolated from the word no. They are surrounded by "yes" people. So in their own eyes they are never confronted with any truth. This is also the case for everyone however with the very rich it is plain to see. Even the Occupy Wall Street was the difference between "We are the 99% and by their own mouths they would say "I AM the 1%".

The horrors of Cain not being killed is very evident when someone fully understands that Cain's mark means no salvation:

Revelation 9:6 “6 and in those days shall men seek the death, and they shall not find it, and they shall desire to die, and the death shall flee from them.”

Also the mark of the forehead is a mark of the frontal lobe of the brain. If you look at the brain function of the frontal lobe you will see that the "WILL" of man is there as well. In the newness of Christ the frontal lobe is replaced with the Mind of Christ:

1 Corinthians 2:16 “16 for who did know the mind of the Lord that he shall instruct Him? and we--we have the mind of Christ.”

Note the forehead of the brain that is also a prophetic statement on the very function of the brain.

Praise I AM,
Michael Idarecis