The Example of Cain and Abel

Posted Jul 21, 2011 by Adrian Ebens in Devotional - Blog Hits: 4,103

I have just been watching a sermon it metnioned Gen 4:7 which says:

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.

I had understood the "his desire" to be that of sin and that he should master it or rule over it. This is certainly the suggested reading of the NKJV

Gen 4:7  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."

and even moreso in the NIV

Gen 4:7  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

yet the presenter mentioned that the desire was that of Abel towards Cain and then Cain was being counseled by God that he should set the right example as the older brother. This reading of it from the King James makes more sense and Adam Clarke in his commentary indicates this to be the case:

Unto thee shall be his desire, etc. - That is, Thou shalt ever have the right of primogeniture, and in all things shall thy brother be subject unto thee. These words are not spoken of sin, as many have understood them, but of Abel’s submission to Cain as his superior, and the words are spoken to remove Cain’s envy. - Clarke's Commentary on Gen 4:7

The newer versions opt for a personification of sin as having desire for Cain and his need to master it. The explantion of the his desire being that of Abel's natural desire to follow his older brother and that Cain should set a right example makes more sense in the channel of blessing concepts and also maintains the literal first before moving to the spiritual interpretation.

Having read the NKJV I picked up the personification of sin intepretation but had wondered at the language used and why it would personify sin as having desire. But thanks to my brother Craig's serrmon, I placed my feet more firmly on the literal rule with a clear example of how older brothers should set good examples to younger siblings because the channel of blessing flows in that direction.

Just thought I would share this with you.