The Berean Expositor
Volume 17 - Page 39 of 144
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only when sanctified by the blood of Christ.
The LXX rendering of Gen. 4: 7 is somewhat strange, and the relation of the
existing Hebrew text with the Greek is too complicated to be dealt with in this paper. We
give it, however, for what it may be worth, for it seems to suggest that the mistake of
Cain was not so much in the offering that he bring, as in the offering that he refused:--
"If thou hast brought rightly, but not rightly divided* it, hast thou not sinned?"
[* - To avoid wrong associations, we may explain that this word is not the same as used
in II Tim. 2: 15, but is diaireo.]
However difficult it may be for us at this date to reconcile such a rendering with the
Hebrew of Gen. 4: 7, we must give the credit of common sense to the translators of the
LXX that they felt that such a translation expressed the teaching of the passage. Cain
sinned through a failure to discern the difference between the offering of fruit, which had
in it no confession of human unworthiness, and the offering which involved the shedding
of blood, which pointed to the one sacrifice for sin and for acceptance which was to be
offered by the Lord Himself.
If we understand the word "sin" in verse 7 to mean Cain's own transgression, the sense
is not very clear. "If thou doest not well" indicates sin, and the statement resolves itself
into, "If thou art a sinner--thou art a sinner". But "sin" is spoken of in Exod. 29: 14
as having flesh, and skin, and capable of being "burnt with fire"; it has "blood"
according to Exod. 30: 10; the worshipper could "lay his hand" upon his head
according to Lev. 4: 19, and it could be "eaten" according to Lev. 10: 17. This is
sufficient to prove that "a sin offering" in the shape of a bullock, a goat, or a lamb could
be the true meaning of the word "sin" in Gen. 4: 7. The statement "sin lieth at the door"
is to-day a proverb, but a proverb that has arisen from this very translation, and therefore
not a proof that such would be the interpretation which Cain would give to the term. The
idea that sin was typified as in the act of springing upon Cain is hardly justified by the
usage of the word "lieth".
When we read in Psa. 23: 2, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures", we
certainly have no thought of a beast of prey in the act of taking a spring. We are not to
suppose that when Jacob saw the flocks of sheep "lying" by the well that they were
preparing to spring at him, or at one another (Gen. 29: 2). The word is indeed spoken
of a leopard, but not in the act of springing on its prey: "the leopard shall lie down with
the kid" (Isa. 11: 6). The word is spoken of the couching of sheep, and wild beasts, lions,
leopards and asses, of the needy that shall "lie down" in safety (Isa. 14: 30); of flocks
that "rest" (Song of Sol. 1: 7), but not one passage can bear the meaning often read into
Gen. 4: 7. "The door" is neither the door belonging to Cain or Abel. So far as the
Scriptures actually state it can just as well be the door of the primal tabernacle mentioned
in Gen. 3: 24. Over 40 times in the Pentateuch is this word used of the "door of the
tabernacle". The sense therefore of Gen. 4: 7 seems clearly to be:--