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action of Abel to that of Cain. If, however, the word "also" be read after the verb, as it
actually stands in both the Hebrew and in the LXX, there is a possibility that a deeper
lesson is intended. There is something suggestive in the Greek of Heb. 11: 4 too. There
is no word for "excellent" there, which is supplied. Translating the words just as they
come we read, "By faith more sacrifice Abel than Cain offered". Is it possible that in this
simple and literal statement we have fuller light on Gen. 4: than the A.V. gives us
there? In what way did Abel offer "more sacrifice"?
Coming back to this chapter and reading the "also" after the verb we have, "And Abel
he brought also of the firstlings of his flock", and this at least opens the way for the
implied thought that Abel brought a bloodless gift even as Cain did, but that he "brought
also" the lamb which alone made any other offering acceptable. This at least is exactly
the teaching of the epistle to the Hebrews. All the typical offerings, even though they
were of bulls and goats and ordained by God, were in measure but the offering of Cain in
this sense, that they sought to render the offerer accepted without the precious blood of
Christ which alone cleanses and gives access. On the other hand a bloodless sacrifice
was acceptable (see Heb. 13: 15), but 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 here. 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 did bring, as in the offering that he refused:
"If thou hast brought rightly, but not rightly divided it, hast thou not sinned?"
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 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" (i.e. the same Hebrew
word) 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 its head according to Lev. 4: 29, 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 today 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".