And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.(Genesis 4:1-2)
By now, Adam and Eve had been evicted from their home, the garden of delight, because of their sin. They were not allowed to remain, nor to eat of the precious “Tree of Life”, in fact it would have been spiritually disastrous for them to do so.
They had rejected God’s glory. They chose not to remain within the limits God had set for them, neither did they accept the Word of God which warned them of the consequences of transgressing the Divine command.
Instead, the first couple chose to judge “good and evil” for themselves. They would try the fruit , for they actually believed the alternative ‘word’, that was presented to them in the garden, the word of the serpent, over and against the Word of God.
Like so many millions of their descendents, the first man and woman learned by bitter experience that the Word of God was true after all. They had fallen, and they knew it immediately for fear filled their very being. They would have to be called into account by their Lord for what they had done!
The reality of judgment sent them into hiding. But no matter how ill prepared, they would be brought out into the light to give an answer.
The Lord came to them, and after a brief arraignment and trial, the Serpent, the man and woman received their respective sentences. The man and the woman were to be banished from the garden of delights, she would conceive and bear children in sorrow, and become utterly dependent upon her husband.
The man would be consigned to painful , frustrating toil, thorns and thistles would hinder and vex his life’s work, and at the end, the ultimate futility, death, dissolution and return to the earth from which he (and she) came!
The serpent would be humiliated, he would crawl on his belly and feed on the dust until the time appointed for his final judgment..
But the gloom of the trial is penetrated by a gleaming shaft of light, for the Lord made a promise, indirectly to the man and woman,(for they had refused accountability). To the Serpent the Lord pronounced these words of promise,
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.(Genesis 3:15)
So, there would be a deliverer for the man and the woman! The woman, who had been seduced by evil, lending her ear to the alternate ‘word’ of God, and who with her husband had heeded the vicious accusation against the character of God, would now be the God assigned vessel to bring forth a deliverer. What grace!
The coming “seed of the woman” would indeed crush the serpent’s head, but the victory would be costly and painful, for the Serpent would bruise the heel of the “seed of the woman”.
As a token of the coming suffering of the ‘seed of the woman’, which would procure the couple’s deliverance, The LORD removed the home-made fig leaf covering that the newly self-conscious couple had manufactured, and clothed them with the skin of an animal which he had slaughtered. This would be their first encounter with physical death, and it must have appalled them.
All that remained now for the exiled couple, was to cling to the promise, as they sought to make a life for themselves in the now hostile world. They would work hard, learn to love each other, bear children and wait for the time when the woman would bear “the seed of the woman” who would come and undo the curse once and for all.
This is the setting for the first two verses of our text. God saw to it that even in judgment there would be mercy for the man and his wife. There were still comforts within the exile. Adam and Eve had each other. Adam knew his wife… . The two of them could uphold each other, and somewhat help to ease the tensions, fears and sorrows of their alienation.
They could still appeal to God, from a distance, but only by offering the God appointed sacrifices which served to underscore the Divine teaching that sin deserved death, but also the hopeful message that God could be approached through a substitute.
When Eve conceived, and bore son, it seemed that at long last the promise was in the process of fulfillment. They named him Cain, “Gotten”, as in We’ve Got it! Is this not the deliverer, born of the woman? Is this the serpent crusher that we have waited for these long, painful years?
But by the time of Cain’s brother’s birth, the gloom had descended again, for it must have become apparent that this was not the deliverer after all. They named this son Abel, “that which passes as a breath”, indicating that they now knew that life itself is mortal, even a vapor.