Who Was Cain Afraid Would Kill Him?
Cain was cursed by God because he murdered his brother Abel. When God questioned him about the murder He condemned Cain to life as a wanderer in the wilderness. The ground would no longer yield its crops for Cain to survive with sustenance. His previous skills as an agriculturalist would no longer work for him as the ground would always fail his crops because of God’s supernatural punishment making it impossible for Cain to have any success growing food. Cain most likely had to rely on others growing food and also hunting animals, or foraging wild plants he did not plant himself. Cain was afraid of this punishment and claimed it was too harsh because anyone who found him wandering around the wilderness would want to kill him since he murdered his brother. This excuse seems illogical since if the sole reason people would want to kill Cain was that he murdered his brother, how would it be any different if he had a farm and grew crops and stayed in one place? Wouldn’t people still want to kill him, and to find him easier in order to kill him since he is not wandering around? Wandering around would keep him out of people’s way and make it harder for people to find him if he is evasive enough. But Cain mentions that he would be banished from God’s presence. So Cain understood that in God’s presence there is protection. People who are not in the presence of God do not have God’s protection. Cain was banished away from a relationship with God. Even so, Cain was just making an excuse about his punishment and was the world’s first murderer.
With Cain’s grievance, he made the claim people would want to kill him. He understood that people would want vengeance, and since he had the ability to kill someone, other people had the ability to kill as well. Since Abel had the ability to die by violence, Cain understood he had the ability to die by violence from someone else since he was human just as his brother. Cain had fear that there were other people who would kill him. Who were these people that Cain was afraid would kill him? This section of Scripture can be found in Genesis 4:13-14 where Cain mentions his fear of being killed. After reading this passage one would wonder who Cain could possibly be talking about since all that the Bible mentions are Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel existing and does not mention other people. So who was he afraid would kill him? There are a few options of who they could be.
The only people that this part of the Bible mentions being alive were Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel (until he was murdered). No other children are mentioned until the next chapter when it talks about the line of Cain, and also Adam through Seth. It is possible that Adam had some daughters during this time that were alive during Abel’s death. Genesis 4:3 says “In the course of time” when referring to the grievance that Cain had which enraged him to murder. This was the time when Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices and God rejected Cain’s offering of crops. So after Cain and Abel were born there was a passing of some time. Genesis is not clear on how long this time was, but it had to be enough for Cain and Abel to be grown up and mature. During the course of time it is possible Adam and Eve had daughters and Cain may have taken one to be his wife and had children by this time, and it is plausible, by the time he murdered Cain, these children were old enough to be able to understand what Cain did and also had the ability to kill him. It is also possible that Cain’s sisters (Adam and Eve’s daughters) would try to kill him as well. Women do have the ability to kill men, it is not impossible.
When reading Scripture it shows that it was unlikely Abel had a wife and children, since there is no mention of his line. It is also apparent that Adam and Eve did not have any other sons until after Abel was murdered. So Abel could not have had any descendants who would want to kill Cain. Only after Abel’s death does it mention Adam knowing his wife intimately again and bearing a son who was named Seth. One would assume a husband and wife would have had plenty of time to have sex various times; so it seems odd it took so long for Adam to have sex with Eve again to birth Seth. No witnesses exist today who were there, so we cannot say Adam and Eve had sex or did not have sex until that length of time. But it is possible they did not. But what is more likely is that Adam and Eve did have abundant sex and most likely bore daughters or figured out some primitive method of birth control. If Adam and Eve did bear daughters, Cain could have had one as his wife, before he murdered Abel, and had children that would be upset he murdered their uncle.
It is obviously though that Seth was born after the death of Abel and not before since it mentions in Genesis 4:25 that Seth replaced Abel. The passage of Seth’s birth was not isolated outside of chronological order. In some instances throughout the Bible passages are not in chronological order; but in the case of this story in Genesis it is obviously in chronological order that Seth was born after Abel died since it explicitly states that Seth replaced Abel who died previously.
Another possibility is that Cain was thinking about the future that there will be more people born eventually who might grow up to kill him. He could have assumed Adam and Eve his, own parents, would kill him; or that they would have another son who would try and kill him eventually. Humans lived several hundred years during this time, and no one had died of natural causes or old age yet, so Cain probably did not think about dying himself except by a violent act, since the only death he knew about was the one he committed on his brother. So it is plausible Cain was preparing for the future that someone at some point would kill him.
An even more plausible explanation of who would kill Cain is that Cain had had children before he murdered Abel, and for some reason Abel did not take a wife. Abel was younger than Cain. Some scholars claim Cain and Abel were twins, but there is no factual evidence to prove this. The only evidence would be that they are mentioned one after another without a mention of time passing. If Cain and Abel were twins they would be sexually mature at the same time and most likely both have wives around the same time. Why would Abel wait? But if Abel was much younger than Cain it makes more sense. It would be understandable how easy it would be for Cain to murder him without much of a fight if he was younger and smaller. Also it would explain why Abel did not take a wife yet. Cain was older and was sexually mature before Abel. Abel could have been too busy worshiping God instead of thinking about romance. Cain on the other hand had a very different personality and could have been preoccupied with romance and took a wife. To populate the earth Cain had to have one of his sisters as a wife. Incest did not exist and was not called sin yet since the genetic lines were so pure, and this was the only possible way to populate the earth. Only later was incest mentioned as a sin in the Old Testament by God, and for good reason, since it is a fact that incestual relationships cause many deformities and mental illnesses. Within a few generations the ability to marry more distant relatives was available until family ties were so far apart that it was easy to find someone not related in the sense of our idea of relatives today. This ability could have happened within a very few generations.
The best explanation of why Cain feared people would kill him is that he had taken a wife, had children (since Genesis 4:17-22 does not state when exactly Cain had sexual relations with his wife, it could have been before he murdered Abel) who were old enough to understand he murdered his brother, and word would spread to everyone including future generations who would hunt Cain down and kill him eventually. He could have had sisters currently alive who would want to kill him, as well as fearing his own parents might want to kill him. Who knows what Cain’s irrational and selfish mind would assume. Also, no one was immune to sin especially his own parents who were the first sinners. He could have also been thinking that Adam and Eve would have more sons and daughters who would grow up and also possibly kill Cain. God prevented this from happening by declaring that if anyone would kill him, they would be punished seven times over. God then put a mark on Cain to signify that by God’s command Himself, no one is to harm Cain at all, or suffer that fate. This mark on Cain was some visible marking on his physical body. It could have been a special design somewhere people could see easily. Probably his face. Whatever that sign looked like the people of the time knew exactly what it meant. So Cain was not murdered and died eventually most likely by a natural cause. This was an act of God’s common mercy on all people, both wicked and righteous.