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Question

How did Cain die? What happened to Cain?

how did Cain die
Answer


The Bible does not tell us how Cain died. After killing Abel, Cain was cursed to be a restless wanderer away from God’s presence and was unable to work the ground as he had before, since the ground would no longer yield him crops (Genesis 4:11–12). Fearful of being killed by others, Cain complained to God that “my punishment is more than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13). God granted Cain a mark that would protect him from being murdered by another and stated that “if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over” (Genesis 4:15).

Some rabbinical commentators, such as Rashi, have presented some theories about how Cain died. According to an extrabiblical midrash, Lamech, who was blind at the time, killed Cain accidentally while hunting with his son. In this legend, Cain’s mark was a horn, and so Lamech’s son mistakenly thought Cain was an animal and led his father to shoot Cain. Lamech ends up killing both Cain and his own son, which this legend states accounts for Lamech’s words in Genesis 4:23–24. It is unlikely that Cain would have met his demise by being murdered by his descendant Lamech, since God had placed the mark on Cain to keep anyone from killing him (Genesis 4:15). Furthermore, to argue, based on a legend, that Cain was murdered is to ignore the authority and priority of Scripture.

Another theory from extrabiblical literature is that Cain was killed by a stone house falling on top of him. According to the Book of Jubilees Cain was rightly avenged for the murder of Abel, “for with a stone he had killed Abel, and by a stone was he killed in righteous judgment” (Book of Jubilees 4:31). It may be tempting to accept this account of Cain’s death, but Scripture never states how Cain died, so any attempt at explanation is mere conjecture.

What can be known about Cain after the murder of Abel is that he settled in the land of Nod, had a son named Enoch, and built a city named after his son (Genesis 4:16–17). The descendants of Cain became men who raised livestock, crafted musical instruments, and built tools of bronze and iron (Genesis 4:20–22). Despite these cultural achievements, Cain’s descendants followed his example of evilness and unbelief. Lamech was especially Cain-like, since he boasted of killing a man who had injured him and even demanded greater vengeance in the event of his own murder than what God had granted to Cain (Genesis 4:23–24). The descendants of Cain grew more numerous and ungodly, as evidenced in the widespread wickedness of Noah’s day.

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How did Cain die? What happened to Cain?
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This page last updated: April 26, 2021