Gen. 4:15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
Having murdered his brother (Gen. 4:8), God placed a mark upon Cain, and he did so for at least two reasons. The first was to protect Cain and the second was to protect any person trying to kill Cain from God’s sevenfold vengeance. And so whatever this mark was, it had to be visible and easily recognizable: it had to be of such significance that its warning would be evident to all – even to a stranger. But if Cain is a murderer, then why is God going to such great lengths to protect him? There are at least two reasons for this, just as there are two reasons for the mark.
The first is because capital punishment in the Bible can only be carried out (by man) at the mouth of two or more witnesses – unless a confession is made, of course. This means that at least two people have to see the crime being committed and their testimonies must also agree – else there is no conviction; and needless to say, Cain wasn’t going to tattle on himself. It was God who approached him about his sin and not the other way around (Gen. 4:9-10). When asked about his brother’s whereabouts, his basic response was to deny any knowledge or involvement thus placing the burden on the “prosecution” to prove his guilt. In short, Cain had no intention of admitting to anyone of his involvement in the murder: God or man, and he never did. Of course everyone “knew” he did it. His mother knew (Gen. 4:25). But knowing who did it and actually having seeing it be done are two different things. They could suspect him all they wanted, but none could witness. So since no one saw Cain slay his brother, and since he isn’t going to confess, then nothing could legally be done; and so this is one reason why God is protecting him – there were no witnesses. God doesn’t want him convicted on what we’d call “circumstantial evidence.”
The second reason is because of the laws regarding the avenger of blood. In response to God’s judgment against him, Cain had this to say:
Gen. 4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
How did Cain know that his family members would be pursuing him? Evidently they’d been taught the principles concerning the avenger of blood. Briefly stated, if someone kills a family member, then their nearest kinsman has the legal right to pursue them and put them to death. In this case, it probably would have been Adam. Innocent blood had been shed, and so guilty blood must be shed as a means of “balancing the blood,” as it were. This was not an act of revenge, but an act of avenge(ing). Avenging occurs within God’s law while revenge takes place outside of God’s law. Cain knows he can’t be avenged because there were no witnesses: it would have been illegal. But what he is concerned about is revenge. And since revenge takes place outside of God’s laws, then any Avenger slaying him would also be guilty of murder because he put to death a man without due process. And so the mark was not only to protect Cain, but to also protect the Avenger.
But it would seem that God is more interested in protecting the integrity of the legal process than he is in vindicating Abel, but such is hardly the case – the mere suggestion alone is an affront against God’s holy nature. Unfortunately, though, Cain knew God’s laws and he used them to his advantage. He plotted and planned Abel’s death and then lured him out into an open field and killed him – making sure there were no witnesses. So when Cain complained that everyone who found him would kill him, he was trying to get God to protect him from man because he knew there were no witnesses. He was trying to appeal to God’s sense of justice and not his mercy – a point of which further reveals his heart. He wasn’t asking or begging for forgiveness; he just wanted to make sure that he escaped the electric chair, so to speak. And so he basically challenged God concerning his own rules of justice, and God’s justice requires two or more witnesses, and Cain knew there were none because that’s how he planned it. This doesn’t reveal a flaw in God’s sense or plan of justice, it just reveals how wicked Cain had become. God could have put Cain to death, and it would have been justified, but in his sovereignty he decided against it. Today God rarely takes the initiative to put murderers to death, and so why should we expect him to do the same back then? God has given us the ability to exercise judgment, if we’re willing.
Was Cain guilty? Yes he was – else God wouldn’t have punished him. God knew that Cain would never repent, and so as an act of grace towards Adam and Eve, God separated him from his family so that he wouldn’t be a constant reminder of Abel’s death; and that’s what sin does; it separates. In this life, Cain paid a hefty price for his sin; and then he paid another upon his death because Scripture reveals that he died spiritually lost (1 Jn. 3:12). Cain was never sorry for having killed Cain, he was only sorry that he got caught. After leaving for the land of Nod, he never gave God a second thought (Gen. 4:16). But two wrongs don’t make a right, and so God intervened on Cain’s behalf and protected him from being put to death without any witnesses, and God also intervened to protect Adam from judgment for putting Cain to death when he didn’t have the proper evidence. This isn’t a failure of God’s justice system, but it is an example of a Christian being persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Mt. 5:10). Abel died a Christian martyr. But what was this mark? The answer is very simple.
As part of his punishment, God told Cain that he was to be a wanderer and a vagabond (Gen. 4:12), but of course he rebelled and went and built a city (Gen. 4:17). Approximately 1500 years later, Noah’s flood occurs wiping out everyone on the planet except for Noah, his wife, and his three sons, and their wives: eight people total (1 Pet. 3:20).
After The Flood, Noah gets drunk and is soon found naked by his youngest son Ham. But instead of covering his father and keeping it quiet, he goes about publishing the matter. Upon hearing the news, Noah’s two oldest sons, Shem and Japheth, go and cover their father– walking in backwards as they do to avoid seeing their father’s nakedness (Gen. 9:20-27). Evidently they knew this was wrong – before the Law (Lev. 18:6-7). Selah.
Noah awakes and realizes what’s happened. Assuredly he was none too pleased with himself, and this alone would have been chastisement enough; but to then learn what Ham had gone and done must have been infuriating. Similar to Cain, Ham has failed to be a “brother’s keeper” to his father when it was within his power to do so. He could have, and should have, covered his father and remained silent, but he didn’t. Exposing his father’s sin served no useful purpose. Was Noah wrong? Yes, he was. But Ham committed the worse sin by bringing further dishonor upon his father. And as it was with Cain, so it will be with Ham. Soon his sin will separate him.
Noah’s reaction is swift. Ham is cursed and his older two brothers are blessed. But in cursing Ham, Noah actually curses his son Canaan. This should strike us as odd. Why curse Canaan? He had nothing to do with it! But what has happened is that God has given Noah prophetic insight as to what’s going to happen to the descendants of Canaan as a group. Individually they can repent, but as a group, they’re in trouble. Rebels have the tendency to breed rebels and that’s what Noah is seeing. And so by cursing Canaan, Noah is implying that the rebellion is going to continue; and this is exactly what happens.
Ham then has four sons: Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan; and it is Canaan’s children who later inhabit the land of Canaan, which later becomes the nation of Israel (Gen. 10:6-20); and they come to constitute the bulk of the peoples living in the land of Canaan and in the surrounding territories – including Sodom and Gomorrah, and they are all giants (Dt. 2:9-11, 19-21; 3:11; Num. 13:16-33; Josh. 15:8; 17:14-15).
But for Ham’s descendents to be giants, they had to have gotten the “giant gene” from somewhere. Noah was of the godly lineage of Seth, and he was “perfect in his generations” – meaning that he didn’t intermarry with the ungodly lineage of Cain, and so his sons would have been as well (Gen. 6:9). The descendents of Shem and Japheth didn’t become giants, but Ham’s did, through Canaan. This means that Ham had to have married someone from outside the lineage of Seth because people within the lineage didn’t produce giants. And the only other option available are those from the ungodly lineage of Cain; and since the result of Ham’s marriage to a woman of the ungodly lineage of Cain led to the propagation of giants, then Ham’s wife had to have been a giant, or at least to have carried the genes, which means that the descendants of Cain were giants.
In plainer terms, giants existed both before and after The Flood. And since only eight people in the entire world survived, then the only logical conclusion is that one of them had to be a giant, or at least to have carried the “giant gene.” Only Ham’s descendants became giants; and so that means that his wife had to have been a giant, or at least have carried the “giant gene.” This also means that she had to come from the ungodly lineage of Cain because giants didn’t come from the godly lineage of Seth; and so the mark of Cain could only be that God allowed him to grow into a giant.
And what better way to protect him than to make him a giant! Some speculate this was a mark or scar in the hand or upon the forehead, but a mark or scar isn’t going to be much of a deterrent. And to be able to see it, you have to get up close. But if God made him a giant, then you could see him from a long way off! Some speculate that it was leprosy. But this also makes no sense because leprosy wasn’t part of God’s judgment against Cain. And if this were true, would his wife have wanted anything to do with him? Because of the curse, this mark needed to be plainly visible and it needed to be of such significance that even a stranger would immediately perceive it; and facing a man that stands at least three foot taller than everyone else around you certainly would have. These giants were also bigger than the ones we have today; and they could handle themselves in battle whereas those of today frequently suffer from various medical conditions as they grow taller; and so the mark of Cain is that God allowed him to grow into a giant, and he did so as a physical demonstration of the magnitude of his sin.
Suffice it to say the mark had to serve as a true deterrent; something of which a scratch or scar cannot do. And so the mark of Cain is that God allowed him to grow into a giant. What better “mark” is there? Cain’s genes were then passed down to Ham’s wife, who then passed through The Flood with her husband, passing them on again to their children who became the giants found in the land of Canaan, of whom the Israelites eventually overthrew.
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. – 1 Cor. 15:33
From this lesson it should be clear that the mark of Cain was that God allowed him to become a giant. But the real lesson here is that of the devastating consequences that occur when Christians unequally yoke themselves with non-Christians (1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 Cor. 6:14-18).
In our story, Ham unequally yoked himself with one of the daughters of Cain and her evil influence upon him no doubt encouraged his already rebellious disposition. But as Scripture teaches, bad company often ruins good morals. Selah.
 Num. 35:30; Dt. 17:6; 19:15 etc.
 Num. 35:1-34; Dt. 19:11-13 etc.
 The sinfulness of man always finds fault with the Father. Selah.
 It should first be understood that this is not some sort of voodoo-type of curse, but a prophetic utterance. Blessings and cursings are kept by the power of God, and not by the hands of men. Selah.
 Cush’s descendants became the Iraqis and the Ethiopians; Mizraim’s descendants became the Egyptians and the Philistines, and Phut’s descendants become the black Africans.
 Some may postulate that Noah’s curse upon Canaan is what brought about the giants, but becoming a giant wasn’t part of the curse. Furthermore, giants existed before The Flood and so there’s no merit in this argument.