4:1 – Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.”
4:2 – Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
4:17 – Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.
4:19 – Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.
4:22 – Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
4:23 – Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.
4:25 – Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.
Much occurs in this chapter: Cain’s birth, his killing of his brother Abel, Cain’s “curse” and becoming a wanderer, his living East of Eden in the land of Nod, building a city, more killing – Lamech (Cain’s grandson) of another man, the birth of another son, Seth, to Eve and Adam. Much could be (and has been) considered, pondered, and exegeted from these 26 verses. But these are not the stories or themes I am intrigued by – at least today. I am intrigued by how many women appear in this chapter, how much “voice” they have, and how powerful their presence is – not just subtly scattered throughout.
- The awareness of divine partnering and relationship
- A Sister
In every story that flows from this text, particularly the one we always focus on – Cain and Abel – women are present. They are nurturing and bringing forth life. Just as in Genesis 2, they are naming. They are in relationship with men, their children, one another, and the divine. They are not just subtext and in the background. They are present and named (Eve, Adah, Zillah, Naamah).
Such remains true – no matter the stories being told around us or those that have been told in the past that continue to haunt, shape, and influence. Women continue to nurture and bring forth life – both literally and metaphorically. Women continue to name – the life around them, the truth they see and experience, themselves. Women continue in relationship with men, their children, one another, and the sacred – no matter how understood or experienced; often despite plot lines that would move us toward isolation, shame, and silence.
We are not subtext. We are named, present, and powerful.
Will I acknowledge the same in my own narrative, my own story? Will I look at the whole text of my life and then show up? Will I recognize my partnership with and connection to the divine, the sacred, and a story larger than my own vs. too-often feeling a lack of agency or control? Will I step boldly into my power to bring forth life, to birth, to name, to act, to relate,to matter? Will I?
Genesis, chapter 4 invites me to do so – over and over again. How easy it is to fall back into the deeply-entrenched patterns of bearing the sin of the world, feeling to blame for all things dark and evil, staying in the shadows as the lesser of the divine’s creation(s). Maybe easy, but so misguided and frankly, so un-scriptural.
The women of Genesis 4 matter. Let’s come out of the subtext and step boldly into the story being told and created around us. In fact, let’s be the tellers and writers of our own stories – and those created around us. Let’s add our names to the list: Eve, Adah, Zillah, Naamah, Ronna, and…