What Was The Mark God Placed Upon Cain?

The first murder of another human was committed by Cain.  He killed his brother, Abel.  Because of this, God told him that he was cursed  and that  his work as a farmer would be more difficult.  He further told him that he would be a vagabond.  (Genesis 4:9-12)  Cain responded by saying, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. . .and it shall come to pass that everyone that findeth me shall slay me.”  (Genesis 4:13-14)  God declared to Cain, “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.”  (Genesis 4:15)

The mark placed upon Cain has been the subject of much debate and speculation.  The Hebrew word translated mark is ‘owth and refers to a mark, sign, or token.  The Hebrew word does not identify the exact nature of the mark God put on him.  Some think that it was a scar, or some type of tattoo.  The focus of the passage is that God would not allow others to take vengeance against Cain by killing him.

When I was a child I heard some preachers teach that the mark was dark skin.  They taught that God turned his skin black in order to identify him.  This interpretation is unbiblical.  Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures is ‘owth used to refer to skin color.  It is used 79 times in the Old Testament and  most frequently means “sign.”  The curse on Cain was personal.  Nothing is said about the curse being passed on to his descendants.

What was the mark that God put on Cain?  The Bible does not say.  Whatever it was, it had no connection to skin color or a curse falling upon all of his descendants.  To suggest such is doing the Word of God an injustice.

About Dr. Mike Harmon

Dr. Harmon began preaching at the age of 15 while living in southern California. He has conducted over 600 revivals and evangelistic campaigns nationwide, and has served as Senior Pastor at seven churches. Dr. Harmon has degrees from Central Baptist College, the University of Central Arkansas, and a Ph.D. From the Christian Bible College and Seminary. He has served as trustee for Southeastern Baptist College and Chairman of the trustees for the BMA Theological Seminary. He also served as Chaplain for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Senate. His many sermons and articles on Christian Apologetics are widely published. He is married to one wife of 43 years; has two sons, and seven grandchildren. He considers the simple pleasures of cooking, dining with family and friends, and liesurely rides on his Harley through the Texas Hill Country to be some of the most enjoyable blessings from the Lord.
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