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Q&A

Why is the birth of Kayin written strangely?

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In Bereishis 4:1, the Pasuk describes the birth of Kayin:

וְהָאָדָם יָדַע אֶת־חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־קַיִן וַתֹּאמֶר קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת־יְהוָה

Now the man knew his wife Chava, and she conceived and bore Kayin, saying, “I have gained a male child with the help of the LORD.”

However, the wording of the Pasuk is different than other times in which the birth of a child takes place.
For example, later on in the parshah, by the birth of Shes, (Bereishis 4:25):

וַיֵּדַע אָדָם עוֹד אֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ שֵׁת כִּי שָׁת־לִי אֱלֹהִים זֶרַע אַחֵר תַּחַת הֶבֶל כִּי הֲרָגוֹ קָיִן

Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Shes, meaning, “God has provided me with another offspring in place of Hevel,” for Kayin had killed him.

In the second Pasuk, first it mentions that she had a son, and then it says she named him Shes. The first Pasuk just says that she had a son whose name was Kayin.

Is there any reason why the first Pasuk tells the story differently than usual?

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2 comments

The Haamek Davar does appear to discuss this and the minei Targuma points out that it happens with the birth of Chanoch as well וַיֵּדַע קַיִן אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת חֲנוֹךְ rosends‭ 3 months ago

1 answer

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Haamek Davar (to 4:1) answers that the wording by Cain

implies that even without being named, it was obvious that that should be his name… because when a person devotes himself to his subsistence by working the land, naturally his first child will be his helper, like someone he's acquired to help him on his way through life, so his name was Cain [from the word kinyan, acquisition].

This ties in to his thesis about the fundamental difference and relationship between Cain and Abel, which includes an explanation of why Cain killed Abel. It's a fascinating thesis and I highly recommend it; it's in his commentary to chapter 4, verses 1–12.

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