Moses Chapter 5 (June-October 1830) The Family of Adam and Eve
Moses 5:4-7 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence. And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord. And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
Moses 5:9-10 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will. And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
Moses 5:11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
Moses 5:16-41 Cain and Able
Moses 5:58-59 And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost. And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.
This chapter documents the beginnings of Adam and Eve's life in mortality. Joseph Smith dictated a title for this section: "A Revelation concerning Adam after he had been driven out of the garden of Eden."
Two notable features of this chapter include (1) the way in which God revealed the gospel to Adam and Eve and their posterity and (2) the rise of sin among the human family including the rise of a secret, diabolical organization.
For Moses 5:1-15, there are no corresponding verses in Genesis. The Genesis account will pick up again in Moses 5:16. Moses 5:16-48 corresponds roughly to Genesis 4:1-24. Again, for Moses 5:49-59 and Moses 6:1, there is no Genesis account. The Genesis account will then pick up again in Moses 6:2 with Genesis 4:25.
1 And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.
verse 1 "I, the Lord God, had driven them out" Again, we note the first-person narration by the Lord. Genesis, on the other hand, is narrated in the third person.
The agent for driving out Adam and Eve was the Lord rather than some other heavenly personality. During the time Adam and Eve were in the garden, they had enjoyed a personal relationship with the Lord. On the occasion of their banishment, apparently, he personally "escorted them to the door."
"as I the Lord had commanded him" The obedience of Adam is emphasized, as he accomplished all of those things the Lord had commanded him to do.
"I the Lord" Note that in this verse, the Lord refers to himself both as "I, the Lord God" and simply "I the Lord." We have commented previously that the title "Lord God" is often associated with issues having to do with the obedience of men and covenant making.
"Eve . . . did labor with him" This phrase emphasizes the nature of the partnership of marriage.
2 And Adam knew his wife, and she bare unto him sons and daughters, and they began to multiply and to replenish the earth.
verse 2 "Adam knew his wife" The verb knew here means that Adam had sexual intercourse with his wife.
"sons and daughters" The plural is significant here, as is the fact that there were children that preceded Cain and Abel (see verses 16-17). Genesis gives no hint of earlier children until after the narration of the divine curse on Cain when the Genesis record says: "Behold, 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. 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" (Genesis 4:14-15, italics added).
3 And from that time forth, the sons and daughters of Adam began to divide two and two in the land, and to till the land, and to tend flocks, and they also begat sons and daughters.
verse 3 "the sons and daughters of Adam began to divine two and two" The offspring of Adam paired off in marriage. Doubtless, centered deeply within their new family was the principle of eternal marriage.
"to till the land, and . . . tend flocks" The second generation has learned and applied the skills of the first and has also learned to work hard. It becomes obvious that Adam and Eve had been diligent in teaching the work ethic to their children. Rather than finding reason to rebel or take offense at the Lord's firm actions, Adam and Eve responded willingly to his requirements and adapted readily to their new lives of hard work and child rearing, thus disclosing their true characters.
"they also begat sons and daughters" The third generation of Adam begins.
4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
verse 4 "they heard the voice of the Lord" Although banished from the Lord's presence, he continued to guide them as they continued to pray to him.
"from the way toward the Garden of Eden" This expression hints strongly that Adam and Eve went to a certain spot near the garden to pray, perhaps on the east side where the gate was located (see Moses 4:31; Genesis 3:24). These words point to a sacred path ("way") by which they would approach the place of prayer-a feature of ancient temples that is implicit, for example, in the words, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?" (Psalm 24:3). Thus, the phrase "the way" evidently forms the first indication that from the earliest generation, a sacred place was important in acts of worship on the human side and in acts of revelation on the divine side (see also the commentary for Moses 4:31).
"they were shut out from his presence" Modern scripture reveals that this banishment of Adam and Eve from God's presence, and the similar descent of each of us into mortality, is called the "first death" (D&C 29:41). It is the "spiritual death" we all experience as we leave the premortal world and enter mortality. The cause of the first death is the transgression of Adam and Eve. Each of the rest of us is not responsible. Hence, the first death has been overcome for each of us by virtue of the Lord's atonement. The practical implication of this universal overcoming of the first death is that each of us will return to the presence of God-and remain there at least long enough to be judged.
At the great final judgment, apparently only a relative few will be exalted-that is, return permanently to the celestial presence of God. The remainder will suffer what may be referred to as the "second death," this time a permanent spiritual death.
5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
verse 5 "they . . . should offer the firstlings of their flocks" The word "firstlings" puts certain qualifications and restrictions and even determines the quality of faith that is used in offering the sacrifice. "Firstling" does not necessarily denote the oldest of the flock, but the firstborn of each particular mother. A "firstling" is a male, the "first to open the matrix" of its mother (Exodus 13:2; Exodus 34:19). Each female animal, in her lifetime, could produce none, one, or more firstlings, but an entire flock of sheep could have several firstlings born each year. In order to know which lambs were suitable for sacrifice, the owner would have to know his flock. Some notice would have to be made of mothers and of young. Otherwise, how could anyone know which mothers had produced male offspring for the first time? There is no way that a man, Adam or anyone else, could know which males were firstlings unless a record and some identification of mothers and offspring were kept. This requirement removes the element of chance and of haphazard obedience, or sometime obedience. Not only is one's faith shown in the willingness to offer a sacrifice but also in the care required and the preparation needed beforehand in making the selection of the proper animal. An analogous manifestation of faith for each of us is our careful accounting of our income and our meticulous determining of just how much tithing each of us owes the Lord. Living the law of tithing includes not only paying our tithes but also conscientiously determining just how much we owe.
We know that this type of offering foretold the atoning sacrifice of the Savior (see verse 7), but Adam did not realize at first the symbolic significance of the ordinance of sacrifice (see verse 6). He was obedient without having to know all of the reasons for his actions (verse 6).
"Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord" What splendidly simple praise for one of the most noble individuals in our round of creation. It is clear that Adam and Eve were painstakingly obedient to the Lord, even then they did not understand the reasons for a particular commandment. The result of their obedience will be a benchmark revelation in which they will be told of the redeeming power of the Only Begotten, who will rescue them from their transgressions (see verses 7, 9-10).
6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
verse 6 See the commentary for verse 5.
7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
verse 7 "This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only begotten of the Father" As already mentioned there was a symbolic purpose to animal sacrifice. It is specified that the sacrifice must be a firstling of the flock, and the sacrifice is a similitude of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Adam was obviously the first man on this earth to offer animal sacrifice in this manner and for this purpose. Although blood sacrifices are repeatedly spoken of in the Old Testament, there is in the Old Testament no explanation as to their specific purpose; nor is there anything about Adam offering a sacrifice.
This verse provides us the first clear indication that Adam and Eve learned about the atonement of the Savior many millennia before it occurred in Gethsemane and on the cross.
8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
verse 8 "thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son" One of the powerful contributions of the Pearl of Great Price is a vital insight into Christ's eternal gospel-the revelation to the Church and to the world that the gospel of Jesus Christ along with its ordinances have been taught by prophets since the days of Adam. Much of what has been delivered through Joseph Smith and his successors is a restoration-not just of the first century Church of Jesus Christ-but of those gospel principles that have pertained since Adam. Adam will also be taught, four thousand or more years before the mortal sojourn of Jesus, that Jesus Christ is "the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men" (Moses 6:52). Enoch will be taught the same principles (Moses 7:47). The collection of scriptures in the Pearl of Great Price provides confirming evidence that the Lord intended to "give all the prophets witness" (Acts 10:43), and that "none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied save they have spoken concerning this Christ" (Jacob 7:11; compare John 5:39). This fact is almost entirely lacking in all other translations of the Bible available today. Indeed, the Pearl of Great Price is yet another witness for Jesus Christ.
Elder Orson Pratt expressed his understanding of the antiquity and unchanging nature of the Father's plan of salvation as follows: "The dealing of God toward his children . . . is a pattern after which all other worlds are dealt with. The creation, fall and redemption of all future worlds with their inhabitants, will be upon the same general plan. The Father of our spirits has only been doing what his progenitors did before him. . . . The same plan of redemption is carried out by which more ancient worlds have been redeemed" ("Pre-existence," The Seer [Washington, D.C.: 1853], 134). The reason Elder Pratt's statement makes doctrinal sense is because the plan of God is perfect, and perfection is unchanging. If the plan of redemption varied from time to time, from creation to creation, from world to world, or person to person, men would be saved by different means, and salvation would have its bargain days. The "sameness" of the plan of salvation does not mean that every world is an exact monotonous and unimaginative copy of every other, or that there are the same number of inhabitants on each. It means that the same eternal principles, the same kind of mortality, morality, and salvation are applicable wherever and whenever there are gods and devils and men.
The angel teaches Adam that all sacred things-all spiritual things-are to be done "in the name of the Son." This same teaching is found elsewhere in scripture. All personal acts of repentance and prayer are to be undertaken in the name of the Son. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "Jesus Christ [is] the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men" (Moses 6:52). "There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent" (Mosiah 3:17; cf. 2 Ne. 31:20-21). "And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you" (Mosiah 4:8). "Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved; Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father" (D&C 18:23-24).
"the name of the Son" Here readers learn that "the Son" is one of the names of the Lord. The fact that this is the first mention of "the Son" in the record written by Moses about Adam may indicate that we do not possess the full report of this revelation, because, except for the prior mention of "the Only Begotten" (Moses 5:7), the mention here of "the Son" would not have connected to anything in Adam's known experiences with the Lord. We might have expected the Lord to provide for Adam and Eve more introductory and explanatory instruction prior to referring to "the Son."
9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
verse 9 "the Holy Ghost . . . which beareth record of the Father and the Son" Here is one of the most important roles of the Holy Ghost-to testify of the Father and the Son (see Moses 6:61; Moses 6:66 and the commentary for those verses). We will learn in Moses 6:61; Moses 6:66 that a title for the Holy Ghost consequent to this role is "record of heaven" or "record of the Father, and the Son."
"saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father" Here the Holy Ghost speaks as though he were the Son, a clear instance of divine investiture of authority. It is notable that this title is applied to the Son millennia prior to his actually being born in the flesh as the Father's Only Begotten in the flesh. Incidentally, the reading in the first handwritten manuscript was "I am Jesus Christ," which Joseph Smith changed in the second to its current reading.
"as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will" Adam is blessed to receive from the Holy Ghost a revelation of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
verse 10 This verse constitutes the recorded response of Adam to the revelation of the atonement (see verse 9).
"Adam blessed God" In his gratitude to the Savior for his atoning sacrifice, Adam abjectly worshiped him: "Adam blessed God and was filled [with the spirit of the Holy Ghost]" (compare 3 Nephi 18:9; 3 Nephi 20:9).
"Adam . . . began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth" It is notable that we do not have the content of this prophesy "concerning all the families of the earth." Instead of providing us with the content of his prophecy, we have here in this verse only Adam's words concerning his own future. It is interesting to note that the Doctrine and Covenants describes yet another prophecy of Adam's to which we will not have access until a future date. This prophecy also concerns "whatsoever should befall his posterity." We are told that this latter prophecy was "written in the book of Enoch, and [is] to be testified of in due time" (D&C 107:56-57). We must therefore conclude that the contents of both of these prophecies are being held by the Lord until a time that is appropriate for revealing them.
Doubtless this was Adam's first experience at prophesying (Adam "began to prophesy"), an experience that communicated to him God's acceptance of the way he was living.
"Blessed be the name of God" This phrase introduces Adam's beatitude which reflects Adam's pure and heart-felt gratitude to the Savior for his atoning sacrifice.
11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
verse 11 "Eve, heard all these things and was glad" Eve is a first-hand witness of the revelations that came to Adam.
"our . . . we . . . our . . .all" Note Eve's use of plural pronouns which contrasts with Adam's use of singular pronouns in Moses 5:10. This evidences her broad and instinctive concern for her family members.
Here Eve, seems to realize, after the fact, the eternal value and positive consequences of the couple's partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and their being driven out of the Garden of Eden. But we have reason to believe that Eve concluded, even before she partook of the fruit, that it was a step she must take in order to further the purposes of God on the earth. She came to realize, as she was conversing with Satan in the garden, that if she and Adam were to become the parents of the human family-if they were to acquire the ability to procreate-that they would need to become mortal and be driven out of the garden. Consequently, the fall of Adam and Eve is looked upon differently by those in the Church than it is generally by the various denominations of the Christian world. The Christian world regards Adam's fall as a shameful act that thwarted the plan of God and left mankind in a miserable state. On the other hand, the Church looks upon the fall as not only desirable but necessary in the plan of God. In the words of Elder Orson F. Whitney, a member of the Council of the Twelve, "Adam's fall was a step downward, but it was also a step forward-a step in the eternal march of human progress" (CR, April 1908, 90). In other words, it was a step forward in the eternal plan of God to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). In the Book of Mormon, Lehi taught his son Jacob that "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25).
12 And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.
verse 12 "made all things known unto their sons and their daughters" Adam and Eve taught the content of the revelation, especially the doctrine concerning the atonement which would be wrought by the Only Begotten of the Father, to their children and grandchildren.
13 And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.
verse 13 "Satan came among them" One senses that Satan entered the human drama at an early stage, though this is the first mention of his activities among mortals.
"I am also a son of God" While Satan is, indeed, a "son of God," his words here are obviously intended to equate him with the Only Begotten. Compare this statement with his words to Moses in Moses 1:19: "I am the Only Begotten, worship me."
"carnal, sensual, and devilish" These terms document the rise of evil among the descendants of Adam as they gave in to their "natural man" selves, an act in which Satan delights and which he is, through his skillful manipulations, able to facilitate.
In this state of probation, Satan's sole purpose is to seek the misery of all mankind (2 Nephi 2:17-18). To be carnal is to seek to satisfy the appetites of the flesh. To be sensual is to follow one's "natural" inclinations in satisfying things pleasing to the eye, smell, taste, touch, or sound. These in and of themselves are not bad. They may not, however, be pleasing to God if men are following what is natural to do but are directed otherwise by the Spirit. Elder Melvin J. Ballard wrote: "All the assaults that the enemy of our souls will make to capture us will be through the flesh, because it is made up of the unredeemed earth, and he has power over the elements of the earth. The approach he makes to us will be through the lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the flesh. All the help that comes to us from the Lord to aid us in this struggle will come to us through the spirit that dwells within this mortal body. So these two mighty forces are operating upon us through these two channels" ("Struggle for the Soul," New Era, March 1984, 35). Elder Ballard speaks here of the mortal enhancement of the pulls of our natural self. We know that each individual intelligence has always possessed a "natural" side that inclines the possessor toward immediate gratification, ease, and selfishness-the "natural self." There is no question but what the receiving of a mortal body adds considerably to those natural inclinations because of the lusts of the flesh. Hence, we see the appropriateness of the term "natural man," referring to earthly humans.
14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent;
verse 14 "the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost" We have previously established the fact that spiritual and eternal concepts can have an affect on the thinking and behavior of man only when the influence of the Spirit of God is present. Conversely, without that influence, things of the spirit tend to appear foolish or are wholly disregarded by man (1 Corinthians 2:14). In other words, God is able to reach or truly communicate with man only through the influence of the Holy Ghost. God's disadvantage (and Satan's advantage) in persuading men and leading them back to their celestial home is that the things of the world require no such mediation, but are readily effective in appealing to the "natural" side of man. On the other hand, the influence of the Holy Ghost does not come without some degree of righteous seeking for his ministrations. No wonder that "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14).
"that they should repent" Again, the essence of repentance is to stop disobeying the Lord's commands and start obeying them. For a more complete discussion of the principle of repentance, see Repentance in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 4.
15 And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned; and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled.
verse 15 "as many as believed . . . should be saved" To be saved here means to be exalted in the celestial presence of the Father and the Son.
"as many as believed not . . . should be damned" To be damned means to be doomed to a lesser degree of glory. The essence of the damnation of these souls is not that they suffer eternal discomfort, but rather that they are limited or stopped in their eternal progression. It is for this reason that, in the Church, we sometimes speak of being "damned" as being stopped or limited in spiritual progress.
"the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree" The words here are the laws of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Verses 14 and 15 are the specific words, and again, the emphasis is on obedience to the law. The essence of repentance is obedience. The word repentance is used when a pre-existing pattern of disobedience exists and must be changed to obedience.
"wherefore they must be fulfilled" This phrase refers to the demands of justice which must be met.
verses 16-59 The story of Cain and Able is contained in verses 16-41 with additional verses about Cain in verses 42-59. This means that there are some 44 verses about Able and his brother Cain in the book of Moses. In Genesis 4 there are only 24 verses that discuss Cain and Abel (verses 1-24). There are seven verses which these two books (Moses 5 and Genesis 4) have in common. Sixteen of the verses in Moses 5 have additions compared to the Genesis account, nine of which are significant. There are twenty-one completely new verses in Moses 5 compared to Genesis 4. With these extra materials contained in Moses 5, much of the confusion concerning the account of Cain and Abel is cleared up.
16 And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him?
verse 16 "Adam and Eve . . . ceased not to call upon God" This expression underscores again their faithfulness to God and his purposes.
"wherefore he may not reject his words" Eve hopefully reasons that since Cain (a "man" or male child) came from the presence of the Lord, he will surely keep the word of the Lord.
"But . . . Cain hearkened not" Cain obviously manifest a rebellious attitude doubtless from an early age.
"Who is the Lord that I should know him?" In Cain's query, the verb "know" carries implications of a covenant relationship which Cain refuses to enter. He says, in effect, who is the Lord that I should feel obligated to enter into a covenant relationship with him? Cain's arrogant question will be mirrored later by that of Pharaoh (see Exodus 5:2), as well as that of King Noah (see Mosiah 11:27).
17 And she again conceived and bare his brother Abel. And Abel hearkened unto the voice of the Lord. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
verse 17 "Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground" There seems to be telling symbolism in the brothers' occupations. As keeper of sheep, Abel seems to see the earth as a source of sustenance for his animals, a source that can be influenced by God for good or ill. Cain, however, believes that he owns the land and that God, though the creator of the land, has nothing more to do with it.
18 And Cain loved Satan more than God. And Satan commanded him, saying: Make an offering unto the Lord.
verse 18 "Cain loved Satan" In a complete departure from the Genesis story, Satan enters the scene as a companion to Cain. Cain's love for Satan, we presume, rests on his knowing Satan in a covenantal sense, a notion that implies the worship of Satan. The covenant relationship between Satan and Cain is subtly implied in Satan's command that Cain "make an offering unto the Lord," in an obvious attempt to deceive the Lord.
19 And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
verse 19 "Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering" The appropriate offering, which Cain should have known but perhaps did not, was a blood offering of the firstling of the flock (see verse 5). It seems plausible that Satan suggested that Cain make the offering of "the fruit of the ground" in an effort perhaps to taunt the Lord and to set Cain up for a fall.
20 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering;
verse 20 Regarding these two offerings of Cain and Abel, Paul wrote, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Hebrews 11:4). Why was Abel's sacrifice more excellent than Cain's? In addition to Cain's offering being commanded by Satan, it was not in accordance with the Lord's commandment to Adam to offer the firstlings of the flock (verse 5). Abel's offering was an animal sacrifice, and thus it was respected by the Lord.
21 But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. Now Satan knew this, and it pleased him. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
verse 21 Satan knew that Cain's offering would be refused, though it appears that Cain perhaps did not. Cain seems to have been frustrated and angry by the Lord's refusal to accept his offering, and Satan was delighted by Cain's reaction to the rejection. It was a sure indication that Cain was now, or soon would be, tightly bound up in the "chains of hell" (Alma 12:9-11).
22 And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?
verse 22 It is not obvious whether the Lord spoke directly to Cain or through an authorized intermediary such as Cain's father. Would we, after all, expect such an individual as Cain to be blessed by direct voice communication with the Lord?
"Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?" It seems likely that the Lord perceives, in Cain's anger and in his fallen countenance that this episode with his offering is the final straw and that Cain now has his mind set against the things of the Lord. It seems that the Lord, however, in reacting to Cain's first sin, is merciful, but he warns him of the peril in continuing to follow Satan. At this time there was still theoretical hope for Cain's exaltation, though in the following verses we perceive a growing impression that the Lord feels that Cain is lost.
23 If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him;
verse 23 "If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted" The Lord expresses again the theoretical hope that Cain might not be doomed to outer darkness.
"I will deliver thee up" Just as the Lord is able to seal an individual up to their exaltation (make their calling and election sure), so, apparently, is he able to seal upon them their eternal damnation, or deliver them up to Satan in outer darkness (some have said, with tongue in cheek, "made their 'falling and rejection' sure"). In some measure, then, Satan would exercise some degree of control over them.
"And thou shalt rule over him" This rather startling revelation suggests that a person with a body holds power over one who does not possess a body. Cain will, of course, as will all mortals, be eventually resurrected. In the words of Joseph Smith: "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power" (TPJS, 181).
24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.
verse 24 "from this time forth" Presumably, the Lord is referring here to the "time" when Cain fails to hearken unto his commandments.
"thou shalt be the father of his lies" From this time, Cain will not only be entangled in a wicked alliance with Satan, but he apparently he will preside over Satan himself in that alliance-Cain will be "the father of his [Satan's] lies." By Cain becoming the head of Satan's organization, he joined, in a sense, the family of Satan and thus will receive his name also. As the head man in the flesh, he became the father of those mortals who later joined the organization. Those who so join become the sons of Cain as well as of Satan.
As has been mentioned, it is generally understood that in being delivered up to Satan, Cain is condemned to spend eternity in outer darkness. In other words, he is guilty of the unpardonable sin. It may seem a bit surprising that Cain is "qualified" to commit the unpardonable sin. Ordinarily only those who reach a lofty spiritual position and have been sealed up to eternal life are able to commit this sin. Then they must not only reject Christ and his gospel but turn against the Savior and contend actively against him. We will learn that Cain will certainly contend against the Lord, but did he ever achieve the requisite lofty spiritual status? We must presume that the nature of the relationship between the human family and the Lord at that time was such that they were all afforded a "sure knowledge" of the Lord and spiritual truths.
"thou shalt be called Perdition" Cain was further told that he would be called Perdition. Perdition is the title given to Satan when he was thrust down from the presence of God for his rebellion (D&C 76:25-26). The English word perdition derives from the Latin term perditus, which means "lost" and thus reinforces the idea that individuals are in God's custody until he delivers them up to Satan. The same Latin term has ties to the verb perdo, which means to destroy or to ruin. Note that Cain's title begins with an upper case "P" further suggesting that he may preside in that realm as "the lost one." Neither the Latin language nor the English language existed at the time of this revelation to Moses, and we don't actually know the ancient term that is rendered here as "Perdition."
"thou wast also before the world" This phrase seems to confirm the premortal existence of Cain and Satan and further implies that Cain's being called by the same name as Satan-Perdition-is wholly appropriate, because Cain too had been present in the pre-mortal councils ("before the world was") and had seen the results of Satan's rebellion. Cain's rebellion therefore had the trappings of a willful rebellion with full knowledge of the consequences.
25 And it shall be said in time to come-That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent.
verse 25 "And it shall be said in time to come" The Lord threatens Cain with an unusual curse. If Cain does not repent of his iniquities, then the abominations that individuals hereafter commit in the face of direct and irrefutable spiritual knowledge ("the greater counsel which was had from God") will be named after Cain-Cain will be regarded as the instigator on the earth of that combination of abominable sin in the face of sure knowledge, and perhaps the cursing that follows.
26 And Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord, neither to Abel, his brother, who walked in holiness before the Lord.
verse 26 "And Cain was wroth" But Cain did not repent. Rather, he continued to be angry and bitter, and he rejected any further counsel from the Lord. He also rejected all counsel from his younger brother Abel whose righteous example might have led him back to his redemption.
27 And Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren.
verse 27 "mourned before the Lord" This expression may indicate that Adam and Eve brought their mourning to the altar in an appeal to God for help.
"because of Cain and his brethren" Here is the first suggestion that Cain had other followers, brothers and sisters, among the family of Adam and Eve. These rebellious souls will be further referred to in the following two verses.
28 And it came to pass that Cain took one of his brothers' daughters to wife, and they loved Satan more than God.
verse 28 "Cain took one of his brothers' daughters to wife" Apparently it became a widespread custom for men to marry a niece, as did Nahor, the brother of Abraham (see Genesis 11:27-29). The pronoun they apparently refers to Cain and his wife.
29 And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.
verse 29 This verse documents the origin of the secret, "murder to get gain," and counterfeit-covenantal organization consisting of Satan, Cain, and those who followed Cain, including his wife. All those in the organization were bound by oath of secrecy to Satan, and anyone in the organization who broke that oath would die. A central purpose of the secrecy surrounding this organization was to hide the existence of this organization from Father Adam.
It is apparent that Satan initiated this oath and organization, but Cain soon took control of the organization as verse 30 indicates.
"Swear unto me by thy throat" The throat is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body available to an ancient weapon such as a knife, a sword, or a spear. In addition, cutting the throat of a sacrificial animal began the process of a sacred offering. It is plain that Satan's oaths seek to gain credibility through mimicking genuinely sacred covenants made in God's name. It is certainly possible, for example, that entering into this evil oath was accompanied a sign symbolizing the cutting of the throat.
"swear thy brethren by their heads" Another symbol of the oath between Satan and the followers of Cain was the head which is also a vulnerable point of injury to any human being.
"swear . . . by the living God" Another way in which Satan seeks credibility for his evil oaths, ironically is to invoke the name of God.
"I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands" Satan's part of the bargain was to deliver Abel into the hands of Cain, that Cain may kill him. In the interest of the "murder to get gain" part of the Satanic organization, Cain's underlying motive was to obtain the flocks of his brother Abel (see verses 33, 38).
30 And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.
verse 30 Both Satan and Cain (and their followers) swore an oath of loyalty and secrecy. This verse further suggests that Cain would actually dominate Satan in the leadership of this secret organization. God's prophetic words apparently came to pass: "thou [Cain] shalt rule over him [Satan]" (verse 23).
31 And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness.
verse 31 "Cain said: Truly I am Mahan" Here is another way in which those in this counterfeit covenantal organization sought credibility. Among the righteous in Old Testament times, it was common to take a new name as a sign of entering into a covenantal relationship with God; for example, Abram became Abraham (see Genesis 17:5). In an analogous way, Cain takes a new name-Mahan. The meaning of the name Mahan remains unknown. It was evidently a term that made sense in "our own language," that is, "the language of Adam" (Moses 6:46), which was plainly different from the language of Moses, who received the account (Moses 6:5). The language of Adam "was pure and undefiled," a description that does not fit other tongues (Moses 6:6). We are at an impasse because we do not know whether Adam's language was related to any of the Semitic languages, of which Hebrew is one. Hugh Nibley surmises that the name Mahan may mean "great," that Master here means "keeper [master] of secrets," and that Master Mahan may thus mean "great secret keeper" (Lecture 19, Adam and Eve," in Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price [Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1986], 12).
"murder and get gain" The secret organization that Satan and Cain founded had, as perhaps its central tenets, the idea of murder for profit.
"he gloried in his wickedness" It's obvious that Cain's followers gathered round him and looked to him as their leader.
32 And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel, his brother. And it came to pass that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him.
verse 32 All of the action verbs in this verse describe the acts of Cain. Clearly, the narrative places the blame for all that happened on this fateful day squarely on him.
"Cain talked with Abel" Cain's conversing with Abel stands in sharp contrast to his earlier, resolute withdrawal from Abel (see verse 26). It is therefore plain to the reader that Cain has an evil purpose in mind by talking with Abel.
"Cain rose up against Abel" Perhaps the readers are to think of Cain and Abel visiting with one another while sitting on their haunches or heels. They both rose up as Cain confronted Abel.
33 And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands.
verse 33 This verse is unique to the book of Moses, and not found in the Genesis account.
"Cain gloried in that which he had done" We see evidence here of Cain's absolute lack of remorse. He was "past feeling."
"I am free" Here is an obvious and great irony. Perhaps Abel's very existence engendered in Cain guilt over what he should be doing. Perhaps also Abel was often thrown up to him as an example he ought to be following. He was finally free of any comparisons to his brother Abel. Perhaps also Cain had the twisted idea that wealth would make him free. His statement here is ironic because of what will surely befall him here on earth when his evil act is found out, and what will befall him in the eternities.
"surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands" Again, here is the "murder to get gain" idea. Further, Hugh Nibley has pointed out that "all the oldest words for money simply mean flocks" (Ibid., 436). At the base of Cain's murderous act was a lust for possessions, though there may also have existed enmity between the brothers. Might it have been that Cain was still smarting from the Lord's rejection of his offering (see verse 38), and he wanted the flocks from which the acceptable offering had come?
34 And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said: I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?
verse 34 It seems likely that Cain has assumed (Satan was not so naive) that he could gain Abel's property without Adam's or the Lord's learning of his evil act or his secret pact (see verse 39).
"And the Lord said unto Cain" The Lord addresses Cain personally obviously with the intention of delivering him up to Satan (see verse 23).
"I know not" The lie of Cain stands in stark contrast to the admission of guilt by his parents in the Garden of Eden as they accepted responsibility for their transgression (see Moses 4:18-19).
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Many assume from this statement that everyone is his brother's keeper. However, in the patriarchal line of stewardship, a father, not a brother, is the keeper of his son.
In a broader sense, Elder Dallin Oaks asked, "Are we our brothers' keepers? In other words, are we responsible to look after the well-being of our neighbors as we seek to earn our daily bread? The Savior's Golden Rule says we are. Satan says we are not. Tempted of Satan, some have followed the example of Cain. They covet property and then sin to obtain it. The sin may be murder, robbery, or theft. It may be fraud or deception. It may even be some clever but legal manipulation of facts or influence to take unfair advantage of another. Always the excuse is the same: 'Am I my brother's keeper?'" (Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, November 1986, 20).
35 And the Lord said: What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood cries unto me from the ground.
verse 35 "The voice of thy brother's blood cries unto me from the ground" Blood crying out from the ground is a metaphor for the demands of justice crying "foul." Justice must be served. There is hell to pay.
36 And now thou shalt be cursed from the earth which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand.
verse 36 "now thou shalt be cursed from the earth" The Lord pronounces a specific curse upon this erstwhile farmer. The earth will no longer yield when Cain plants crops. The so-called inanimate earth is not to be regarded as truly inanimate and passive. We have frequently discussed the notion that the elements of the earth are associated with intelligence (see Moses 7:48). God has spoken, and the earth will obey. Cain is out of business as a farmer.
The Lord's curse upon Cain was actually two-fold. First of all, the earth was not to yield her strength unto the efforts of Cain's tilling of it. It is implied in the two previous verses that this was because of the blood of Abel being absorbed by it. It is further suggested in a subsequent chapter of Moses that this part of the curse also included a loss of the priesthood (Moses 7:8). The second part of Cain's curse was that he would be "a fugitive and a vagabond . . . in the earth" (verse 37).
37 When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength. A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
verse 37 "A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth" Cain, the lover and tiller of the earth, could not face a more unsettling future than that of having to constantly move about from place to place in order to seek a living. We will learn in verse 40 that the principle of blood vengeance (an eye for an eye) for those who have spilt innocent blood seems already to be a valid principle, as there are those who will seek to slay him in just retribution for his killing of Abel. Perhaps this is the reason he is sentenced to wander for the rest of his life (see verse 39). He is a fugitive on the run.
The reader has doubtless previously encountered the apocryphal story reported by Lycurgus A. Wilson in his book, Life of David W. Patten (50). He reports a recollection of David W. Patten while the latter was serving a mission in Tennessee in 1834: "As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me . . . His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt, and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the holy priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight . . .." This man was later "identified" as Cain who was cursed to be a "fugitive and a vagabond in the earth." This story has given rise to the unlikely "doctrine" that Cain is still upon the earth. It would seem this story should be regarded (or disregarded) as another of those "faith-promoting rumors."
38 And Cain said unto the Lord: Satan tempted me because of my brother's flocks. And I was wroth also; for his offering thou didst accept and not mine; my punishment is greater than I can bear.
verse 38 "my punishment is greater than I can bear" There are some other interesting translations of this response by Cain. The Holy Bible from ancient eastern manuscripts renders Genesis 4:13 as: "And Cain said to the Lord, my transgression is too great to be forgiven" (George M. Lamsa, Holy Bible from the Peshitta, the Authorized Bible of the Church of the East [Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1957]). The Septuagint has the same wording as the Ancient Eastern manuscript but changes the statement into a question: "And Cain said to the Lord God, 'Is my fault too great to be forgiven? If thou castest me out this day from the face of this land and I be hid from Thy presence and be in a state of anguish and terror in the land, it will come to pass that whoever findeth me will kill me"' (The Septuagint Bible, trans. Charles Thomson, 2nd edition [Indian Hills, Colorado: Falcon's Wing Press, 1960]). Perhaps Cain's response was more of a declaration or a question than a complaint. It is likely that the question was drawn out more from fear for his own safety than from remorse and fear of loss of salvation (see the commentary for verses 37, 39, and 40).
39 Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, 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 he that findeth me will slay me, because of mine iniquities, for these things are not hid from the Lord.
verses 38-39 In these verses Cain addresses the Lord. He initially tries to justify his killing of his brother but then quickly and without comment accepts the inevitability of his fate and despairs over his future.
"thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord" What exactly does Cain mean here? This statement might refer to (1) being banished from the place of worship that seems to have stood on "the way [path] toward the Garden of Eden" (Moses 5:4), or to (2) being refused any direct interaction with God, or to (3) being forced to live away from those who enjoy God's association. All of these possibilities become realities in Moses 5:41.
"he that findeth me will slay me, because of mine iniquities" Cain's statement discloses that blood vengeance (an eye for an eye) was the norm even though probably no one had yet committed a crime as grievous as his. Under this law, close relatives of Abel were obliged to seek his murderer and take that person's life as a penalty. Cain understands that consequently his own life is in danger.
"because of mine iniquities" In the first manuscript of the book of Moses, this expression read "because of mine oath [with Satan]," which makes sense in light of Moses 5:29: "Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me."
40 And I the Lord said unto him: Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
verse 40 "Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold" The Lord takes steps to protect Cain against being slain according to the principle of blood vengeance. The Lord decrees that the slayer of Cain will in turn suffer the loss of seven lives from his or her family, a severe toll indeed.
"I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him" As a second protective measure, the Lord places a mark upon Cain that would visually remind any would-be avenger of God's decree about the seven lives for the life of Cain.
We may well wonder why the Lord is taking steps to protect Cain from being put to death in the flesh by a potential avenger. After all, if the principle of blood vengeance is in force, should he not be killed in retribution for his own heinous act? Is the Lord taking pity on Cain by making an exception to the law of blood vengeance? Or, perhaps part of his curse is that he will not be let off "easily," by being put to death early on, but rather he will be compelled to live a long life as a vagabond and a wanderer.
If the Lord's mark had been fully effective so that it completely and successfully prevented any and every potential avenger from attacking and killing Cain, then it seems he would not have had to wander for self protection. Perhaps there were some, and Cain was aware of them, that would not heed the Lord's warning but would still seek the life of Cain in retribution for his killing Abel.
41 And Cain was shut out from the presence of the Lord, and with his wife and many of his brethren dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
verse 41 "with his wife and many of his brethren" This is the group of Cain's followers who were doubtless just as rebellious and wicked as he was and were fully involved in the secret combination with Satan.
42 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bare Enoch, and he also begat many sons and daughters. And he builded a city, and he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.
verse 42 "Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bare Enoch" Enoch seems to be the first child of Cain. He is not, of course, the same Enoch who would become a powerful prophet of the Lord.
"And he builded a city" We see the unusual abilities of Cain. This erstwhile farmer became a leader and builder of a city.
"he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch" There is an obvious irony in this city of Enoch. This city would become the main center for Cain and his followers, including their evil practices (see verses 51-52). Much later, another Enoch, a descendant of Seth and a son of Jared, will build a city for righteous people wherein God himself will dwell (see Moses 7:16; Moses 7:18-19).
43 And unto Enoch was born Irad, and other sons and daughters. And Irad begat Mahujael, and other sons and daughters. And Mahujael begat Methusael, and other sons and daughters. And Methusael begat Lamech.
verse 43 "Mahujael . . . Methusael" It is yet another irony that we see the name of God preserved in these names (the ending in -el meaning "God"). Obviously there was still a desire, even in this wicked community, to remain connected to spiritual roots.
44 And Lamech took unto himself two wives; the name of one being Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.
verse 44 "Lamech took unto himself two wives" Lamech introduces plural marriage into society. Each of his marriages leads to important innovations within the developing culture of Cain and his people.
45 And Adah bare Jabal; he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and they were keepers of cattle; and his brother's name was Jubal, who was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
verse 45 "such as dwell in tents, and they were keepers of cattle" Through Lamech's wife Adah and her son Jabal came a people who will be later noted by Enoch, the descendant of Seth and the son of Jared, as the nomadic people. It is apparent that class structure has become a feature of this society because, presumably, the "keepers of cattle" were a lower class of people who worked for someone else.
"all such as handle the harp and organ" Also through Lamech's wife Adah, but through another son Jubal, came the musical instrument. The Hebrew verb translated "handle" (tafas) in Genesis 4:21 carries the basic sense "to lay hold of with the hands." This fits because both the harp and organ were held by hand as one played them.
46 And Zillah, she also bare Tubal Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. And the sister of Tubal Cain was called Naamah.
verse 46 "Tubal Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron" Through Lamech's other wife Zillah came Tubal Cain who was skilled in the art of making metals from ores. Historically, the skills for making brass came very early. Presumably this branch of Lamech's family became a somewhat higher socioeconomic class-that of the self-employed craftsmen.
"the sister of Tubal Cain was called Naamah" This individual, mentioned also in Genesis 4:22, is found in none other of the narratives and it is unclear why she is mentioned. Presumably this woman was important, and there was an early story tied to her memory that the accounts do not preserve. In Hebrew, her name derives from the root meaning "to be pleasant" (na'em).
47 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah: Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech; for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
verse 47 "I have slain a man" Lamech slew Irad (see verse 49) who was actually Lamech's great grandfather. it is puzzling that he refers to him as "a young man," unless the expression can refer in that society to a person who still has a long time to live. We will learn that Irad is slain by Lamech because Irad learned the secrets of the secret combination and began to tell them to the righteous descendants of Adam who were not involved in the secret combination (see verse 49).
"I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt" This statement contains a parallelism-two phrases with the same meaning. They are:
I have slain a man to my wounding
and a young man to my hurt
In other words, Lamech says, I have slain a man who tried to wound me, and the same man for trying to hurt me.
48 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech shall be seventy and seven fold;
verse 48 "avenged . . . seventy and seven fold" In an ironic twist, Lamech holds to the notion that God will be obliged to protect him to a higher degree than he had promised to protect Cain, thus showing his misdirected hope for divine protection for his heinous murder.
verses 49-59 These verses have been lost from Genesis. They disclose that Lamech continued the secret combination entered into by Cain with Satan and that Lamech succeeded Cain as Master Mahan (Moses 5:49). Furthermore, one Irad began to reveal Lamech's secret unto the sons of Adam, which caused Lamech to slay him "for the oath's sake" (Moses 5:49-50). This part of the oath is confirmed in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 6:24), as is the fact that secret combinations began with Cain (Moses 5:51; Helaman 6:27).
49 For Lamech having entered into a covenant with Satan, after the manner of Cain, wherein he became Master Mahan, master of that great secret which was administered unto Cain by Satan; and Irad, the son of Enoch, having known their secret, began to reveal it unto the sons of Adam;
verse 49 "Lamech . . . became Master Mahan" The expression "Master Mahan" was evidently a title within the group that signified that the holder of this title knew the secret of Satan and Cain. In addition, it appears that Lamech succeeded Cain in this office or title, perhaps implying that Cain was either dead or had withdrawn from his society or had been forced out.
"Irad, the son of Enoch, having known their secret, began to reveal it" Apparently not all of Cain's descendants participated in the secret disclosed by Satan. Irad, Cain's grandson (see verses 42-43), apparently had sworn to preserve the secret. Verses 50 seems to say that Lamech's murder of Irad was because Irad had betrayed his oath.
"reveal it unto the sons of Adam" It appears that the expression "sons of Adam" refers to a different group than the expression "sons [and daughters] of men" (verses 52-53). The "sons of Adam" are the descendants of Adam through the righteous line of Seth. The "sons [and daughters] of men" are the followers of Cain (see verse 52).
50 Wherefore Lamech, being angry, slew him, not like unto Cain, his brother Abel, for the sake of getting gain, but he slew him for the oath's sake.
verse 50 This verse hints that at one time Irad had stood within the circle of initiates into the secret of Satan and that he had betrayed that standing by revealing the secret to outsiders.
51 For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother.
verse 51 "they knew every man his brother" One possible implication of this expression is that the secret society formed by the oath-takers encouraged homosexual activity among its members.
52 Wherefore the Lord cursed Lamech, and his house, and all them that had covenanted with Satan; for they kept not the commandments of God, and it displeased God, and he ministered not unto them, and their works were abominations, and began to spread among all the sons of men. And it was among the sons of men.
verse 52 "the Lord cursed Lamech, and his house" Whatever curse the Lord chose for Lamech, it rested also on his two wives and their children ("his house").
"he [God] ministered not unto them" Contact with God ceased through God's representatives, through his angels, through his voice, and through his Spirit (see verse 58).
"sons of men" This expression, and the expression "daughters of men" in the following verse refer to those who had made an evil oath with Satan. Those who bound by covenant with God are referred to as the "sons of Adam" (see the commentary for verse 49).
53 And among the daughters of men these things were not spoken, because that Lamech had spoken the secret unto his wives, and they rebelled against him, and declared these things abroad, and had not compassion;
verse 53 "Among the daughters of men these things were not spoken" The women in the secret combination who had taken the oath of secrecy did not divulge the Satanic secrets.
"Lamech had spoken the secret unto his wives, and they rebelled against him, and declared these things abroad" Lamech's wives seem to have been so appalled by his murder of Irad that they sought something like a divorce, so that they were no longer part of Lamech's household. The spread abroad the secrets of the oath which Cain had made with Satan. People apparently took seriously the word of these women, perhaps showing that the later discounting of women as witnesses of events was not a natural development from these early days but represented a change in legal views.
54 Wherefore Lamech was despised, and cast out, and came not among the sons of men, lest he should die.
verse 54 "lest he should die" Obviously the divine protection Lamech had hoped for did not materialize (see verse 48), leaving him vulnerable to blood avengers. He was forced to withdraw from his own society and become a fugitive.
55 And thus the works of darkness began to prevail among all the sons of men.
verse 55 In spite of the departure of Lamech, the evil works of the secret covenant society continued on and set the state for the later Flood narrative. Lamech is a representative of the seventh generation from Adam. Another representative of the same generation is Enoch, the descendant of Seth. It was in Enoch's day that God began to reveal the coming Flood and the survival of Noah (see Moses 7:38; Moses 7:42).
verses 56-59 These verses have no counterpart in the book of Genesis.
56 And God cursed the earth with a sore curse, and was angry with the wicked, with all the sons of men whom he had made;
verse 56 "God cursed the earth" This is not the first time that the earth has received a curse. It was also cursed when Adam and Eve were forced out of the garden (Moses 4:23-24) and again when Cain was made a vagabond and a wanderer (Moses 5:37). In light of these previous curses, it appears that God's curse limits, in some way, the fruitfulness of the ground. There may have been other aspects to the curse, particularly this last one, as it is referred to as "a sore curse." One other aspect of the curse was that the priesthood was lost from among those who kept not their covenants. Joseph Smith summed it up with this observation: "Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice, but not offering it in righteousness, was cursed. It signifies, then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed; otherwise their Priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing (TPJS, 169).
"sons of men" See the commentary for verses 49 and 52.
57 For they would not hearken unto his voice, nor believe on his Only Begotten Son, even him whom he declared should come in the meridian of time, who was prepared from before the foundation of the world.
verse 57 "his voice" The Lord may have communicated with the "sons of men" (the members of the secret combination) through an intermediary-the prophet Adam. Or, it is possible that in that day the voice of God was directly audible among all the inhabitants of the earth.
"prepared from before the foundation of the world" The Savior was called in the premortal world (see Moses 4:1-2).
58 And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
verse 58 "the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning" Here is the vital truth that missionaries now declare to the world. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been declared specifically to inhabitants of the earth from the time of Adam ("from the beginning") and that all of the holy prophets knew specifically of Jesus Christ and his coming in the meridian of time (Jacob 4:4). The restoration of the gospel to the earth in this final dispensation through Joseph Smith is not entirely a unique happening. Restorations have occurred before following periods of apostasy. Rather, the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ has never changed but has been on the earth since Adam's day.
"being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God" A reminder that angels have always been and will continue to be a tool used by the Lord for warning his people and testifying to them. At the time of Adam, the angels had to be either pre-existent spirits or "the spirits of just men made perfect"-deceased mortals whose spirits reside in the state of paradise in the spirit world.
59 And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.
verse 59 "by an holy ordinance" Apparently, this expression refers either to the baptism of Adam and his subsequent reception of the Holy Ghost (see Moses 6:64-65), or to another sacred ordinance.
"a decree sent forth" This decree, noted again in Moses 6:30, has to do with repentance, and if people do not repent, "a hell have I [God] prepared for them" (Moses 6:29).