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Genesis 4:1-4:16 – Structure and Formula

Structure and Formula

Overall Structure

  • Intro – 4:1a                  Cayin born
  • A – 4:1b                      Received a Man
  • B – 4:2                         Acceptance of Roles
  • C – 4:3                         Self-initiated offering.
  • D – 4:4            Havel’s offering of firstborn is received.
  • E – 4:5                         Cayin rejected and angered.
  • F – 4:6-7aα                  Explanation of Acceptance
  • G – 4:7aβ-7bα             Warning
  • H – 4:8            Did Not Act on the Warning and Gave No Protection
  • A’ – 4:9a                      Lost a man.  (Where is your Brother?)
  • B’ – 4:9b                      Rejection of Role
  • C’ – 4:10a                    What have you done?
  • D’ – 4:10b                    Havel’s blood is heard by God.
  • E’ – 4:11                      Cayin cursed by the ground.
  • F’ – 4:12                      Explanation of Curse
  • G’ – 4:13-14                 Warning
  • H’ – 4:15                      Acted on the Warning and Gave Protection
  • Conclusion – 4:16       Cayin went to Nod (wandering)

Observations from this Structure

  1. Bookended Intro and Conclusion show that this is the story of Cayin
  2. Contrasts between the Sets
    1. AA’ – Man given vs Man lost
    2. BB’ – Acceptance of Roles vs No Acceptance of Role
    3. HH’ – Caying does not give Protection vs God gives Protection
  3. DD’ – Pairing of Havel’s offering with his own blood.

Structure Contrasting Cayin and Havel


  • A – 4:1                        Cayin born
  •  A’ – 4:2a                      Havel Born


  • B – 4:2bα                     Havel keeper of sheep
  • B’ – 4:2bβ                    Cayin tiller of the ground


  • C – 4:3b                       Cayin brought offering of fruit of the ground
  • C’ – 4:4a                      Havel brought offering of firstborn of flock and fat

Respect from God

  • D – 4:4b                      Havel and his offering respected
  • D’ – 4:5a                      Cayin and his offering not respected
  • Conclusion – 4:5b       Cayin angered.

Observations from this Structure

  1. Emphasis on Cayin vs Havel based on which is depicted first.
    1. Sections that emphasize Havel first are Roles and Respect from God.
    2. Sections that emphasize Cayin are Birth and Bringing of Offering.
    3. Cayin is the one who is Rejected and Angered, indicates emphasis on Roles and Respect from God.
    4. The converse could also be referred, less emphasis on Birth and Offering.

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