ע
ABARIM
Publications
Discover the meanings of thousands of Biblical names in Abarim Publications' Biblical Name Vault

Cain meaning

קין
Please help us financially

🔼The name Cain in the Bible

Cain is the first son of Adam and Eve, the first human conceived the way we were all conceived, and also the first murderer (Genesis 4). His victim is his brother Abel, who is the first human to die. For his deed Cain is exiled and he flees to the land of Nod.

Abel has no posterity. Cain's posterity never makes it past the flood of Noah. All humans alive today are descendants of Adam and Eve's son number three, named Seth. But bear in mind that the religions of the Sethites always made lavish use of music, and especially in the olden days had tents for sanctuaries. The patriarchies of both tent dwelling and music making are held by descendants of Cain (Genesis 4:20-21).

In the Greek New Testament, the name Cain is spelled Καιν (Hebrews 11:4, 1 John 3:12, Jude 1:11).

There are also a town (Joshua 15:57) and a people (Numbers 24:22) named קין but translations commonly transliterate these as Kain or Kenite in stead of Cain.

🔼Etymology of the name Cain

The name Cain is identical to the Hebrew word קין (qyn) meaning spear, coming from the root cluster קנה ,קין and קנן:

🔼Cain meaning

BDB Theological Dictionary states that although it seems that the name Cain comes from the verb used by Eve in Genesis 4:1, the name Cain is etymologically most probably akin the Kenite tribe mentioned in Judges 4:11. Story-wise the two are separated by the flood of Noah and have nothing to do with each other.

HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and NOBSE Study Bible Name List translate the name Cain with Spear but NOBSE adds Smith, possibly because of the similarity with the verb קין (qyn I) or because of the name Tubal-cain, who was a smith.

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names relates it to קנה (qana I) and renders Acquisition.

There are such clear similarities between the stories of Cain and Abel and that of Romulus and Remus that it seems obvious that these two accounts share a common ancestor, or at least express the same fundamental human truth. What this truth might be is to be discussed by the poets among us, but it may very well have to do with very early forms of government. These very early "circles of elders" become somehow known as spear-carriers — hence the word "curia", from the Sabine word for spear, and "to disenfranchise", from franca, an old Germanic word for spear. The Franks (hence France) were not only well-armed but quite literally "frank and free", and so, we may conclude, were the Saxons, whose name came from seax, denoting a knife or sword.

For other names that have to do with spears, and are thus most probably politically charged, see our articles on the names Quirinius and Pilate. Also note that Jesus' crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29) may very well have been a symbol of the "circle of spears" that expressed primitive chiefdom (meaning that of a local king, as opposed to, say, a divine emperor). Also note that Jesus was recognized dead by means of a spear (John 19:34).

Please help us