The First City
Genesis 4:17-24
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bore Enoch: and he built a city, and called the name of the city…

It was a very decided step towards civilization, when the idea of building a city was first conceived and realized. The roaming life of the homeless savage was abandoned; social ties were formed; families joined families, and exchanged in friendly intercourse their experience and observations; communities arose, and submitted to the rule of self-imposed laws; the individuals resigned the unchecked liberty of the beasts of the forest, and felt the delight of being subservient links in the universal chain. Social and personal excellence depend on and strengthen each other. Therefore, when the first communities were organized, the way to a steady and continuous progress was paved, and the first beams of dawning humanity trembled over the night of barbarism and ferocity. It is a deep trait in the Biblical account to ascribe the origin of cities to none but the agriculturist. Unlike the nomad, who changes his temporary tents whenever the state of the pasture requires it, the husbandman is bound to the glebe which he cultivates; the soil to which he devotes his strength and his anxieties becomes dear to him; that part of the earth to which he owes his sustenance assumes a character of holiness in his eyes; and if, besides, pledges of conjugal love have grown up in that spot, he is more strongly still tied to it; he fixes there his permanent abode, and considers its loss a curse of God. Thus, even in the "land of flight," the agriculturist Cain was compelled to build houses and to form a city. Many inventions of mechanical skill are inseparable from the building of towns; ingenuity was aroused and exercised; and whilst engaged in satisfying the moral desire of sociability, man brought many of his intellectual powers into efficient operation. Necessity suggested, and perseverance executed, inventions which safety or comfort required; and when man left the caverns which nature had beneficently provided for his dwelling place, to inhabit the houses which his own hands had built, he entered them with that legitimate pride which the consciousness of superior skill begets, and with the consoling conviction that, although God had doomed him, on account of his own and his ancestors' sins, to a life full of fatigue and struggles, He had graciously furnished him with a spark of that heavenly fire which strengthens him to endure and to conquer.

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

WEB: Cain knew his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch. He built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

The Cultivation of the Fine Arts
Top of Page
Top of Page