Is Cain still alive? Is he amongst the current inhabitants of this earth?
Myth, confirmed fact, or only plausible?
In the Old Testament we learn that after Cain killed Abel, a “curse” was laid on him, (no priesthood for posterity) and also that he shall have a unique mark, so that people will know and recognize him, and that he should be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. The question is: Is Cain still alive? Is he amongst the current inhabitants of this earth?
Let’s refer to the scripture found in Genesis 4:11-15—
“And now thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 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. And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 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.”
Two things about this passage: 1) The passage does not say nor mean that Cain would never die. A mark was placed on Cain so that he would not be murdered in some sort of revenge for what he had done. That mark was a blessing to Cain in order to preserve his life, but the mark was not designed to extend life beyond the normal span. What was the mark? It could be several things, but all we know from Joseph Smith was that a black skin was placed upon him at that time. 2) In the above verses it seems as though both the Lord and Cain are using the name of Cain in a generic sense. They are not talking only about Cain the individual, but indeed the family, including the descendants of Cain. This is first apparent from Cain’s statement that every one that findeth me shall slay me. If he were speaking of himself alone, he would not have used the phrase every one that findeth me, which implies multiple findings and multiple slayings. Also the Lord doesn’t say, “whosoever slayeth thee” he says, “whosever slayeth Cain” even though he is talking right to him. The name Cain is almost used kind of like a last name or a family name in this context.
Let’s consider the writings from the lost book of Jasher.
"And Lamech was old and advanced in years, and his eyes were dim that he could not see, and Tubal Cain, his son, was leading him and it was one day that Lamech went into the field and Tubal Cain his son was with him, and whilst they were walking in the field, Cain the son of Adam advanced towards them; for Lamech was very old and could not see much, and Tubal Cain his son was very young. And Tubal Cain told his father to draw his bow, and with the arrows he smote Cain, who was yet far off, and he slew him, for he appeared to them to be an animal. And the arrows entered Cain's body although he was distant from them, and he fell to the ground and died. And the Lord requited Cain's evil according to his wickedness, which he had done to his brother Abel, according to the word of the Lord which he had spoken. And it came to pass when Cain had died, that Lamech and Tubal went to see the animal which they had slain, and they saw, and behold Cain their grandfather was fallen dead upon the earth. And Lamech was very much grieved at having done this, and in clapping his hands together he struck his son and caused his death."
If these writings are true, then Cain is definitely dead. Question is, can we use the book of Jasher as a viable source to weigh these type of mysteries? Not really, since it is not scripture, and a questionable source for truth.
A similar legend is preserved in the pseudepigraphic Second Book of Adam and Eve, Chapter XIII; in this version Tubal-Cain is not named, but is instead referred to as "the young shepherd." After Lamech claps his hands he strikes the young shepherd on the head. To ensure his death, he then smashed his head with a rock.
An excerpt from Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.127-128
"On the sad character Cain, an interesting story comes to us from Lycurgus A. Wilson's book on the life of David W. Patten. From the book I quote an extract from a letter by Abraham O. Smoot giving his recollection of David Patten's account of meeting "a very remarkable person who had represented himself as being Cain."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.”
If this story is true, then can we assume Cain is still living and is perhaps like a Yeti?
This line is interesting, “he immediately departed out of my sight.” Does departed in this line mean walk or ran away, or does it mean vanished into thin air?
This story of Patten’s comes from the journal of Abraham Smoot. He was an early pro-slavery member who was a slave holder himself. This story in his journal is linked to his ideas of black slaves and the supposed curse of Cain. His journal was written some 20-30 years later after the events have happened, and most of his stories are second and third hand accounts which he was not witnesses too. It’s not usually good practice when relating history to use third hand accounts as evidence to events. So the validity of this story is in deep question. In fact his journal is always taken as a suspicious source for history. Abraham Smoot's journal is never taken very seriously by LDS historians. He is also the same guy who recorded the third hand story of Joseph and the angel and polygamy. He is the one who accounts the story that Joseph did not want to practice polygamy, but an angel came with a flaming sword and threatened to kill him if he did not practice polygamy. Like many of Smoot's tales they are seen as fictional and hearsay by many LDS historians, but his tales stick in our culture probably because of the mysterious and mythical stories that they are, and that we love to tell them.
It is interesting that the Three Nephites and John are all specifically told, promised, they will be around until and for the second coming, Cain is not.
Gen 4:15 "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."
If Cain could not be killed God would not have added the warning that whoever killed him would have his vengeance. Cain may still be alive and wandering, or he may be a spirit that is still wandering. Also like in David W. Patten case, it would not be the first time an apostle has been approached by an emissary of the devil in spirit.Another thought to ponder would be, if he has been killed would his spirit be cursed to wander here, or would he go to Spirit Prison to await Judgement Day?
If he was truly wandering still, and not in spirit prison, could that be the type of death he was seeking? Yet, isn’t the spirit world among us anyway, we just can’t see it? It might be possible I guess for him to be a spirit but not yet in prison. Almost as if he is trapped between the two worlds. In a sense that is prison anyway.
In the statement, “Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain” seems to be implying that it is possible to kill Cain.
Perhaps some more insight can be taken from Moses chapter 5. Also this chapter sheds some light on the book of Jasher and may enhance the validity of it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
44 And Lamech took unto himself two wives; the name of one being Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.
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.
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.
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.
48 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech shall be seventy and seven fold;
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;
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.
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.
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.
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;
54 Wherefore Lamech was despised, and cast out, and came not among the sons of men, lest he should die.
55 And thus the works of darkness began to prevail among all the sons of men.
Could this scripture be suggesting that it was Cain and Tubal Cain that Lamech Killed just as the book of Jasher accounts? He also made a secret combination and oath with Satan.
I think it's more than likely he died physically at some point before the flood or at least at that point in time. Scriptures seem to be pointing this out. Patten’s story could be false all together given the source, but even if it is true, Cain could have just as well only been a Spirit at the time.
So… Is Cain still roaming the earth as a physical living being? I would say no. It seems more Myth than plausible and definitely not a confirmed fact. I believe he died long ago before the flood or in it.
What do you think about it?
This topic of course is not very important for us to have an understanding of, but even still I find it fascinating.