It’s not hard to see that Cain, Adam and Eve’s son, represents the lower self in scripture. Although he comes first, many Bible scholars believe the scripture indicates he was a twin of Abel. The birth of these twins symbolizes the higher and lower aspects of man as a result consciousness leaving Paradise (Adam and Eve’s first act was to procreate after being kicked out of Eden). Cain was also a tiller of the ground. It makes sense that he is tied to the earth. The earth always represents the physical plane and lowest manifestation of consciousness. Cain, then, is naturally tied to it.
Beginning with the information just discussed, we can start making more sense of Cain’s fate. I don’t know about you, but I always thought he got off kind of light being the first murderer. As we’ll soon see, his banishment isn’t really a punishment. Through his banishment, Cain is able to build his own city, has a big family, and makes quite the name for himself! Not a bad life for someone who supposedly murdered his brother, right? Is the scripture really teaching us something else?
What is the land of Nod, and why did God protect Cain with a mark and a promise of seven-fold vengeance? Let’s review some scriptures to investigate further.
After killing Abel (rejecting God-love for self-love), God exiles Cain to Nod:
“…What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood cries unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth…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” (Genesis 4:10-12).
So God tells Cain he must go. The very thing that was meant to nourish Cain (the earth) becomes his curse, and instead he has to wander as a vagabond. Literally, God seems to be saying you can’t stay in one place because you can’t get nourishment from tilling the ground anymore. But this doesn’t really have anything to do with the curse. Cain actually settles down and does quite well for himself. More on that later!
The Hebrew words for fugitive and vagabond give the connotation of a scattering. It would be more accurate to say that Cain was scattered from before the LORD’s presence. This scattering (and fragmentation) reveals more of our lower nature and personality. It is the separate sense of “I” that we experience through individual consciousness. It’s both grand and deceptive. It’s grand because we have our own sense of existence. We have the potential to experience thoughts and emotions and well-being. We can go out and express our unique individuality to the world which is a beautiful opportunity as long as it’s done with love and acceptance of what is. But it’s also deceptive because through this opportunity an ego builds which deceives us from the fact that we are really all connected on a spiritual level. Blocks and judgments, which become sort of mental prisons, stifle the limitless creativity we could have access to by tapping into something much larger than our lower egos.
But it’s a catch 22! We need the ego to advance consciousness, but we also need to overcome the ego in order to truly realize that advancement. This is part of what Cain’s story is all about, and it’s another reason why I love the scriptures so much. Nothing is ever black and white.
Let’s look at a few more scriptures.
“And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch” (Genesis 4:16-17).
Enoch’s name gives further evidence for our conclusions. Enoch means to narrow, dedicate, and train up. Thus Enoch is a symbol of the will to succeed. Just as Enoch is the offspring of Cain, so is the drive to succeed the natural offspring and by-product of the ego and personality. We must survive at all costs.
We also need to look at the word Nod. What does this land represent? The Hebrew word for Nod means exile. Nod is the land of exile. It’s not a physical location. It’s a spiritual one. Many ancient religious myths seek to explain how consciousness was crucified on the plane of matter through physical existence. This story isn’t really that much different. Consciousness is exiled to a limited existence through the three planes of existence in the lower worlds (Nod); respectively, these three planes are the physical, mental, and emotional/astral planes.
The fact that Cain was exiled to this land means that Cain is symbolic of our lives manifested on these lower planes. We have all been exiled to Nod.
When consciousness fell from Paradise (as symbolized through man’s expulsion from the Garden), it became exiled (limited through the lower planes) from the potential limitless intelligence and energy of God. However, through that limitation we have the opportunity to bring greater self-awareness with us when we return home, back to Paradise.
Either way we look at it, the expulsion from Paradise provides the opportunity to expand consciousness. Perhaps this is why the Genesis author doesn’t show God being too hard on Cain for murder! In fact, the Lord actually places a mark on Cain that is symbolic of a permanent protection! What’s that all about? Let’s review the scriptures where Cain complains to the LORD about his punishment. We’ll also look at God’s response:
“Behold, thou has 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 everyone that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him shall kill him” (Genesis 4:14-15).
So Cain commits murder and God promises to protect him from it!
When viewed in proper context, this all makes a lot of sense; God (divine love and wisdom) is pronouncing protection over individuality, so that consciousness can develop from its experiences in the three lower planes. In other words, the love and wisdom of God will protect all the divine sparks sent into the lower planes so that they can rise up and become sons of God, or christs.
So what about the mark itself? I believe it represents the permanent aspect of consciousness which allows the personality to unfold from life to life. The Bible would never makes sense without the teaching of reincarnation.
And what about the sevenfold promise of vengeance?
God is the only one who is allowed to slay Cain. The slaying of the ego is the job of the higher self, which brings us to the number 7.
I believe we can understand this through the events in the Book of Revelation, where the higher self does finally slay the ego. There are seven trumpets of judgment (vengeance) which belong to the LORD. He sends them out upon mankind before the New Jerusalem (higher state of consciousness) can come about. These seven trumpets are the process by which God brings about the final slaying of ego in man. Another way to put it is that the seven trumpets of Revelation are related to the inner awakenings of man to his higher self. Therefore, the Bible comes about full circle: the fall of consciousness beginning in Genesis and its resurrection and union with God in Revelation. God will serve judgment upon the one who kills Cain seven times because there are seven chakras to be opened before man can become fully whole. We must first go to the land of Nod
Now let’s put the above conclusions into the context of a scripture that used to puzzle and dishearten me. I think it will mean more to you now. Consider it below:
“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on who I will have compassion…For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
When I read this as a literal story I use to wonder if God was being unjust. Why would he create a person who he ultimately knew would rebel against him, and then kill him? Was it really just to show his glory to the earth?
Yes and no. He never literally killed Pharaoh. The ego (pharaoh) is raised up and eventually overcome. But the ego was always necessary. God didn’t literally raise up a person to kill just to show forth his glory; he raises up the ego through the three lower planes (land of Nod) so that Israel (and all people on the spiritual path) can eventually make it to the Promised Land. All the characters in the story show their purpose.
As a Christian, I use to want to place certain Biblical characters in the righteous category and the unrighteous category. This is tempting because the many scripture passages themselves literally say this. But the deeper meaning is that all of the characters and what they symbolize are necessary for God’s plan to be complete. And we don’t have to damn the unrighteous characters to hell in the process!