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Genesis 4:7

Genesis 4:7

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?
&c.] That is, either if thou doest thy works well in general, doest good works in a right way and manner, according to life will of God, and directed to his glory, from right principles, and with right views: so all the Targums,

``if thou doest thy works well;''
for it is not merely doing a good work, but doing the good work well, which is acceptable to God; hence that saying,
``that not nouns but adverbs make good works:''
or particularly it may respect sacrifice; if thou doest thine offering well, or rightly offereth, as the Septuagint; or offers not only what is materially good and proper to be offered, but in a right way, in obedience to the divine will, from love to God, and with true devotion to him, in the faith of the promised seed, and with a view to his sacrifice for atonement and acceptance; then thine offering would be well pleasing and acceptable. Some render the latter part of the clause, which is but one word in the original text, "there will be a lifting up" F11; either of the countenance of the offerer, and so, if Cain had done well, his countenance would not have fallen, but have been lifted up, and cheerful as before; or of sin, which is the pardon of it, and is often expressed by taking and lifting it up, and bearing it away, and so of easing a man of it as of a burden; and in this sense all the Targums take it; which paraphrase it,
``it or thy sin shall be forgiven thee:''
and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door;
if thou dost not do good works, nor offer an offering as it should be offered, sin lies at the door of conscience; and as soon as that is awakened and opened, it will enter in and make sad work there, as it afterwards did, ( Genesis 4:13 ) or it is open and manifest, and will be taken cognizance of, and punishment be inflicted for it; or else the punishment of sin itself is meant, which lies at the door, is at hand, and will soon be executed; and so all the Targums paraphrase it.
``thy sin is reserved to the day of judgment,''
or lies at the door of the grave, reserved to that day, as Jarchi. Some render the word a sin offering, as it sometimes signifies; and then the sense is, that though he had sinned, and had done amiss in the offering he had offered, nevertheless there was a propitiatory sacrifice for sin provided, which was at hand, and would soon be offered; so that he had no need to be dejected, or his countenance to fall; for if he looked to that sacrifice by faith, he would find pardon and acceptance; but the former sense is best: and unto thee shall be his desire;
or "its desire", as some understand it of sin lying at the door, whose desire was to get in and entice and persuade him to that which was evil, and prevail and rule over him. The Targum of Jonathan, and that of Jerusalem, paraphrase it of sin, but to another sense,
``sin shall lie at the door of thine heart, but into thine hand I have delivered the power of the evil concupiscence; and to thee shall be its desire, and thou shalt rule over it, whether to be righteous, or to sin:''
but rather it refers to Abel; and the meaning is, that notwithstanding his offering was accepted of God, and not his brother Cain's, this would not alienate his affections from him, nor cause him to refuse subjection to him; but he should still love him as his brother, and be subject to him as his eider brother, and not seek to get from him the birthright, or think that that belonged to him, being forfeited by his brother's sin; and therefore Cain had no reason to be angry with his brother, or envious at him, since this would make no manner of alteration in their civil affairs: and thou shall rule over him,
as thou hast done, being the firstborn.
FOOTNOTES:

F11 (tav) "elevare", Montanus; "erit sublevatio", Fagius, "elatio", Drusius, "elevatio erit", some in Vatablus, Mercerus; so Aben Exra; "remissio", Junius & Tremellius, Schmidt; "venia erit", Pagninus; so Ainsworth.
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