Genesis 4:8, Outside the Camp
After God shows Qayin (Cain) how to regain His favor, and warns him about the marriage-like entrapment with sin, we read Cain’s response:
And Cain saith unto Abel his brother, ‘Let us go into the field;’ and it cometh to pass in their being in the field, that Cain riseth up against Abel his brother, and slayeth him. (Genesis 4:8, YLT)
About half of our Bibles follow the Masoretic text (Mst) omission of Cain’s last words to Abel, but the other half DO include the words which both the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and Septuagint (LXX) reveal: “let us go into the field”. This may seem trivial, but in reality it’s anything but. Cain’s words help shape a deep, mysterious secret (sod) that points to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
First of all, without this phrase the Masoretic text doesn’t make sense. It basically says “And Qayin said to Hevel his brother […] and it was, in their being in the field…” The Masoretic text leaves the reader to wonder ‘what did Cain say?’ and doesn’t make any grammatical sense without the omission. However, the other two sources (DSS and LXX) make complete sense. “A matter must be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses.” (Deut. 19:15)
This is an important to witness because Cain’s own words accuse him of premeditated murder. Without his words, the text looks like Cain acted in a spontaneous fit of rage while working alongside Abel in the fields. With them, the text proves that Cain planned the murder for some time. It’s the evidence we need for a first-degree murder verdict of “guilty”.
Cain’s words are also important for uncovering prophetic patterns. If you study the story of “Cain and Abel” for any length of time you might uncover allegories to the Messiah; for example, “the last shall be first, and the first last” (cf. Matt. 20:16) is comparable to Cain’s expectation of being the favored one. ‘Hating his brother without cause’ (John 15:25) would be another. Several such parallels are embedded in this story, and Cain’s words “let us go into the field” is yet another.
Messiah’s death outside Jerusalem fulfills major prophecies. The Torah is filled with symbolism of the scapegoat (the goat on whom all the sins of Israel were laid) being banished and eradicated from the Tabernacle every Yom Kippor (The Day of Atonement). Thus Messiah Yeshua fulfills the prophecy of becoming the scapegoat for all our guilt, shame, and transgressions.
Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul) saw this very thing. Commenting on the Torah (cf. Lev. 16:27), he wrote how Messiah died “outside the camp”:
We have an altar from which those who serve the holy tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside of the camp. Therefore Yeshua also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside of the gate. Let’s therefore go out to him outside of the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:11-14, WMB)
Yeshua Himself also emphasized his own death would be associated with the prophetic pattern of dying “outside the camp”:
There was a man who was a master of a household, who planted a vineyard, set a hedge about it, dug a wine press in it, built a tower, leased it out to farmers, and went into another country. When the season for the fruit came near, he sent his servants to the farmers, to receive his fruit. The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they treated them the same way. But afterward he sent to them his son, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But the farmers, when they saw the son, said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?” (Matt. 21:33-40, emphasis mine)
Therefore, we must understand that Cain’s premeditated murder of his brother Abel was an ancient foreshadowing of the murder of Messiah Yeshua. Spawned by jealousy and an effort to eradicate the competition, the motives behind murdering both of these innocents were identical. The sign was also exactly the same – as both men were led away from the place of sacrifice and worship, and died outside the camp!
For whatever reason, Cain’s words were not included in the Masoretic text. However, when we read them in the two older witnesses we can be confident we are looking at a prophetic pattern, pointing to the premeditated murder of Messiah Yeshua forced from the place of worship, recorded by God for eternity, so that we might recognize Messiah through the prophecies that foretold of Him. Ω