Mark Of Cain
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The LORD said,
"What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."
Cain said to the LORD,
"My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."
But the LORD said to him,
"Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over."
Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him

Basic Information

The fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis tells the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder. When God confronts Cain about his crime, he places a curse on Cain that henceforth the earth will no longer produce its fruits for him and he will be forced to wander through the earth.

Cain complains that this curse is more than he can bear and that now everyone he meets will want to kill him; so God decrees that who takes vengeance upon Cain shall receive vengeance sevenfold. He then places a mark or a sign upon Cain "lest anyone finding him should kill him." Given that, according to a strict interpretation of Genesis, his immediate family should be the only people about and he is being driven away from them, we might wonder who it is he is afraid of…

Although the text seems to suggest that the Mark of Cain was a sign of God's protection, and could be seen as a command against vengeance, it has often been interpreted as a sign of God's curse on Cain. As for what the mark looked like, that is open to speculation. Some have visualized it as a scar like a brand on the forehead. In 18th Century America, it was widely believed to be dark skin and that Africans were the descendants of Cain, and the story of Cain was used to justify slavery. (Was it the Mark of Cain or the Curse of Ham? Make up your minds, people!)


Game and Story Use

  • In some cultures, criminals, slaves or other kinds of outcasts are branded so that they may be easily identified.
    • A PC might bear such a brand, the souvenir of some misfortune in his past.
    • A person unfairly branded or a runaway slave may try to hide the mark
  • A genetic defect might metaphorically be referred to as a "Mark of Cain"
    • Doesn't have to be genetic either. The comic book character Jonah Hex has a partially mutilated face which sets him apart from the rest of humanity
  • In the RPG Vampire the Masquerade, Cain (referred to as "Caine") was the first vampire and his mark/curse is vampirism.
  • What better manifestation of a curse placed on a man with blood on his hands than the Red Right Hand
  • Think about this for a moment … because Cain murdered his brother, he was cursed to be unable to support himself by peaceful means and obliged to get his food by force from those who could. Truly Aslan is not a tame lion.
    • Also, the fight that lead to him being cursed came about because a blood sacrifice was preferred over one of vegetables. Again, think about that for a moment.
      • This crops up in the aforementioned Vampire RPG … wherin there are those vampires who are not at all convinced that the "curse" was a punishment…
        • Or, for that matter, that Cain's sacrifice didn't involve blood (in any sense)…
  • It's also possible to interpret the Mark of Cain as a sign of God's protection rather than a curse
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