Home‎ > ‎

Are Cain's words missing at Genesis 4:8?

Some critics say the Masoretic text is defective here and is missing the words supposedly spoken by Cain.  The KJV, agreeing with the ESV and NASB, says:

"And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." (Genesis 4:8)

The NIV, agreeing with the NLT, inserts the words supposedly spoken by Cain:

"Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him."

The NIV and NLT followed the Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac instead of the inspired and preserved Hebrew.

The charge is that the Masoretic text is missing the words that should follow "ויאמר" (KJV: "and... talked") because the verb supposedly has to be followed by the words that are uttered.  This is not the case, however.  For example, Genesis 41:24 says: ואמר אל־החרטמים ואין מגיד לי׃, which is translated, "and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me."  This is another case where "ויאמר" is used without it being followed by the words being told.  The "this", italicized in the KJV, was added by the translators for clarity, but the Hebrew does not have any words following "ויאמר".  The NIV translates Genesis 41:24 as "I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me." and the NLT as "I told these dreams to the magicians, but no one could tell me what they mean."  The translators to these versions ought to have known that "ויאמר" does not have to be followed by the words spoken.  Hence there was no need to depart from the inspired and preserved Hebrew at Genesis 4:8 to follow instead the uninspired translations of the Septuagint and Vulgate.