Genesis 4:5-6


וְאֶל־קַיִן וְאֶל־מִנְחָתוֹ לֹא שָׁעָה וַיִּחַר לְקַיִן מְאֹד וַיִּפְּלוּ פָּנָיו  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־קָיִן לָמָּה חָרָה לָךְ וְלָמָּה נָפְלוּ פָנֶיךָ

But Cain’s offering was ignored. So Cain raged and his countenance fell. 6Then the LORD said to Cain, “What angered you so that your countenance fell. Why?


ignored: see previous commentary, Genesis 4:3-5

and raged: translated fromוַיִּחַר (vayyichar)[1]This word is related to a rare Aramaic root meaning “to cause fire to burn”.. In this verse, the author does not use one of the more common Hebrew words for anger, (e.g., קֶצֶף (qetzeph) because qetzeph emphasizes the “kindling” of anger as in kindling a fire.  For instance, the “anger” of Potiphar, Joseph’s master in Egypt “was kindled” toward him, over his wife’s false accusation (Genesis 39:19). An equally common usage occurs without a subject, resulting in a passive meaning. For example, of Jacob it is written that, “It was kindled to him,” meaning that his anger was kindled when he learned that Laban had pursued him.

his countenance fell: translated from וַיִּפְּלוּ פָּנָיו, its literal translation is “and his face fell” where ‘countenance’ is used by many translations to emphasize the expression of a face, not its physical form. In biblical Hebrew the word for face, (פָּנִים – paneem) is masculine, but when accompanied by an appropriate adjective is used to indicate a person’s emotions, moods, and dispositions. So, for example, a “hard” face is indicative of defiance (Jeremiah 5:3), impudence (Proverbs 7:13), ruthlessness (Deuteronomy 28:50). A “shining” face is evidence of joy (Job 29:24). A “shamed” face points to defeat, frustration, humiliation (2 Samuel 19:5). A “flaming” face is one convulsed by terror (Isaiah 13:8). An “evil” face is a face marked by distress and anxiety (Genesis 40:7). And a “fallen” face stems from very strong anger or displeasure (Genesis 4:5-6).

Word-for-Word Translation

My translation conventions can be found here.

Mechanical, Word-For-Word

but-to-Qayin and-to-his-offering not gazed and-kindled to-Qayin strongly and it-fell his-face. And-said the-LORD to-Qayin, “For-what kindled for-you and-for-what fell your-face.


But-to-Qayin and-for-his-offering [He] gazed not and Qayin was angered severely and-his-face fell. And-the-LORD-said to-Qayin, “What-has-angered-you-so and-for-what [has] your-face fallen?”

Commercial Bible Translations

  • (nrs) but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen?
  • (kjv) But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
  • (niv) but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
  • (nlt) but with Cain and his offering he was not pleased. So Cain became very angry, and his expression was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast?

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