Quick Facts on Cain
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Etymology & Historical Origin - Cain
Cain comes from the Hebrew Qayin (קין) meaning “acquired”, perhaps stemming from the fact that Cain is the very first child "acquired" by Adam and Eve. Borne from the Bible, in the book of Genesis, Cain holds a couple important distinctions. For one, he was the first human ever born – the first son of God’s creations Adam and Eve. Secondly, he is the first human to have perpetrated a murder. Of course, as we all know, Cain killed his brother Abel for reasons not entirely explained. We are told that the older brother Cain is a “worker of the ground” (i.e., a crop farmer) while the younger, Abel, is a “keeper of the sheep” (i.e., a shepherd). Each of the two brothers brings an offering to God – Cain the fruit from his ground and Abel the first born of his flock. We’re not told why exactly, but the Lord favors Abel’s offering, “…but for Cain and his offering [God] had no regard.” Of course this infuriates Cain [Genesis 4:3-5]. The Lord sees Cain’s anger and warns him that “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Unfortunately, Cain fails the next test too. Sin-shmin. Cain lures Abel out to the field and kills him in a jealous fury. When God asks Cain “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain famously replies: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” [Genesis 4:9]. Because the land had swallowed the blood of Abel, it would no longer produce crops for Cain. He was therefore exiled and forced to roam the earth as a fugitive. Perhaps because God’s favoritism ostensibly set in motion the first sibling rivalry, He decided to show Cain some mercy by “marking” him (we’re not told if this mark comes in the form of a scarlet letter, a skull-and-bones tattoo, a gigantic birth-mark or what). Whatever the “mark of Cain” looks like, it’s meant to protect Cain from being murdered himself as a fugitive for his murderous deed. Cain does go on to sire a few children (apparently with his sister but this part is not made clear to us either). In the end, the descendents of Cain are killed in the Great Deluge (only Noah, descendent of Seth – Adam and Eve’s third son – survived to perpetuate humankind). The story of Cain gives us many expressions such as “raising Cain”, “the mark of Cain”, and “my brother’s keeper”. Despite the unfortunate outcome surrounding the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, the name Cain (while not as popular as Abel) is still in circulation today.
Popularity of the Name Cain
Honestly, we had to do a double-take on this one. Cain is a name with enormous negative connotations from a religious perspective. However, as with anything, it’s all a matter of perspective, right? Cain is the first human, the first son, the first brother, the first murderer and, undeniably, the first “bad boy” in the history of mankind. If we step back a little and disassociate ourselves for a moment from this universal story of “bad-brother” Cain and “innocent-victim” Abel, we might find a wee-bit of sympathy for the boy who has come to symbolize evil. First of all, can we all agree on one thing? God totally played favorites by ignoring Cain’s offering; an offering, by the way, that was presented to God with all the right intentions we’re sure. Perhaps had it been Abel’s baby sheep that had been rejected and Cain’s crop that had been preferred, then perhaps it would have been Abel who killed Cain in a crime of passion. Who’s to know for sure? The story of Cain is one of those “tests of God” that the Old Testament is so fond of (remember Abraham’s “test” to see if he would sacrifice Isaac?). While Abraham received a score of A+ on his test, Cain gets an F for failure. Since we’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t know the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, then we must conjecture as to why this name (synonymous with murder) is even in circulation today. We’ve come up with three possibilities. Either it’s being used by religious folks as an act of humility; it’s being used by non-religious folks as an act of irony; or, and most likely in our opinion, it’s being used as an altered spelling of Kane, one of those trendy surnames-turned-first-names. In any case, Cain has only been on the American male naming charts sporadically since 1994 and is used with extremely low frequency. In fact, there are probably barely 1,000 boys named Cain under the age of 20 years in America today.
Popularity of the Boy Name Cain
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Cain
Literary Characters of the Baby Name Cain
Cain (Bible, Genesis) Cain is the original Bad Boy of the Bible, who paved the way for all of his ilk afterward. Yes, we know, his mom was the Original Sinner, but, come on, she ate an apple, he killed his brother. Balance? Anyway, the little we know of Cain: he was the first child. Ever. Now, that has to be hard. No Dr. Spock, no handbooks around, nothing to guide the first parents in the day-to-day raising of a child. What did they know from the Terrible Twos? Probably by the time Abel came along, they had a better idea of how to manage this whole new world, but apparently, just a day late and a dollar short for poor old Cain. So, the boys grow up and go into the only careers available to them just then – Cain becomes a tiller of the soil, Abel a keeper of the animals. And, as is so often the case in the Old Testament, God calls upon them for the usual sacrifice. And as is also so often the case, He is happy with one and not with the other. We’re not sure why – did Cain offer Him a shriveled ear of corn while Abel tendered a nice fat lamb? Whatever it was, God was not pleased, and let His feelings be known. We are to understand that Cain did not have the “right attitude” in proffering his sacrifice, but if you were the “test” child, and Abel was the baby, how would you feel? Exactly. So, Cain, well, let’s say he overreacts – he kills Abel out of jealousy. When God asks him where Abel is, Cain gives us one of the most quoted answers in all of history: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Not a good move. God “marks” Cain and banishes him to a land “East of Eden”. It’s apparently all downhill from there, but we still feel that even though of course Cain sinned, he needed a little leniency from the Court – it’s not as if he had the greatest role models in the world. Cain has had a bad “mark” ever since that time, but we still feel sorry for him!
Popular Songs on Cain
Blame it on Cain - a song by Elvis Costello
Children's Books on the Baby Name Cain
Cain and Abel : Finding the Fruits of Peace (Sandy Eisenberg Sasso) - In this retelling of the Bible story, a rabbi shows how the idyllic world of "the first children" was marred and then destroyed by jealousy, unkind words, anger, and, finally, murder. Recommended for ages 4-8.
Famous People Named Cain
Famous People Named Cain - Cain Velasquez (mixed-martial artist, UFC Champion)
Children of Famous People Named Cain
Famous People Who Named Their Son Cain - We cannot find any celebrities or famous people who have named their child Cain.
Cain - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures
Cain - We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Cain.