Genesis 4:2 – The farmer

The text: 

… Cain worked the soil (in Hebrew: ‘abad’ ‘adamah’).   (Genesis 4:2)

Hebrew uses two words for our concept of a farmer, i.e.:

The first word:

  • abad: a verb that can be translated as ‘to work’ – to serve.

In view of the verb form used, to be translated as:

  • to labour, to work, to carry out work
  • to work for someone else, to serve someone else by working
  • to serve as subordinates
  • to serve (God)
  • to serve (in Levitical service)

A few texts:

Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”   (Genesis 29:15)

And God said (to Moses), “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”   (Exodus 3:12)

The second word:

  • adamah: a noun.

To be translated as:

  • ground, land, a certain piece of land
  • the earth’s surface
  • the whole of the inhabited earth

A few texts:

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.    (Genesis 2:7)

… then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors.    (2 Chronicles 6:25)

Both words together are translated a few times as:

Those who work (abad) their land (adamah) will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.   (Proverbs 28:19 i.a.)

According to Hebrew word use, a farmer is to be understood as someone who:

  • works the land – as a servant
  • works for someone else – serves someone else by working for him
  • serves, and works – as a subordinate on the land he works on, and to God.


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Genesis 4:2 – The farmer.