Kayin builds a city

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    Parashas Bereishis states that Kayin built a city and named it after his son. How many people were there around in the world that prompted building a city and what constitutes a city? We know Adam and Chava had two sons and Hevel died, so for what purpose?

    ☕️coffee addict


    Gevaldig question!


    As a farmer, Kayin was in contact with Hashem. When he lost the contact, he had to rely on human intelligence that flourishes in the cities – developing science, engineering, processing produce. He also started the tradition of donor building right naming the city for his son, hoping to keep his memory eternal (paraphrasing R Elie Munk). Note that he tried to defend himself claiming that he did not know the other guy would die from the blow. As the defense did not work, he realized that not knowing science is not an excuse (my addition). Note that he started science education without ethical component (from a drasha, not sure of the source).

    Reb Eliezer

    The Kli Yakar explains that Kayin continues building because the rich are never satisfied and happy with what they have. They always want double of what they have. A rich person is poorer than the poor through his desires. A billionaire wants another billion.


    Always: Interesting response but what people were around at that point? There was Adam and Chava and they had two sons–who was going to populate a city? He built it all by himself? What constitutes a city and why not just a house for himself and his family?

    anonymous Jew

    AAQ, you’re avoiding the question. There weren’t enough people to warrsnt cities


    Reb Eliezer: So according to the Kli Yakar there were already a lot of people around to populate a city and Kayin became wealthy even though there was just like three people in the world? How did he become wealthy if there was no one around to become wealthy from dealing with?

    Happy new year

    this was HUNDREDS of years later and by then there were TONZ of people around for cities.

    Happy new year

    You guys are all forgetting that Kayin lived hundreds of years and he probably built this city hundreds of years later, at a point that they were thousands of people around. Remember, each person “Vyoled banim ubanos” there were TONZ of people by then.


    We know that Kayin lived for hundreds of years (seven generations). He could have built these cities later in life, when there were many more people. Ein Mukdam Um’uchar Batorah.


    OK, I can buy that. Yishar koach


    Ramban refers to Koheleth Rabbah 6:3. that Cain lived many years and that he died in the flood.


    in eruvin an ir shel yachid is three houses and a wall


    If Kayin understood that Hashem wants him to rely on his intellect and be productive rather than simply rely on what earth gives him, he needed enough people to develop industries that will entice farmers to bring food in exchange for the goods. It was before the plough, so maybe he was making and sharpening cutting tools, axes, blades? Maybe medical and vet services? And then have research and teaching around that? I would say at least tens of people.

    Happy new year

    Obviously, we all know that lemech killed kayin, if you look in Koheleth Rabbah 6:3 it only says that the mabul washed away his body so he didnt have kvurah


    I believe the Shaloh HaKodesh says that the decree on Kayin was to be a vagabond – nu vnu baretz, having no permanency of residence. To (attempt to) overcome this deficit he established a city, a place of residency.


    Koheleth Rabbah also says that Kayin had 100 sons, enough to populate a town.

    There is ambivalence whether Cain is guilty of murder or manslaughter (no precedent, he got angry, Abel provoked him, or even Hashem provoked him, etc), and his teshuva is half-baked: he demands protection at the end instead of pleading for it. So, he gets half-forgiveness: lives a long life, but is eventually killed in a similar (inadvertent-sic!) manner, not buried.

    Also, in an analogy to inadvertent killers, it may be appropriate for him to reside in a city of refuge rather than travelling around forever.

    legal reasoning source:
    they are quoting ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ, THE GENESIS OF JUSTICE 16 (2000) that I did not look up yet.

    Shimon Nodel

    There were probably billions of people before the mabul. It’s also very possible they had technology and futuristic cities and were more advanced than we are today


    One of the explanations for Cain is that he felt that his brother was too much of a tzaddik – without his better korban, Cain’s korban would have been accepted. Similarity and 2nd connection to Lemech and Noach.

    Reb Eliezer

    The GRA explains how Kayin was able to kill his brother when he was stronger? It says ויאמר קין אל הבל אחיו Kayin says to his brither Hevel, what did he say? He told him, you are my brother. He killed him on the field catching him off guard by thinking he is his friend.


    Possibly, Hevel was holding Kayin down, but Kayin asked for mercy, saying (1) I am your brother, (2) you will be accused of the murder, there no one else! – and promptly “rose up” to kill him

    Reb Eliezer

    AAQ, usually the achiv refers to the previous word, otherwise it is misplaced where it should have said, ויאמר קין אחיו אל הבל?

    Reb Eliezer

    It reminds me of the midas muffler commercial, we make it fit.


    RebE, Kayin calls him “brother” as a call for mercy reminding that they are brothers


    Since we know that Noach invented the plow and Tuval Kayin was the first to work with metals, it seems unlikely they had futuristic technology before the flood.

    Reb Eliezer

    How did they get fresh water in the teiva?


    I heard a beautiful shiur on this topic in which Kayin was presented as a very misunderstood person. Though he did a terrible, horrible avera, he was also the first baal teshuvah. While Adam Harishon deflected his guilt, Kayin acknowledged his sin, saying, “Is my sin too great to bear?” In other words, he admitted he sinned.

    As a consequence — and as part of his teshuvah — he was required to become a nomad. Therefore, it would make little sense for him to build a city, knowing he wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.
    So why did he do it? Why did he a build a city?

    The answer lies in understanding what a city is.
    A city is a way to unify people, to bring them together in one locale. In order for a city to function, there needs to be a justice system.

    Kayin, as the first murderer, brought death and division to the world — so he set out to rectify his sin by doing the opposite: unifying people through the building of a city, through causing a structure for a justice.

    I believe this was from the sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.


    The Torah says that after Kayin had a son he built a city and named it after his son. Perhaps the gezeirah for Kayin to wander around for the rest of his life applied only to Kayin and not his descendants. So once he had a child he built a city for his wife and children (and some of the other people who had been born by then) to live in, so they could stay settled while he continued to wander.

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