Moses 5

Moses 5:2 Adam knew his wife, and she bare unto him sons and daughters

The Genesis account would make one think that Cain and Abel are Adam and Eve's first two children.  The Moses account clarifies that they had many prior children who began to multiply and to replenish the earth.  When Eve names Cain, she is worried that he might reject the Lord's word like his older brothers (see v. 16).  In Genesis, Cain and Abel are first mentioned to tell the story of Earth's first murder.  Only Latter-day saints understand that Cain is not Adam's firstborn son.

Moses 5:3 the sons and daughters of Adam began to divide two and two in the land

This was the only time in recorded history when it was alright for a man to marry his sister!  Hopefully, that practice didn't last very long.

Moses 5:6 Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?

This instance is the best example in all the scriptures of pure obedience.  The message to all of us is that we don't have to understand the reason for the commandments-we just have to keep them.  So often, rebellious teenagers demand to know the reasons for restrictions placed upon them.  They feel entitled to know.  The undercurrent is, "I shouldn't be required to keep any rules unless I understand why."  Really?  Do we have the same attitude with the Lord?  Do we demand to know what substance in tea is harmful before we agree to abstain from it?  Do we reject a calling because it makes no sense to us?  Do we secretly resent having to keep commandments that seem overly restrictive? 

To obey without understanding why is not blind obedience; it is sublime obedience.  To obey knowing why is good; to obey without knowing why is better.  In this, Adam gave us the perfect example.

Boyd K. Packer

The angel explained to Adam the purpose of the sacrifice. He would thereafter not only obey the commandment, but he would know why it was required of him.

I can imagine that after Adam knew why the sacrifices were given to him by way of commandment he went forward with greater determination. I can imagine that he began to see a meaning and a purpose and a necessity for the commandment. It is quite possible that thereafter he approached his duty with great reverence and dedication-even determination.

We also should be obedient! The fact that we have received a commandment from God is reason enough in itself to go and do as we have been directed to do.

I have come to know that if we will do so, even though we may not understand at first, the Lord will tell us, as he told Adam, why we are so commanded. (The Holy Temple [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980], 264.)

Milton R. Hunter

Now, some people may regard Adam's answer as one of blind obedience. I think his answer is one of the most sublime illustrations in the scripture of faithful obedience. Although he did not know the full answer why, yet he knew that God would not tell him to do anything which would be harmful for him. He was convinced that all that God commanded him to do was for his own good; therefore, he obeyed, and later on he received light.

It would be a wonderful thing if all the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would follow Adam's example. When the holy prophets-the First Presidency of the Church, the Twelve Apostles, God's anointed prophets, seers, and revelators upon this earth-give instructions to the Church members, if we would all render obedience to their instructions, having a firm conviction in our hearts that they speak the word of God; although we do not have the answer yet, knowing in due time we should receive light as did Father Adam. (Conference Report, April 1952, Afternoon Meeting 122 - 123)

Henry D. Taylor

During our lifetime there will undoubtedly come times when we may be asked by our Church leaders to carry out an assignment or perform some duty. We may not be aware of the reason for the request at the time nor after. But I am confident that if we have faith in our leaders and render obedience to them, the Lord will bless and reward us for our faithfulness. (Conference Report, October 1970, First Day-Morning Meeting 19)

Moses 5:7 this thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten

"Modern revelation explains the origin and intent of animal sacrifice: 'This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth' (Moses 5:7). Sacrificial offerings pointed to the great offering that Jesus would make in behalf of God's children.

"Amulek taught, 'This is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal' (Alma 34:14). But while it is clear from the Book of Mormon that the purpose of the law of Moses was to point to Christ (see 2 Ne. 11:4; Mosiah 3:14-15; Mosiah 13:30-32; Alma 34:14), the Israelites 'did not all understand the law; and this because of the hardness of their hearts; for they understood not that there could not any man be saved except it were through the redemption of God' (Mosiah 13:32). By the time of Jesus, the Jews had long since lost the true meaning of the law and were performing sacrifices and other observances without any reference to Christ or His Atonement." (Kent P. Jackson, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Aug. 1999, 67)

M. Russell Ballard

Adam was taught that the sacrifice on the altar was a "similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father" (Moses 5:7). This teaches us that originally our Father's children understood the relationship between the sacrifice of their offerings and the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (see D&C 138:12-13)...

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: "Whenever the Lord revealed Himself to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to Him, ... it was done that they might look forward in faith to the time of His coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement for a remission of their sins" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1938], 60-61; see also 58). ("The Law of Sacrifice," Ensign, Oct. 1998, 8)

L. Tom Perry

A plan was laid out for us from the very beginning. The central figure in his plan of salvation is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His atoning sacrifice for all mankind is the centerpiece of the history of our Father in Heaven's children here on earth. Each of us who accepts the divine plan must accept the role of our Savior and covenant to keep his laws that our Father has developed for us. As we accept Christ in spirit and in deed, we may win our salvation. We read in the scriptures: "Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore" (Moses 5:8). ("Sacrament of the Lord's Supper," Ensign, May 1996, 53)

Moses 5:8 thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son

"An angel explained to Adam nearly six millennia ago: 'Thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore' (Moses 5:8; emphasis added). This is a call to action for Adam and all of his posterity. We are to do all things in the name of the Son. We are to speak and act and worship and perform the labors of the kingdom and the labors of life in the name of the Son. Whenever the gospel has been on the earth, he has empowered others to act in his holy name, extending an investiture of his divine authority to chosen servants and recognizing the acts they perform by his word. Likewise, the everlasting gospel has been restored in our day "that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world" (D&C 1:20). It is an awesome responsibility. We must seek to think and speak and act as though we were the One whose blessed name we bear, so that our words and acts may become his words and acts." (Robert L. Millet, "Honoring His Holy Name," Ensign, Mar. 1994, 7-8)

Moses 5:8 thou shalt... call upon God

Jeffrey R. Holland

Call upon God for what? What is the nature of this first instruction to the human family? Why are they to call upon God? Is this a social visit? Is it a friendly neighborhood chat? No, this is a call for help from the lone and dreary world. This is a call from the brink of despair. "Thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore." This is a call from the personal prison of a sinful heart. It is a call for the forgiveness of sins.

And so the God and Father of us all established with those first parents in the first generation of time certain principles and ordinances fashioned to convey how such forgiveness of sins would come. Along with all else of meaning and substance in our lives, it would come through the sacrifice and example of his Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth. (Ensign, Aug. 1986, 69)

Thomas S. Monson

From the very beginning, Father Adam was commanded to "call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore." (Moses 5:8.) Adam prayed. Abraham prayed. Moses prayed. And so did every prophet pray to that God whence came his strength. (Conference Classics, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981-1984], 3: 36 - 37)

Moses 5:9 in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam

Revelation came to Adam in several ways. First, in the garden, he spoke with God face to face.  After the expulsion from the garden, Adam still heard the voice of the Lord but could no longer see his face (Moses 5:4).  Next, an angel was sent, and lastly, the Holy Ghost was given.  Once the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, angelic visitations and direct conversations with the Father would no longer be necessary. 

Sometimes, the latter-day saints wish for more dramatic communications with God.  They might hope to hear the voice of the Father or enjoy the visitation of angels, but the most efficient means of communication-the kind that has the greatest effect on the heart and soul of man-comes from the Comforter.

Joseph Smith

This last quotation, or summary, shows this important fact, that though our first parents were driven out of the garden of Eden, and were even separated from the presence of God by a veil, they still retained a knowledge of his existence, and that sufficiently to move them to call upon him. And further, that no sooner was the plan of redemption revealed to man, and he began to call upon God, than the Holy Spirit was given, bearing record of the Father and Son. (Lectures on Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 2:25)

Joseph Smith

No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations.  The Holy Ghost is a revelator. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 328)

Moses 5:9 as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed

"The foregoing is the earliest direct mention to Adam in his mortal state that he was fallen and that he could be redeemed-not only he, but all mankind-through the intercession of the Only Begotten Son. Again the fall and the atonement are linked together. It was apparently the Holy Ghost that caused Adam and Eve to understand more fully the consequences of their fall and the means of their redemption." (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 2: The Pearl of Great Price [Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985], 121)

Moses 5:10 because of my transgression my eyes are open

"In contrast to most readers of the Bible, we believe that Adam and Eve both should be commended for what they did to bring about the Fall. We understand that without the Fall none of us could have come to the earth and the whole plan of salvation would have been frustrated (see 2 Ne. 2:25). Adam said: 'Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God' (Moses 5:10).  Eve likewise rejoiced: 'Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient' (Moses 5:11).

"The Lord gave Adam and Eve four commandments in the Garden of Eden. They were to multiply and replenish the earth (see Gen. 1:28; Moses 2:28; Abr. 4:28). They were to govern the earth wisely (have dominion over it) (see Moses 2:28; Abr. 4:26). They were not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and if they did they would experience serious consequences (see Gen. 2:17; Moses 3:17; Abr. 5:13). And they were to remain with each other (see Gen. 2:24; Moses 3:24; Abr. 5:18). In the case of two of these commandments-to multiply and replenish the earth and to refrain from partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil-Adam and Eve had to choose which they were to obey. Procreation was not possible for them in their immortal state (see 2 Ne. 2:22-25), yet Heavenly Father would not rob them of their agency by making the choice for them. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: 'The Lord said to Adam that if he wished to remain as he was in the garden, then he was not to eat the fruit, but if he desired to eat it and partake of death he was at liberty to do so.'  In essence the Lord told Adam that there were two directions to go, each with its unique consequences-and that Adam was to choose which one.

"From President Brigham Young we learn: 'Some may regret that our first parents sinned. This is nonsense. If we had been there, and they had not sinned, we should have sinned. I will not blame Adam or Eve. Why? Because it was necessary that sin should enter into the world; no man could ever understand the principle of exaltation without its opposite; no one could ever receive an exaltation without being acquainted with its opposite. How did Adam and Eve sin? Did they come out in direct opposition to God and to his government? No. But they transgressed a command of the Lord, and through that transgression sin came into the world. The Lord knew they would do this, and he had designed that they should. Then came the curse upon the fruit, upon the vegetables, and upon our mother earth; and it came upon the creeping things, upon the grain in the field, the fish in the sea, and upon all things pertaining to this earth, through man's transgression.'

"The Prophet Joseph Smith referred to their choice to eat of the fruit as a 'transgression,' not a sin (A of F 1:2). Similarly, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: 'It is proper and according to the scriptural pattern to speak of the transgression of Adam, but not the sin of Adam. Lehi says, for instance, `If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen.` Then he explains that while in their state of innocence in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve `knew no sin.' (2 Ne. 2:22-23.) Knowledge of good and evil is an essential element in the commission of sin, and our first parents did not have this knowledge until after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.'" (Robert J. Woodford, " 'In the Beginning': A Latter-day Perspective," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 18)

Moses 5:11 Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed

The rest of Christianity does not understand that Adam and Eve could not have children in the Garden of Eden. For the most part, they believe that all of us would be living in a primordial paradise if our First Parents had not partaken of the forbidden fruit.  In the Book of Moses, Eve makes it clear they could not have children without the Fall.  The Book of Mormon also teaches this doctrine, "If Adam had not transgressed... they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin." (2 Ne. 2:22-23) 

The importance of this doctrinal truth cannot be overstated.  If Adam and Eve did the right thing, then they should be revered as righteous parents of the human race.  If Adam and Eve blew it, they ruined everything for their children-they made us all live in a miserable fallen world with sin and death and misery.  If Adam and Eve followed the Lord, they became a great parental example for all of us.  If they weren't supposed to partake of the fruit, then they deserve all the blame for ruining God's plan. 

Could Adam and Eve have ruined God's plan?  Does God allow man to ruin his purposes?  Are we to believe that God's entire plan of salvation was frustrated by Adam's transgression?  Blaming our parents has become quite a pastime.  It surely soothes the conceited conscience to fault Adam and Eve.  The doctrine is heinous.  It implies that God made a mistake as well.  It implies that God put cherubim and a flaming sword in front of the wrong tree! 

Dallin H. Oaks

The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God's plan.

The expression of our procreative powers is pleasing to God, but he has commanded that this be confined within the relationship of marriage. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that "in the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love." ("The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 74)

Harold B. Lee

Now, finally, we read again the Lord's great pronouncement, the revelation that came by the power of the Holy Ghost to Eve-one of the greatest sermons. (I suppose the shortest sermon ever preached by a person was preached by Mother Eve.) Mother Eve declared that the power of the Holy Ghost opened her eyes and gave her understanding. She said: "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient" (Moses 5:11).

So should we, with Eve, rejoice in the Fall, which permitted the coming of the knowledge of good and evil, which permitted the coming of children into mortality, which permitted the receiving of joy of redemption and the eternal life which God gives to all. And so Adam likewise, blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost, "blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God" (Moses 5:10).

May the Lord give us His understanding of the great boon that has thus come to us. And let us honor in our minds and in our teachings the great legacy which Adam and Eve gave to us when, through their experience, by the exercise of their own agency, they partook of fruit which gave them the seeds of mortal life and gave to us, their descendants down through the generations of time, that great boon by which we too can receive the joy of our redemption, and in our flesh see God, and have eternal life. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 35)

Moses 5:11 Were it not for our transgression we... never should have known good and evil

Alexander B. Morrison

With the Fall, Adam and Eve became mortal. Death, sin, sorrow, and pain became a part of life. But so too did the opportunity to progress, to grow in knowledge and develop our talents and gifts, to experience the joys of parenthood, and, if we are faithful to the commandments and to Jesus Christ, to return to our Heavenly Father's presence. The scriptures state that Adam proclaimed, "Because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God" (Moses 5:10-12).

The experiences of life, with their contrasts and opposites-health and sickness, success and failure, joy and sorrow-help us to know how to value the good.  They help us to make the choices necessary to obtain eternal happiness and exaltation. They are our great teachers, if we will but listen and learn from them. However, people can react differently to almost identical experiences. After losing a loved one, for example, some people draw closer to the Lord, but others alienate themselves from Him. T. S. Eliot's comment that many people have "had the experience but missed the meaning" ("The Dry Salvages," in Four Quartets [1943], 39) suggests that we must understand the true meaning of life's experiences if we are to learn from them.

To learn fully from the experiences of life, we must interpret them within the framework of the restored gospel. For example, those who understand and believe the Church's teachings about the eternal nature of humankind and the family will feel and react much differently to the loss of a loved one than will others who fail to understand or believe these glorious doctrines. In this, as in all else, we are free to choose. "And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free" (Hel. 14:30). (Alexander B. Morrison, "Life-The Gift Each Is Given," Ensign, Dec. 1998, 17-18)

Eldred G. Smith

For man to exercise free agency he must have both sides to choose from. In every decision made there must be both a good and an evil influence; for if we had all of the good or all of the evil we would be right in the same path which Satan tried to establish in the first place, that of predestination. And so there must be both sides to choose from in every case.

As the Lord said in the Doctrine and Covenants...

And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet (D&C 29:39).

Therefore, in all that we do we must be tempted. Then our growth depends upon our obedience. (Conference Report, April 1951, pp. 24-27)

Moses 5:12 Adam and Eve... made all things known unto their sons and their daughters

Adam and Eve were not bad parents-they were great parents.  They taught their children the gospel-keeping nothing from them. That doesn't mean all of their children were obedient.  We may experience the same disappointment but the disobedience of a child is not always a reflection on the quality of their instruction.

Brigham Young

If we do not take the pains to train our children, to teach and instruct them concerning these revealed truths, the condemnation will be upon us, as parents, or at least in a measure.

Teach your children from their youth, never to set their hearts immoderately upon an object of this world.

Bring up your children in the love and fear of the Lord. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 207)

Moses 5:13 Satan... commanded them, saying: Believe it not

God commands us to exercise faith; Satan commands us to exercise disbelief.  Each requires energy.  Each is a willful act-a decision-an opportunity to choose.  We can choose to open our hearts or harden our hearts.  It seems like such a simple act, but the consequences couldn't be more important.  Since Satan never misses an opportunity destroy us, you can bet that any and every individual whose faith is wavering is being worked on by Master Deceiver.  Since faith is fundamental, his message is always the same, "Believe it not."

Stephen L. Richards

The most vital things in life are those that pertain to life itself-the origin, purpose, and destiny of man and the universe. It is on these vital subjects that we are most dependent on the revelation of God for in the very nature of things, these secrets of life, to large extent defy man's investigation. Why is it that men are so reluctant to accept God's word about the origin and purpose of life? I think the answer lies in the premise we have stated-first, that man has not sufficient humility and faith; and second, that the adversary of truth builds up egotism and arrogance within him because Satan well knows that if faith were universal his kingdom would be at an end. (Where Is Wisdom? [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955], 147 - 148.)

Hugh Nibley

Enter Satan, the negative one, with his nongospel: "Believe it not!" and his counter-gospel: "I am also a son of God." (Moses 5:13.) He gains a following by pushing downhill, in the direction of what is "carnal, sensual, and devilish." (Moses 5:13.)... Yes. that is the arrangement-the devil serves his client, gratifies his slightest whim, pampers his appetites, and is at his beck and call throughout his earthly life, putting unlimited power and influence at his disposal through his command of the treasures of the earth, gold and silver. But in exchange the victim must keep his part of the agreement, following Satan's instructions on earth and remaining in his power hereafter. That is the classic bargain, the pact with the Devil, by which a Faust, Don Juan, Macbeth, or Jabez Stone achieve the pinnacle of earthly success and the depths of eternal damnation. (Ensign, Dec. 1976, 74)

Moses 5:13 men began... to be carnal, sensual, and devilish

Bruce R. McConkie

We live in a day of evil and wickedness. The generality of men are carnal, sensual, and devilish. They have forgotten God and are reveling in the lusts of the flesh. Crime, immorality, abortions, and homosexual abominations are fast becoming the norm of life among the wicked and ungodly. The world will soon be as corrupt as it was in the days of Noah. ("The Lord God of the Restoration," Ensign, Nov. 1980, 50)

L. Lionel Kendrick

Satan will attempt to gain control of our agency through temptations, but there are principles that will assist us in resisting his enticements.

While our physical bodies might be basically "carnal, sensual and devilish, by nature," our eternal spirit has the power to rule over the body.  We can be in control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions if we properly exercise our moral agency. ("Our Moral Agency," Ensign, Mar. 1996, 32)

Moses 5:14 The Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere

The Old Testament doesn't explain that the Holy Ghost has always been operative among men.  The term, "Holy Ghost," is not found in any Old Testament scripture.  The term "Holy Spirit" can be found in only two places (Ps. 51:11; Isa. 63:10-11). Isn't that incredible?  Isn't that sad-that something so important could have been lost, or more likely, taken from the record?

It is only fair, in a world of "opposition in all things" for there to be a Spirit of the Lord to whisper truth (2 Ne. 2:11).  After all, the evil spirit of Lucifer is here to teach lies.  So, there should also be an invisible Spirit to teach truth.  The question is, "to which voice do we listen"?

Moses 5:15 the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree

"The content of this decree, which stands as a legal declaration from the divine world... has to do with faith and repentance.  According to one New Testament account, Jesus virtually quoted these terms as He instructed His apostles for the last time; then He gave these instruction to his New World disciples (see Mark 16:16; Mormon 9:23; also Ether 4:18)...

"These verses... chronicle the efforts of Satan to deceive and God's efforts to counter the allure of evil by issuing 'a firm decree'-probably accompanied by an oath, as elsewhere-which promises the faithful that they 'should be saved' and the unfaithful that they 'should be damned' (Moses 5:15). Such promises, or threats, are legally binding and have force in the final judgment." (The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse by Verse Commentary, RD Draper, SK Brown, MD Rhodes, [SLC:  Deseret Book, 2005], 63)

Moses 5:16  Eve... bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord

Adam had plenty of experience naming animals.  Eve would name the children-so it would seem.  She could not exactly call Cain after the name of his grandfather or some great forbearer. All the names would be original. 

With the naming of children, we see a pattern that will be repeated over and over again in the Old Testament.  The child is named based on the mother's situation and emotional response to the birth (see Gen 29:31-35).  Eve's response at Cain's birth was "Look, I have been blessed with a man from the Lord."  The name Cain in the Hebrew is a wordplay meaning, "I have gained [or made] a male child with the help of the Lord." (The Torah: A Modern Commentary, ed. by W. Gunther Plaut [New York, The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981], 44)  The Book of Moses gives another perspective.  Adam and Eve had been commanded to hearken unto the Lord.  Eve hoped that since Cain came from the Lord that he would hearken to the Lord, saying, "I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words" (Moses 5:16).  Unfortunately, Cain's name did not keep the joyful and obedient meaning it originally held.

Latter-Day Saints do not believe that Cain is the firstborn of Adam and Eve.  The book of Moses suggests that they had sons and daughters before Cain's birth (Moses 5:12-16).  Cain's name is mentioned first because he is the first to commit murder, not because he is the firstborn son.  The scriptures are often incomplete.  Some have compared them to newspaper headlines.  Cain's murder made the headlines.  Had he not committed murder, his name would be absent from the book of Genesis.

Hugh Nibley

You think of Cain as a very blessed and special person. They thought he was. They expected great things of him. They expected that he would turn the tide. Everything had gone against Adam and Eve. Many of their posterity were not repenting (see Moses 5:13). They continued, and when they begot Cain, Eve said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words...." There was hope that Cain would be the right one, that he wouldn't reject the words. He would put things back on the track. But he didn't. He was a failure. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe [n.p., n.d.], 8.)

Moses 5:20 the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering

Joseph Smith

By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven...  But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God Himself testifying of his gifts. Certainly, the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type, or explanation of what was to be offered through the gift of God Himself; and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith on the power of that great Sacrifice for a remission of sins. But however various may have been, and may be at the present time, the opinions of men respecting the conduct of Abel, and the knowledge which he had on the subject of atonement, it is evident in our minds, that he was instructed more fully in the plan than what the Bible speaks of, for how could he offer a sacrifice in faith, looking to God for a remission of his sins in the power of the great atonement, without having been previously instructed in that plan?

We conclude that whenever the Lord revealed Himself to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to Him, that it was done that they might look forward in faith to the time of His coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement for a remission of their sins. And this they have done, thousands who have gone before us, whose garments are spotless, and who are, like Job, waiting with an assurance like his, that they will see Him in the latter day upon the earth, even in their flesh.

We may conclude, that though there were different dispensations, yet all things which God communicated to His people were calculated to draw their minds to the great object, and to teach them to rely upon God alone as the author of their salvation. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 58-61)

Moses 5:21 unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect

What was wrong with Cain's offering? God is not supposed to be a respecter of persons. Was the Lord playing favorites, accepting Abel and rejecting Cain? Did he offer the wrong thing? Wouldn't the children of Israel later be commanded to offer the fruits of the fields (Deut 26:1-4)?

What did Cain do wrong? The Bible doesn't answer this question to our satisfaction. The Pearl of Great Price tells us the reason. Abel, according to the command of God, made his offering in faith. Cain, at Satan's command, made his offering without faith (Moses 5:18). If Satan tells you to pay your tithing, don't do it. The Lord doesn't accept offerings commanded by Satan, nor does He accept offerings given unwillingly.

For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. (Moroni 7:6-8)

The pattern is worthy of notice.  Satan seduces a soul then commands him to be religious, to make an offering, to do "God's work."  In reality, the tempted is doing "Satan's work." The devil knows that any offerings made at his command will be rejected by God but he is seducing his victim into a false sense of righteousness.  Religiosity can be the handiwork of God or Lucifer.  Does the outwardly religious man follow God or has he been commanded by Satan?  Examples of the latter include Cain, Sherem, Korihor, Judas, etc. (Jacob 7, Alma 30, Matt. 26:24).  Cain was thus the first to learn that it is impossible to serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). 

Hugh Nibley

Why was Cain making the offering? Because Satan had commanded him to. It wasn't because he loved the Lord. It says he loved Satan more than God, so when Satan told him to do something, he obeyed Satan. He wasn't doing it for the Lord's benefit or as respect to the Lord, but receiving a command from Satan, he made the offering to the Lord. Would the Lord accept it under those circumstances? He receives only offerings that are made to him at his command, as Adam gave it. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe [n.p., n.d.], 8.)

Joseph Smith

Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven.  It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man...to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised , because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not faith is sin... Offering anything... in sacrifice, could not procure a remission of sins, except it were performed in faith of something to come; if it could, Cain's offering must have been as good as Abel's. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 58-59)

Moses 5:23 If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted

Cain had as much potential as any of Adam's children.  He had the same privilege to use his agency wisely.  The reward could have been the same.

Hugh Nibley

The Lord held forth the fatherly invitation to Cain: "If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted," along with the solemn warning, "Satan desireth to have thee." (see also Genesis 4:7.) He is admonished against the folly of "reject[ing] the greater counsel" (Moses 5:25), and the door of repentance is held open right to the last moment, when it is Cain himself who breaks off the conversation and angrily stamps out, refusing to listen "any more to the voice of the Lord" or to his brother's remonstrances (Moses 5:26). Cain married "one of his brother's daughters" not necessarily Abel's, and together "they loved Satan more than God" (Moses 5:28), quite satisfied with their religion and quite defiant about it. (Enoch the Prophet, 175 - 176.)

Joseph Smith

If Cain had fulfilled the law of righteousness as did Enoch, he could have walked with God all the days of his life, and never failed of a blessing. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 169-170)

Moses 5:23 thou shalt rule over him

The biblical use of pronouns can be confusing.  The Genesis text can be read "unto Cain shall be Satan's desire, and Cain shall rule over Satan."  The Moses version makes more sense.  It reads, "I will deliver thee up (unto the power of Satan), and it shall be unto thee according to his (Satan's) desire. And thou (Cain) shalt rule over him." (Moses 5:23)

The Moses version suggests an interesting reciprocal relationship between Cain and Satan.  What happens to Cain will be according to Satan's desire. By virtue of his murder, Cain will be punished with a curse.  This was Lucifer's desire, "for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself." (2 Ne 2:27)  But Cain has greater power over him because he has a body.  Satan gets to destroy Cain's life but Cain gets to exercise authority over Satan.

Joseph Fielding Smith

Cain To Rule over Satan.  Sons of perdition will have an ascendancy over Satan himself, because he has no body. But who is Perdition? The Lord said to Cain: "If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him; For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world." (Moses 5:23-24)

Satan wanted him because Cain had a body, He wanted more power. A man with a body of course will have greater power than just a spirit without a body.

Cain sinned with his eyes open, so he became Perdition, the father of lies. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2:280)

Joseph Fielding Smith

It appears that the reason Satan desired to have him was due to the fact that Cain had obtained a body of flesh and bones and therefore had superior power, and Satan was willing to accept and be obedient to him because of that condition. The natural conclusion is, therefore, that a devil with a body of flesh and bones has some power greater than one who was denied the physical body. (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 171)

Hugh Nibley

Cain rule over Satan? Yes. that is the arrangement-the devil serves his client, gratifies his slightest whim, pampers his appetites, and is at his beck and call throughout his earthly life, putting unlimited power and influence at his disposal through his command of the treasures of the earth, gold and silver. But in exchange the victim must keep his part of the agreement, following Satan's instructions on earth and remaining in his power hereafter. That is the classic bargain, the pact with the Devil, by which a Faust, Don Juan, Macbeth, or Jabez Stone achieve the pinnacle of earthly success and the depths of eternal damnation.  ("A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch, Part 8," Ensign, Dec. 1976, 74)

Joseph Fielding Smith

Are we not led to believe that instead of accepting this word from the Lord in the spirit of humility and with regret for his evil actions, Cain rather rejoiced in the words that were spoken; "Satan desireth to have thee... And thou shalt rule over him?" Is it not possible that he rejoiced in the knowledge that through his wickedness he should rule in the kingdom of wickedness? What glory and honor could Cain expect to obtain in becoming the "father of lies" and becoming Perdition? Such an attitude of mind is hard to understand. To think that Cain would glory in obtaining dominion in the empire of evil, and in becoming the author of falsehood and holding the scepter of power in the kingdom of darkness, is almost beyond belief. Yet we are told that Cain rejoiced in the counsels given him by Satan, and frowned upon the counsels given him by Jehovah. Cain rejoiced, saying: "Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness."-Moses 5:31. (The Way to Perfection [Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1949], 100 - 101)

Moses 5:26 Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord

Brigham Young

Cain conversed with his God every day, and knew all about the plan of creating this earth, for his father told him. But, for the want of humility, and through jealousy, and an anxiety to possess the kingdom, and to have the whole of it under his own control, and not allow anybody else the right to say one word, what did he do? He killed his brother. Then the Lord put a mark on him.  (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 104)

Moses 5:29 swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not

"The book of Moses shows that Cain was not alone in the plot to murder his brother, for Satan insisted that he "swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not" (Moses 5:29). It has been pointed out that what Satan taught Cain and his brethren was not only how to exchange a human soul for a flock of sheep but also how to turn life into property. Through similar secret combinations, Satan still seduces those who love him more than they love God. Great sins of immorality result when people crave things and use other people to obtain them, thus serving their own gratification before God and all else. Here stands exposed Satan's secret means by which he seeks to destroy our Heavenly Father's children". (Richard D. Draper, "The Remarkable Book of Moses," Ensign, Feb. 1997, 19)

Moses 5:33 I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands

Wickedness never was happiness (Alma 41:10), and wickedness never brings freedom.  Was Cain free?  The truth makes you free (John 8:32).  Murdering the enemy only brings the opposite.

Neal A. Maxwell

Cain slew Abel and then gloried and boasted, "I am free." Free? Yes, free to be "a fugitive and a vagabond" in the desert he had made of his own life. (Meek and Lowly [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 96)

Hugh Nibley

The great secret he learned from Satan was the art of converting life into property-all life, even eternal life! The exchange of eternal life for worldly success is in fact the essence of the classic Pact with the Devil, in which the hero (Faust, Jabez Stone, even Jesus) is offered everything that the wealth of the earth can buy in return for subjection to Satan hereafter. (Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 166 - 167)

Hugh Nibley

Cain becomes the stock figure of the pact with the devil. There's Jabez Stone and the others. You all know the story of "The Devil and Daniel Webster." We mentioned that before. It's the same thing. He makes the pact. Old Scratch will give him anything he wants, and so he makes him rich. And what Satan offers Cain here is money. You can have anything in this world for money, he says. That will see you through to get anything you want. So we will see how he persuades Cain to follow him. Moses and Adam rejected the project, but Cain accepts it. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe [n.p., n.d.], 10)

George Albert Smith

When Abel was out with his flocks, and his brother Cain saw that he was favored of the Lord because he did right, the adversary whispered to Cain, "You can just as well have these flocks, nobody will know if you slay your brother," and he took his life. And what did he gain? He didn't gain anything, but he lost the blessing of his Heavenly Father. He took that which he could not give and became a murderer and from henceforth his name is known in the earth as one who had departed from the right and had committed an awful crime. (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 20)

Moses 5:34 Am I my brother's keeper?

"Few phrases have been quoted more often than this bold counter-question that Cain flings back at God... The theme is human responsibility. God, by the punishment He metes out, asserts that Cain was indeed his brother's keeper.

"Cain's question is essentially defiant: 'How would I know-or care?' Cain... is a man who defies God himself... when God asked Cain 'Where is your brother Abel?' Cain answered 'Am I my brother's keeper? You are God.  You have created man. It is Your task to watch him, not mine. If I ought not to have done what I did, You could have prevented me from doing it.' Thus, Cain makes God responsible or at least co-responsible for his own actions.

"Note that God does not reply. The question, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' remains unanswered." (The Torah: A Modern Commentary, ed. by W. Gunther Plaut [New York, The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981], 47)

Thomas S. Monson

The answer to that vital question is: Yes, we are our brothers' keepers. ("Our Brothers' Keepers," Ensign, June 1998, 33)

John H. Vandenberg

Pain, sorrow, and tragedy have been with the human race ever since this event. Yet from this episode in the scriptures there is brought to our attention the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

What do we think about that question? What charge has the Lord given us relating to it? Let us refer to 1 John, chapter 3:

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 Jn. 3:11, 14, 16, 18.)

("My Brother's Keeper," Ensign, June 1971, 63)

Dallin H. Oaks

Cain set the pattern of the world... Are we our brothers' keepers? In other words, are we responsible to look after the well-being of our neighbors as we seek to earn our daily bread? The Savior's Golden Rule says we are. Satan says we are not.

Tempted of Satan, some have followed the example of Cain. They covet property and then sin to obtain it. The sin may be murder, robbery, or theft. It may be fraud or deception. It may even be some clever but legal manipulation of facts or influence to take unfair advantage of another. Always the excuse is the same: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Those who follow the example of Cain fulfill a Book of Mormon prophecy. Seeing our day, Nephi prophesied that many would say, "Lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this" (2 Ne. 28:8).

We live in a world where many look on the marketplace as a ruthless arena where the buyer must beware, where no one is obligated to do more than the law requires, and where fraud isn't fraud unless you can prove it in court.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ have a higher standard. President Harold B. Lee said, "The standard ... in the Church must be visibly higher than the standard ... in the world" (Ye Are the Light of the World, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 13). We are commanded to live the Golden Rule. ("Brother's Keeper," Ensign, Nov. 1986, 20)

Moses 5:37 now art thou cursed...a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth

"The curse upon Cain was two-fold. First of all, the earth was not to yield her strength unto the efforts of Cain's tilling of it. It is implied in the two previous verses that this was because of the blood of Abel being absorbed by it. It is further suggested in a subsequent chapter of Moses that this part of the curse also included a loss of the priesthood (Moses 7:8). This is further attested to in v. 23 and Abr. 1:21-27. The full significance of this will undoubtedly be made known at a future time. The second part of Cain's curse was that he would be "a fugitive and a vagabond . . . in the earth" (Moses 5:37). The following story, though raising some puzzling questions, perhaps demonstrates the literalness and continuance of this aspect of the curse. The account is a reconstruction by Abraham O. Smoot of the words of Elder David W. Patten, a member of the first Quorum of the Twelve in this dispensation, relating an event that occurred in 1836.

As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me. He walked along beside me for about two miles. His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight.

"The response by Cain to his being cursed is not given fully in Genesis. The account in the Book of Moses is much more complete and verifies some of the incidents relative to Cain's rebellion. (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 2: The Pearl of Great Price [Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985], 106)

The above story is problematic.  The reader should be familiar with this story because it is part of church history.  The story suggests that like John the Beloved and the three Nephites, Cain hasn't died.  Instead of a blessed state of translation, he wanders about as a vagabond in a cursed state, seeking death, but he is unable to die.  What is problematic with this doctrine?  We are left to wonder what happened to Cain during the flood.  Was he kept with the animals in the ark?  Was he somehow preserved to remain in his state of limbo forever? While the idea of Cain forever travelling the earth as a fugitive and vagabond is intriguing, the idea is problematic and based on a single second hand source.

Moses 5:39 he that findeth me shall slay me

Ironic it is that Cain was worried about being murdered!  He didn't worry too much about Abel being murdered, but his selfish concern is for his own life.  He now must suffer the psychological effects of being a murderer and an outcast.  "The severest punishment upon a guilty conscience is a continual torment in the flesh without satisfying the demands of justice." (The Carthage Assassins., Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, vol. 6 (June 1845-December 1845), No. 3. July 15, 1845. Vol. Vi. 41.)

Hugh Nibley

He has become an outlaw now. He has taken life, and he can't claim the law's protection because he not only has broken it, but he has taken it into his own hands and taken life on his own. The first rule the Lord gives, as it says in the Book of Ether, is that "God will not that man should shed blood, but has in all things forbidden it since the beginning of man." (Ether 8:19) That's a general order that applies at all times. He has in all things forbidden it since the beginning of man. Cain has broken the rule now. "...and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that he that findeth me will slay me,..." That's the status of the outlaw in ancient and medieval societies. A person who was outlawed had no law to protect him, so anyone who found him was perfectly free to kill him. He had no protection. To whom could he flee? Who was his protector? He had no lord to champion him. He couldn't go to the courts because he was outlawed. He had not the protection of the king's highway or the three days' protection. He had nothing. So he said, anyone that finds me will be perfectly free to kill me because of my iniquities. He has a bad reputation. His name is known for evil now. Anywhere he goes he is going to be at great risk. What can he do? It's a terrible thing. "...for these things are not hid from the Lord."

But the Lord says to him, the fact that one person kills doesn't justify you in killing him. You do not correct the taking of life by the taking of life. This doesn't give anyone else the right to kill. So anyone who kills Cain will be avenged seven fold. Otherwise, people will start the rule of vendetta, and that never ends. Then you'll get northern Ireland, and you'll get the Philippines, or Lebanon. It's the Arabic rule of the raid, of the revenge. You get the Jukes and the Kallikacks, the feuding of Kentucky. And the famous border ballads in Percy's relics, the Douglases and the Percys. They feud for generations and generations, and when does it end? When they are both wiped out. That's your Book of Mormon theme. It ends the same way with the Jaredites and the Nephites, with extermination. This is the old Asiatic theme. It's a very old and very well established theme. So the Lord says this is not going to happen. You don't have a right to do that. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe, 2)

Moses 5:39 These things are not hid from the Lord

The key to Satan's secret combinations is that that they must remain secret for the perpetrators to prosper.  If everyone keeps their mouths shut, then nobody is punished, right? How do you get away with the perfect crime?  No witnesses?  No blabbing mouths? The idea sounds good.  Perfect silence sounds possible, but even if everyone remains silent-even if there are no witnesses to the crime-"these things are not hid from the Lord."

The Lord has a way of bringing evil to light.  Certainly, some criminals have never been punished. Perhaps they have made it all the way to the grave carrying their evil secret, but they forget that "their secret acts shall be revealed."

   And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed. (D&C 1:3)

Joseph F. Merrill

No one can escape the all-seeing eye of God our Father, who keeps us constantly wherever we are under scrutiny. Let us remember that finally the books will be opened and we will be judged by the things therein written-the deeds done in the body. (Conference Report, April 1945, Evening Meeting, 115)

LeGrand Richards

I think the thing we need more than any other thing today is to plant in the hearts of our boys and girls this living faith in God, that like David of old, they may feel and know that there is no spot so dark and no place so far removed and remote that the all-seeing eye of God is not upon them, and that they shall be held accountable for their deeds. (Conference Report, October 1939, First Day-Morning Meeting 26)

Moses 5:40 the Lord set a mark upon Cain

Wilford Woodruff

What was that mark? It was a mark of blackness. That mark rested upon Cain and descended upon his posterity from that time until the present. Today there are millions of the descendants of Cain, through the lineage of Ham, in the world, and that mark of darkness still rests upon them. Though nearly six thousand years have passed and gone, this mark is visible to the whole human family. Yet the fool and the infidel say there is no God, and they ridicule the Bible.

The Lamanites, on this continent, suffered a similar experience. They went to war against the Nephites; they thirsted for blood, and they painted themselves red; and the Lord put a curse of redness upon them. Hundreds of years have passed since then, but wherever you meet the Lamanites today, you see that mark upon them. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 1, April 7, 1889)

Hugh Nibley

The mark on Cain is for his protection, and as a warning to all the rest of us-hands off! If Cain must be punished, God does not solicit our services for the job. (Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1992], 537 - 538)

Sterling W. Sill

Cain put ugliness into his soul when he became anti-obedience and allowed anger, rebelliousness, and murder to get possession of his life. Then he covenanted to serve Satan. Because of Cain's ugliness God said to him, "And now art thou cursed . . ." (Gen. 4:11.) "Then the Lord set a mark upon Cain. . ." (Gen. 4:15.)

Some kind of a mark is set upon everyone who does wrong. Abraham Lincoln once had to appoint a postmaster and was considering a candidate who was strongly recommended by a prominent senator. When Lincoln refused to make the appointment, the senator asked him why. Lincoln said, "I don't like his face." The senator replied. "You can't hold the poor man responsible for his face." But the President said, "Every man is responsible for his face." When one becomes insanely angry, a wild display of ugliness immediately shows up in his face. And when the anger passes, his face never fully recovers from its distortion. Each time the evil is repeated, the distortion is increased. Ugliness is the mark that God puts on sin. When one is extremely happy a twinkle comes into his eye, and radiance appears in his face.

In the book of Revelation, the Lord tells about putting his own mark on all of those who serve him. (Rev. 20:4.) All of the blessed are beautiful. Some of the marks that God sets on virtue are a clear eye, a steady hand, an erect stature, a clear conscience, and a lighted countenance. We also recognize the ugly marks of sin in the bloated body, the bloodshot eyes, the unsteady legs, and the addled brain of an alcoholic. Nicotine addiction leaves its mark in stained fingers, foul breath, polluted air, hardened arteries, and cancerous lungs. The sins of the fathers are also visited upon the children, and the ugly marks of dope addiction frequently appear even in the deformed bodies and minds of unborn children. Just as no one can imagine our Heavenly Father as ugly, so no one can imagine Satan as beautiful. And like God and Satan, each one of us is fashioning himself by what he does. (That Ye Might Have Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 280-281)

Moses 5:41 Cain... dwelt in the land of Nod

Hugh Nibley

Nod means to move back and forth. Nud is the same word in Hebrew. What do you do when you move back and forth? Well, you migrate. You are a people that have no settled position. The migrants and nomads of central Asia tour and follow the grass with the seasons. They are always on the march. Or the Arabs with their camels. These nomadic peoples live in the land of Nod, which means migrating or nomadism. The basic meaning is not to stay in one position, but to go this way, then this way, and then this way. In summer you go up to the summer pasture. In winter you go down to the winter pasture. So he went to the land of Nod east of Eden, and that's where they are going to live for the rest of their days. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe, 2 .)

Moses 5:42 Cain... called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch

Cain built a city of Enoch.  It was not a righteous city.  His son Enoch was not a righteous man.  This city and this Enoch are not to be confused with righteous Enoch and holy city of Enoch referred to in Gen. 5:21-27 and Moses 7:19.

Moses 5:44-54 Lamech

This is a wicked Lamech.  Just as there was a wicked Enoch (Gen 4:17) and a righteous Enoch (Gen 5:22); there was a wicked Lamech (Gen 4:19-24) and a righteous Lamech (Gen 5:25-31). This can be confusing.  The father of the wicked Lamech was named Methusael.  The father of the righteous Lamech was named Methuselah. 

The wicked Lamech was so wicked that he boasted a greater curse than Cain.  The righteous Lamech was so righteous his priesthood was compared to Enoch's, "The next great, grand Patriarch [after Enoch] who held the keys of the Priesthood was Lamech."  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 171) Righteous Lamech passed this patriarchal priesthood on to his son Noah-the righteous Noah-not the wicked one (Mosiah 11:1).

Moses 5:47 I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt

If an atrocious act is couched in poetic language, does it detract from the pernicious nature of the deed?  What is Lamech saying?  Perhaps he realizes immediately after the murder that his victim will feel no more pain-but he will.  "I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt." The regret is immediate; Lamech is the one who must suffer; he is the one who will forever feel the pain of his sin. Truman Madsen said, "If one commits murder in an act of passion, that may take five minutes; but if twenty-four hours a day, waking and sleeping, you go on holding grudges, harboring hostile feelings," (The Radiant Life, chap. 5) and reliving the wicked moment.  Even if never caught, even if never taken to trial, even if never taken to prison, the murderer must forever live with his deed.  The persistence of pain must be unbearable.

Moses 5:48 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold

Hugh Nibley

You do not correct the taking of life by the taking of life. This doesn't give anyone else the right to kill. So anyone who kills Cain will be avenged seven fold. Otherwise, people will start the rule of vendetta, and that never ends. Then you'll get northern Ireland, and you'll get the Philippines, or Lebanon. It's the Arabic rule of the raid, of the revenge. You get the Jukes and the Kallikacks, the feuding of Kentucky. And the famous border ballads in Percy's relics, the Douglases and the Percys. They feud for generations and generations, and when does it end? When they are both wiped out. That's your Book of Mormon theme. It ends the same way with the Jaredites and the Nephites, with extermination. This is the old Asiatic theme. It's a very old and very well established theme. So the Lord says this is not going to happen. You don't have a right to do that. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe, 2)

Moses 5:49 Lamech having entered into a covenant with Satan... became Master Mahan

Perhaps we should look at the title "Master Mahan" as the highest office held in Satan's priesthood.  Satan claims his power and his priesthoods.  If he has priesthood, then he must have priests.  The president, the prophet, the priest, the master, "Master Mahan" holds the keys to the rites, oaths, and covenants of evil.  Satan set up his kingdom patterned after the Lord's.  He has priesthood, ordinances, oaths, covenants, sacrifice, and secrets.  He has angels and servants, oaths and covenants, but he also needs a mortal to administer his rites of wickedness.  He needs one who knows the combination to Satan's secret combination. He needs a "Master Mahan." Lamech was the first, but there have been many since him who have deserved the same title.

Moses 5:50 he slew him for the oath's sake

One man keeps a commandment to get the blessing.  Another keeps it because he has made a covenant to obey. Just as it is more righteous to be obedient to the covenant without looking for the blessing, so it is more wicked to commit murder, not for money, but for the sake of the oath.  Both show perfect allegiance-one to God, the other to Satan.  "He slew him for the oath's sake" means Lamech would do whatever Satan wanted without regard for remuneration.  That's the perfect servant of sin; he commits evil for evil's sake.

Moses 5:51 from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark

The great importance of Cain and Lamech is that they establish Satan's pattern of secret combinations on the earth.  The gospel was "preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels" (v. 58).  Satan's counterfeit was preached as well-from the beginning-being declared by evil spirits.  Whenever Satan's stranglehold has been the tightest, it has been through secret combinations.  Righteous men have been killed; entire nations have come to naught; millions have become Satan's servants and paid the ultimate price.  All because of secret combinations, set up from the beginning to destroy the happiness and freedom of man. As Brigham Young said, "The difference between God and the devil is that God creates and organizes while the whole study of the devil is to destroy." (Journal of Discourses, 13:4.) Hugh Nibley noted:

"In The Combat of Adam with Satan, as Migne observes, 'the author depicts the descendants of Adam as divided into two separate and distinct branches: the Cainites dedicated to following Satan, who lived in a fertile country but very far distant from Eden, and who devoted themselves to all the pleasures of the flesh and all manner of immorality,' and the Sethites who 'dwelt in the mountains near the Garden, were faithful to the divine law and bore the name of the Sons of God.'" (Ensign, Dec. 1976, 75)

Moroni recognized these secret combinations among the Jaredites, the Nephites, and the latter-day Gentiles.  In the tradition of these wicked oath takers, Cain and Lamech reign supreme.  He tells of the institution of the combinations among the Jaredites made possible by an ancient record of their wicked oaths.

Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?
...And Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given by them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning.
And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.
And it was the daughter of Jared who put it into his heart to search up these things of old; and Jared put it into the heart of Akish; wherefore, Akish administered it unto his kindred and friends, leading them away by fair promises to do whatsoever thing he desired.
And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God;
For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man. (Ether 8:9, 15-19)

Ezra Taft Benson

Moroni seemed greatly exercised lest in our day we might not be able to recognize the startling fact that the same secret societies which destroyed the Jaredites and decimated numerous kingdoms of both Nephites and Lamanites would be precisely the same form of criminal conspiracy which would rise up among the gentile nations in this day. (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 349)

Moses 5:53 his wives... rebelled against him, and declared these things abroad

"Like his fathers before him, going back to Cain, Lamech entered into an evil covenant and also became known as 'Master Mahan.' He killed Irad, his great-grandfather, and then bragged to his wives of his deed, saying that if Satan had rewarded Cain seven fold, Satan could reward him seventy and sevenfold.

"But unlike Cain's wife, Lamech's wives would have no part of their husband's evil. They rebelled against him and told 'abroad' what he had said. His secret made known, Lamech found himself cast out and in fear of being killed himself. Then, the scriptures say, 'among the daughters of men these things [the secret combinations] were not spoken because that Lamech had spoken the secret unto his wives, and they rebelled against him, and declared these things abroad.' (Moses 5:53.)

"The Bible ends the story with Lamech bragging to Adah and Zillah. The Pearl of Great Price goes on to describe the choice these women made to expose that evil, and thus offers a far more inspiring story." (Our Sisters in the Latter-day Scriptures [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 131)

Moses 5:56 God cursed the earth with a sore curse

Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John I cursed the waters...
And, as I, the Lord, in the beginning cursed the land, even so in the last days have I blessed it, in its time, for the use of my saints, that they may partake of the fatness thereof. (D&C 61:14, 17)

After the Fall, the earth would no longer produce fruits and flowers spontaneously.  Man would have to carefully till the soil, weed out the choking weeks, and carefully protect the tender crops.  The curse on the land was not just the curse that the Fall brought, but a "sore curse" that would suggest men had to spend all their energies to produce enough to survive.  History and archeology would confirm that early man was largely agricultural, trying to survive, as it were, on an earth that had been cursed to withhold the fullness of its potential.

"The fact that God cursed the earth for man's sake indicates that He did not do it arbitrarily but for the good of man so that man could learn the value of labor and that opposition and adversity could exercise their refining influences upon him. Mortality was designed to teach man to exert himself to achieve the rewards of productive labor." (God, Man, and the Universe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968], 372 - 373)