Prophecy of Cain

Genesis 4:12-16—”Verse 12 falsely prophecies that Cain would be a restless wanderer, for verse 16 says he settled in his own land.”

The prophecy predicts two things—that Cain would be exiled from his country and that he would be a fugitive continually escaping pursuers. The Hebrew terms translated “fugitive” and “wanderer” (נוּע and נוּד) both bear the sense of fleeing from a pursuer. Yet the critic generally omits the verses in between, where God eases the second half of the punishment after Cain replies with despair. By God’s mercy, Cain would no longer have to be a constant fugitive from pursuers, as God would protect Cain from attack. The modified prophecy was perfectly fulfilled, as Cain was exiled from his land to a distant land. Another interpretation is that since God’s curse contains no specified duration of Cain’s wandering, perhaps he wandered for a time and then settled.

The Qur’ān contains a somewhat more perplexing prophecy:

“The Roman Empire has been defeated – in a land close by: But they, after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious – within a few years” (Al-Rum 30:2-4).

According to reputed Qur’ānic scholar Yusuf Ali, the Arabic word for “a few” (بِضع bidh’un ) signifies a period of three to nine years; or according to the Islamic Foundation Qur’ān footnote #1330 it refers to three to ten years; Mohammed (pbuh) himself stated that the ‘small number’ predicted is between three and nine years (Al-Baizawi). The Persians defeated the Byzantines and captured Jerusalem at about 614/615 AD. Yet renowned Muslim historian Al-Tabari and scholar Al-Baizawi place the defeat 13-14 years later in 628AD. It would seem that this passage is at least as problematic as Genesis 4:12.

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