We are made aware of the immediate development of horticulture in Cain, who brought to God the fruits of his farm, and of animal husbandry in Abel, who brought the best of his flock and the fat of a slaughtered specimen of the flock. Again, it seems doubtful that flocks were kept solely for wool and hide and for sacrifice for God. Surely they served for food, as well. A major portion of the diet of many bedouins to this day is milk, butter, and cheese from flocks of sheep and goats.
Arts were quick to follow for, in a few generations, there were those who “play the lyre and pipe” (Genesis 4.22). Such developments require the gathering of population into centers, hence, early in the history, there was at least one city (verse 17).
The several sciences dealing with human antiquity do not help to sort out details of the springing up of culture in the early generations of mankind – urban development (verses 16-17), industry (verses 20-22), philosophical and artistic expression (verses 19, 23-24). Modern science does not think these arose quickly. I have no desire to demean either Genesis or the labors of earnest scientists. Perhaps there is some foreshortening of perspective in verses 16-24 by omission of intervening generations. For our purposes, the important truth is that it all happened in a society of mankind impaired by the loss of moral integrity and in a climate of spiritual apostasy. There was, as yet, no coercive government to require civil order. Nothing was guaranteed. A steady decline toward a universal divine judgment (the Deluge) followed by a new world-order among fallen humanity is not surprising, at all. I have written, at length, about these matters elsewhere.
From: Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Fearn: Mentor, 2005), p. 320.
Robert Duncan Culver (1916-2015) was an American conservative evangelical theologian, author, and educator. He died last Saturday, February 7, at the age of 98. RIP