The Legends of the Jews
By Louis Ginzberg, 1909
This is a massive collation of the Haggada--the traditions which have grown up surrounding the Biblical narrative. These stories and bits of layered detail are scattered throughout the Talmud and the Midrash, and other sources, including oral. In the 19th century Ginzberg undertook the task of arranging the Haggada into chronological order, and this series of volumes was the result.
THE TEN GENERATIONS--THE BIRTH OF CAIN
There were ten generations from Adam to Noah, to show how long-suffering is the Lord, for all the generations provoked Him unto wrath, until He brought the deluge upon them. By reason of their impiousness God changed His plan of calling one thousand generations into being between the creation of the world and the revelation of the law at Mount Sinai; nine hundred and seventy-four He suppressed before the flood.
Wickedness came into the world with the first being born of woman, Cain, the oldest son of Adam. When God bestowed Paradise upon the first pair of mankind, He warned them particularly against carnal intercourse with each other. But after the fall of Eve, Satan, in the guise of the serpent, approached her, and the fruit of their union was Cain, the ancestor of all the impious generations that were rebellious toward God, and rose up against Him. Cain's descent from Satan, who is the angel Samael, was revealed in his seraphic appearance. At his birth, the exclamation was wrung from Eve, "I have gotten a man through an angel of the Lord."
Adam was not in the company of Eve during the time of her pregnancy with Cain. After she had succumbed a second time to the temptations of Satan, and permitted herself to be interrupted in her penance, she left her husband and journeyed westward, because she feared her presence might continue to bring him misery. Adam remained in the east. When the days of Eve to be delivered were fulfilled, and she began to feel the pangs of travailing, she prayed to God for help. But He hearkened not unto her supplications. "Who will carry the report to my lord Adam?" she asked herself. "Ye luminaries in the sky, I beg you, tell it to my master Adam when ye return to the east!" In that self same hour, Adam cried out: "The lamentation of Eve has pierced to my ear! Mayhap the serpent has again assaulted her," and he hastened to his wife. Finding her in grievous pain, he besought God in her behalf, and twelve angels appeared, together with two heavenly powers. All these took up their post to right of her and to left of her, while Michael, also standing on her right side, passed his hand over her, from her face downward to her breast, and said to her, "Be thou blessed, Eve, for the sake of Adam. Because of his solicitations and his prayers I was sent to grant thee our assistance. Make ready to give birth to thy child!" Immediately her son was born, a radiant figure. A little while and the babe stood upon his feet, ran off, and returned holding in his hands a stalk of straw, which he gave to his mother. For this reason he was named Cain, the Hebrew word for stalk of straw.
Now Adam took Eve and the boy to his home in the east. God sent him various kinds of seeds by the hand of the angel Michael, and he was taught how to cultivate the ground and make it yield produce and fruits, to sustain himself and his family and his posterity.
After a while, Eve bore her second son, whom she named Hebel, because, she said, he was born but to die.