QUESTION: I am curious about the metaphysics of: land of Nod, Cain’s wife, and the Son/City of Enoch. Is the meaning of Enoch the son different from the city?
PASSAGE: "Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch" (Genesis 4:16-17 RSV).
COMMENT: This passage immediately follows the slaying of Abel by Cain, and the response of the Lord. Since it is not just the first murder, but the first death of any kind, Cain is forced into a vast learning curve. His fear is that he will never be welcome anywhere again—that he will "be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth" (v. 12). The Lord, while holding him accountable for his crime of fratricide, assures him that this will not be the case. So the key phrase in this passage, I think, is "he built a city"—Cain was guided to put down roots and become the father of a people.
The question of where, in fact, Cain’s wife came from is a popular one with those who love to denigrate the Bible. But this is a spiritual folk tale, not a literal history. The storyteller’s focus is on the history of the people of Israel, traced back to the original couple, Adam and Eve. Presumably there were other peoples, from other tribes and a different lineage. The underlying implication is that Cain, separated from his own people by his crime, intermarried with another tribe and established a different lineage. For those telling—and hearing—this story in its earliest forms, it would explain where the other people came from with whom the Israelites were so often in contention.
"The land of Nod" is traditionally associated with sleep, and Charles Fillmore’s Metaphysical Bible Dictionary describes it as a state of "uncertainty in mind, bewilderment." In early spiritual consciousness we often find ourselves in the midst of experiences we don’t fully—or even remotely—understand. They are consequences of choices we have made—as Cain’s sojourn in Nod is a consequence of his choice to kill his brother—but we are not yet capable of a full grasp of the underlying spiritual truth.
“Enoch” is a name used three times in the Bible: as the son of Cain and the city named after him in this passage, and, several generations later, as the son of Jared and father of Methuselah—the man who is described as not having died, but rather as having “walked with God” at Genesis 5:18-24. Charles Fillmore saw all three as representing "entrance into and instruction in a new state of thought." Cain’s son and the city represent a new state of thought about the human experience—a sense of ownership rather than a life of wandering. And the third Enoch did not ’die’ because he achieved the greater state of spiritual thought that allowed him to embrace the truth of his eternal spiritual identity.