16 ¶ And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
As the pre-Flood geography would be impossible to know now where the land of Nod is would be impossible to determine although one would suspect, if one believed that Eden would have been located where God’s beloved Promised Land is, that Nod would have been in that nursery of great ancient civilizations, Mesopotamia. Although whatever Cain had built would have been destroyed in the Flood it could have been in the same general vicinity as the great cities that came after.
Cain’s wife, who would have been his sister as genetically humanity had just begun its slow deterioration that lent deleterious mutations to every generation and made sexual union between brother and sister very dangerous today for their offspring, gave him a son named Enoch, whose name was given to this first city.
Here is the birthplace of ancient religion as the ancient city was a religious entity, a type of church, started all at once with invited families who would share in the same worship and the same gods, although the individual family would have its own singular worship and gods which represented their lars familiaris or familiar spirits (see Leviticus 20:27), the guiding divinities of ancestors dead. (20) It is likely that Cain’s false religion was carried on through his city.
In addition, each home in the ancient world was to have a sacred flame which was the religious center of the home and must not be permitted to go out. (21) This eternal flame, like the lamp in the tabernacle in Exodus 27:20, must never go out. This was a counterfeit city in the ancient world, a city of man’s creation, man’s poor attempt to replace what God intended. Cain’s false religion, which will infect the rest of human history even after the Flood, would have begun to be expressed by his brethren in this city, Enoch, and the eventual religion of the city-states of Canaan, Greece, and the worship of Rome and India would have begun here.
The king of an ancient city was also the high priest, who offered up sacrifices, and was the highest religious authority. This is evident in a number of ancient writers such as Aristotle, Euripides, and Demosthenes. (22) My point is that the roots of ancient worship were probably planted by Cain in this first city as a pattern for future civilization.
(20) Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome (1864, repr. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006), 134.
(21) Ibid., 25.
(22) Ibid., 173.