ESV - 15 Then the Lord said to him, "Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.
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In my opinion, Cain's words reflected the "intuitive" idea of blood-revenge, in which the taking of a human life was deemed serious enough (just by normal reasoning) to warrant the death of the perpetrator, either through individuals or society. However, God (perhaps in foreknowledge that He was going to destroy the entire population of the earth in the Flood) did not formally or generally institute death as a punishment for murder until His covenant with Noah after the Flood (Genesis 9:5-6). Despite the heinous nature of Cain's act, it would thus not have been just for either God or another human to take Cain's life when there was no prior known standard that specified death as the penalty for murder.
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