12 If you till the soil, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. You shall become a ceaseless wanderer on earth.”
KEE ta-a-VOD et HA-a-da-MAH lo to-SAYF tayt ko-KHAH LAKH NA va-NAD tih-YEH va-A-retz
יב כִּי תַעֲבֹד אֶת־הָאֲדָמָה לֹא־תֹסֵף תֵּת־כֹּחָהּ לָךְ נָע וָנָד תִּהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ׃
4:12 You shall become a ceaseless wanderer on earth
The Hebrew for ‘ceaseless wanderer’ in this verse is na v’nad (נע ונד). Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch distinguishes the word na (נע) from nad (נד). Na refers to a wanderer who can find no physical resting place on Earth, whereas a nad is a wanderer whose connection to mankind has been severed. Cain’s punishment isolated him from the land as well as from all of mankind; he was cursed with an inability to find a homeland or a society, and subsequently his sin was too much to bear. The privilege of living in a homeland among a society of people who share a common lineage is no small matter. The return of Jewish sovereignty to its biblical homeland in our time, after thousands of years of exile, is truly a mark of God’s hand in this world.