The only Biblical mention of the land of Nod comes after Cain, the first human produced by Adam and Eve, and his younger brother Abel offer sacrifices to God (Genesis 4:3 - 5). Abel's sacrifice is accepted but what his brother gave is not. This rejection fosters anger in Cain toward the Lord for treating him unfairly and jealousy toward Abel for his righteous obedience (see 1John 3:12).
The Lord then talks directly to Cain to encourage him to do what is right (Genesis 4:6 - 7). He refuses to listen, however, and further hardens his heart. He soon takes advantage of an opportunity to do evil by murdering Abel when the two of them are alone in a field. God's subsequent correction of Cain hints at how the land of Nod would get its name.
And now you are cursed from the earth, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you, and you shall be a wanderer and a fugitive upon the earth (Genesis 4:11 - 12, HBFV throughout).
Cain Receives a Mark
God responds to Cain's complaint that his punishment is too harsh by marking him so that others are warned not to murder him. Cain then fulfills God's prophecy, and his own (Genesis 4:14), by traveling east of Eden to the land of Nod.
And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod, to the east of Eden.
And 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, HBFV).
Nod, in Hebrew, means wandering or vagrancy (Strong's #H5113). The land of Nod received its name from Cain living within it as he wandered from place to place. It is in this new area that He and his wife produce a son named Enoch and build a city (Genesis 4:17).
Cain's descendent Jubal, the seventh generation after Adam, would become the first to produce and use musical instruments. Jubal's brother Tubal-Cain would become the first to make domestic products and tools of war out of iron and brass (Genesis 4:17 - 22).
Inspiration for a Novel
John Steinbeck, after authoring "Of Mice and Men" and "The Grapes of Wrath," wrote his longest novel ever in 1952. His new work dealt with the nature of good and evil with allusions to the events of Genesis 4. He toyed with several potential titles until he decided to include the first sixteen verses of the chapter in his book. After reading verse 16, which references the Land of Nod, he enthusiastically renamed his novel "East of Eden" after the verse's last three words.