THE LINE OF CAIN (Genesis 4:17–24)

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THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

THE LINE OF CAIN.—Gen. 4:17–24

Some Vocabulary Before the Commentary

Gen. 4:17. חֲנוֹךְ Chanok (Enoch), initiation, instruction. (male) Enoch: 1. son of Cain (Ge 4:17a, 18+)[1]

Gen. 4:18. עִירָד Irad, fleet as the wild ass, citizen. (male) Irad: grandson of Cain (Ge 4:18+)

מְחוּיָאֵל Mechuyael or מְחִיָּיאֵל Mechiyyayel, smitten of El, or life of El. (male) Mehujael: of Adam by Cain (Ge 4:18ab+)

מְתוּשָׁאֵל Methushael, man of El, or man asked. לֶמֶךְ Lemek, man of prayer, youth. (male) Methushael: of Adam by Cain, father of a Lamech (Ge 4:18+)

Gen. 4:19. עָדָה Adah, beauty צִלָּה Tsillah, to pass on, advance. (female) Adah: 1. wife of Lamech (Ge 4:19, 20, 23+)

Gen. 4:20. יָבָל Jabal, watercourse, stream:—running, streams, leader of cattle, produce, the walker or wanderer. אֹהֶל pl. אֹהָלִים for אֳחָלִים tent, awning, covering of goats’ hair over the poles or timbers which constituted the original booth, סְכָּה. (male) Jabal: son of Lamech (Ge 4:20+)

Gen. 4:21. יוּבָל Jubal, player on an instrument? (male) Jubal: of Cain, through Lamech (Ge 4:21+)

Gen. 4:22. תּוּבַל קַיִן Tubal Qayin, brass-smith? The scion or son of the lance. (male) Tubal-Cain: of Cain, son of Lamech-Zillah (Ge 4:22+)[2]

נַֽעֲמָה Naamah, pleasant, lovely. (female) Naamah: 1. of Cain, son of Lamech-Zillah (Ge 4:22+)[3]

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

Mankind is now formally divided into two branches—those who still abide in the presence of God, and those who have fled to a distance from him. Distinguishing names will soon be given to these according to their outward profession and practice (Gen. 6:1). The awful distinction according to the inward state of the feelings has been already given in the terms, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.

Genesis 4:17 BDC: Where did Cain get his wife?

Genesis 4:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 Cain knew his wife and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Genesis: 4:17. “Knew” means Cain had sexual relations with his wife. Cain went into banishment in the land of Fugitiveness to the east of Eden, taking with him his wife, an anonymous daughter or granddaughter of Adam and Eve. (See Gen. 5:4) Cain is not unaccompanied in his banishment. A wife, at least, is the partner of his exile. Following the birth of his son Enoch, Cain is immersed in building a city, naming it for his son. Such a city may have been but a fortified village as we would think of it today. There is no record of when it was completed. It was enclosed with a wall to defend all who dwell within. The building of the city is the erection of this wall or barricade. Here we find the motive of fear and self-defense still ruling Cain. His hand has been stained in a brother’s blood, and he expects every man’s hand will be against him. His descendants are listed in part and include men who characterized themselves in nomadic stock raising, the playing of musical instruments, and the forging of metal tools, as well as those who were known for their taking more than one wife and their violence. (Ge 4:17-24) The family line of Cain came to an end with the global Flood of Noah’s day.

He calls his son Enoch and his city after his son’s name. The same word is employed as a name in the lines of Seth (Gen. 5:18), Midian (Gen. 25:4), and Reuben (Gen. 46:9). It signifies dedication or initiation and, in the present case, seems to indicate a new beginning of social existence, or consciousness of initiative or inventive power, which necessity and self-reliance called forth, particularly in himself and his family. It appears, from the flocks kept by Abel, the fear of persons meeting and slaying the murderer, the marriage and family of Cain, and the beginning of a city, that a considerable time had elapsed since the fall. The wife of Cain, again, was of necessity his sister, though this was forbidden in after times, for wise and holy reasons, when the necessity no longer existed. One must remember that humans were closer to perfection at the time, living for hundreds of years, so deformed babies from incest were not likely.

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

Genesis 4:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.

Genesis: 4:18. The names in this verse seem to denote one trained up; inaugurated, dedicated, initiated, struck by God, and man of God. They indicate a mingling of thoughts and motives in men’s minds, in which the word אֵל mighty as a name of God occurs. This name is a common noun, signifying hero or potentate, and also power or might, and is transferred to God as the Potentate, or Almighty One. It is distinguished from אֱלֹהִים God since they are put in apposition (Josh. 22:22), and seems to be properly an epithet applied to God by way of preeminence. The denomination, “stricken of the Mighty,” is a recognition of the divine power. “The man of prayer,” or “asking,” may also have reference to an act of worship. Among these higher thoughts, we also find a value put upon youth and physical superiority. This is all we can learn from these imperfectly understood names.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

Genesis 4:19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Genesis: 4:19. This is the first record and probably the first instance of polygamy. The names of the two wives, Adah, beauty, and Zillah, shade or tinkling, seem to refer to the charms which attracted Lamech. The superabundance of wealth and power perhaps led Lamech to multiply wives.

Genesis 4:20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.

Genesis: 4:20. Here is the first notice of the tent and of cattle. The tent was the thin, shining, and shading canvas of goats’ hair, which was placed over the poles or timbers that constituted the original booth. In process of time, it would supplant the branches and foliage of the booth as a covering from the sun or the wind. The cattle are designated by a word denoting property as being chattels personal and consisting chiefly of sheep and oxen. The idea of property had now been practically realized. The Cainites were now prosperous and numerous and therefore released from that suspicious fear that brought about their progenitor’s fortified city. The sons of Jabal rove over the common with their tents and cattle, undismayed by imaginary terrors. Jabal, of course, was not the first shepherd, as Abel had been a shepherd as well. However, Jabal evidently started or was best known for his nomadic livestock raising as a way of life. He may have invented tents, which would have made it much easier to move than permanent dwellings when a pasture ground was no longer flourishing. The Bible shows that work became more and more wide-ranging as the population grew. Some people made tents and raised livestock. Others made musical instruments. Some unearthed and produced copper, iron ores, and forged tools from these valuable metals.

Genesis 4:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.

Genesis: 4:21. Here is the invention of musical instruments in their two leading varieties, the harp and the pipe. This implies the previous taste for music and song. It seems not unlikely that Zillah, the mother of Jubal, was a daughter of song. The fine arts follow in the train of the useful. All this indicates the easy circumstances in which the Cainites now found themselves.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

Genesis 4:22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
22 As for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-cain, the forger of all instruments of copper and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Genesis: 4:22. The three names Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal are formed from a root signifying to flow, run, go forth, perhaps blow, from which comes יֹובֵל, the blast or trumpet-note of joy and release. Accordingly, all sorts of going forth, suitable to a nomad’s life seem to have distinguished this family. The addition of Cain to the name of Tubal may have been a memorial of his ancestor, or an indication of his pursuit. Tubal of the spear or lance may have been his familiar designation. The making of tents implies some skill in carpentry and spinning, and weaving. The working in brass and iron furnishes implements for war, hunting, or husbandry. The construction of musical instruments shows considerable refinement in carving and molding wood. Naamah, meaning pleasant, seems to be mentioned on account of her personal charms.

The world of that time was “filled with violence.” (Gen. 6:11) We do not have any details as to the nature of the violence or what type of weapons may have been used. However, those who lived before the Flood were “forger of all instruments [cutting instruments] of copper and iron,” Tubal-cain. The Hebrew חָרַשׁ charash: engraving tool, formally, engraving, i.e., that implement made of metal used for scraping, cutting, plowing, etc. (Ge 4:22+).

Ancient Jewish comments claim that Tubal-cain made weapons. Rabbi Rashi states: “He refined and improved the work of Cain [his violent forefather] by providing weapons for murderers.” The first century C.E., Jewish Historian Josephus added a similar thought about Tubal-cain, saying that he was “surpassing all men in strength, distinguished himself in the art of war.”

If there was a development and ongoing use of metal weapons, likely rising from the same fear that motivated them to build fortified cities, this clearly added to the violent conditions. By the time of the Flood, the Bible reports: “And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” (Gen. 6:12) We must remember that there were the Nephilim. God brought about a global flood to destroy that violent ancient world that had been inundated with materialized rebel angels (demons) and the Nephilim, half-angel half-human. The materialized rebel angels dematerialized and went back to heaven. The Nephilim were destroyed along with all wicked people.

Genesis 6:4 BDC: Who were the Nephilim?

God acted and removed the Nephilim and those war-like persons who were “ruining” the earth. Yet, Noah and his family walked with God, were declared righteous, and were the only ones who survived the flood at that time.​ So, God allowed Noah and his family to prevail and continue worshiping him on a cleansed earth. How long for us today before we received a renewed earth?

THEOLOGY: New Heavens and New Earth

Among Christians, What is a Common View of Judgment Day? What Does the Bible Really Say?

Genesis 4:23-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 Lamech said to his wives,

“Adah and Zillah,
   Listen to my voice,
You wives of Lamech,
    Give heed to my speech,
For I have killed a man for wounding me;
   And a boy for striking me;
24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold,
   Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

Genesis: 4:23-24. In this fragment of ancient song, we have Lamech, under the strong excitement of having slain a man in self-defense, reciting to his wives the deed and at the same time comforting them and himself with the assurance that if Cain the murderer would be avenged seven-fold, he, the manslayer in self-defense would be avenged seventy and seven-fold. This short poem has all the characteristics of the most perfect Hebrew poetry. Every pair of lines is a specimen of the Hebrew parallelism or rhythm of sentiment and style. They all belong to the synthetic, synonymous, or cognate parallel, the second member reiterating with emphasis the first. Here we observe that Lamech was a poet; one of his wives was probably a songstress, and the other had a taste for ornament. One daughter was lovely, and three sons were the inventors of most arts that sustain and embellish life. This completes the picture of this remarkable family.

It has been noticed that the inventive powers were more largely developed in Cain’s line than in Seth’s. And it has been suggested that the worldly character of the Cainites accounts for this. The Sethites contemplated God’s higher things and paid less attention to the practical arts of life. On the other hand, the Cainites did not have God in their thoughts and therefore gave more heed to the requisites and comforts of the present life.

Young Christians

But besides this, the Cainites, penetrating into the unknown tracts of this vast common, were compelled by circumstances to turn their thoughts to the invention of the arts by which the hardships of their condition might be abated. And as soon as they had conquered the chief difficulties of their new situation, the habits of industry and mental activity which they had acquired were turned to the embellishments of life.

We have no grounds, however, for concluding that the descendants of Cain were as yet entirely and exclusively ungodly on the one hand, or on the other that the descendants of Seth were altogether destitute of inventive genius or inattentive to its cultivation. Except for the assault that seemed to have provoked the homicidal act of Lamech, and the bigamy of Lamech himself, we find not much to condemn in the recorded conduct of the race of Cain. In the names of some of them, we discover the remembrance and recognition of God. Abel had a keeper of cattle before Jabal. The Cainites were also an older race than the Shethites. And when Noah was commissioned to build the ark, we have no reason to doubt that he was qualified in some measure by natural ability and previous training for such a task.

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

The line of Cain is traced no further than the seventh generation from Adam. We cannot tell whether there were any more in that line before the flood. The design of tracing it thus far is to point out the origin of the arts of life and the first instances of bigamy and homicide in self-defense.[4]

James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews

Bibliography

  • Edward D Andrews, BIBLE DIFFICULTIES: How to Approach Difficulties In the Bible, Christian Publishing House. 2020.
  • Edward D. Andrews, INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, Christian Publishing House, 2016.
  • Gleason L. Archer, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan’s Understand the Bible Reference Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982).
  • Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., “Appearance,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988).
  • Hermann J. Austel, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).
  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).
  • James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
  • John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, vol. 1-4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).
  • John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  • Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).
  • Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler. Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. Kindle Edition.
  • Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Chronology, Old Testament,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988).
  • W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996).

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[1] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[2] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[3] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[4] James G. Murphy, Notes on the Old Testament: Genesis (Boston: Estes and Lauriate, 1873), 157–160.

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