Genesis 4:16-24

16 Then 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 bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch.

18 To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.

19 Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah.

20 And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.

21 His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute.

22 And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

23 Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me.

24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

Nod (v.16) = from a word that means “to move to and fro, wander”

This quote by Morris is surmise, but interesting.

Since, according to the record in Genesis 5, each named patriarch lived many hundreds of years and “began sons and daughters,” it is reasonable and very conservative to assume that each family had, on the average, at least six children. … If it is further assumed that, on the average, these children grew to maturity, married, and began to have children of their own by the time their parents were eighty years old, and that the parents lived though an average of five such “generations,” or four hundred years, then it can easily be calculated that the earth had acquired within its first eight hundred years (presumably approximately the lifetime of Cain, as a minimum) a population of at least one hundred and twenty thousand.

By the time of the Deluge, 1,656 years after creation by the Ussher chronology, even using the above conservative assumptions, the world population would have been at least seven billion people!

Not only did the population increase, but the technological and cultural level, at least of the Canaanitic civilization, seems to have been very high. Metal tools and implements of all kinds were available to produce creature comforts, as well as musical instruments to stimulate the emotional and esthetic senses. — Morris, pages 143-144.


Two of the names [of Cain’s descendants] end with el, the name of God, a fact which perhaps indicates that even those in the line of Cain continued to believe in God …

Authorities believe Irad means “townsman,” Mehujael means “God gives life,” and Methusael “God’s man.” … Lamech may mean “conqueror.”

Lamech apparently was the man who led the Cainites into open rebellion against God. He began by defying God’s ordained principle of monogamy (Genesis 2:23-24), taking two wives, Adah and Zillah. This was in the seventh generation from Adam, the same as that of Godly Enoch in the Sethitic line. These were presumably attractive women (Adah means “ornament” and Zillah means “shade”)… — Morris, page 145.


Jabal (“wanderer”) invented the tent, thus enabling him to carry his home with him and develop a nomadic life style. he also developed formal systems for domesticating and commercially producing other animals besides Abel’s sheep. The term “cattle” here includes camels and asses (Exodus 9:3) as well as kine, goats, and perhaps others.

Jubal (“sound”) … was an inventive genius, originating both stringed and wind musical instruments.

Their half-brother Tubal-cain was evidently the inventor of metallurgy, both in bronze and iron. — Morris, page 146.


[Lamech’s] character is revealed by this preserved fragment of a song [vs. 23-24] he had composed (the first recorded poem in history) and sung to his two wives Adah and Zillah, boasting of his prowess in combat and his determination to visit mortal retribution on anyone presuming to oppose him.

In punishing his ancestor Cain, God had nevertheless issued warning against killing Cain, stating that sevenfold punishment would overtake anyone doing so. But now Lamech says in effect: “Well, if God promises a sevenfold vengeance on anyone killing Cain, I myself guarantee a seventy-sevenfold retribution on anyone who even hurts me!” — Morris, page 148.

I have attempted to avoid the lectures on this passage that most commentators include. Their take is that Cain’s entire family was evil for attempting to make life easier for themselves by developing animal husbandry, music, and metal working. Instead, they should have been focusing on God. As I read these accounts, I was struck by their legalism. Until Lamech, the Bible doesn’t actually say that any of these people were wrong. They may have been—they were certainly sinners—but pointing out that fact doesn’t seem to be the purpose of this passage. Wechsler had a distinctly different view of Cain (see the previous study), and he continues it here.

The farsighted aspect of God’s gracious purpose for Cain is borne out in these verses (hence the reason for their inclusion in Scripture) by the reference to his marrying and begetting a flourishing line of descendants. There is absolutely no indication in Scripture that this line of descendants is to be viewed negatively, being somehow more depraved than the rest of humanity—indeed, it is from the line of Seth, not Cain, that the Canaanites, the biblical epitome of depravity, are descended. Quite to the contrary regarding the line of Cain: not only does this flourishing line of descendants bear out God’s general blessing of 1:28a, but it is Cain’s descendants specifically (in vs. 20-22) who develop and establish the fundamental elements of human culture as grounded in God’s continued (and uniquely anthropocentric) imperatives of 1:28b—to wit, “ruling” over the animals, which is established by Jabal, “the father of those who dwell in tents and keep livestock” (farming in its broadest sense), and “subduing” the land (i.e., creatively using the land’s resources for human social benefit), which is established by Jubal, “the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe” (the fine arts), and Tubal-cain, “the forger of all the implements of bronze and iron (technology). Notably, these same three elements of human culture established by Cain’s descendants (farming, fine arts, and technology) are likewise present in later prophetic descriptions of redeemed humanity in the messianic kingdom (cf. Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 2:4; Jeremiah 31:4; 33:12-13; Obadiah 14; etc.). — Wechsler, pages 122-123.


There can be no question but that the two specific episodes of “crime and punishment” in this chapter are meant to be juxtaposed and compared by the reader, and that in do doing we are meant to deduce for ourselves the reason why God does not impose the penalty of “life for life” that He Himself later sets forth in the Law of Moses. In this second episode the crime consists of a young man’s causing an unspecified physical injury, described by Lamech in his poetic declaration. … Lamech responds with his own act of judgment by killing the offender—a penalty which, by the basic rule of “life for life,” is far more excessive than the crime deserves. By comparison with the previous episode involving Cain, the contrast that emerges and the conclusion that we are meant to draw is clear: God’s response to sin, consistent with His nature, is characterized by the fullest possible expression of mercy—which by definition is less than the sin deserves (the just penalty for Cain’s sin being “life for life”)—whereas man’s response to sin, consistent with his nature, is characterized by severe injustice—which by definition is more than the sin deserves (the just penalty for the young man’s sin being “bruise for bruise”; cf. Exodus 21:25). From this, therefore, we must further conclude that the … equal measure principle of “life for life,” etc. is not God’s ideal (i.e., what He Himself would do), but rather a compromise that God graciously legislated to ensure that depraved man does not exceed the bare standard of what justice alone requires. … For mercy to truly be mercy it must be a willing decision by the victim or judge to impose upon the offender less than the legal standard requires. … The real challenge … is to take up this profound example of the … obligation to imitate God (cf. Leviticus 19:2; Ephesians 5:1) and, in reacting to those who have offended us, to “be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). — Wechsler, pages 124-125.

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