"Cain's Later Home" Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
Lamech was the first bigamist—we have the beginning of polygamy; having more than one wife. Lamech is doing something which is contrary to what God intends, contrary to what God has for man. You will never find anywhere in the Scriptures where God approves of polygamy. If you read the accounts accurately, you will find that God condemns it. He gives the record of it because He is giving a historical record, and that is the basis on which it is given to us here.
He was also a boastful man and a killer. Why or how the young man wounded him, we don’t know; but why should a young man be killed because he caused a wound? Lamech’s mentioning of Cain’s protection (v. 24) indicates that Cain’s story was passed from generation to generation. It also suggests that Lamech thought that God’s protection extended to him as well. If God would avenge a murderer like Cain, then surely He would avenge Lamech for “protecting himself.” Note that Lamech wants God’s protection, but he doesn’t mention God’s name.
The people in the city of Enoch had various occupations. Some followed Jabal and took care of livestock (v. 20). Others learned from Jabal’s brother Jubal and devoted themselves to making and playing musical instruments (v. 21). The followers of Tubal-Cain were metal workers (v. 22), which suggests the manufacture of farm implements, building tools, and personal weapons. Cain lived in a society that was rich in culture as well as industry and food production. In the city of Enoch they had everything except God.
When you put Cain’s family tree next to that of Seth (chapter 5), you can’t help but notice the similarity in names. You have Enoch and Enosh (v. 6) and Enoch (v. 18). Mehujael and Mahalael (v.12), Methushael and Methushelah (v. 21), and Lamech and Lamech (v. 25). Cain’s Lamech has three sons (Jabel, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain), and Noah has three sons (Ham, Shem, and Japeth).
What does the similarity of names mean? Perhaps it is God’s way of telling us that the godless line of Cain (which is still with us) does its best to imitate the godly line of Seth. After all, Satan is the counterfeiter. He can imitate the names of the true believers. But he can’t produce the believers. There is an Enoch in both in both genealogies, but Cain’s Enoch did not walk with God and one day disappear and go to heaven (v. 24). “What’s in a name?” Nothing, if you don’t know and belong to God.
But the tragedy is that these two lines—the ungodly line of Cain, and the godly line of Seth—came together and merged (6.1-2). The wall of separation came down, and this eventually created the wicked society whose sins brought on the judgment of the Flood. Lamech’s brand of violence spread (vv. 5, 11-12), and by the time of the Flood, only eight people believed God’s warning and acted upon it by faith. The rest were destroyed.
Worldly things are the only things that carnal, wicked people set their hearts upon, and are so ingenious and industrious as they go about obtaining them. That is how it was with this impious race of cursed Cain. Here was a father of shepherds, and a father of musicians, but not a father of the faithful. Here is one who teaches the craft of metal-working, but there are none to teach the good knowledge of the Lord: here are plans and policies to make men rich, and mighty, and happy; but nothing concerning God—respecting and serving Him. Present things fill the heads of most of them. So here is a picture of an affluent society defying God and His Laws, seeking pleasure and self-indulgence. Into this world Israel (and later the church) will come as a kingdom of priests to proclaim God’s righteousness.
Cain’s family tree ends with the family of Lamech (4.19-24), an arrogant murderer whose sons manufactured things for this world. Seth’s line ends with Noah (“rest”) whose three sons gave the world a new beginning after the Flood. The world of that day probably admired Cain’s achievements. God wiped them off the face of the earth. “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2.17).
Lamech took unto him two wives…Adah…Zillah
“Adah” means pleasure or adornment. She was the first one to make it to the beauty parlor, I guess. “Zillah” means to hide; I suppose that means she was a vamp or a tease. My, what two girls he had for wives! No wonder he had problems. Later on we will see what happened. Here is the beginning of civilization, the Cainitic civilization.
“Adah” had a son, and they named him “Jabal.” “He was the father of such as dwell in tents.” The apostle Paul was a tentmaker later on, but here is the first housing contractor. “And of such as have cattle”—here was the first rancher. He had a brother whose name was “Jubal.” “He was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” Here is the beginning of musicians. Today, when we hear some of the modern music, such as rap and heavy metal, I am sure there are many who would agree that it must have begun with Cain’s civilization!
“Zillah” had a son whose name was “Tubal-Cain.” He was an “instructor” in the craft of metal-working.”
“And Lamech said unto his wives…”
He boasted to his wives, “I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.” Lamech was the seventh from Adam through Seth, so he was probably a contemporary of the righteous Enoch, also the seventh from Adam (Gen. 5.3-21). Lamech says, “If Cain got by with it, I can get by with it. After all Cain did not slay in self-defense, but I have.” I do not know whether he did or not, but he says that he slew in self-defense. And I do not know whether his two wives entered into this, or whether or not he was defending one of them. We are not told how it happened. Lamech feels that he will be avenged “seventy and sevenfold,” but our Lord told Simon Peter that he ought to forgive his enemies that many times.
Lamech appears to be suspicious of his two wives, or perhaps he wanted to remove their apprehensions for his safety. He was conscience of having enemies, whose resentment he must have provoked by inflicting them with injuries. He draws a comparison between himself and his ancestor Cain; and he flatters himself by thinking he was much less criminal. He seems to abuse the patience of God in sparing Cain, by believing he can expect impunity from sin; and to dare and defy those who hated him and wanted vengeance.
The question is often asked, “Why do the wicked prosper?” It looks like Cain and his relations prospered. But the righteous should never envy the wicked nor follow their way of life (Ps. 49, 73). God allows them to prosper in their earth-bound way. They produce music, wealth, and weapons, agricultural devices, and cities—culture. It is their only recourse in a bitter, cursed world.
It is not that way with the righteous. Some who traced their lineage to Seth, the replacement of Abel, began to make proclamations in the name of the Lord. These—and Noah, and Abraham, among others—declared the truth to their generations. Some people—though only a remnant—do not go overboard in living an extravagant “good life” but are concerned with spiritual things. Israel should trace her ancestry to Enosh—“And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4.26), in spirit and in fact.