Monday, October 18, 2010

Lamech's Song - Genesis 4:23-24

After a few verses describing the accomplishments of Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-cain, the subject refocuses on Lamech. Immediately, the reader should be reminded of Lamech's sinful polygamous relationship (for a more thorough discussion of polygamy click here):
Lamech said to his wives,
"Adah and Zillah,
Listen to my voice,
You wives of Lamech,
Give heed to my speech, (Genesis 4:23)
Lamech begins by firmly instructing his wives to give heed to his speech. He has recently done something which his wives must know about:
For I have killed a man for wounding me;
And a boy for striking me; (Genesis 4:23)
This is the second recorded death in all of human history. And similar to the first death, this death was the result of another man's violent actions. However, Lamech appears to have killed for better reasons than Cain— for Cain killed his brother in anger, but Lamech killed because his victim struck him and wounded him. Lamech seems to have killed in self-defense (although there is a possibility that Lamech killed out of revenge). Lamech continues his song:
If Cain is avenged sevenfold,
Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold." (Genesis 4:24)
This demonstrates that God had fulfilled his promise to Cain. The mark which God had put on Cain was visible to men— whoever killed Cain, vengeance would be taken upon the killer seven-fold (Genesis 4:15). Knowing this, Lamech concluded that if anyone killed him, vengeance would be taken upon that person seventy-sevenfold. Lamech saw himself as more valuable than Cain (for Lamech reasoned that if he was killed by another, his killer should suffer more).

Some commentators suggest that the man Lamech killed was Cain. However, there is no direct Scriptural evidence in support of this. All that can be definitely known is that Lamech killed a man. And as was stated previously concerning the issue of polygamy, simply because Scripture does not directly condemn Lamech's actions, this does necessarily mean his actions were morally acceptable (see A Characteristic of Narratives - Hermeneutics).

Related Posts:
When Was Seth Born? - Genesis 4:25
The Forger of All Implements of Bronze and Iron - Tubal-cain - Genesis 4:22
The City of Enoch - Genesis 4:17-19
What Does the Bible Say About Polygamy? (Part 1)
State of the World (3130 BC): Noah's Father (Lamech) Is Born - Genesis 5:25

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