The story of Kayin and Hevel 5 – The lineage of Kayin

In the 2nd part of chapter 4 we are given some names of the offspring of Kayin up to the 7th generation descended from Adham.

The tiller of the soil, after murdering his twin-brother Hevel, could now find that the ground would no longer yield to him its wealth (Ber. 4:15), and could feel the burden that he was condemned to be a fugitive and vagabond on the earth for the rest of his life (Ber. 4:12) The mark which God put on him (Ber. 4:15) should not be understood as a punishment, but rather as a sign of protection.

“YHWH said to him: No, therefore, whoever kills Kayin, sevenfold will it be avenged! So YHWH set a sign for Kayin, so that whoever came upon him would not strike him down.”
(Genesis 4:15 SB)

Kayin his parents were already sent Eastwards from the Gan Eden, and now Kayin went further eastwards to find himself a wife.

Gen. 4:17    Kayin knew his wife;
she became pregnant and bore Hanokh.
Now he became the builder of a city
and called the city’s name according to his son’s name, Hanokh.

Kimhi writes

Even once he was based here he would still wander around from time to time, for his punishment was meant to last his life long. But he kept returning here, for his wife and children were settled here permanently. But he called it “the land of Nod” (“wandering”) because that is what it was from his perspective.

As a wanderer, Kayin could have no permanent location, but his wife and children could. Kayin, begot children and grandchildren, but also to them Jehovah visited the guilt of the parents upon them.

“I, YHWH your God, am a zealous God, calling-to-account the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, to the third and the fourth [generation] of those hating me,”
(Exodus 20:4 SB)

Tradition says Kayin did not die peacefully, but in the Flood, watching all his descendants die with him. He had most likely produced only six generations up to the time of the Flood, when Seth had already produced two more. {KK}  Lámek being the sixth generation from Kayin and the seventh from Adham.

(Or perhaps Cain did have as many generations as Seth but the text did not bother to count them.) Even the ones who are listed are just those who built cities or originated various professions. Note that the point of v. 23 is that Lamech’s sons were killed off before they themselves produced children. {Nahmanides,}

All the names of the children were meant to commemorate some particular incident or other. That was the custom in the early generations. Sometimes the reason for the name is given, other times not. But the midrash explains these particular names. Though the only way to know why someone was given a name is when the Torah itself tells us, as it does for (e.g.) Moshe and Issachar.

“To Hanokh was born Irad; Irad begot Mehuyael, Mehuyael begot Metushael, Metushael begot Lemekh.
Lemekh took himself two wives: the name of the [first] one was Ada, the name of the second was Tzilla.”
(Genesis 4:18–19 SB)

Adah was the wife used by Làmek for procreation; the name implies that he found her disgusting and put her aside (in Aramaic this root is used to translate the Hebrew verb “to turn aside”). Màmek’s second wife was for sex and would be given an infertility drug. They would ornament her like a bride and feed her delicacies. Tsillah, was the wife Làmek used for sex; she was always in “his shadow” (All this is midrash from Genesis Rabbah.)
Apparently taking two wives was not the custom originally. Làmek was the first to do so. This is why they were quarreling, and this is why he had to threaten them (in v. 23).

Adah gave birth to Javal who was the pioneer of tent dwellers with livestock, taking herds out into the wilderness for pasture. Those before him who raised animals kept them near their city.

“Ada bore Yaval— he was the father of those who sit amid tent and herd.”
(Genesis 4:20 SB)

Tent dwellers of this kind spend a month here and a month there, all for the sake of pasturing their animals. When the pasturage is used up in one location, they go and pitch their tents in another one.

Rashi writes

But the midrash interprets this verse to mean that he built temples for idolatry. This is based on the wording of “the infuriating image that provokes fury” (Ezek. 8:3), where “provokes” is spelled exactly like “herds” of our verse. His brother Jubal is similarly understood to be playing “the lyre and the pipe” (v. 21) as part of idolatrous worship.

This idea could well be the reason why from the slanderer and murderer came forth a generation of more slanderers, not respecting the Bo’re, and bringing more idolatrous acts in this world. In the end the world became so bad that the Elohim wanted to bring an enormous flood over the earth.
The b-l element in the names of all three also alludes to the word for “waste,” since they would all be wasted in the mabul, the Flood (Abarbanel).

“His brother’s name was Yuval— he was the father of all those who play the lyre and the pipe.
And Tzilla bore as well—Tuval-Kayin, burnisher of every blade of bronze and iron. Tuval-Kayin’s sister was Naama.”
(Genesis 4:21–22 SB)

With the genealogy of Làmek and the generations from Adham we also get the history of the beginning of several professions, like herdsmen, musicians and weapon makers.

Tubal-cain. Literally, “Cain-spicer.” He “spiced up” and greatly developed Cain’s own profession — fashioning weapons for murderers. Tubal-cain perfected the technique of forging or sharpening all implements of copper and iron. The verb is not past tense (according to the vowel points), but a participle, indicating his profession: he was a “sharpener,” one who sharpened and polished copper and iron tools of all kinds.

Tubal-Cain:, Father of Blacksmiths, in the Old Testament, the first forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron - Jan Sadeler I | FAMSF Search the Collections

Kimhi writes:

This entire passage tells us that the various crafts were not part of the original nature of humanity; each individual has a particular kind of intelligence and skill that interests him as he matures. He can learn this trade more quickly than any other—each according to his nature and to how he applies himself.

Naamah is here perhaps mentioned because she married Noah or married one of Noah’s sons and survived the flood. She was called “Naamah” because everything she did was sweet and pleasant (naʾim). The point of this midrash is that she was well known in her time as a righteous woman who produced righteous children; this is probably why the text mentions her, and why she is one of the survivors of the flood.
According to Jewish traditional teaching then Kayin does have some slight remnant on earth. Certainly if she was not the woman who bore Noah’s three sons there would be no obvious reason to mention her. Another midrash says that she was the woman alluded to in 6:2 who led the “divine beings” astray (see Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer). Still others say that she became the wife of Shamdon and the mother of Ashmedai and therefore the ancestress of all the demons. Indeed, her name is found in manuals for summoning demons. The text alludes tersely to secrets of this kind.

In verses 23-24 we get a poem by Làmek which continues the dark theme of violence associated with his ancestor Kayin and attests to the increasing evil of the human race.
Làmek his wives where afraid what could happen when they would have again children of this man who had killed Kayin  and Tuval-Kain. They were aware of the number 7 and those children would be the seventh generation from Kayin, so they presumed they would be killed (or die in some way) because of the curse spoken in the precious years.

“ Lemekh said to his wives: Ada and Tzilla, hearken to my voice, wives of Lemekh, give ear to my saying: Aye—a man I kill for wounding me, a lad for [only] bruising me!
Aye—if sevenfold vengeance be for Kayin, then for Lemekh, seventy-sevenfold!”
(Genesis 4:23–24 SB)

According to Rashi

He had to call out to them because they were separated from him, having refused to sleep with him because he had killed Cain and his own son Tubal-cain. For Lamech was blind and had to be led around by Tubal-cain. Tubal-cain saw Cain, but he looked like an animal to him, so he told his father to shoot an arrow at him, and he killed him. Once Lamech realized that he had actually slain his ancestor Cain, he slapped his hands together, accidentally striking Tubal-cain between them, and killed him too. Lamech’s wives left him, so now he was trying to appease them.
“Hear my voice” means “heed me,” that is, sleep with me. I have slain a man for wounding me. Rather, “have I slain this man for my wound?” Do you think I did it deliberately, so that the wound I gave him should be called mine, attributed to me? And a lad for bruising me. Similarly, “for my bruise.” Should the bruise I gave this lad be attributed to me? I did both of these things accidentally, not deliberately. This is not “my” wound or “my” bruise. — “Wound” implies an injury caused by a sword or an arrow. But see the second paragraph of the next comment.

Nahmanides enlightens:

This episode of Lamech and his wives is not clarified in the text (and see my comment to v. 24 as well). What we can say is that they were afraid that Lamech would be killed as punishment for his ancestor’s sin. For the Holy One did not forgive Cain; He merely promised that he would not be killed. The debt would be collected from his descendants, but they did not know when. That is indeed what happened. Lamech reassured them that the Holy One would be even more merciful toward him, since he was more innocent than Cain. He would pray to God, and God would certainly heed his prayer.

What I think is that Lamech was an extremely clever and capable man who taught his three sons the three trades mentioned in vv. 20–22. But his wives were afraid he would be punished for having produced tools of “copper and iron”—that is, having brought weapons and war into the world. He, of course, was merely following his family profession, being a descendant of the first murderer, who “created the instruments of havoc” (Isa. 54:16). I have slain a man for wounding me, and a lad for bruising me. Rather, “Have I slain a man for wounding me, or a young man for bruising me, as did Cain? No! God will protect me from killing even more than He protected Cain.” Even without a sword or spear, a man can cause a wound that would be worse than anything a sword could do. Swords do not kill people. So those who make them have committed no sin.

According to Genesis Rabbah, Lamech did not kill anyone; his wives separated from him once they had fulfilled the obligation to have children.

Rashi writes:

Since the decree had been issued to destroy the descendants of Cain after seven generations, they thought: What point is there for us to “bear children for terror” (Isa. 65:23)? The Flood that is coming will wash everything away. He said to them, “Was it I who killed Abel”—who was a full-grown “man” when he was killed, though still “a lad” in age—“so that my offspring should be destroyed for that sin? Cain, who actually did kill him, had his punishment delayed for seven generations! Let them delay punishing me—who did not kill anyone—for seventy-seven.” But this is a stupid argument. If the Holy One had waited another 70 generations, He would never have collected His due, nor kept His word.

From the saying in Scriptures we learn that for generations the story about Kayin and Hevel was known and told about. Even many generations later everyone still remembered that Kayin was not to be attacked.
The violence that Kayin had wreaked against his brother eventually left him with no one to carry on his name. Làmek’s sons and all his descendants were killed in the Flood.

At the end of the chapter we learn that Adham was intimate with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Sheth (Seth). It is this Seth, when he was 105 years old, who was to become the father of Hanokh (Enosh) (Ber. 5:6 ).

The chapter ends with a very important issue, namely that at that time people began to call upon the name of the Elohim, YHWH, Jehovah the Almighty God above all other gods greater than all gods.

“Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son. She called his name: Shet/Granted-One, meaning: God has granted me another seed in place of Hevel, for Kayin killed him.
To Shet as well a son was born; he called his name: Enosh/Mortal.

At that time they first called out the name of YHWH.”
(Genesis 4:25–26 SB)

In future chapters, we shall learn the importance of that “calling upon the Name of God” and how that Name should be sanctified. People should come to know that the Elohim Hashem Jehovah wants that everybody knows and honours His Name, Which should stand above all names.
In the end, it are those tested ones, who will call upon the Elohim’s Name, to whom Jehovah God will answer and consider them as His people.

“ For then I will restore to the people pure speech, so that all of them may call upon the Name of ADONAI and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.”
(Zephaniah 3:9 TLV)

“This third I will bring through the fire. I will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My Name and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will answer, ‘ADONAI is my God.’”
(Zechariah 13:9 TLV)


  1. Preceding
  2. The story of Kayin and Hevel 1 – Intention of action and sin crouching at the doorway
  3. The story of Kayin and Hevel 2 – Jealousy and Kayin’s problem to handle
  4. The story of Kayin and Hevel 3 – The consequences of Bloodshed
  5. The story of Kayin and Hevel 4 – Man must be protected from on high


Additional reading

  1. Bereshith 4:6-16 The Punishment of Kayin
  2. Bereshith 4:6-16 The Punishment of Kayin (commentary)
  3. Bereshith 4:17-24 The offspring of Kayin
  4. Bereshith 5: Adam’s Descendants to Noah #4 From Enosh to another Enoch
  5. Bereshith 5: Adam’s Descendants to Noah #5 From Hanock or Enoch to Noah and the first recorded birth after the Flood



  1. Could Adam Create Art?
  2. OYBSP 2020 – Genesis Chapter 4 : 16 – 18
  3. Tubal-Cain meaning
  4. Royal Arch Part 2
  5. Podcast | SamSword – the Forum: The Sons of Adam: Cain’s Descendants
  6. Podcast | SamSword – the Forum: The Sons of Adam: Seth’s Descendants
  7. Consider Enoch
  8. Three Roads to the Flood (Genesis 4-6)
  9. Noah’s Genealogy
  10. Cain, Lamech, & God vs Peter & Jesus

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