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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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LAMECH . The name apparently of two people in the antediluvian period, the one belonging to the Cainite and the other to the Sethite genealogy. 1. The fifth descendant from Cain ( Genesis 4:18-24 ). He seems to have been a man of importance in the early legend, as the names of his two wives (Adah and Zillah), his three sons (Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-cain), and his daughter (Naamah) are all mentioned. Special interest is attached to him on account of his song

‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;

Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech:

For I have slain a man for wounding me,

And a young man for bruising me:

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,

Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.’

The meaning of this song has been the subject of much conjecture. The song is clearly one of exultation, and it has not unnaturally been associated with the fact that Tubal-cain his son is specially mentioned as the ‘forger of every cutting instrument.’ Jerome relates the Jewish legend that Lamech accidentally slew Cain, but for this, of course, there is no foundation. It has been suggested (Lightfoot, Decas Chorogr. Marc, praem . § iv.) that the reference is to the fact that Lamech, as the first polygamist, introduced greater destruction into the world than Cain. R. H. Kennett sees in the song a deprecation of blood-guiltiness Incurred by the fact that Lamech, as a tribal chieftain, has avenged an insult of a boy by slaying him.

A possible variant rendering might be mentioned: ‘I would have slain (or ‘I will slay’) any man who wounds me.’ if this is accepted, it materially alters the sense.

2 . The father of Noah ( Genesis 5:29 ). It is now commonly believed, owing to the identity of some names and the similarity of others in the two genealogies, that they are merely different versions of one original list.

T. A. Moxon.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Lamech'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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