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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
La´mech, son of Methusael, and father of Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-cain, and Naamah (; , etc.). He is recorded to have taken two wives, Adah and Zillah; and there appears no reason why the fact should have been mentioned, unless to point him out as the author of the evil practice of polygamy. The manner in which the sons of Lamech distinguished themselves as the inventors of useful arts, is mentioned under their several names. The most remarkable circumstance in connection with Lamech is the poetical address which he is very abruptly introduced as making to his wives. This is not only remarkable in itself, but is the first and most ancient piece of poetry in the Hebrew Scriptures; and, indeed, the only example of Antediluvian poetry extant:—
'Adah and Zillah, hear my voice!
Wives of Lamech, receive my speech!
If I slew a man to my wounding,
And a young man—to my hurt:
If Cain was avenged seven times,
Then Lamech—seventy times seven.'
This exhibits the parallelism and other characteristics of Hebrew poetry. It has all the appearance of an extract from an old poem, which we may suppose to have been handed down by tradition to the time of Moses. It is very difficult to discover to what it refers, and the best explanation can be nothing more than a conjecture. So far as we can make it out, it would seem to be, as Bishop Lowth explains, an apology for committing homicide, in his own defense, upon some man who had violently assaulted him, and, as it would seem, struck and wounded him: and he opposes a homicide of this nature to the willful and inexcusable fratricide of Cain. Under this view Lamech would appear to have intended to comfort his wives by the assurance that he was really exposed to no danger from this act, and that any attempt upon his life on the part of the friends of the deceased would not fail to bring down upon them the severest vengeance.
Lamech, son of Methuselah, and father of Noah ().
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Lamech'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/l/lamech.html.