Genesis 4:19 MEANING

Genesis 4:19
(19-22) Lamech took unto him two wives.--Whether polygamy began with Lamech is uncertain, but it is in keeping with the insolent character of the man. The names of his wives bear testimony to the existence, even at this early date, of considerable refinement; for I can scarcely believe that we need go to the Assyrian dialect for the meaning of two words for which Hebrew suffices. They are explained in Assyrian as being edhatu, "darkness," and tzillatu, "the shades of night." In Hebrew Adah means ornament, especially that which is for the decoration of the person; while Zillah means shadow, which agrees very closely with the Assyrian explanation. Both have distinguished children. Jabal, Adah's eldest son, took to a nomadic life, whence his name, which means wanderer, and was looked up to by the nomad tribes as their founder. The difference between their mode of life and that of Abel was that they perpetually changed their habitation, while he remained in the neighbourhood of Adam's dwelling. The younger, "Jubal," that is, the music-player, "was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ." Of these instruments, the kinnor, always translated "harp" in our version, was certainly a stringed instrument, a guitar or lyre. The other, in Hebrew 'ugab, is mentioned only in Job 21:12; Job 30:31; Psalm 150:4. It was a small wind instrument, a reed or pipe.

The son of Zillah attained to higher distinction. He is the first "sharpener (or hammerer) of every instrument of copper and iron." Copper is constantly found cropping up in a comparatively pure state upon the surface of the ground, and was the first metal made use of by man. It is comparatively soft, and is easily beaten to an edge; but it was long before men learned the art of mixing with it an alloy of tin, and so producing the far harder substance, bronze. The alloy to which we give the name of brass was absolutely unknown to the ancients. The discovery of iron marks a far greater advance in metallurgy, as the ore has to be smelted, and the implement produced is more precious. The Greeks in the time of Homer seem to have known it only as a rarity imported from the north; and Rawlinson (Anc. Monarchies, i. 167) mentions that in Mesopotamia, while silver was the metal current in traffic, iron was so rare as to be regarded as something very precious. The name of this hero is "Tubal-cain." In Ezekiel 27:13, Tubal brings copper to the mart of Tyre, and in Persian the word means copper. Cain is a distinct name from that of Adam's firstborn, and means, in most Semitic languages, smith; thus Tubal-cain probably signifies coppersmith.

The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.--The same as Naomi (Ruth 1:2), and meaning beauty, loveliness. As women are not mentioned in the genealogies, and as no history follows of this personage, her name must be given as an indication that a great advance had been made, not only in the arts, but also in the elegancies of life. Women could not have been mere drudges and household slaves, nor men coarse and boorish, when Naamah's beauty was so highly appreciated. The Rabbins have turned her into a demon, and given free play to their imagination in the stories they have invented concerning her.

Verse 19. - And Lamech took unto him two wives. Being the first polygamist of whom mention is made, the first by whom "the ethical aspect of marriage, as ordained by God, was turned into the lust of the eye and lust of the flesh" (Keil). Though afterwards permitted because of the hardness of men's hearts, it was not so from the beginning. This was "a new evil, without even the pretext that the first wife had no children, which held its ground until Christianity restored the original law - Matthew 19:4-6" (Inglis). The names of Lamech's wives were suggestive of sensual attractions. The name of the one Adah, the Adorned (Gesenius), and the name of the other Zillah, the shady or the tinkling (Keil), the musical player (Lange), the shadow (Wordsworth). "Did Lamech choose a wife to gratify the eye with loveliness? and was he soon sated with that which is so short-lived as beauty, and then chose another wife in addition to Adah? But a second wife is hardly a wife; she is only the shadow of a wife" (ibid.).

4:19-24 One of Cain's wicked race is the first recorded, as having broken the law of marriage. Hitherto, one man had but one wife at a time; but Lamech took two. Wordly things, are the only things that carnal, wicked people set their hearts upon, and are most clever and industrious about. So it was with this race of Cain. Here was a father of shepherds, and a father of musicians, but not a father of the faithful. Here is one to teach about brass and iron, but none to teach the good knowledge of the Lord: here are devices how to be rich, and how to be mighty, and how to be merry; but nothing of God, of his fear and service. Present things fill the heads of most. Lamech had enemies, whom he had provoked. He draws a comparison betwixt himself and his ancestor Cain; and flatters himself that he is much less criminal. He seems to abuse the patience of God in sparing Cain, into an encouragement to expect that he may sin unpunished.And Lamech took unto him two wives,.... He was the first we read of that introduced polygamy, contrary to the first institution of marriage, whereby only one man and one woman were to be joined together, and become one flesh, Genesis 2:24. This evil practice, though it began in the race of wicked Cain, was in later ages followed by some among the people of God, which was connived at because of the hardness of their hearts; otherwise it was not so from the beginning. This was the first instance of it known; Jarchi says it was the way of the generation before the flood to have one wife for procreation of children, and the other for carnal pleasure; the latter drank a cup of sterility, that she might be barren, and was adorned as a bride, and lived deliciously; and the other was used roughly, and mourned like a widow; but by this instance it does not appear, for these both bore children to Lamech.

The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah; whose daughters they were cannot be said, no doubt of the race of Cain; the name of the one signifies an "ornament", or beauty, and might seem to answer to the account Jarchi gives of the wife for pleasure, if there were any foundation for it; and the other signifies a "shadow", being continually under the shadow of her husband.

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