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Random Bible character, version I: Lamech

Today’s passages:  Genesis 3 and 4, Matthew 2:13 – 3:6, Psalms 2, Proverbs 1:7-9

Those of you who are expecting to have children in the next two-three years, I present you a name to cross off the potential “baby boy” list:  Lamech.

Genesis 4:19-23:  “Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.  Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.  His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute.  Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.  Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.  Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words.  I have killed a man for wounding me.  If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.

Two modern-day observations here:

  1. Lamech is the absolute worst pillow-talker of all time, yet he managed to bed two women.  Well-played, Lamech…
  2. Jubal and Jabal may have been similarly-named brothers, but they would’ve made for an interesting reality show in the 21st century.  “This is the story of two brothers. One is an outdoorsy type who likes cows and camping.  The other is an adept flutist and harpist.  Their great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather is the most famous murderer in the history of humanity.  Stay tuned for the season premiere of “Jabal and Jubal!'”   (Don’t tell me VH1 wouldn’t air “Jabal and Jubal” after Celebrity Rehab.)

On a serious note, I’ve done some basic research on Lamech tonight and his bolded/italicized conversation with Adah and Zillah above is apparently referred to as “The Song of the Sword,” for obvious reasons.  I’ve read the first few chapters of Genesis a hundred times in my lifetime, and I’m sure my eyes have passed over the brief story of Lamech on numerous occasions in the past, but the one thing I’ve always appreciated in my readings of the Bible are the little stories that come about once you really get into the word.  My unanswered question concerning Lamech:  Who did he kill? (In doing some background study on Lamech, I went to the all-knowing Wikipedia – I know, I know – and read an interesting ancient legend that he killed his son, Tubal-Cain.  But Anthony’s Nelson Study Bible says the following:

These verses express the culmination of centuries of ungodly living among the descendants of Cain.  Cain had desired to establish a name for himself (cf. 6:4; 10:9; 11:4); he built a city and named it after his son.  His descendants were involved in polygamy, as well as purely humanitarian pursuits.  Now Lamech had taken the law into his own hands and had killed someone in revenge.  The judicial office had degenerated into a vengeful tyranny in this heir of the dynasty’s murderous founder.  The song expresses Lamech’s overweening pride and his refusal to suffer any hurt without wreaking severalfold, dire revenge.  This expression of arrogance, conceit and disdain for customary retribution is skillfully reinforced by the poet through a clever manipulation of poetic convention by which a smaller is placed before a larger one in parallel structure for distinct emphasis.  This sets the background for why God sends the Flood in chapters 6-9, where He says “violence” fills the earth (6:13). (Thank you, Anthony.)

Makes enough sense, I suppose. I’m fascinated by the fact that I’ve probably passed over Lamech 100 times and never once even noticed his name.  (His “song” was what caught my attention today.)  One thing I’ll say about this book:  it’s amazing how we can read the same passages at different points in our life and just get taken in by stories of rather bit players on random occasions.  That’s all, really; it is a simple blog for a simple read this evening.

TOMORROW:  In playing by the rules, I haven’t read the passages yet, but I know what I’m writing on.   It is the blog I mentioned yesterday as upcoming today, and one with a little more depth than what I’ve brought so far.  Spoiler alert: It involves Noah AND Adam/Eve (…and Jonah,  etc., etc., etc..)

Tomorrow’s readings:  Genesis 5:1-7:24, Matthew 3:7-4:11, Psalms 3:1-8, and Proverbs 1:10-19


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