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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Genesis the Book of Beginnings Part 21 - Cain's Family Tree (4:17-26)

When we concluded the last study, Cain had been sent into exile by God Himself as a penance for the murder of his brother Abel, and part of that judgment was that at least for a time Cain was to wander the earth in a nomadic existence (possibly in the area that comprises the Central Asian steppelands today).  However, in due time Cain did have a family and the indication is that he was allowed to eventually settle, which he did.  As Genesis 4 concludes, it does so with the genealogy of Cain up until the time of the Flood of Noah several generations later.  Unlike the previous studies, in this one we will be relying upon some ancient extrabiblical accounts that come from Jubilees and Jasher, and the book I will be referencing most is a very good volume by a Protestant Evangelical author by the name of Rob Skiba entitled Genesis and the Synchronized, Biblically-Endorsed, Extrabiblical Texts (The Colony, TX:  King's Gate Media, 2013).  Skiba, who is also a filmmaker as well as a writer, has compiled the texts of I Enoch, Jubilees, and Jasher together into one volume along with the text of Genesis, and it is a good resource to have because it is a decent translation of those texts.  I have watched some of Skiba's material on DVD as well, and although a few things I don't agree with him on, he nonetheless has addressed some important issues in his material.  One thing he notes when doing this particular book I will be referencing in this study is that just because something is not in the Bible doesn't make it necessarily unreliable, and these books are accurate historically but in my estimation were not considered for the Canon of Sacred Scripture simply because much of what they record doesn't focus on salvation history, which is really the whole objective of Sacred Scripture.  However, these other texts do help us to make more sense out of some things we see in Scripture, and thus their value - even Scripture references them from time to time as well, in particular the Epistle of Jude, which quotes large segments of I Enoch in its brief content.  This, along with the Fidei Depositum we have in the writings of the Church Fathers, aid in a more systematic and sensible study of Genesis, in particular areas where our rational thinking doesn't quite grasp what is being said at times.

To begin the study now, we pick up in verse 17, where it notes that Cain does three things after some time passes.  First, he marries and "knew" his wife (meaning he consummated the marriage).  Scripture doesn't really tell us much about who Cain's wife was, but in order to have the children that the rest of this chapter documents, he obviously had to have one!  So, we turn to our first reference outside Scripture, and in Jubilees 4:9 it records that Cain marries his sister, whose name is Awan (Skiba, p. 449).  I want to say a word about certain things that God allowed in the beginning for practical reasons, and one was marriage between brothers and sisters.   At this point in time, the population is still rather sparse, as we are still in the earliest days of human existence on the earth, and procreation was necessary to multiply the species.  With Adam and Eve, this was no problem as God made Eve for Adam.  But, the next generation had a little more challenge, as all they really had was their siblings.  So, for a very brief period of time, God allowed some intermarriage to increase the population of the species, and many of the risk factors associated with incestuous unions today were exempt from the earliest generations of man.  So, for the sake of procreation, it was at this point not taboo to marry one's brother or sister - that would change later.  The second thing Cain accomplishes is that he and his wife conceive, and she bears him his first son, Enoch.  This is one of several people we see in Scripture bearing that name, but this Enoch is not the same one that the Book of Enoch is credited to - that Enoch was a descendant of Seth, and a great-grandfather to Noah, and would be several generations away yet.  The name Enoch of course means "dedicated" or "initiated," and the reason he is named this by Cain is because Cain does the third task, which is building a city and naming it after Enoch. As to where this city was, or if any ruins of it even exist, Scripture and the extra-biblical sources are silent.  In time, the Flood would wipe out the traces of any antediluvian settlements, and therefore it is not even possible to archaelogically excavate it at this point.  Any rate, it is obvious that Cain more than likely had other children too, but Enoch's line is important to this chapter and is the one that is traced for some specific reason.

In verses 18-23, we begin to have the generations of the family tree chronicled, and the first was Enoch's son Irad ("wild ass").  Irad then had a son named Mehujael ("struck by God") and in turn Mehujael's wife gives birth to his son Methushael ("death by inquiry").   Methushael then has a son named Lamech ("one who overthrows") and a lot of time is spend on Lamech's story for what I believe to be a specific reason we will explore shortly.   Another practice God tolerated throughout the Old Testament is something we see a first record of here, and that is polygamist marriages.   Today, especially in the western United States, there are groups of breakaway Mormons called Mormon Fundamentalists who are noted for practicing polygamy, and in recent years these groups have been getting more attention.   One of their leaders, Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed "prophet" of a group called the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) was recently imprisoned for a number of charges, including the statutory rape of underaged girls as young as 12 that he took to be his "celestial wives."  Another example of how this stuff has been garnering publicity is the case of Kody Brown who, with his polygamous marriages to four women, belongs to a similar group called the Apostolic United Brethren and they have made a name for themselves in the high-rated reality series Sister Wives.  These Mormon Fundamentalists, who are unfortunately an extreme variation of the Protestant Sola Scriptura hermeneutic, have reasoned among themselves that God somehow "sanctified" polygamous marriages by allowing them in the Bible, and that monogamy is somehow not ideal.  In fact though, these groups have made a grave error, for it is the reverse that is true - God's original ideal for man was for the marital union to be sacramental, and only between one man and one woman.  However, in the earliest days of man's history,  God allowed polygamy temporarily for the same reason he allowed sibling marriages - it was a necessary way to populate the earth.  Later, in the period of the Exodus, God tolerated polygamy as part of the Deuteronomic Code in order to prevent greater evils, but He never has sanctioned it as "holy."   Therefore, as we read through these areas of Scripture, we need to understand the context of the situation and also discern what the true will of God for our benefit is. That being said, Lamech was one of the first polygamous examples we see in Scripture, as he took two wives for himself.  The first was named Adah ("beauty") and she bore Lamech twin sons Jabal ("flowing river") and Jubal ("joyful sound").  His second wife's name was Zillah ("shadow of darkness" - that name should have really enhanced the courtship process, right?) and she bore Lamech a son and a daughter - the son's name was Tubal-Cain ("increase of Cain's race") and the daughter was Naamah ("sweetness").  You will note here as well that I am including the translation of the names, as at times those translations bear light on what is going on in the narrative too.  When Moses received this Revelation from God we now know as the Torah, it was obviously in the tongue Moses and his people knew, Hebrew.   Therefore, some of the names we see here are more than likely Hebrew translations of the original names, but this doesn't affect the meanings.  At any rate, the focus briefly comes back to Lamech's sons. In verse 20, we note that Jabal became the father of a tribe of nomads (called "dwellers in tents" here) and they made their living by herding cattle over long distances essentially.  His twin Jubal  invented the harp (verse 21) and had some musical ability.  As for their half-brother Tubal-Cain, he is listed in the account as being a smith who manufactured bronze and iron.  The story later picks up with a specific incident regarding Lamech their father, but a couple of unrelated narratives are inserted here that lead up to that.

First, in verses 23-24, Lamech confesses to his wives that he killed someone who wounded him, and as can be indicated, he felt bad about doing this and wanted to have a seven-fold punishment given him.  Lamech responded to his transgression in a way that neither Cain or Adam initially did - he was grieved and bothered by his transgression and wanted to do the proper restitution for it.  As we see momentarily, the extra-biblical sources shed some light as to what this was about, and it is quite revealing.

Secondly, in verse 25 all of a sudden, we have an account of Adam and Eve giving birth to another son named Seth ("appointed to replace").  Seth had a son later then named Enosh ("mortal") who was apparently a devout and godly man who prayed and communed with God frequently.  Why this particular passage is in the middle of a story about Cain's descendants is baffling, but perhaps it tells us something later on about how God will reveal His plan through Seth's descendants, as He indeed does.

Now, getting back to Cain's story, this passage reiterates that Cain left because of his crime of murdering his brother, and he is also separated from his kin according to Saints Augustine and Ephrem.  He did this for the purpose of preventing intermarriage with Seth's line or any of his other siblings.  This sort of blows away a theory many Bible scholars and theologians have subscribed to for decades in relation to Genesis 6, in that many espouse what is called the "Sethite view" of the text - Seth's line are the righteous "sons of God" who take wives for themselves of Cain's "daughters of men."  In lieu of this passage though, the Sethite theory is not possible, as Cain's family would have been too far removed from Seth's and little (if any!) interaction would have taken place between the two branches of the family tree.  Therefore, Genesis 6 must be seen in another light we will discuss in upcoming lessons.  That all being said, what is weird about this passage also is that Enoch may not have been Cain's firstborn, so why is his line significant?  Given Enoch's name means "dedicated" or "initiated," it is possible that Cain himself may have chosen Enoch to be his heir.  Also, in noting the generations of Cain, it is also significant that Cain actually lives into the seventh generation of his descendants, and the seventh generation was Lamech's sons.  So, now the question is this - how did Cain die?  Again, Scripture is generally silent about much of the details of Cain's story, as Cain's lineage is not the focus of salvation history.  But, in taking Genesis 4:23-24 and comparing it with the Book of Jubilees, the idea is that possibly the murder Lamech was referring to was of his forebear Cain.  Among the Church Fathers, St. Ephrem also subscribes to this view, but St. Basil debates it, proposing instead that Lamech's victim is not the focus of the discussion, but rather the severity of the punishment Lamech pronounces on himself.  Chrysostom has yet another view of this in that he puts forth the idea that Lamech did murder someone, but didn't want to suffer the same fate Cain did, so he confessed and humbled himself.  In my estimation, all three of these views have validity and can all be correct at once.  St. Basil though differs with St. Ephrem's position in that he proposes that Lamech committed two murders rather than one.  And, according to Chrysostom, Lamech did a good thing by confessing what he had done, as self-imposed pronouncement averts divine judgment.

Yet another idea is proposed by Jasher.  In Jasher 2:27-32, the murder of Cain is seen as purely accidental on the part of Lamech.  In the story, Tubal-Cain is out hunting with Lamech, and they mistook Cain for an animal and shot him.  In verse 31, when Lamech realizes what happened, he is grieved and in anger kills Tubal-Cain, hence the two murders that St. Basil would have affirmed.  When Lamech's wives learn of this, they want to avenge the death of Tubal-Cain by plotting to off Lamech, and at this point we have Lamech's confession in Genesis 4:23-24 (Skiba, p. 227).  Jasher also elaborates for the reasoning behind the shooting of Cain by noting that Lamech was of advanced age obviously, and therefore his eyesight was affected, thus leading to the accident.   But, then we have Jubilees, which in 4:31 gives a different account of Cain's demise - in that account, Cain is building a house and it collapses on him and kills him.   Any way you look at this, Cain's death seems to have been accidental, which means God kept His promise to protect Cain from intentional murder.
Another insert here from Jubilees 4:11 is the name of Seth's wife, who was also his sister - this passages records her name as Azura.

Also, while in Jubilees, it is recorded there in 4:10 that Adam had 9 other sons, although more than likely he had a lot more children, as God did tell him and Eve in Genesis 2 to be "fruitful and multiply."  Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 2, records even more than Jubilees does when he notes that Adam had 33 sons and 21 daughters (Paul L. Maier, trans. and ed. Josephus, the Essential Writings.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1988. p. 21).   Finally, in Genesis 5:4, it is recorded that Adam lives some 800 years after Seth, and he has sons and daughters although the Genesis account doesn't specify numbers as it focuses on the legacy of salvation through Seth's lineage, which is where Genesis 5 will pick up in the next study with an extensive genealogy to Noah, thus bridging the earliest days of humanity with the Flood and afterward.

References to the Church Fathers in this lesson are taken from Andrew Louth and Thomas Oden, ed. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture - Old Testament Vol. 1 - Genesis 1-11.  (Downer's Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 2001.  pp. 109-114).   The translations of the various names are taken from Judson Cornwall and Stelman Smith, The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. (North Brunswick, NJ:  Bridge-Logos, 1998).