This week is a renewed look at a study I undertook four years ago on the early Patriarchs from the book of Genesis, following on from Adam and Eve taking into account the second half Genesis chapter 4 verses 16-24, through to Chapter 5.
This is not a well known part of the early history of man kind after the creation of man and man's fall (sin), but it does reveal a great deal about the development of human kind in this early period.
Yesterday I gave the illustration of the famous swimmer Dawn Fraser who won Olympic Gold in the same 100 metre event at three successive Olympics, yet her life was much more than that one aspect of her life. So too in these Genesis accounts, we're only given a single aspect is highlighted.
The first Lamech
We come to Lamech today. There is a second Lamech who was the father of Noah from the line of Seth line and we'll come to him in Friday's article. But in Genesis chapter 4 verse 19 we read that this first Lamech took two wives, one's name was Adah and the other Zillah. This was the first instance of polygamy in the Bible (taking more than one wife). The inferences is that this wickedness led to more wickedness which the Flood was brought to destroy everyone except Noah and his immediate family.
Reading the theologians, there seems to be an indication there was disputation between the two wives, with Zillah the favoured party. The short poem in verse 24 known as 'The Song of the Sword' is believed to have represented this disputation. Regardless, Lamech made a confession to both women.
This was not a confession of adultery to them both, it was not a confession that he'd somehow gone behind their backs and married a third wife, nor was it a confession that he had stolen property and that they would soon be penniless and out of home.
What we see in Lamech's confession is an acknowledgement of the sacredness of life. God gives life, it is God who takes life away. Only God had the authority to both give and take away any human life made in the image of God. Verse 23 – "I've slain a man to my wounding, a young man to my hurt".
Lamech is himself vexed by his own actions. He is cut to the quick that he has taken a life, and moreover a young life. He has to confess it to someone, the burden of guilt is just too much to bear. But there is more, as in the following verse Lamech recognises the punishment is not only a physical one, but a mental one, a spiritual one, in that his pain for this act of murder is seventy times seven fold of Cain's punishment when he slew Abel. Lamech obviously knew of the drama of Abel's murder within their family history.
The message is clear, that the taking of someone's life brings an horrific inner pain that cannot be removed and moreover, it is a pain that comes from within the spirit of man, as man is made in the image of God, his creator. Lamech bought to mankind the sin of multiple marriages as it was clear that God made Adam and Eve and acknowledged that partnership (Genesis chapter 1 verse 28) and then again Chapter 2 verse 24 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh".
Jabal's father was Lamech, the sixth generation from Cain. In other words from Cain we read that he had a son named Enoch. Enoch's son was named Irad. Irad's son was named Mehujael and his son was Methusadel who was Lamech's father and then came Jabal.
What is said about Jabal? "He was the father of all such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle." Genesis chapter 4 verse 20. There are a whole range of suggestions as to the implications of this text.
I rather like the idea put forward by numerous writers that Jabal was
a) the father of the cattle industry
b) the father of all tent-dwellers – (today stockmen)
c) agricultural activity (today technology)
d) pioneer of design (today architecture)
e) pioneer of the clothing industry – leather wear
What it certainly implies is that this was an historical figure who was wonderfully blessed with creative gifts and talents in which he used wisely and to full advantage, for himself, his immediate community and the wider society.
It also illustrates that God takes each person according to their own integrity regardless of the sins of their parents, (in this instance Lamech taking more than one wife, Genesis chapter 2 verse 24).
This is a remarkable truth that those born into situations for which they had no say. It brings great comfort to many.
I cannot tell you the number of times that the story of Jabal has bought comfort to those who have been raised in unfortunate circumstances and yet have put that to one side and recognised that the Lord sees them as a precious sacred stone of it's own intrinsic value.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html