Tubal-cain in his forge. Tapestry in the Musée de Cluny
|Other names||Tubal-Cain, Tubalcain, Tubal (simplified name)|
|Known for||forefather of smiths|
|Title||"an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron"|
|Parent(s)||Lamech and Zillah|
In Hebrew his name is תובל קין (Tūḇal Qayin). In the King James Version this is rendered as Tubalcain. In the New International Version and the English Standard Version it is Tubal-cain. Rashi interprets the name to mean "he who spices the craft of Cain."
It is not clear why he has a double-barrelled name. Gordon Wenham suggests that the name "Cain" means "smith" (which would anticipate the remarks about his metal-working skill), or that he is called "Tubal Cain" in order to distinguish him from the other Tubal, the son of Japheth.
Genesis 4:22 says that Tubal-cain was the "forger of all instruments of bronze and iron" (ESV) or an "instructor of every artificer in brass and iron" (KJV). Although this may mean he was a metalsmith, a comparison with verses 20 and 21 suggests that he may have been the very first artificer in brass and iron. T. C. Mitchell suggests that he "discovered the possibilities of cold forging native copper and meteoric iron." Tubal-cain has even been described as the first chemist.
Others connect Tubal-cain's work to making weapons of war. Rashi notes that he "spiced and refined the Cain's craft to make weapons for murderers." In The Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus says that "Tubal exceeded all men in strength, and was very expert and famous in martial performances, ... and first of all invented the art of working brass." Walter Elwell suggests that his invention of superior weapons may have been the motivation for Lamech's interest in avenging blood.
In popular culture
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The Tubalcain of the Book of Genesis is a significant character in the ritual of Freemasonry. The word is used as a password by which Master Masons, or masons of the Third Degree can identify each other.
Tubal Cain was the pen name of Tom Walshaw, a British writer on Model Engineering
- Rashi, Bereishis, chapter 4.
- Gordon Wenham, Genesis 1-15 (Word, 1987), 113.
- Richard Coggins (1981). Who's Who in the Bible. London: Batsford. p. 154. ISBN 0-7134-0144-3.
- T. C. Mitchell, "Tubal-cain," in New Bible Dictionary (IVF, 1962), 1302.
- "Tubal-Cain Acclaimed as Pioneer Chemist". The Science News-Letter (Society for Science & the Public): 142. August 30, 1941. JSTOR 3918014.
- Elwell, Walter E. (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. p. 2109. ISBN 0-8010-3447-7.
- E. E. Kellett (1922), "Some Old Testament Notes and Queries", Expository Times 33: 426
- Media related to Tubal-Cain at Wikimedia Commons