Lamech (descendant of Cain)

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Lamech and Cain, 1524 engraving by Lucas van Leyden

Lamech (/ˈlmɪk/;[1] Hebrew: לֶמֶךְ Lémeḵ, in pausa לָמֶךְLā́meḵ) is a figure appearing in the Old Testament's Book of Genesis, where he is the seventh generation from Adam and father of Jabal, the first breeder of livestock, Tubal-Cain, the first metalworker, Jubal, the first musician, and Naamah. This Lamech appears in the Yahwist genealogy (the line of Cain); the Priestly source has another Lamech who is the father of Noah.[2]

This Lamech is distinguished as an insolent man in the Abrahamic texts.


Lamech is generally characterized in a poor light in the verses that mention him, highlighting him as polygamous and viciously murderous.


Lamech is the earliest instance of polygamy in the Abrahamic narrative. Biblical verse Genesis 4:19 states

Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.

Lamech is recorded taking on two wives simultaneously.


Furthermore, biblical verse Genesis 4:23-24 states

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, a young man for injuring me.
If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.

Here Lamech admits to killing a young man in retaliation for striking him. Lamech further boasts of his wrath of vengeance as eleven times worse than Cain's wrath of vengeance.

Comparative religion[edit]

The Adam progeny list is comparable to the ancient Mesopotamian tradition of seven pre-flood heroes who originate arts and culture.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "the definition of Lamech".
  2. ^ a b Rogers 2000, p. 784.


  • Rogers, Jeffrey S. (2000). "Lamech". In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen C. (eds.). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9781250088703.