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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

1. Son of Methusael, of Cain's line; the first polygamist; by Adah begat Jabal and Jubal by Zillah Tubal-cain and Naamah. (See Jabal .) The three, Adah, Zillah, and Naamah, are the only antediluvian women named. See  Genesis 4:23-24, "a man I slay (I am determined to slay), for my wound, a young man for my hurt; for (if) Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Lamech (will be avenged) seventy and seven fold": whoever inflicts wound or blow (stripe) on me, man or youth, I will surely slay; if God will avenge Cain's cause, when assailed, sevenfold, I have power in my hands (by the bronze and steel of Tubal-cain's discovery) to avenge myself ten times more. (Speaker's Commentary, Keri, and Delitzsch). In the common version Lamech calculates on impunity after homicide, because of his ancestor Cain's impunity; but it gives no explanation of why he should be avenged on any assailant ten times more than Cain. Possibly his reasoning is: I slew a youth for a wound and bruise he inflicted on me; as I did it under provocation, not as Cain without provocation and in cold blood, since Cain was protected by God's threat of sevenfold vengeance, I am sure of seventy and sevenfold vengeance on any assailant.

This is the earliest example of Hebrew poetry, the principle of versification being parallelism, with rhythm, assonance, strophe, and poetic diction. Its enigmatical character shows its remote antiquity. Enoch's prophecy in  Judges 1:14 was about the same age, and is also in parallelism. Delitzsch notices "that titanic arrogance which makes its own power its god ( Habakkuk 1:11), and carries its god, i.e. its sword, in its hand," translated  Job 12:6 "who make a god of their own hand." Lamech boasts thus, to assure his wives of security amidst the violence of the times especially among the Cainites, which precipitated God's judgment of the flood ( Genesis 6:4;  Genesis 6:11;  Genesis 6:13). Poetry, God's gift to man, has been awfully desecrated, so that its earliest extant fragment comes not from paradise but the house of Lamech, a man of violence and lust.

2. Noah's father; son of Methuselah, in Seth's line ( Genesis 5:28-29). A contrast to the Cainite Lamech and his profane and presumptuous boasting. In pious, believing hope, resting on the promise to Eve of a Redeemer, he by the Spirit foresaw in Noah ("rest or comfort") the second founder of the race, the head of a regenerated world; "this same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." Feeling the weary toil of cultivating a ground yielding weeds sooner than fruits, Lamech looked for the ground's redemption from the curse in connection with Noah. It shall be so at the glorious coming of Noah's Antitype ( Romans 8:19-23;  Matthew 19:28;  Revelation 21:1;  2 Peter 3:13).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [2]

The son of Methuselah, and father of Noah, (See  Genesis 5:25-31) His name means somewhat poor, or made low, from Macac. His observation at the birth of Noah was remarkable. "This same, said he, shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands." ( Genesis 5:29) The Holy Ghost hath not given us authority to say it was prophetical, but when we consider the eminency of Noah, a preacher of Jesus, by faith, (see  Hebrews 11:7) we may well suppose, that his father's hopes concerning him sprang from somewhat more than nature. Creature-hopes and creature-prospects are for the most part deceitful, and the more we lean upon them the feebler they prove. I should hope, therefore, that Lamech's hopes of his son Noah were on the church's account, and had an eye to the covenant of grace.

There was another Lamech of the descendants of Cain. (See  Genesis 4:17-18) He appears to have been the first who broke the divine commandment, by taking more wives than one. (See  Genesis 2:24)

See the Lord's displeasure at this,  Malachi 2:14-16. And yet more particularly hear what the Lord Jesus Christ saith upon this subject,  Matthew 19:3-10. The names of his two wives are in some measure descriptive of his sin and folly, for Adah and Zillah compounded, would imply an assembly, a shadow. It were well if the favourers of polygamy would consider these things. The Lord Jesus declares, that from the beginning it was not so; and perhaps in no one instance hath it been free from sorrow. And as from an authority which becomes unquestionable, the married state is declared to be sacred, as typical of Christ's union with his church, the abettors of double marriages would farther do well to consider, what a running counter this is to this blessed doctrine, as well as to the original appointment of heaven. (See  Ephesians 5:23-33;  1 Corinthians 7:2)

See Concubine.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

LAMECH . The name apparently of two people in the antediluvian period, the one belonging to the Cainite and the other to the Sethite genealogy. 1. The fifth descendant from Cain (  Genesis 4:18-24 ). He seems to have been a man of importance in the early legend, as the names of his two wives (Adah and Zillah), his three sons (Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-cain), and his daughter (Naamah) are all mentioned. Special interest is attached to him on account of his song

‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;

Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech:

For I have slain a man for wounding me,

And a young man for bruising me:

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,

Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.’

The meaning of this song has been the subject of much conjecture. The song is clearly one of exultation, and it has not unnaturally been associated with the fact that Tubal-cain his son is specially mentioned as the ‘forger of every cutting instrument.’ Jerome relates the Jewish legend that Lamech accidentally slew Cain, but for this, of course, there is no foundation. It has been suggested (Lightfoot, Decas Chorogr. Marc, praem . § iv.) that the reference is to the fact that Lamech, as the first polygamist, introduced greater destruction into the world than Cain. R. H. Kennett sees in the song a deprecation of blood-guiltiness Incurred by the fact that Lamech, as a tribal chieftain, has avenged an insult of a boy by slaying him.

A possible variant rendering might be mentioned: ‘I would have slain (or ‘I will slay’) any man who wounds me.’ if this is accepted, it materially alters the sense.

2 . The father of Noah (  Genesis 5:29 ). It is now commonly believed, owing to the identity of some names and the similarity of others in the two genealogies, that they are merely different versions of one original list.

T. A. Moxon.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

1.  Genesis 4:18-24 , a descendant of Cain, in the fifth generation, and ancestor of numerous posterity distinguished for a skill in agriculture, music, and several mechanic arts. He is the first polygamist on record. His address to his two wives is the oldest specimen of poetry extant, and is a good illustration of Hebrew parallelism.

"Adah and Zillah,

Hear my voice;

Ye wives of Lamech,

Hearken unto my speech.

I have slain a man

To my wounding,

And [or even] a young man

To my hurt.

If Cain shall be avenged


Truly Lamech

Seventy and seven fold."

Many explanations of this abrupt fragment have been suggested. The

most satisfactory, perhaps, is that Lamech had accidentally or in

self-defense killed a man, and was exposed to the vengeance of "the

avenger of blood;" but quiets the fears of his wives by saying of

Cain under heavy penalties,  Genesis 4:15 , much more would he guard

the life of Lamech who was comparatively innocent.

2. The son of Methuselah, and father of Noah; he lived seven hundred

and seventy-seven years, and died only five years before the flood,

  Genesis 5:25-31 .

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

a descendant of Cain, the son of Mathusael, and father of Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain, and Naamah,  Genesis 4:18-20 , &c. He stands branded as the father of polygamy, the first who dared to violate the sacred command,  Genesis 2:24; giving way to his unbridled passion, and thus overleaping the divine mound raised by the wisdom of our great Creator; which restraint is enforced by the laws of nature herself, who peoples the earth with an equal number of males and females, and thereby teaches foolish man that polygamy is incompatible with her wise regulations. He married Adah and Zillah: the former was the mother of Jabal and Jubal, and the latter of Tubal-Cain and Naamah, his sister.

2. LAMECH, the son of Methuselah, and father of Noah. He lived a hundred fourscore and two years before the birth of Noah,   Genesis 5:25;  Genesis 5:31; after which he lived five hundred and ninety-five years longer: thus the whole term of his life was seven hundred and seventy-seven years.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

La'mech. (Powerful). Properly, Lemech .

1. The fifth lineal descendant from Cain.  Genesis 4:18-24. He is the only one, except Enoch, of the posterity of Cain, whose history is related with some detail. His two wives, Adah and Zillah, and his daughter Naamah, are, with Eve, the only antediluvian women, whose names are mentioned by Moses.

His three sons, Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-cain, are celebrated in Scripture as authors of useful inventions. The remarkable poem which Lamech uttered may, perhaps, be regarded as Lamech's song of exultation, on the invention of the sword, by his son Tubal-cain, in the possession of which, he foresaw a great advantage to himself, and his family over any enemies.

2. The father of Noah.  Genesis 5:29.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Lamech ( Lâ'Mek ), Strong. 1. The fifth descendant from Cain, the first polygamist, father of Jabal, Jubal, the inventor of musical instruments, and Tubal-cain, the worker of metals. He was the author of the earliest poetry extant, in which he addresses his wives on account of having slain a man.  Genesis 4:18 to  Genesis 24:2. Son of Methusaleh and father of Noah.  Genesis 5:25;  Genesis 5:31;  1 Chronicles 1:3;  Luke 3:36.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

  • The seventh in descent from Seth, being the only son of Methuselah. Noah was the oldest of his several sons ( Genesis 5:25-31;  Luke 3:36 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Lamech'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

    1. Descendant of Cain. He was the first to take two wives (sign of corruption); his sons were noted for making musical instruments, and working in brass and iron.  Genesis 4:18-24 . Lamech acknowledged his vengeance (sign of violence), for some injury he had received, but intimated his belief that God would watch over him as He had over the life of Cain. His address to his wives is poetical. See Poetry

    2. Son of Methuselah and father of Noah.  Genesis 5:25-31;  1 Chronicles 1:3;  Luke 3:36 .

    Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

     Genesis 4:18 Genesis 5:25 5:29 Genesis 4:23-24 Matthew 18:22

    Mike Mitchell

    Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [11]

    LAMECH. —Father of Noah, mentioned in our Lord’s genealogy,  Luke 3:36.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

    (Heb. Le'mek, לֶמֶךְ , Taster, otherwise a Vigorous youth, in pause La'Mek, . לָמֶךְ Septuag. and N.T. Λάμεχ ; Josephus Λάμεχος , Ant. 1:2,2), the name of two antediluvian patriarchs.

    1. The fifth in descent from Cain, being the son of Methusael, and father of Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-cain, and Naamah ( Genesis 4:18-24). B.C. cir. 3776. He is recorded to have taken two wives, Adah and Zillah; and there appears no reason why the fact should have been mentioned, unless to point him out as the author of the evil practice of polygamy. The manner in which the sons of Lamech distinguished themselves as the inventors of useful arts is mentioned under their several names (q.v.). The Targum of Jonatlan (ad loc.) adds, that his daughter was "the mistress of sounds and songs," i.e., the first poetess; which Jewish tradition embellishes by saying that all the world wondered after her, even the sons of God, and that evil spirits were born of her (Midrash on Ruth, and Zohar). Josephus (Ant. 1:2, 2) relates that the number of Lamech's sons was seventymeven, and Jerome records the same tradition, adding that they were all cut off by the Deluge, and that this was the seventy-and-sevenfold vengeance which Lamech imprecated.

    The most remarkable circumstance in connection with Lamech is the poetical address which he is very abruptly introduced as making to his wives, being, indeed, the only example of antediluvian poetry extant ( Genesis 4:23-24):

    Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;

    Wives of Lamech, listen to my say!

    For a man I slew for my wound,

    Even a youth for my bruise:

    If sevenfold Cain was to be avenged,

    Then Lamech seventy and seven.

    It has all the appearance of an extract from an old poem, which we may suppose to have been handed down by tradition to the time of Moses. It is very difficult to discover to what it refers, and the best explanation can be nothing more than a conjecture. It is the subject of a dissertation by Hilliger in Thesaurus Theologico Philol. 1:141, and is discussed at length by the various commentators on Genesis. See also Hase, De Oraculo Lamechi (Brem. 1712); Schroder, De Lamecho homicida (Marb. 1721). The fiollowing is a synopsis of ancient and modern views. " Chrysostom (Hom. 20 in Gen.) regards Lamech as a murderer stung by remorse, driven to make public confession of his guilt solely to ease his conscience, and afterwards (Hom. in Psalms 6) obtaining mercy. Theodoret (Quaest. in Genesis 44) sets him down as a murderer. Basil (Ep. 260 [317], § 5) interprets Lamech's words to mean that he had committed two murders, and that he deserved a much severer punishment than Cain, as having sinned after plainer warning; Basil adds, that some persons interpret the last lines of the poem as meaning that, whereas Cain's sin increased, and was followed after seven generations by the punishment of the Deluge washing out the foulness of the world, so Lamech's sin shall be followed in the seventy-seventh (see  Luke 3:23-38) generation by the coming of him who taketh away the sin of the world. Jerome (Ep. 36, Ad Damasum, t. 1, page 161) relates as a tradition of his predecessors and of the Jews that Cain was accidentally slain by Lamech in the seventh generation from Adam. This legend is told with fuller details by Jarchi. (See Kitto, Daily Bible Illust. ad loc.)

    According to him, the occasion of the poem was the refusal of Lamech's wives to associate with him in consequence of his having killed Cain and Tubal-cain; Lamech, it is said, was blind, and was led about by Tubalcain; when the latter saw in the thicket what he supposed to be a wild beast, Lamech, by his son's direction, shot an arrow at it, and thus slew Cain; in alarm and indignation at the deed, he killed his son; hence his wives refused to associate with him; and he excuses himself as having acted without a vengeful or murderous purpose. Onkelos. followed by Pseudo-Jonathan, paraphrases it, 'I have not slain a man that I should bear sin on his account.' The Arab. Ver. (Saadias) puts it in an interrogative form, 'Have I slain a man?' etc. These two versions, which are substantially the same, are adopted by De Dieu and bishop Patrick. Aben Ezra, Calvin, Drusius, and Cartwright interpret it in the future tense as a threat, 'I will slay any man who wounds me.' Luther considers the occasion of the poem to be the deliberate murder of Cain by Lamech. Lightfoot (Decas Chorogr. Marc. praem. § 4) considers Lamech as expressing remorse for having, as the first polygamist, introduced more destruction and murder than Cain was the author of into the world" (Smith). Shuckford, in his Connections, supposes that the descendants of Cain had lived for a long time in fear of vengeance for the death of Abel from the family of Adam; and that Lamech, in order to persuade his wives of the groundlessness of such fears, used the argument in the text, i.e., if any one who might slay Cain, the murderer of his brother, was threatened with sevenfold vengeance, surely they must expect a far sorer punishment who should presume to kill any of us on the same account. Others regard Lamech's speech as a heaven-daring avowal of murder, in which he had himself received a slight wound. Some have even sought to identify Lamech with the Asiatic deity Lemus or Leames (see Movers, Phoen. 477; Nork, Bibl. Mythol. 1:235).

    Herder, in his Hebrew Poetry, supposes that the haughty and revengeful Lamech, overjoyed by the invention of metallic weapons by his son Tubal-cain, breaks out in this triumphal song, boasting that if Cain, by the providence of God, was to be avenged sevenfold, he, by means of the newly-invented weapons, so much superior to anything of the kind known at that time, would be able to take a much heavier vengeance on those who injured him. This hypothesis as to the occasion of the poem was partly anticipated by Hess, and has been received by Rosenm Ü ller, Ewald, and Delitzsch. Pfeiffer (Dif. Scrips. Loc. page 25) collects different opinions up to his time with his usual diligence, and concludes that the poem is Lamech's vindication of himself to his wives, who were in terror for the possible consequences of his having slain two of the posterity of Seth. This judicious view is substantially that of Lowth (De S. Poesi Heb. 4:91) and Michaelis, who think that Lamech is excusing himself for some murder which he had committed in self-defense ("for a wound inflicted on me"), and he opposes a homicide of this nature to the willful and inexcusable fratricide of Cain. Under this view Lamech would appear to have intended to comfort his wives by the assurance that he was really exposed to no danger from this act, and that any attempt upon his life on the part of the friends of the deceased would not fail to bring down upon them the severest vengeance (compare Dathe and Rosenm Ü ller, ad loc.; see also Turner's Companion to Genesis, page 209). "That he had slain a man, a young man (for the youth of one clause is undoubtedly but a more specific indication of the man in the other), and this not in cool blood, but in consequence of a wound or bruise he had himself received, is, if not the only possible, certainly the natural and obvious meaning of the words; and on the ground apparently of a difference between his case and that of Cain's namely, that he had done under provocation what Cain had done without it he assures himself of an interest in the divine guardianship and protection immeasurably greater than that granted to Cain. This seems as plainly the import of Lamech's speech as language could well make it. But if it seems to imply, as it certainly does, that Lamech was not an offender after the type and measure of Cain, it at the same time shows how that branch of the human family were becoming familiar with strife and bloodshed, and, instead of mourning over it, were rather presuming on the divine mercy and forbearance to brace themselves for its encounters, that they might repel force with force. The prelude already appears here of the terrible scenes which, after the lapse of a few generations, disclosed themselves far and wide when the earth was filled with violence, and deeds were every day done which cried in the ear of heaven for vengeance. Such was the miserable result of the human art and the earthly resources brought into play by the Cainite race, and on which they proudly leaned for their ascendency; nor is it too much to say that here also, even in respect to the poetic gift of nature, the beginning was prophetic of the end." (See Antediluvians).

    2. The seventh in descent trom Seth, being the son of Methuselah, and father of several sons, of whom apparently the oldest was Noah ( Genesis 5:25-31;  1 Chronicles 1:3;  Luke 3:36). B.C. 3297- 2520. He was 182 years old at the birth of Noah, and survived that event 595 years, making his total age 777. His character appears to have been different from that of his Cainite namesake (see Dettinger, in the T Ü b. Zeitschr. f. Theol. 1835, 1:11 sq.). "Chrysostom (Seran. 9 in Gen., and Hom. 21 in Gen.), perhaps thinking of the character of the other Lamech, speaks of this as an unrighteous man, though moved by a divine impulse to give a prophetic name to his son. Buttman and others, observing that the names of Lamech and Enoch are found in the list of Seth's, as well as of Cain's family, infer that the two lists are merely different versions or recensions of one original list-traces of two conflicting histories of the first human family. This theory is deservedly repudiated by Delitzsch on Genesis 5."

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

    Lamech, 1

    La´mech, son of Methusael, and father of Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-cain, and Naamah (; , etc.). He is recorded to have taken two wives, Adah and Zillah; and there appears no reason why the fact should have been mentioned, unless to point him out as the author of the evil practice of polygamy. The manner in which the sons of Lamech distinguished themselves as the inventors of useful arts, is mentioned under their several names. The most remarkable circumstance in connection with Lamech is the poetical address which he is very abruptly introduced as making to his wives. This is not only remarkable in itself, but is the first and most ancient piece of poetry in the Hebrew Scriptures; and, indeed, the only example of Antediluvian poetry extant:—

    'Adah and Zillah, hear my voice!

    Wives of Lamech, receive my speech!

    If I slew a man to my wounding,

    And a young man—to my hurt:

    If Cain was avenged seven times,

    Then Lamech—seventy times seven.'

    This exhibits the parallelism and other characteristics of Hebrew poetry. It has all the appearance of an extract from an old poem, which we may suppose to have been handed down by tradition to the time of Moses. It is very difficult to discover to what it refers, and the best explanation can be nothing more than a conjecture. So far as we can make it out, it would seem to be, as Bishop Lowth explains, an apology for committing homicide, in his own defense, upon some man who had violently assaulted him, and, as it would seem, struck and wounded him: and he opposes a homicide of this nature to the willful and inexcusable fratricide of Cain. Under this view Lamech would appear to have intended to comfort his wives by the assurance that he was really exposed to no danger from this act, and that any attempt upon his life on the part of the friends of the deceased would not fail to bring down upon them the severest vengeance.

    Lamech, 2

    Lamech, son of Methuselah, and father of Noah .

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

    lā´mek ( למך , lemekh  ; Λάμεχ , Lámech , "a strong youth?"):

    (1) The name is first mentioned in  Genesis 4:18-24 . Here Lamech, the son of Methushael, is named as the last of the descendants of Cain. He was the father of Jabel, Jubal, Tubal-cain, and Naamah. As the husband of two wives, namely, Adah and Zillah, he furnishes the first recorded instance of polygamy. It is very instructive to note that this "father of polygamy" at once becomes the first blustering tyrant and a braggadocio; we are fully permitted to draw this conclusion from his so-called "swordlay" ( Genesis 4:23 f). He does not put his trust in God, but in the weapons and implements invented by his sons, or rather these instruments, enhancing the physical and material powers of man, are his God. He glories in them and misconstrues the Divine kindness which insured to Cain freedom from the revenge of his fellow-men.

    (2) Another Lamech. is mentioned in  Genesis 5:25 ,  Genesis 5:28 (compare   1 Chronicles 1:3;  Luke 3:36 ), the son of Methuselah and the father of Noah. His words ( Genesis 5:29 ) show the great difference between this descendant of Seth and the descendant of Cain. While the one is stimulated to a song of defiance by the worldly inventions of his sons, the other, in prophetical mood, expresses his sure belief in the coming of better times, and calmly and prayerfully awaits the period of comfort and rest which he expected to be ushered in by his son Noah.