b) Gen 4:20–22: Here Moses focused upon three sons of Lamech, rather than identifying one son per generation (Gen 4:18–19). Each of these men originated a new facet of human culture.[1]

Moses began by writing, “And Adah bore Yabal. He was the father of the ones dwelling in tents and [raising] livestock.”

Abel appears to have remained in one area while tending his flocks (Gen 4:2–5). In contrast, Yabal established a nomadic lifestyle like that practiced by some Bedouins even today.[2]

Furthermore, Yabal bred more kinds of animals.[3] Abel’s flocks consisted of only sheep and goats (tson).[4] However, the word used to describe the types of animals domesticated by Yabal (miqneh) expands to include cattle, donkeys, and even camels. As a professional livestock breeder, Yabal may have engaged in trade.[5]

Perhaps he even cared for the animals of nearby city dwellers (Gen 4:17).[6]

The earliest archaeological evidence for the breeding and control of sheep and goats dates back ten thousand years.[7] Mitochondrial research confirms it.[8]

Inhabitants of the Ancient Near East (ANE) domesticated cattle beginning in the mid-ninth century BC.[9]

Moses also wrote, “And the name of his brother [was] Yubal. He was the father of all of those who skillfully use a lyre and a flute.”

Yubal’s name appropriately sounds like the word used to designate the ram’s horn played in Israel’s religious festivals, a yobēl.[10]

Moses ranked musical instruments among the oldest inventions of early humanity.[11] Aside from simple drums and rattles, the most common excavated instruments in the ANE are harps and lyres.[12] People constructed early flutes from bone or pottery.[13]

Music comprised an important aspect of ritual performances, religious processions, and dances (2 Sam 6:5, 14–15). It invoked deities, soothed a person’s spirit, and provided the cadence for a marching army (1 Sam 16:23; Josh 6:13). As members of a highly-respected profession, early musicians even formed guilds.[14]

In a Hittite invocation to the gods, the priest implored, “Let the soothing effect of the cedar, the music of the lyres (and) the words of the diviner be such an [alluring] inducement to the gods that they will get them called here! Wherever else ye may be, come (ye) here!”[15]

Concerning Lamech’s second wife, Moses wrote, “And Zillah also gave birth to Tubal-Cain, the hammerer of all copper and iron.”

Four distinct eras characterize ancient human civilizations, although their dates vary by location: the Stone Age (ca. 100,000–4000 BC); the Chalcolithic Period (“copper stone,” ca. 4000–3200BC); the Bronze Age (ca. 3200–1200 BC); and the Iron Age (ca. 1200–330 BC).[16]

Copper tools and weapons first appeared in the fourth millenium BC.[17]

The inclusion of iron—a metal which requires much higher temperatures than copper and its alloys—[18] seems out of place in the text. However, archaeologists have discovered amulets crafted from cold-forged meteoritic iron which predate the Iron Age.[19]

A Ugaritic text attributes the first ironwork to the god Kothar.[20]

The names of these three sons of Lamech all derive from the Hebrew word which means “produce” (yebul) alluding to their fruitful creativity.[21]

Consequently, Moses asserted that the disobedient line of Cain developed many important cultural advancements. God’s grace appears even here.[22] On the other hand, Tubal-Cain may have introduced swords into society.[23]

In contrast, ANE literature credits these discoveries to the gods, such as Kothar.[24]

According to one myth, Inanna, the patron goddess of Uruk procured the arts of civilization from Enki, one of the greatest gods in the Mesopotamian pantheon.[25] Among these are shepherding, the creation of musical instruments, and metal-working.[26]

The tablets state, “O name of my power, O name of my power, to the bright Inanna, my daughter, I shall present…the arts of woodworking, metalworking, writing, toolmaking, leatherworking…building, basketweaving… shepherdship, kingship.”[27]

An interesting omission occurs not only in Gen 4:20–22, but in all of Gen 1–11. Other ANE texts emphasize the development of royal rule. Building cities, acquiring multiple wives, and initiating warfare commonly appear in the records of these monarchs.

Yet, in Moses’s primeval history, we have no record of kings. This may occur because most ANE literature portrayed rulers positively as the initiators and preservers of advancements in civilization. However, Moses focused upon the increasing depravity of early peoples.[28]

Moses concluded this genealogy by writing, “And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.” Lamech’s fourth child, a daughter, was named “pleasant.”[29]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Gen 4:20–22. How do we see the grace of God at work even through the disobedient lineage of Cain? In what ways were these great achievements of civilization tainted by sin? How does this account differ from others from the ANE?





Go to Lamech’s Ode to Himself


[Related posts include A Servant of the Ground and a Shepherd of a Flock (Gen 4:2‒5); Cain Dedicated a City (Gen 4:17); Two Wives (Gen 4:18–19); Lamech’s Ode to Himself (Gen 4:23–24); Sons of God or Sons of the Gods? (Gen 6:1–2); Kings as Sons of the Gods (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Taking Wives for Themselves (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Nephilim in the Land (Gen 6:4); God Grieves (Gen 6:5–6); Author and Date of Genesis; and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Chapter 2: The Descent of Humanity (Genesis 4:17–24)]


[1]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 239.

[2] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 113.

[3]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 239.

[4]Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “צֹאן” (tson), BDB, 838, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/838/mode/2up.

[5] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 113.

[6]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 240.

[7]Walton, Genesis, 276.

[8]Koh Nomura et. al., “Domestication Process of the Goat Revealed by an Analysis of the Nearly Complete Mitochondrial Protein-Encoding Genes,” PLOS ONE 8, no. 8 (1 August 2013): 1, Http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0067775&type=printable.

[9]Amelie Scheu et. al. “The Genetic Prehistory of Domesticated Cattle from Their Origin to the Spread Across Europe,” BMC Genet 16, no. 54 (2015):1–11, 9, https://bmcgenet.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s12863-015-0203-2?site=bmcgenet.biomedcentral.com.

[10]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 113.

[11]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 4:21.

[12]Walton, Genesis, 276.

[13]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 4:21.

[14]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 4:21.

[15]Albrecht Goetze, trans., “Evocatio” in ANET, 351–3, 353, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n377/mode/2up/.

[16]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 239.

[17]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 4:22.

[18]Walton, Genesis, 276–7.

[19]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 113.

[20]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 99 n66.

[21] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 112.

[22]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 239.

[23]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 183.

[24]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 99 n66.

[25]Walton, Genesis, 277.

[26]Samuel Noah Kramer, trans., “Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Erech,” http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sumer_anunnaki/esp_sumer_annunaki16.htm.

[27]Samuel Noah Kramer, trans., “Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Erech,” http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sumer_anunnaki/esp_sumer_annunaki16.htm.

[28]Walton, Genesis, 278.

[29]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 238–9.