See: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:16-18 (b)
4:19 And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Na’amah.
23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
Unusual in these early genealogies Lamech’s wives are not only mentioned but their names are given – Adah and Zillah. Some scholars think they are mentioned because they are disapproved of. Is it possible that the author of the text so despised these women of Cain that their names are in the text for the same reason that Pontius Pilate’s name is in the Creed? As can be seen in the other genealogies, not only are woman seldom named, often no woman is even mentioned with men fathering sons without reference to woman. The first mention of wive’s names in the Seth lineage will come only in 11:29 with Sarai wife of Abraham.
“…took two wives…” The first mention in the Bible of polygamy occurs in the genealogy of the accursed Cain. In Genesis 1-3, God intends for the man to leave his parents and cling to his wife implying monogamy. God does not command or bless polygamy here, Lamech simply takes two wives just as Eve took the forbidden fruit. Lamech son of Cain is the only man in Genesis 1-11 to practice polygamy. Later in Genesis Abraham will take a concubine to bear him a child, but that is not within the scope of our interest.
“…the father of those…” In some sense the text introduces an inconsistency. Since all these people will supposedly be destroyed by the flood, in what sense they can be claimed to be the father of all tent dwellers, or musicians or metal workers is unknown. Perhaps if different sections of the bible were actually written by different authors as Source Theory suggests, this source may be one that did not know of a flood tradition.
“Jabal…dwell in tents… have cattle” This is the first mention of domesticated cattle. It also is the first mention of any dwelling place for humans – tents. Tents are the only housing mentioned directly in Genesis 1-11. Noah also slept in a tent (9:21). There are references to cities which one would assume implies some form of housing. Genesis remains surprisingly barren of references to tools, transportation, furniture, housing, clothing, cooking utensils, food, weapons, commerce, or technology of any kind.
“Jubal…lyre and pipe…” The first mention of musical instruments. Civilization and culture are appearing. The fact that this is occurring in Cain’s lineage may indicate the scriptural author somewhat disapproved of this development. Same is true of “Tubal-cain…forger of bronze and iron.” This is the first mention of industry and technology. The Iron and Bronze Age have arrived. A certain degree of sophistication and technical knowledge is needed to make iron and bronze yet the text gives us little evidence of these emerging technologies.
“sister…was Na’amah” This is the first mention of a daughter/sister by name. Among the descendents of Seth, the lineage which the Bible clearly favors and follows, neither wives nor daughters will be named until Abram takes Sarai to be his wife in Genesis 11. We are given virtually no insight into the domestic lives of these men of God.
“Lamech said to his wives…” This is the only time in Genesis 1-11 that a man says something directly to his spouse or that any man directly addresses a woman – and he addresses them by name. Adam spoke in the presence of his wife but the Scriptures record no words directed to her. St. Paul commented that women should learn from their husbands at home (1 Corinthians 14:35), but Genesis might give an idea as to how hard that would be since the only man who spoke to his wife in these chapters is a vile and violent man. In the more godly lineage of Seth through Noah, there is no record of the men talking to their wives.
“Lamech said…” This is considered to be the first poem recited by a human in the bible. Historical scholars do consider it to be poem from antiquity – thus representing the development of culture.
Next: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:19-24 (b)