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The Growth and Decline of the Human World

raviAnd Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son; Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech. Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD. (Genesis 4:17-26)

As the human population began to grow, culture also began to develop. Predictably, culture was sinful … because of the individuals that made up the culture! It wasn’t until the 8th generation removed from Adam—the generation of Seth and his son Enosh—that men began to call upon the name of the LORD.

A nomadic, Bedouin-like lifestyle took shape with Jabal; an artistic culture developed with Jubal. Tubal-Cain introduced metalworking. The patriarch of these forms of progress was Lamech, a proud, self-made man who boasted of his greatness. If God would avenge Cain seven times upon being murdered, then whoever would dare to kill Lamech would be avenged seventy-seven times. 

When Seth was born, Eve gave him a name which literally means “substituted.” She saw him as the replacement son for Abel, whom Cain had killed. In Seth’s days God once again began to be sought. 

An often asked question arises from this text. Where did Cain get his wife? Bible teacher and pastor David Guzik answers it:

Genesis 5:4 says Adam had several sons and daughters. Cain obviously married his sister. Though marrying a sister was against the law of God according to Leviticus 18:9, 18:11, 20:17, and Deuteronomy 27:22 (which even prohibits the marrying of a half-sister), this was long before God spoke that law to Moses and the world. Here, necessity demanded that Adam’s sons marry his daughters. And at this point, the gene pool of humanity was pure enough to allow close marriage without harm of inbreeding. But as a stream can get more polluted the further it flows from the source, there came a time when God decreed there no longer be marriage between close relatives because of the danger of inbreeding.” 

Overall, this section of Genesis proves that progress in the arts, technology and material goods doesn’t necessarily mean that all is well. Without a relationship with God, everything man does is a cosmic waste of time.

For Further Review

1.  Look up the word culture. What makes a culture sinful or otherwise?

2.  Why isn’t progress (so-called) necessarily a positive thing from God’s perspective?

3.  Consider the most hopeful phrase in this entire section: Then men began to call on the name of the LORD. What does that mean? Have you been calling upon the LORD’s name? 

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