“And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold” (Genesis 4:23-24).
A man who would likely be very popular on the movie screen today burst onto the stage of the fifth century with a song and a dance. He was muscular and handsome. He boasted of murder and revenge. His life was a game of power and sex. Not one, but two beautiful, proud women fawned upon him; and he did not hesitate to take them both for the satisfaction of his lust, and trophies of his manly success. He trampled upon the institution of marriage and defied anyone to get in his way. He was a mighty man of renown. He became the man everyone talked about.
For Lamech, the mark upon Cain, his great-great-great grandfather who likely was alive and well yet at this time, was an admirable badge of rebellion. When the men gathered under the stars to talk and tell stories of former years, young Lamech loved to listen in, especially when it came to the stories of Cain. Yes, Cain…Cain was the man with The Mark. With his own hands he had dared to take on the insult to his own dignity and pride, and he destroyed the life of his own brother, opening the door wide for a new life apart from God. He had defied the will of God, and not only did he survive to tell about it, his family was multiplying and thriving in every way. Lamech listened eagerly to the stories of old and vowed to surpass the boldness of his hero. His days were filled with excitement and held a future of boundless glory.
One day an opportunity came for Lamech to test his resolve. Another man had touched his pride and released in him the desire for revenge. This man had wounded him, and Lamech struck back. With a crushing blow, he put himself on par with Cain himself. Both shared the thrill of murder, but Lamech would go further. This time it was a young man; perhaps an equal to him in power and pride. Again an injury, and Lamech demanded payment. Again Lamech walked away with a man’s blood upon his hands and a triumphant smirk upon his lips. Kill or fail, he would lead the way for the surviving, no, thriving of the fittest.
Nobody was willing to resist Lamech; he openly boasted of his achievements. He composed a mocking song and a poem for the women who shared with him his pride of life: “I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold” (Gen 4:23 & 24). Adah and Zillah were kindred spirits of Lamech. As Lamech, these women understood and took pride in the power within themselves. They had the beauty, charm, and confidence to get attention. Lamech was a powerful man, but Adah and Zillah knew the power of their sensuality and impact upon a man’s desires.
United now in the common goal of human pride, lust, and power, they redefined marriage as a bond for maximum human fulfillment. If it makes you happy, feel fulfilled, and you have the ability to do it, then do it. If it doesn’t, then get a divorce. These two women define themselves and what they view as true womanhood, in terms of one’s ability to get the attention of a man sexually. Even the meaning of their names suggest this: Adah “the pretty one,” and Zillah “shadow,” “the lustful one.” These were the heroes and models for the good life. The pleasure of man reigned supreme in their city.
God does not reveal the exact date of Lamech’s birth. In fact, we are not given any dates for the line of Cain. Both Lamech and the Enoch who walked with God are the seventh generation from Adam, so we could conclude that they were contemporaries. Enoch was born in the 7th century, but given the fact that Cain was the oldest, and killed his brother, one would anticipate that the 7th generation of Cain’s line would have a good lead and Lamech could very well have been born as early as the 5th century. At any rate, I want to use the next century to explore the technological, agricultural, and artistic revolution brought on by Lamech’s sons. In doing so we will be able to understand the world in which Enoch lived, as well as the world in which we live today. We will better understand why Enoch was taken by God early from this earth directly to heaven.
At the time of Lamech’s birth the population may well have reached 1000 souls. This figure is based on a very conservative estimate of 6 children being born each generation of 90 years, and therefore 3 couples who in turn would bear 6 children each, etc. By the time Noah was born, population levels would be in the hundreds of thousands. The accompanying graph helps us to get some idea about how this population compares to the population at the time of the flood. Note that Lamech is only the 6th generation from Adam. One hundred thousand people only just begin to register on the graph. If we can think of the development of sin in terms of the exponential growth of population, we can see that Lamech’s ungodly activity is only the beginning sprout of a mighty oak of iniquity. The robust and vigorous growth of this young seed of the serpent will have a thousand years to grow into the sprawling uncontrolled monster it becomes at the time of the flood, ready to swallow the last 8 souls of the church.
God spoke through his minister Jude to reveal the essence of the life and attitudes of men that developed from Cain through Lamech and directs our attention to the fact that sin develops in the same way from the time of Christ’s birth to his return again in judgment. We read,
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage (Jude 1:11-16).
The century ends with the growing up of Lamech’s three famous boys and their lovely sister Naamah. Lamech must have been thrilled to see the budding genius of his sons. As the church gathered for worship and ate bread by the sweat of their brow, Adam, Seth, and their children would begin to hear of, if not see the trend of Cain’s line. With the Psalmist and the child of God today, they cried to God:
For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches (Psa 73:3-12).
…until they went into the sanctuary of God and understood their end: “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction” (Psa 73:18). By faith they looked 1000 years into the future, but would be unable to fathom how small the church would become, nor how great the judgment would be.