|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:19-24 One of Cain's wicked race is the first recorded, as having broken the law of marriage. Hitherto, one man had but one wife at a time; but Lamech took two. Wordly things, are the only things that carnal, wicked people set their hearts upon, and are most clever and industrious about. So it was with this race of Cain. Here was a father of shepherds, and a father of musicians, but not a father of the faithful. Here is one to teach about brass and iron, but none to teach the good knowledge of the Lord: here are devices how to be rich, and how to be mighty, and how to be merry; but nothing of God, of his fear and service. Present things fill the heads of most. Lamech had enemies, whom he had provoked. He draws a comparison betwixt himself and his ancestor Cain; and flatters himself that he is much less criminal. He seems to abuse the patience of God in sparing Cain, into an encouragement to expect that he may sin unpunished.
Verse 19. - And Lamech took unto him two wives. Being the first polygamist of whom mention is made, the first by whom "the ethical aspect of marriage, as ordained by God, was turned into the lust of the eye and lust of the flesh" (Keil). Though afterwards permitted because of the hardness of men's hearts, it was not so from the beginning. This was "a new evil, without even the pretext that the first wife had no children, which held its ground until Christianity restored the original law - Matthew 19:4-6" (Inglis). The names of Lamech's wives were suggestive of sensual attractions. The name of the one Adah, the Adorned (Gesenius), and the name of the other Zillah, the shady or the tinkling (Keil), the musical player (Lange), the shadow (Wordsworth). "Did Lamech choose a wife to gratify the eye with loveliness? and was he soon sated with that which is so short-lived as beauty, and then chose another wife in addition to Adah? But a second wife is hardly a wife; she is only the shadow of a wife" (ibid.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Lamech took unto him two wives,.... He was the first we read of that introduced polygamy, contrary to the first institution of marriage, whereby only one man and one woman were to be joined together, and become one flesh, Genesis 2:24. This evil practice, though it began in the race of wicked Cain, was in later ages followed by some among the people of God, which was connived at because of the hardness of their hearts; otherwise it was not so from the beginning. This was the first instance of it known; Jarchi says it was the way of the generation before the flood to have one wife for procreation of children, and the other for carnal pleasure; the latter drank a cup of sterility, that she might be barren, and was adorned as a bride, and lived deliciously; and the other was used roughly, and mourned like a widow; but by this instance it does not appear, for these both bore children to Lamech.
The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah; whose daughters they were cannot be said, no doubt of the race of Cain; the name of the one signifies an "ornament", or beauty, and might seem to answer to the account Jarchi gives of the wife for pleasure, if there were any foundation for it; and the other signifies a "shadow", being continually under the shadow of her husband.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. Lamech took unto him two wives—This is the first transgression of the law of marriage on record, and the practice of polygamy, like all other breaches of God's institutions, has been a fruitful source of corruption and misery.
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