Genesis 4:20
And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 4:20. He (Jabal) was the father of such as dwell in tents — That is, he taught shepherds to dwell in them, and to remove them from place to place for conveniency of pasture. The first authors of any thing are commonly called its fathers.

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.This is the first record and probably the first instance of polygamy. The names of the two wives, Adah, "beauty," and Zillah, "shade or tinkling," seem to refer to the charms which attracted Lamek. Superabundance of wealth and power perhaps led Lamek to multiply wives.

Genesis 4:20 is the first notice of the tent and of cattle. The tent was the thin shining and shading canvas of goats' hair, which was placed over the poles or timbers that constituted the original booth. In process of time it would supplant the branches and foliage of the booth as a covering from the sun or the wind. The cattle are designated by a word denoting property, as being chattels personal, and consisting chiefly of sheep and oxen. The idea of property had now been practically realized. The Cainites were now prosperous and numerous, and therefore released from that suspicious fear which originated the fortified keep of their progenitor. The sons of Jabal rove over the common with their tents and cattle, undismayed by imaginary terrors.

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. He taught shepherds to dwell in tents, and to remove them from place to place, for conveniency of pasture. The first authors or inventors of any thing are commonly called its fathers. And he was the inventor of the art of keeping and managing cattle.

And Adah bare Jabal,.... According to Hillerus (m), this name, and Jubal and Tubal, after mentioned, all signify a river; why Lamech should call all his sons by names signifying the same thing, is not easy to say.

He was the father of such as dwelt in tents, and of such as have cattle: not in a proper sense the father of them, though his posterity might succeed him in the same business; but he was the first author and inventor of tents or movable habitations, which could be carried from place to place, for the convenience of pasturage for cattle: he was not the first that had cattle in his possession, or that first fed and kept them, for Abel, the son of Adam, was a keeper of sheep; but he was the first that found out the use of tents, and the pitching of them to abide in at proper places, so long as the pasturage lasted, and then to remove elsewhere; as we find in later times the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did, and as the Scenitae and Nomades among the Arabs, and who retain the same method of keeping cattle to this day; and so the words may be rendered according to Bochart (n) and Noldius (o),"he was the father of such that dwell in tents "with" cattle.''Heidegger (p) thinks this Jabal to be the same with Pales, the god of shepherds (q), to whom the Palilia were sacred with the Heathens; and that from Jabal may be formed "Bal", leaving out the "jod", as is sometimes done, and by adding the termination, it will be "Bales", and by changing the letters of the same organ, "Pales".

(m) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 35, 45, 349. (n) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 44. col. 466. (o) Ebr. Part. Concord. p. 273. No. 1196. (p) Hist. Patriarch. Exercit. 6. sect. 11. (q) Vid. Servium & Probum in Virgil. Georgic. l. 3. ver. 1.

And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. Jabal] The meaning of this name is doubtful. Dillmann conjectures “a wanderer.” Jabal, like Abel (see note, on Genesis 4:2), is a founder of the shepherd’s and herdsman’s life.

father of] i.e. the founder, or originator, of nomad life. To the Hebrews, to live in tents was the alternative to life in the village or the town. It is strange to find that tent life is here placed later than the building of a town (Genesis 4:17).

such as dwell in tents, &c.] Literally, “such as dwell in tents and cattle”; i.e. those who wander about, occupied in the care of flocks and herds, and pitching their camps at different places. The eldest brother represents the Bedouin chieftain, the second brother represents the arts of primitive pastoral life, the third brother represents the most necessary industry.

Verse 20. - And Adah bare Jabal. Either the Traveler or the Producer, from yabhal, to flow; poetically, to go to walk; hiphil, to produce; descriptive, in the one case, of his nomadic life, in the other of his occupation or his wealth. He was the father - av, father; used of the founder of a family or nation (Genesis 10:21), of the author or maker of anything, especially of the Creator'(Job 38:28), of the master or teacher of any art or science (Genesis 4:21) - of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. Mikneh, literally, possession, from kanah, to acquire, as in ver. 1; hence cattle, as that was the primitive form of wealth (cf. pecus, pecunia); by which may be meant that Jabal was the first nomad who introduced the custom of living in tents, and pasturing and breeding not sheep merely, but larger quadrupeds as well, for the sake of wealth. Genesis 4:20The family of the Cainites. - Genesis 4:16. The geographical situation of the land of Nod, in the front of Eden (קדמת, see Genesis 2:14), where Cain settled after his departure from the place or the land of the revealed presence of God (cf. Jonah 1:3), cannot be determined. The name Nod denotes a land of flight and banishment, in contrast with Eden, the land of delight, where Jehovah walked with men. There Cain knew his wife. The text assumes it as self-evident that she accompanied him in his exile; also, that she was a daughter of Adam, and consequently a sister of Cain. The marriage of brothers and sisters was inevitable in the case of the children of the first men, if the human race was actually to descend from a single pair, and may therefore be justified in the face of the Mosaic prohibition of such marriages, on the ground that the sons and daughters of Adam represented not merely the family but the genus, and that it was not till after the rise of several families that the bands of fraternal and conjugal love became distinct from one another, and assumed fixed and mutually exclusive forms, the violation of which is sin. (Comp. Leviticus 18.) His son he named Hanoch (consecration), because he regarded his birth as a pledge of the renovation of his life. For this reason he also gave the same name to the city which he built, inasmuch as its erection was another phase in the development of his family. The construction of a city by Cain will cease to surprise us, if we consider that at the commencement of its erection, centuries had already passed since the creation of man, and Cain's descendants may by this time have increased considerably in numbers; also, that עיר does not necessarily presuppose a large town, but simply an enclosed space with fortified dwellings, in contradistinction to the isolated tents of shepherds; and lastly, that the words בנה ויהי, "he was building," merely indicate the commencement and progress of the building, but not its termination. It appears more surprising that Cain, who was to be a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth, should have established himself in the land of Nod. This cannot be fully explained, either on the ground that he carried on the pursuits of agriculture, which lead to settled abodes, or that he strove against the curse. In addition to both the facts referred to, there is also the circumstance, that the curse, "the ground shall not yield to thee her strength," was so mollified by the grace of God, that Cain and his descendants were enabled to obtain sufficient food in the land of his settlement, though it was by dint of hard work and strenuous effort; unless, indeed, we follow Luther and understand the curse, that he should be a fugitive upon the earth, as relating to his expulsion from Eden, and his removal ad incertum locum et opus, non addita ulla vel promissione vel mandato, sicut avis quae in libero caelo incerta vagatur. The fact that Cain undertook the erection of a city, is also significant. Even if we do not regard this city as "the first foundation-stone of the kingdom of the world, in which the spirit of the beast bears sway," we cannot fail to detect the desire to neutralize the curse of banishment, and create for his family a point of unity, as a compensation for the loss of unity in fellowship with God, as well as the inclination of the family of Cain for that which was earthly.

The powerful development of the worldly mind and of ungodliness among the Cainites was openly displayed in Lamech, in the sixth generation. Of the intermediate links, the names only are given. (On the use of the passive with the accusative of the object in the clause "to Hanoch was born (they bore) Irad," see Ges. 143, 1.) Some of these names resemble those of the Sethite genealogy, viz., Irad and Jared, Mehujael and Mahalaleel, Methusael and Methuselah, also Cain and Cainan; and the names Enoch and Lamech occur in both families. But neither the recurrence of similar names, nor even of the same names, warrants the conclusion that the two genealogical tables are simply different forms of one primary legend. For the names, though similar in sound, are very different in meaning. Irad probably signifies the townsman, Jared, descent, or that which has descended; Mehujael, smitten of God, and Mahalaleel, praise of God; Methusael, man of prayer, and Methuselah, man of the sword or of increase. The repetition of the two names Enoch and Lamech even loses all significance, when we consider the different places which they occupy in the respective lines, and observe also that in the case of these very names, the more precise descriptions which are given so thoroughly establish the difference of character in the two individuals, as to preclude the possibility of their being the same, not to mention the fact, that in the later history the same names frequently occur in totally different families; e.g., Korah in the families of Levi (Exodus 6:21) and Esau (Genesis 36:5); Hanoch in those of Reuben (Genesis 46:9) and Midian (Genesis 25:4); Kenaz in those of Judah (Numbers 32:12) and Esau (Genesis 36:11). The identity and similarity of names can prove nothing more than that the two branches of the human race did not keep entirely apart from each other; a fact established by their subsequently intermarrying. - Lamech took two wives, and thus was the first to prepare the way for polygamy, by which the ethical aspect of marriage, as ordained by God, was turned into the lust of the eye and lust of the flesh. The names of the women are indicative of sensual attractions: Adah, the adorned; and Zillah, either the shady or the tinkling. His three sons are the authors of inventions which show how the mind and efforts of the Cainites were directed towards the beautifying and perfecting of the earthly life. Jabal (probably equals jebul, produce) became the father of such as dwelt in tents, i.e., of nomads who lived in tents and with their flocks, getting their living by a pastoral occupation, and possibly also introducing the use of animal food, in disregard of the divine command (Genesis 1:29). Jubal (sound), the father of all such as handle the harp and pipe, i.e., the inventors of stringed and wind instruments. כּנּור a guitar or harp; עוּגב the shepherd's reed or bagpipe. Tubal-Cain, "hammering all kinds of cutting things (the verb is to be construed as neuter) in brass and iron;" the inventor therefore of all kinds of edge-tools for working in metals: so that Cain, from קין to forge, is probably to be regarded as the surname which Tubal received on account of his inventions. The meaning of Tubal is obscure; for the Persian Tupal, iron-scoria, can throw no light upon it, as it must be a much later word. The allusion to the sister of Tubal-Cain is evidently to be attributed to her name, Naamah, the lovely, or graceful, since it reflects the worldly mind of the Cainites. In the arts, which owed their origin to Lamech's sons, this disposition reached its culminating point; and it appears in the form of pride and defiant arrogance in the song in which Lamech celebrates the inventions of Tubal-Cain (Genesis 4:23, Genesis 4:24): "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: Men I slay for my wound, and young men for my stripes. For sevenfold is Cain avenged, and Lamech seven and seventy-fold." The perfect הרגתּי is expressive not of a deed accomplished, but of confident assurance (Ges. 126, 4; Ewald, 135c); and the suffixes in חבּרתי and פּצעי are to be taken in a passive sense. The idea is this: whoever inflicts a wound or stripe on me, whether man or youth, I will put to death; and for every injury done to my person, I will take ten times more vengeance than that with which God promised to avenge the murder of my ancestor Cain. In this song, which contains in its rhythm, its strophic arrangement of the thoughts, and its poetic diction, the germ of the later poetry, we may detect "that Titanic arrogance, of which the Bible says that its power is its god (Habakkuk 1:11), and that it carries its god, viz., its sword, in its hand (Job 12:6)" (Delitzsch). - According to these accounts, the principal arts and manufactures were invented by the Cainites, and carried out in an ungodly spirit; but they are not therefore to be attributed to the curse which rested upon the family. They have their roots rather in the mental powers with which man was endowed for the sovereignty and subjugation of the earth, but which, like all the other powers and tendencies of his nature, were pervaded by sin, and desecrated in its service. Hence these inventions have become the common property of humanity, because they not only may promote its intended development, but are to be applied and consecrated to this purpose for the glory of God.

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