Genesis 4:23
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Lamech said to his wives, "Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
And Lemech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice, Ye wives of Lemech, listen to my speech. For I have slain a man for my wound, and a youth for my bruise.

World English Bible
Lamech said to his wives, "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice. You wives of Lamech, listen to my speech, for I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for bruising me.

Young's Literal Translation
And Lamech saith to his wives: -- 'Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, give ear to my saying: For a man I have slain for my wound, Even a young man for my hurt;

Genesis 4:23 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

And Lamech said unto his wives - The speech of Lamech to his wives is in hemistichs in the original, and consequently, as nothing of this kind occurs before this time, it is very probably the oldest piece of poetry in the world. The following is, as nearly as possible, a literal translation:

"And Lamech said unto his wives,

Adah and Tsillah, hear ye my voice;

Wives of Lamech, hearken to my speech;

For I have slain a man for wounding me,

And a young man for having bruised me.

If Cain shall be avenged seven-fold,

Also Lamech seventy and seven."

It is supposed that Lamech had slain a man in his own defense, and that his wives being alarmed lest the kindred of the deceased should seek his life in return, to quiet their fears he makes this speech, in which he endeavors to prove that there was no room for fear on this account; for if the slayer of the wilful murderer, Cain, should suffer a seven-fold punishment, surely he, who should kill Lamech for having slain a man in self-defense, might expect a seventy-seven-fold punishment.

This speech is very dark, and has given rise to a great variety of very strange conjectures. Dr. Shuckford supposes there is an ellipsis of some preceding speech or circumstance which, if known, would cast a light on the subject. In the antediluvian times, the nearest of kin to a murdered person had a right to revenge his death by taking away the life of the murderer. This, as we have already seen, appears to have contributed not a little to Cain's horror, Genesis 4:14. Now we may suppose that the descendants of Cain were in continual alarms, lest some of the other family should attempt to avenge the death of Abel on them, as they were not permitted to do it on Cain; and that in order to dismiss those fears, Lamech, the seventh descendant from Adam, spoke to this effect to his wives: "Why should you render yourselves miserable by such ill-founded fears? We have slain no person; we have not done the least wrong to our brethren of the other family; surely then reason should dictate to you that they have no right to injure us. It is true that Cain, one of our ancestors, killed his brother Abel; but God, willing to pardon his sin, and give him space to repent, threatened to punish those with a seven-fold punishment who should dare to kill him. If this be so, then those who should have the boldness to kill any of us who are innocent, may expect a punishment still more rigorous. For if Cain should be avenged seven-fold on the person who should slay him, surely Lamech or any of his innocent family should be avenged seventy-seven-fold on those who should injure them." The Targums give nearly the same meaning, and it makes a good sense; but who can say it is the true sense? If the words be read interrogatively, as they certainly may, the sense will be much clearer, and some of the difficulties will be removed:

"Have I slain a man, that I should be wounded?

Or a young man, that I should be bruised?"

But even this still supposes some previous reason or conversation. I shall not trouble my readers with a ridiculous Jewish fable, followed by St. Jerome, of Lamech having killed Cain by accident, etc.; and after what I have already said, I must leave the passage, I fear, among those which are inscrutable.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Numbers 23:18 And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; listen to me, you son of Zippor:

Judges 9:7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said to them...

I have slain a man to my wounding. or, I would slay a man in my wound, etc.


to my hurt. or, in my hurt.

What Crouches at the Door
'If thou doest not well, sin croucheth at the door: and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.'--GENESIS iv. 7 (R. V.). These early narratives clothe great moral and spiritual truths in picturesque forms, through which it is difficult for us to pierce. In the world's childhood God spoke to men as to children, because there were no words then framed which would express what we call abstract conceptions. They had to be shown by pictures. But these early men, simple and childlike
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Cain and Abel. Gen 4:3-8
CAIN and ABEL. Gen 4:3-8 When Adam fell he quickly lost God's image, which he once possessed: See All our nature since could boast In Cain, his first-born Son, expressed! The sacrifice the Lord ordained In type of the Redeemer's blood, Self-righteous reas'ning Cain disdained, And thought his own first-fruits as good. Yet rage and envy filled his mind, When, with a fallen, downcast look, He saw his brother favor find, Who GOD's appointed method took. By Cain's own hand, good Abel died, Because
John Newton—Olney Hymns

Extracts No. vii.
[In this number the objector gives the whole ground of his objections, and the reasons for his doubts: which he states as follows, viz. "1. Mankind, in all ages of the world, have been, and still are prone to superstition. "2. It cannot be denied, but that a part of mankind at least, have believed, and still are believing in miracles and revelation, which are spurious. "3. The facts on which religion is predicated are unlike every thing of which we have any positive knowledge." Under the first
Hosea Ballou—A Series of Letters In Defence of Divine Revelation

The Faith of Abraham.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she
Thomas Charles Edwards—The Expositor's Bible: The Epistle to the Hebrews

Cross References
Genesis 4:22
Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain's sister was Naamah.

Exodus 20:13
"You shall not murder.

Leviticus 19:18
"'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Deuteronomy 32:35
It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."

Psalm 94:1
The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth.

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