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Genesis 4:17-26 - Walkin’ The Line – Part 1
The tale of two men (4:17-26). In 4:17, we come across yet another issue brought up by skeptics, and another verse which brings up many questions. And this little notation in Scripture has aroused more questions than many more serious issues: “Where did Cain get his wife? I myself had this question early in my faith and asked one of my mentors about it. “His reply was that there were other people and other cities, but God just focused on Adam and Eve.”
I respected this guy, after all he had many distinguished and important letters before his name: Th.D, D.Min, Ph.D. And I held on to this belief for many years and shared it with others. Herein lies the danger of not doing your own hermeneutics and relying on what others say and believe. So, let’s look to Scripture to answer this question.
The verse reads: “Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son, Enoch. Of course, the obvious question is: Where did Cain get his wife? The answer is quite simple: Cain married his sister (or possibly a niece).
The Bible says Adam “had other sons and daughters” (5:4). In fact, since Adam lived 930 years (5:5), he had plenty of time for plenty of children! This verse also does NOT say that Cain went to Nod and later found a wife there. Rather, the implication of this verse is that he already had a wife and he went to Nod. The event that took place in Nod is that he “knew” his wife - had sexual relations with her - and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Cain could have married one of his many sisters, or even a niece, if he married after his brothers or sisters had grown daughters.
Regardless, one of his brothers would have married a sister. Marriages between close relatives were at first unavoidable if the whole human race came from a single pair. Marriage between siblings and close relatives was not prohibited until the Mosaic Law, instituted thousands of years later (Lev 18:6-18). There were no genetic imperfections at the beginning of the human race. God created genetically perfect Adam (1:27). Genetic defects resulted from the fall and only occurred gradually, over long periods of time.
In 4:18-19, we read about a man by the name of “Lamech” who becomes the first bigamist. Bigamy was common in the ancient Near East, but it was never God’s desire (cf. 2:24; Matt 19:4-5). God permitted it, however, as He did many other customs of which He disapproved (e.g., divorce, marrying concubines, polygamy, etc.); but He was not pleased with this violation of the marriage covenant.
In 4:20-24, we see that Cain prospered even though he rebelled against God. Cain’s prosperity led the way in producing cities, music, weapons, and agricultural implements—in short, civilization. Even among ungodly people God allows development and progress. It is part of His kindness to the entire human race. This is another indication of God’s grace. (Common Grace: Undeserved blessings God gives to ALL people, believers and unbelievers: enjoying beauty, the ability to love, to know good and evil, to know truth, to grow in knowledge, artistic abilities...)
Cain’s descendants took the lead in building cities, developing music, advancing agriculture, creating weapons, and spreading civilization. In 4:23-24, Lamech said to his wives, ‘“Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me; if Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.’”
Lamech, who is Cain’s great-great-great-grandson, writes a piece of poetry, but what an ugly piece of poetry it is! It is a song. One can easily see that its lines are parallel and poetical. Lamech is singing a song. But what is he singing about?
He is singing about polygamy, murder, and revenge. This is a “sword song” in which Lamech wears violence as a badge of honor. Does this seem crude? How many of us have done it? I know I have! It’s all part of that lifestyle. God allows the makers of musical instruments to arise, but they misuse their very culture to promote violence. This is how men and women use their culture. God allows family life, music, and technology but how does man use His blessings? He perverts them! Music is wonderful. Yet, music can be used for wicked purposes also.
Do we realize the influence of the media on us and our children? Think about many of the songs that are popular today. They are full of violence, sex, and self. What about the impact of television and social media? Did you know that the average American family watches 6.5 hours of TV daily? One way of making sense of this astronomical figure is to consider this: The average child spends 900 hours a year in school but 1,500 hours a year watching TV.
Join us next week when we continue looking at Genesis 4:17-26.