The Line of Lamech
- From "Legends of the Jews" by Louis Ginsberg.
THE DESCENDANTS OF CAIN
Cain knew only too well that his blood-guiltiness would be visited upon him in the seventh generation. Thus had God decreed against him. He endeavored, therefore, to immortalize his name by means of monuments, and he became a builder of cities. The first of them he called Enoch, after his son, because it was at the birth of Enoch that he began to enjoy a measure of rest and peace. Besides, he founded six other cities. This building of cities was a godless deed, for he surrounded them with a wall, forcing his family to remain within. All his other doings were equally impious. The punishment God had ordained for him did not effect any improvement. He sinned in order to secure his own pleasure, though his neighbors suffered injury thereby. He augmented his household substance by rapine and violence; he excited his acquaintances to procure pleasures and spoils by robbery, and he became a great leader of men into wicked courses. He also introduced a change in the ways of simplicity wherein men had lived before, and he was the author of measures and weights. And whereas men lived innocently and generously while they knew nothing of such arts, he changed the world into cunning craftiness.
Like unto Cain were all his descendants, impious and godless, wherefore God resolved to destroy them.
The end of Cain overtook him in the seventh generation of men, and it was inflicted upon him by the hand of his great-grandson Lamech. This Lamech was blind, and when he went a-hunting, he was led by his young son, who would apprise his father when game came in sight, and Lamech would then shoot at it with his bow and arrow. Once upon a time he and his son went on the chase, and the lad discerned something horned in the distance. He naturally took it to be a beast of one kind or another, and he told the blind Lamech to let his arrow fly. The aim was good, and the quarry dropped to the ground. When they came close to the victim, the lad exclaimed: "Father, thou hast killed something that resembles a human being in all respects, except it carries a horn on its forehead!" Lamech knew at once what had happened--he had killed his ancestor Cain, who had been marked by God with a horn. In despair he smote his hands together, inadvertently killing his son as he clasped them. Misfortune still followed upon misfortune. The earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the four generations sprung from Cain--Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, and Methushael. Lamech, sightless as he was, could not go home; he had to remain by the side of Cain's corpse and his son's. Toward evening, his wives, seeking him, found him there. When they heard what he had done, they wanted to separate from him, all the more as they knew that whoever was descended from Cain was doomed to annihilation. But Lamech argued, "If Cain, who committed murder of malice aforethought, was punished only in the seventh generation, then I, who had no intention of killing a human being, may hope that retribution will be averted for seventy and seven generations." With his wives, Lamech repaired to Adam, who heard both parties, and decided the case in favor of Lamech.
The corruptness of the times, and especially the depravity of Cain's stock, appears in the fact that Lamech, as well as all the men in the generation of the deluge, married two wives, one with the purpose of rearing children, the other in order to pursue carnal indulgences, for which reason the latter was rendered sterile by artificial means. As the men of the time were intent upon pleasure rather than desirous of doing their duty to the human race, they gave all their love and attention to the barren women, while their other wives spent their days like widows, joyless and in gloom.
The two wives of Lamech, Adah and Zillah, bore him each two children, Adah two sons, Jabal and Jubal, and Zillah a son, Tubal-cain, and a daughter, Naamah. Jabal was the first among men to erect temples to idols, and Jubal invented the music sung and played therein. Tubal-cain was rightly named, for he completed the work of his ancestor Cain. Cain committed murder, and Tubal-cain, the first who knew how to sharpen iron and copper, furnished the instruments used in wars and combats. Naamah, "the lovely," earned her name from the sweet sounds which she drew from her cymbals when she called the worshippers to pay homage to idols.
THE DESCENDANTS OF ADAM AND LILITH
When the wives of Lamech heard the decision of Adam, that they were to continue to live with their husband, they turned upon him, saying, "O physician, heal thine own lameness!" They were alluding to the fact that he himself had been living apart from his wife since the death of Abel, for he had said, "Why should I beget children, if it is but to expose them to death?"
Though he avoided intercourse with Eve, he was visited in his sleep by female spirits, and from his union with them sprang shades and demons of various kinds, and they were endowed with peculiar gifts.
Once upon a time there lived in Palestine a very rich and pious man, who had a son named Rabbi Hanina. He knew the whole of the Torah by heart. When he was at the point of death, he sent for his son, Rabbi Hanina, and bade him, as his last request, to study the Torah day and night, fulfil the commands of the law, and be a faithful friend to the poor. He also told him that he and his wife, the mother of Rabbi Hanina, would die on the selfsame day, and the seven days of mourning for the two would end on the eve of the Passover. He enjoined him not to grieve excessively, but to go to market on that day, and buy the first article offered to him, no matter how costly it might be. If it happened to be an edible, he was to prepare it and serve it with much ceremony. His expense and trouble would receive their recompense. All happened as foretold: the man and his wife died upon the same day, and the end of the week of mourning coincided with the eve of the Passover. The son in turn carried out his father's behest: he repaired to market, and there he met an old man who offered a silver dish for sale. Although the price asked was exorbitant, yet he bought it, as his father had bidden. The dish was set upon the Seder table, and when Rabbi Hanina opened it, he found a second dish within, and inside of this a live frog, jumping and hopping around gleefully. He gave the frog food and drink, and by the end of the festival he was grown so big that Rabbi Hanina made a cabinet for him, in which he ate and lived. In the course of time, the cabinet became too small, and the Rabbi built a chamber, put the frog within, and gave him abundant food and drink. All this he did that he might not violate his father's last wish. But the frog waxed and grew; he consumed all his host owned, until, finally, Rabbi Hanina was stripped bare of all his possessions. Then the frog opened his mouth and began to speak. "My dear Rabbi Hanina," he said, "do not worry! Seeing thou didst raise me and care for me, thou mayest ask of me whatever thy heart desireth, and it shall be granted thee." Rabbi Hanina made reply, "I desire naught but that thou shouldst teach me the whole of the Torah." The frog assented, and he did, indeed, teach him the whole of the Torah, and the seventy languages of men besides. His method was to write a few words upon a scrap of paper, which he had his pupil swallow. Thus he acquired not alone the Torah and the seventy tongues, but also the language of beasts and birds. Thereupon the frog spoke to the wife of Rabbi Hanina: "Thou didst tend me well, and I have given thee no recompense. But thy reward will be paid thee before I depart from you, only you must both accompany me to the woods. There you shall see what I shall do for you." Accordingly, they went to the woods with him. Arrived there, the frog began to cry aloud, and at the sound all sorts of beasts and birds assembled. These he commanded to produce precious stones, as many as they could carry. Also they were to bring herbs and roots for the wife of Rabbi Hanina, and he taught her how to use them as remedies for all varieties of disease. All this they were bidden to take home with them. When they were about to return, the frog addressed them thus: "May the Holy One, blessed be He, have mercy upon you, and requite you for all the trouble you took on my account, without so much as inquiring who I am. Now I shall make my origin known to you. I am the son of Adam, a son whom he begot during the hundred and thirty years of his separation from Eve. God has endowed me with the power of assuming any form or guise I desire." Rabbi Hanina and his wife departed for their home, and they became very rich, and enjoyed the respect and confidence of the king.
SETH AND HIS DESCENDANTS
The exhortations of the wives of Lamech took effect upon Adam. After a separation of one hundred and thirty years, he returned to Eve, and the love he now bore her was stronger by far than in the former time. She was in his thoughts even when she was not present to him bodily. The fruit of their reunion was Seth, who was destined to be the ancestor of the Messiah.
Seth was so formed from birth that the rite of circumcision could be dispensed with. He was thus one of the thirteen men born perfect in a way. Adam begot him in his likeness and image, different from Cain, who had not been in his likeness and image. Thus Seth became, in a genuine sense, the father of the human race, especially the father of the pious, while the depraved and godless are descended from Cain.
Even during the lifetime of Adam the descendants of Cain became exceedingly wicked, dying successively, one after another, each more wicked than the former. They were intolerable in war, and vehement in robberies, and if any one were slow to murder people, yet was he bold in his profligate behavior in acting unjustly and doing injury for gain.
Now as to Seth. When he was brought up, and came to those years in which he could discern what was good, he became a virtuous man, and as he was himself of excellent character, so he left children behind him who imitated his virtues. All these proved to be of good disposition. They also inhabited one and the same country without dissensions, and in a happy condition, without any misfortune's falling upon them, until they died. They also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly bodies and their order. And that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, they made two pillars, upon Adam's prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire and at another time by the violence and quantity of water. The one was of brick, the other of stone, and they inscribed their discoveries on both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit these discoveries to mankind, and also inform them that there was another pillar, of brick, erected by them.
- Please stick to your own thoughts and ideas, or at least include your own thoughts and ideas interspersed instead of just very long pastes from a book. Thanks :).
AthenaOn Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 5:24 PM, David Stolowitz <david@...> wrote:
From "Legends of the Jews" by Louis Ginsberg.
- Abraham VW addresses US as Lamech. Spiritually, we are equivalents. Therefore, it is pertinent to study the lore related to Lamech.
I am a bit late with this comment, but Abraham does not actually address just any reader. Let us not forget that hi youngest son was called Lamech. It was him he was addressing, when he wrote the book.
The book was part of Lamech's magical inheritance, since Abraham had given the Full Kabbala to the eldesr son.
David Stolowitz" <david@...> wrote:
Abraham VW addresses US as Lamech. Spiritually, we are equivalents. Therefore, it is pertinent to study the lore related to Lamech.
- Oh and David, I would very much like to read that book in full. Can you tell me where I can buy it, or whether I can download it somewhere among those free books online?
Thanks in advance.
--- In email@example.com, "David Stolowitz" <david@...> wrote:
> From "Legends of the Jews" by Louis Ginsberg.
- Hi Desiree. The book is available on a number of websites. Just do a google search with the full title and author in quotations and you'll find a good site in no time.