Why did Lamech believe injury to himself deserved to be avenged, even moreso than injury to Cain?
Genesis 4:23 - 24
NKJV - 23 Then Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me. 24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.
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These verses are referred to as the song of Lamech. They culminate centuries of ungodly living among the descendants of Cain. Cain's desire was to establish a name for himself, (^:4, 10;9, 11:40); he built a city and name it after his son. His descendants were involved in polygamy, as well as, purely humanitarian pursuits. Lamech took the law into his hands and killed someone in revenge.The dynasty had degenerated into a vengeful tyranny in this heir of a murderous founder Cain). This SONG expresses Lamech's pride and his refusal to suffer any hurt without wreaking revenge.This expression is one of conceit, arrogance and disdain and sets the background for why God sends the flood (chapters 6-9); where He says "violence" fills the earth (6:13)
Scripture does not go into great detail on this occurrence. It could be, as Doreen mentioned, due to Lamech's pride. However, ancient Jewish writings present a possible account of what happened (this is not scripture!): Lamech's eyesight was failing, but he went out hunting. Tubal-Cain (his son) was helping him fetch the arrows. Lamech shot into the bush, mistaking a man for an animal - and instead found he had killed Cain. (Jasher 2:26-36) "And he said to his wives Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice O wives of Lamech, attend to my words, for now you have imagined and said that I slew a man with my wounds, and a child with my stripes for their having done no violence, but surely know that I am old and grey-headed, and that my eyes are heavy through age, and I did this thing unknowingly" (Jasher 2:35) Lamech's insistence that he be avenged seventy-seven times would have then have a couple meanings: #1 "Cain deliberately murdered, but crimes against his person are to be avenged seven times, then I should be avenged seventy-seven times as I killed accidentally". #2 "If Cain asked for special merit from God to be avenged 7 times, then I ask for special merit to be avenged 77 times". #3 "Cain did not die by my vengeance or man's deliberate action, but God has repaid him for his crime against Abel. Thus, those who attack me are attacking God's justice, and I should therefore be avenged to the utmost". There is no direct scriptural support (or contradiction) with the ancient Jewish legend of Lamech. However, it does point out that Lamech could have killed on accident, not on purpose (not necessarily Cain, even). It then, is important that we don't read too much into the passage, such as Lamech being an unapologetic murderer. Depending on how the passage is read, Lamech could have killed the man in self-defense ("For wounding me, for striking me") or accidentally killed a man and mourned for it "I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt." Gen 4:23 We simply cannot know for sure from the little detail scripture gives.
Lamech boasted to his two wives about killing a man for injuring him and a young man for hurting him. The statement of Lamech as recorded in Gen 4:23-24 must be weighty indeed. For why would it be included in scripture if it has no relevance? The man he killed was Cain, for his words refer to God's warning on Cain's crime which should be avenged sevenfold. Lamech killed not just one man, but two. Now, who was this young man Lamech killed for hurting him that his crime truly must be avenged seventy seven fold than that of the crime Cain committed? Lamech was fifth from Cain (Gen 4:16-18). People knew Cain and the curse that was on him. This young man may not just be an ordinary young man who must have hurt his feelings for something he might have done which was evil or unrighteous in God's sight [It could be his crime of killing Cain and his polygamous life]. The young man Lamech killed must be somebody else, a preacher perhaps, or a righteous man. And that could be Enoch. Enoch was seventh from Adam. At the age of 365, Enoch certainly was a young man in his time and Lamech who was fifth from Cain is only a generation ahead of Enoch. Enoch was the prophet in that age, when people lived almost a thousand years! Lamech may not like hearing Enoch's prophesy about the Lord coming in the clouds with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment upon all...(Jude 1:14-15). And Enoch must have rebuked him about his ungodly character so he killed the young man. But God did not want someone to profane Enoch's body so God hid his body from the people just as he did with Moses. That is why Enoch was nowhere to be found because God took him (Gen 5:21-24) and must have buried him somewhere to keep his body on the day of the Lord's return.
How haughtily and imperiously he speaks to his wives. How bloody he was about it. He owns himself a man of a cruel disposition. He did not murder Cain but he does compare himself to Cain. Like Cain he continued himself impenitent and yet unhumbled by his offense. It is a common thing that fierce men glory in their own shame (Phil. 3:19). Falsely believing that it is their safety and their honor that they care not. He had heard that Cain should be avenged sevenfold if any man should dare kill him. He presumed that God would much more avenge his death for he did not kill his brother. If God provided for the safety of Cain how much more God would provide for his safety who though he has slain yet never slew his own brother. Notice that the reprieve of some sinners and the patience of God exercised towards them how often is misused, misunderstood and abused for the hardening of their hearts (Ecc. 8:11). Surely pride is also his sin which makes him presumptuous. This is all we have upon the record in scripture concerning the family of Cain until they are cut off in the deluge.
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