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Read the collected works of Louis Ginzberg.
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Legends of the Jews

by Louis Ginzberg


Volume I: Title | Preface | Contents | Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Volume II: Title | Preface | Contents | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Volume III: Title | Preface | Contents | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Volume IV: Title | Contents | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |
Volume I

III. THE TEN GENERATIONS--THE BIRTH OF CAIN--FRATRICIDE--THE PUNISHMENT OF CAIN--THE INHABITANTS OF THE SEVEN EARTHS--THE DESCENDANTS OF CAIN--THE DESCENDANTS OF ADAM AND LILITH--SETH AND HIS DESCENDANTS--ENOSH--THE FALL OF THE ANGELS--ENOCH, RULER AND TEACHER--THE ASCENSION OF ENOCH--THE TRANSLATION OF ENOCH--METHUSELAH

THE TEN GENERATIONS

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.


Volume I: Title | Preface | Contents | Chapters:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Volume II: Title | Preface | Contents | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Volume III: Title | Preface | Contents | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Volume IV: Title | Contents | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |


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