Lamech is a name that appears a few times in the Bible, referring to two different men. The more well-known Lamech is described in Genesis 4, while the other Lamech appears later in Genesis 5.
Lamech Descended from Cain
The Lamech described in Genesis 4 is part of the genealogy descending from Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve who murdered his brother Abel. Genesis 4:18 states, “To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.”
Lamech had two wives, Adah and Zillah (Genesis 4:19). This was the first recorded example of bigamy or polygamy in the Bible. Adah gave birth to Jabal and Jubal. Jabal is described as the “father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock,” indicating he was the first to raise domesticated animals. Jubal is the “father of all those who play the lyre and pipe,” meaning he was likely the inventor of musical instruments (Genesis 4:20-21).
Zillah gave birth to Tubal-cain and Naamah. Tubal-cain was the very first blacksmith, working with bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22). Naamah is simply identified as Tubal-cain’s sister, so not much is known about her.
The most significant detail mentioned about Lamech comes in Genesis 4:23-24 where he declares to his two wives:
Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.
This appears to be Lamech emphasizing how much more vengeful he is compared to Cain. Whereas Cain sought vengeance on someone who harmed his family, Lamech seems to boast about seeking excessive retaliation for merely being struck by someone.
Lamech Father of Noah
A different Lamech appears later in Genesis 5, listed among the genealogy that leads to Noah. Genesis 5:28-29 states:
When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”
This Lamech is the son of Methuselah and the father of Noah. He seems to recognize there will be a special purpose for his son, Noah, in bringing comfort from the cursed ground. Of course, this theme continues as Noah later builds the ark to escape the judgment of the great flood.
But other than the prophecy Lamech makes about his son, very few details are provided about Lamech the father of Noah. All we know is his place in the genealogy tracing back to Adam through Seth.
Key Differences Between the Two Lamechs
There are several key differences between the two men named Lamech in the book of Genesis:
- Lamech descended from Cain is recorded in Genesis 4, while Lamech the father of Noah is in Genesis 5.
- The first Lamech was part of the godless lineage of Cain, while the second was part of the righteous lineage tracing back to Seth.
- Lamech son of Methushael had two wives and boasted of seeking excessive vengeance. Lamech father of Noah had one wife and spoke a prophecy about his son bringing comfort from the cursed ground.
- The Lamech in Genesis 4 is portrayed negatively as continuing the unrighteous and violent ways of Cain. The Lamech in Genesis 5 is portrayed in a positive light as a righteous forbearer of Noah.
These differences clearly demonstrate the two men were not the same person. They simply shared the same name.
The Meaning of the Name Lamech
The name Lamech comes from a root word meaning “to be low, humiliated, or poor.” Some interpreters have suggested the name implies youth and strength. Lamech the son of Methushael apparently believed his son Noah would bring him strength and comfort in his agricultural labors.
However, the name takes on an ironic meaning when considering the unrighteous Lamech descended from Cain. Despite any power or status he may have attained, spiritually he and his lineage remained poor, lowly, and humiliated as they lived apart from God.
Lessons We Can Learn from the Two Lamechs
Although not as well-known as many other Bible characters, the two different men named Lamech in Genesis offer several important lessons:
- The negative example of Lamech descended from Cain illustrates the damaging consequences of sin as it increases and corrupts over generations.
- Lamech’s bigamy was the first recorded departure from God’s model of monogamous marriage between one man and woman.
- Lamech’s boast about excessive vengeance shows the violent recklessness that results from pride and disregard for human life.
- In contrast, Lamech the father of Noah demonstrates the hope of redemption through faith in God’s promises.
- Noah’s father Lamech shows that even in an increasingly corrupt world, individuals can still choose to live righteously by faith.
As with all biblical characters, there are important lessons we can take from the lives of both men named Lamech. Their examples illustrate the disastrous consequences of sin and offer a model of faith amid darkness.
Other References to Lamech in the Bible
Apart from the genealogies in Genesis, there are a couple other minor biblical references to the Lamech descended from Cain:
- 1 Chronicles 1:3 – Lamech is listed among the sons of Methushael in this genealogy of the sons of Adam through Seth.
- Luke 3:36 – Lamech is named in the genealogy of Jesus traced back through David and Abraham to Adam.
So when the name Lamech appears in Scripture, it always refers specifically to the descendant of Cain, not Noah’s father. The Lamech in Cain’s lineage became notorious due to his legacy of polygamy and violence.
Significance and Legacy of the Two Lamechs
The significance of the two men named Lamech can be summarized as follows:
- For Lamech descended from Cain: He highlights the escalation of sin and godlessness of Cain’s lineage and stands as an example of what happens when people leave God out of their lives.
- For Lamech father of Noah: He represents a beacon of hope that redemption is still possible through faith, even in dark times of corruption.
In terms of legacy, Lamech of Cain left a legacy of furthering unrighteousness, violence, bigamy, and pride. In contrast, Noah’s father Lamech left a godly legacy of faith in God’s promise to send relief from the curse through his son Noah.
Summary of the Main Points
To summarize the key points:
- There are two different men named Lamech in the book of Genesis.
- The Lamech in Genesis 4 descended from Cain’s lineage and boasted of his vengeful violence.
- The Lamech in Genesis 5 was Noah’s father and lived as a righteous man of faith.
- The name Lamech means “lowly or humiliated” which is ironic for Cain’s Lamech but fitting for Noah’s father.
- The two Lamechs illustrate the damaging fruits of sin and godlessness vs. the redemptive power of faith in God.
In the Bible, names often take on symbolic significance. The two men bearing the name Lamech reinforce major themes seen throughout Genesis regarding sin vs. redemption, curse vs. blessing, and the contrast between faith vs. unbelief.