The Cultivation of the Fine Arts
Genesis 4:17-24
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bore Enoch: and he built a city, and called the name of the city…

The inexorable necessaries of daily life absorbed no more the whole attention or the entire strength; the soul and the heart, also, demanded and obtained their food and nurture! Lamech was the first poet (vers. 23, 24), and his son the first musician; the "sweat of the brow" was temporarily dried by the heavenly sunshine of art; the curse of Adam was, in a great measure, conquered by the perseverance and the gentleness of his descendants. Everybody will readily admit that this was a most important step in the advancement of society; for, materialism with its degrading tendencies of cold expediency was, in some measure, dethroned; it became a co-ordinate part of a higher striving, which found its reward, not in selfish utility, but in a free and elevating recreation. It is true that most of the ancient nations ascribed the invention of musical instruments to their deities: the Egyptians believed that Thor, the god of wisdom and knowledge, the friend of Osiris, invented the three-stringed lyre; the Greeks represented Pan or Mercury as the first artists on the flute; and music was generally considered a Divine gift, and an immediate communication from the gods. But our context describes the invention of these instruments in a far deeper manner; it embodies it organically in the history of the human families, and assigns to it that significant place which its internal character demands. It is not an accidental fact that the lyre and the flute were introduced by the brother of a nomadic herdsman (Jabal). It is in the happy leisure of this occupation that music is generally first exercised and appreciated, and the idyllic tunes of the shepherd find their way, either with his simple instruments, or after the invention of others of a more developed description, into the house of the citizen and the palace of the monarch. But we must not be surprised to find here Jabal described as "the father of those who dwell in tents, and of those who have cattle" (ver. 20), although Abel had already followed the same pursuits (ver. 2). Every single remark proves the depth of thought, and the comprehensiveness of the views of the Hebrew writer. Abel had been murdered, most probably without leaving children; yet his occupation could not die out with him; breeding of cattle is a calling too necessary, and at the same time too inviting, not to be resumed by some later born individual. But in the family of Cain rested the curse of bloodshed; the crime was to be expiated by severe labour; in the fourth generation it was atoned for (Exodus 20:5); and now were the Cainites permitted to indulge extensively in the easy life of herdsmen; the blood of Abel was avenged, and with the restored guiltlessness returned affluence, and — mirth, which is aptly symbolized by the invention of music. Jabal and Jubal were Lamech's sons with Adah; but he had another wife, Zillah, who bore him also a son, Tubal-Cain. He was a "sharpener of all instruments of braes and iron"; and this seems to imply that he continued the ancestral pursuit of agriculture, but that he also improved the necessary implements; he invented the practical art of whetting ploughs, and of making, by the aid of fire, other instruments materially mitigating the toil and hardship which the cultivation of the soil imposes upon the laborious countryman. And are we not justified in finding in this alleviation of the manual labour also, a relaxation of the severe curse pronounced against his ancestor Cain?

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

WEB: Cain knew his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch. He built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

The City of Cain
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