SEDER OLAM - Revisited

סדר עולם - חדש



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Generations  1-14
(3760 - 2080 BCE)

Generations 15-21
(2080 - 1240 BCE)

Generations 22-28
(1240 - 400 BCE)

Generations 29-35
(400 BCE - 440 CE)

Generations 36-42
(440 - 1280 CE)

Generations 43-49
(1280 - 2120 CE)

Generation 50

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Hebrew years 720 to 840 (3040-2920 BCE)


In Mesopotamia, Cain was finally killed by one of his descendants, Lamech. It happened during the 7th generation of mankind,[7] as God had only offered protection to Cain until then, following his murder of Abel.[1a] According to the great commentator Rashi (1040-1104), Lamech was a blind man from birth and he killed Cain by accident, as it is told in the Book of Jasher, a book that is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and II Samuel 1:18:

And Lamech was old and advanced in years, and his eyes were dim that he could not see, and Tuval-Cain, his son, was leading him and it was one day that Lamech went into the field and Tuval-Cain his son was with him, and whilst they were walking in the field, Cain the son of Adam advanced towards them; for Lamech was very old and could not see much, and Tuval-Cain his son was very young. And Tuval-Cain told his father to draw his bow, and with the arrows he smote Cain, who was yet far off, and he slew him, for he appeared to them to be an animal. And the arrows entered Cain's body although he was distant from them, and he fell to the ground and died. And the Lord requited Cain's evil according to his wickedness, which he had done to his brother Abel, according to the word of the Lord which he had spoken.
--- Book of Jasher, translated in 1840, re-published by J.H. Parry, Salt Lake City 1887, 2:26-29

Distraught, he then killed his son Tuval-Cain by mistake as well. The Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible is surely different from the version published in the 19th century, which is admitted to be a forgery based on already known texts and commentaries of the Bible. The original Book of Jasher, which must have been very ancient as it was mentioned by Joshua himself, is lost.[1b]   

The Biblical text mentions two of Lamech’s wives:

Lamech took to himself two wives. The name of one was Adah and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and breed cattle. The name of his brother was Jubal; he was the ancestor of those who handle the lyre and the flute. And Zillah too, she bore Tuval-Cain who polished all sorts of crafts in copper and iron. And the sister of Tuval-Cain was Naamah.
--- Genesis 4:19-22

The names of Lamech’s two wives were probably given by him. Indeed Adah means witness: presumably she was so-named because she acted as Lamech’s eyes in the world. Zillah means shadow: presumably the name could have meant that she followed Lamech in all his moves and was, in other words, his aide.

Migration of populations

Jabal, presumably, moved away from the city dwellers and became nomadic. His descendants would settle in other parts of the known world, further east: they established settlements in parts of Asia (Hindus Valley and China) and then crossed into the American continent. His descendants were the first to populate vast regions of the globe and accomplished the first great human migrations. Most of Asia and all the Native Americans probably came from him because genetic studies show that these regions were originally populated from a single male ancestor who gave root to the genetic Y-DNA haplogroup called Q, as depicted in the genetic map below.

World distribution of Y-DNA haplogroup Q
World distribution of Y-DNA haplogroup Q
(source: Mauricio Lucioni - Wikipedia)

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Bronze Age

Jubal was the creator of the first sophisticated musical instruments. Scholars consider that primitive instruments were based on a simple percussion, but that sophisticated instruments originated from Mesopotamia.[2]

Zillah bore a son, Tuval-Cain, who was named or renamed after his ancestor Cain probably because he died as a result of Cain's death. He was the one who first created metal tools. He died around 3000 BCE and, because of him, mankind evolved from the Chalcolithic period and so began the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age period started in the Near East some time around 3300 BCE where tin ores were discovered and used in mixture with copper to create harder metal material. The Bronze Age corresponds to the Canaanite period and the era of the Patriarchs, until the Hebrews left Egypt and became a nation. Then started the Iron Age, around 1200 BCE.

Bronze Age
Timeline of the Bronze Age

Presumably Tubal-Cain was the first human to build furnaces and create harder metal work. This was a blessing for humanity but a curse, too. With bronze came tools to work the earth but also weapons to wage wars.
The technique quickly spread to other regions, such as Central Europe around 2500 BCE,[3] where tin ores were discovered.

In clay tablets found in the royal archive of Ebla (around 2550 BCE), archaeologists found the formula used in these times to make bronze tools and weapons:

40 shekels of tin to fuse with 5 minas ans 30 shekels of copper to make 15 small axes, each weighing 20 shekels.
42 shekels of tin to fuse with 6 minas ans 40 shekels of copper to make 20 small axes, each weighing 20 shekels.
--- Pettinato, Giovanni, The Archives of Ebla, An Empire Inscribed in Clay, New York, 1981, tablet TM.75.G.1860, page 178

Bronze tools from Tell-Brak
Early bronze tools from Tell-Brak, Norther Syria, about 3000 BCE

With Bronze Age, tools became more perfectionned thanks to the tooling it brought: pottery was more polished and decorated, cutting tools were sharper, weapons became more lethal (arrow heads, knives, etc.)

Tuval-Cain has an equivalent in Greek mythology: it is Hephaestus, named after a Bronze Age site in Crete which is supposed to be the origin of blacksmith technique According to the Greek legend (which borrowed it from Cretan legends), Hephaestus was crippled, and his nickname was "the lame one". The Romans copied this mythology too, and gave the name of Vulcan, father of the study of Volcanic science. All of these details can only remind the Biblical narrative which tells that the working of metal was invented by one man and that this man was the son of Lamech, a crippled man.

Finally came Lamech’s daughter, Naamah, meaning ‘kind’. She escaped from her father's region and moved to the land of Canaan where the descendants of Adam and Seth had settled and lived a more peaceful life than that in the city-states of Mesopotamia. There, according to Rashi, she later became the wife of Noah, the grandson of Metushalach.

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[1a] Genesis 4:15

[1b] According to Rashi though, the Book of Jasher is the Torah itself, because Jasher (pronounced Yasher in Hebrew) simply means Righteous and thus refers to the book telling the story of the Patriarchs, the Torah

[2] See article on Wikipedia: Images of musical instruments begin to appear in Mesopotamian artifacts in 2800 BC or earlier.

[3] Quotation from Penhallurick, R.D., Tin in Antiquity: its Mining and Trade Throughout the Ancient World with Particular Reference to Cornwall, London: The Institute of Metals, 1986, page 86, mentioned in Wikipedia: Tin was first mined in Europe around 2500 BC in Erzgebirge [Central Europe], and knowledge of tin bronze and tin extraction techniques spread from there to Brittany and Cornwall around 2000 BC.

[7] God intervenes in His creation every 7 generations, as it is shown in subsequent pages of this site; to check this cycle, click here

Copyright Albert Benhamou 2013 - All rights reserved.