“And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”
Five generations after Cain came a man called Lamech. This was not the same Lamech who became Noah’s father.
The significance of Cain’s descendant, Lamech, is that he decided to take on the role of God for his own life and those around him. God had said He would avenge Cain sevenfold if anyone would murder him. But Lamech wanted to do his own avenging, and this was to be seventy-sevenfold. And he announced he killed people, not for attempted murder, but just for being wounded or struck.
This usurpation of God’s role was also seen in Lamech’s other actions. God had set the pattern that marriage was to be one man and one woman through how He dealt with Adam and Eve. But Lamech decided to have two wives. If a man takes two wives, then neither is his equal partner. Lamech’s motivations for being the world’s first polygamist are seen in his wives’ names – Adah, meaning “ornament”, and Zillah, meaning “shade”. There is nothing wrong with a man being physically attracted to his wife (singular), but these names suggest that it was only physical attraction that Lamech was interested in.
Lamech is a clear example of what happens over a few generations when a people turns away from God. In just five generations, we have a society that rejects God’s definition of marriage and seeks its own control on society. This pre-Flood society seems very similar to that of today.