So I’m reading Genesis 4 and 5 and I come across these verses, “….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.” (Genesis 4:23-24) And I have to say…..huh?
This is referring to earlier in the same chapter when Cain killed Abel. Just to review: Abel and Cain both made sacrifices to the Lord. However, God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but not impressed with Cain’s. Cain became overtaken with jealousy because of this (talk about your sibling rivalry) and murdered Abel. God punishes Cain and Cain responds by saying in Genesis 4:13, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” (Interesting how Cain is still focused on himself.) He tells God he is worried others will kill him. God marks Cain so no one will touch him. God says…..and this is where my earlier focus verses come in…..that if anyone kills Cain, God’s vengence will be placed on the murderer sevenfold.
Now I know that in the Bible the number seven represents completion. It appears again and again and again ….. it’s sprinkled throughout the old and new testaments. Perhaps that’s the point of God using sevenfold when talking to Cain. OR perhaps it’s a hyperbole God is choosing to use to explain to Cain that nobody is going to touch him or they will deal directly with God. Who knows…..my confusion comes in later in Genesis at Lamech’s statement.
Lamech is a descendent of Cain. We know next to nothing about him outside of his genealogy and the fact that he has two wives. But Lamech…..in the middle of this genealogy list in the Bible of early humanity …… admits to killing a man because the other man hit him injuring him. And it refers back to this idea of Cain’s revenge being sevenfold then his must be multiplied and greater to seventy-sevenfold.
I don’t even know what this means. Is he saying God will protect him like he protected Cain? Is it saying God will punish him like He punished Cain? Is the seventy-sevenfold again talking about completion? Or is it another hyperbole? Obviously, Lamech is making a comparison to Cain but how? I have no idea.
Normally, I read some commentaries prior to writing these blog posts, but today I did not…..simply because I was totally at a loss. And I think it’s okay to be utterly confused and lost sometimes. I think it’s good to wrestle with the possibilities of God. I think the important thing is when we are confused, we don’t just throw up our hands and walk away. We continue to stew, to ponder, to consider. It’s okay to scratch our heads and say, “huh?”