The Antediluvians

I was watching a lecture series on the Book of Genesis, and paid particular attention to the passages normally overlooked, the genealogies, which I suppose Moses included because there was no other reckoning of years between the events of the Fall, the First Murder, the Flood and so on. Without such a reckoning, the story would merely float in the “long-ago dream-time” of myth and legend — the one thing fatal to a historical text.

The lecturer ventured the meaning of the names of the generations of Cain and Adam.

Here is the line of Cain

Adam Man
MehujaelLife of God
MethusaelMan of God

During these generations, the giant sons of Cain erected the walls of the first city, while the sons of Lamech adopted the nomadic life of those who dwell in tents, bemused themselves with musical instruments, tools of bronze and iron, smithing the first iron weapons.

So all the vices that issue from the line of Cain, from fort-building and urban ease to idle harping, to shiftless gypsy wandering, to weapon-making, to polygamy.

It must be mentioned that the author of Beowulf explicitly makes Grendel as descendant of Cain.

Grendel was the name of this grim demon
Haunting the marches, marauding round the heath
And the desolate fens; he had dwelt for a time
In misery among the banished monsters,
Cain’s clan, whom the creator had outlawed
And condemned as outcasts. For the killing of Abel
The Eternal Lord had exacted a price:
Cain got no good from committing that murder
Because the Almighty made him anathema
And out of the curse of his exile there sprang
Ogres and elves and evil phantoms
And the giants too, who strove with God
Time and again until He gave them their reward.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.) Lines 102-114

This is in keeping with Northern tradition, for the penalty for kinslaying is exile.  if Cain slew the first kin, he is exiled, not merely from a town or nation, but from mankind itself, and takes his post in the Uncanny World where the ogres live.  How his children survive the flood of Noah is not explained, albeit Grendel’s mother does dwell in a haunted lake-bottom, with no need for air.

The Nephilim (who most likely were offspring of Cain’s delicious, dark-eyed, and wicked daughters and fallen angels lured into lust)  must have somehow survived the Flood, since there are giants in Bashan and Gath at least as recently as David’s day.

My personal theory: the giants among the Patagonians seen by Magellan were Nephilim! Who else would build blood-soaked pyramids to Seth, and establish the sacrifice to Moloch among the Mayans? They fled the coming of the Conquistadors, and now dwell in wild peaks of Graubünden, in the Swiss Alps overlooking the town of Davos, where they meet in secret with world leaders, plutocrats, technocracy mages, leanan sídhe from Hollywood, lamia from Planned Parenthood, and svartalfar and freemasons from the Bilderberg group.

Or so I would like to believe. Reality may be stranger than this.

According to the aggadic tradition, Lamech took two wives, one for sexual pleasure and the other for procreation. “Ada” means “Ornament” and Tsillah means “Shadow.” One wife would be in his company adorned like a harlot, and he plied her with a drug that induced barrenness, so that she would not give birth; the other sat alone, like a widow.

The same tradition holds that Cain, who was a tillerman, plowed the earth with the jawbone of an ass, as there were no metal tools before Tubalcain devised them. It is with this same jawbone Cain slew Abel.

Again, the tradition holds that the other unnamed children born of Adam and Eve consisted of thirty-three sons and thirty-three daughters, who were permitted, for that first generation only, to wed each other.

In Muslim tradition, Cain was born with a twin sister who was named Aclima, and Abel with a twin sister named Jumella. Adam wished Cain to marry Abel’s twin sister, and Abel to marry Cain’s. Cain would not consent to this arrangement, and Adam proposed to refer the question to God by means of a sacrifice. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice to signify his disapproval of his marriage with Aclima, his twin sister, and Cain slew his brother in a fit of jealousy.

In my humble opinion, this Mohammedan yarn sort of misses the whole point of the story. The first murder was about spiritual jealousy, not spousal jealousy.

In any case, Jewish tradition holds Abel was a virgin, as no children are listed for him. On the other hand, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. If the first murder took place one hundred thirty years after the creation of Adam, not one or two, several generations could have been born of the sons of Abel not mentioned in the text, not to mention all the sons of Cain’s unnamed thirty other brothers. These may have been the older brothers of Seth, not younger. And they also married their cousins, and were fruitful and multiplied in that time.

All of which would make Cain’s fear of being slain by any who might meet him seem more reasonable. But if Cain slew Abel when they were the only men born of woman alive on Earth at that time, who is he afraid would kill him?

Perhaps he is merely worried about generations to come. Given that he had never seen any man grow old and die,  and knowing his mother to be the mother of all life, he would have reasonably expected to live the hundreds of years while the world was filled with his brother, cousins, sons, and nephews.

If tradition is to be believed, he is rightly worried, for Lamech kills him with a bow while hunting.

One story holds Lamech was blind, and hunted by means of a youth, his son Tubalcain, who told him where and when to shoot. The youth, seeing some massive shape trampling trees and mountains, mistook Caine for a behemoth — for men were taller in those days  — and told Lamech to shoot. Having slain his own kin by mistake, Lamech in rage whipped the youth, which is why he tells his wives he beat a youth for bruising him, and slew a man for wound.

Myself, I thought this tale was telling that Lamech promises disproportionate retaliation against whomever offended him, and that his vengeance would be tenfold that of God’s vengeance. I thought he was boasting to his wives, not confessing.

But the lecturer said the story’s meaning is the God will protect Lamech from human vengeance even as he protected Cain.

Cain’s sister and wife Aclima may also have been named “Avan” which means “Vice” or “Iniquity.” Other legends give her name as Qelima, Kalmana, Lusia, Cainan, Luluwa.

Some sources in the Eastern Orthodox traditions give Cain’s twin sister the name Azura, which seems fitting to me, as this is the name of the evil Queen of Magic from Flash Gordon.

Interestingly, while Cain means “Possession” or “I have got” — for Eve said she had got a man from the Lord — Abel means “Gives to God.”

And here is the line of Seth

EnosMortal, frail, miserable, incurable
Kenan/CainanSorrow, dirge, elegy
MahaleelBlessed of God
JaredDescender or Fallen
EnochTeaching, commencement
LamechLamentation or Despair
NoahRest, Comfort

I suspect the similarity of names, as between Enoch and Enos, the Conqueror and the Sufferer, or between Irad the Urbane and Jared the Fallen, is meant to show a contrast between the two lines, as the theme of a good brother and evil brother might be reflected through a whole bloodline.

Methuselah’s name, bringing death, seem strange for the man who lived longer on earth than any other, but if one adds the ages of the antediluvians as given in the text, the year Methuselah dies is the same when the Flood comes.

There are also parallels with the Sumerian king lists, who list kings both before and after the Great Flood, and report similar superhuman lifespans.

But the lecturer did not read the names of the Sons of Seth in order, which seems to form an odd and hidden message:

O Man, appointed to mortal sorrow, the blessed God shall come down, teaching. His death shall bring the despairing rest and comfort.

Peculiar. Who could imagine the Most High God as coming down among us and dying, or that the death would paradoxically bring rest and comfort?