17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; / you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: /I have killed a man for wounding me, /a young man for striking me. 24/If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, /then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. 
Moses has been focusing our attention upon Cain, the first-born son of Adam and Eve whom they believed would be the Promised Seed God vowed would come to undo the work of the devil. But in the first worship war in history, Cain murdered his brother as an act of hatred toward God, who rejected Cain’s offering in favor of his brother Abel’s. God rejected Cain’s offering because it was not offered in trust into God’s mercy, but as a token of Cain’s great work as a farmer. As Luther noted, had Cain offered but the shell of a nut in faith God would have accepted it.
From the start, Cain’s trust was in himself as his own savior. Like his parents at the two trees in the garden-temple, his wants and desires were good; anyone else’s conflicting wants and desires were evil. What cannot be controlled must be destroyed. This is the way of Cain. A Victorian Era poem, Invictus (Conqueror), by William Ernst Henley is the perfect expression of Cain and the civilization he founded:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
In Genesis 4 and 5, Moses shows two separate lines of descendants and the separate societies they create. St Augustine, in his classic work on the church in the world, The City of God, calls these two societies the City of God and the City of Man. Cain’s society became the first City of Man. It’s a theme we saw fleshed out and completed in our study of Revelation where the City of Man is called Babylon the Great.
According to Augustine, the history of the human race is the history of two groups of people. Each group has a distinct origin, development, characteristic, and destiny. He wrote that these are:
two cities … formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.
The earthly society has as its highest expression the city cultures of Old Testament Babylon and in Augustine’s time, Rome. The other society is the church, composed of God’s elect. The City of Man is destined to pass away. The City of God is blessed by God and will endure forever – ultimately residing the final garden-temple called New Jerusalem. The origin of these two cities goes back to chapter 3, verse 15, where God promised enmity between the serpent-dragon’s seed and the woman’s seed. As long as God’s people are in the world, they are oppressed by the world, their own sinful flesh, and the devil. God’s decree resulted in three sets of enemies: 1) the devil and the woman; 2) the devil’s spiritual children and the descendants of the woman; and, 3) the devil and the ultimate Promised Seed (Jesus). It is Jesus’ work as the Last Adam that gains the ultimate victory for all those who, by trust into his person and work, are part of the Godly line of descendants beginning with Seth (4:25).
CANITE CIVILIZATION (17-24)
When Cain turned from God’s presence and wandered east to the land of Nod (“Wondering’), his head was “bloody but unbowed.” Even though God swore a merciful oath to protect Cain, he left full of anger and bitterness and self-pity and self-righteousness. So, what happened to him? He prospered. His posterity produced urban living, music, weaponry, metallurgy, and agribusiness. He built the first walled compound, generously translated as “city.” City is a term, in the Hebrew, that can be applied to any human settlement, small or great.
This was no modern city; it wasn’t full of paved streets and skyscrapers. He simply built a wall around whatever primitive dwellings he and his family constructed. Refusing to trust in God’s oath of protection made Cain rather “security conscious.” Some teachers suggest Cain was violating God’s order that he “wander in the wilderness.” But wandering was to be a consequence of Cain’s sin, not a part of the curse on Cain’s farming ventures.
Like the immediate “death” Adam and Eve experienced when they were cut off from perfect fellowship with God, Cain’s wandering was as much a spiritual rootlessness as a commentary on his traveling habits. That sense of rootlessness prompted his wall-building. “Rootless people are not less rootless for having gathered together in a city. They are not less hard for being together in one place.” Adam and Eve were cut off from the garden-temple, but their roots remained in the promises of God.
Nevertheless, Cain prospered, and his descendants prospered and his city – named after his first-born son, Enoch – grew and prospered. Enoch’s name sounds like the Hebrew word for city and can mean “he initiated” or “he dedicated” (likely suggesting Enoch was the one who grew the compound into a larger settlement). Moses traces Cain’s offspring out to seven generations of city life in Enochville. Like Adam and Eve’s other children (5:4), Cain very likely had numerous sons and daughters. Only Enoch and his line are listed because Moses is pointing to Lamech and his “Sword Song” as the primary example of how self-absorbed the City of Man has become. Even as civilization ascends in culture, it spirals downward into greater defiance against God.
Moses doesn’t tell us a great deal about Cainite culture except to list the names of five generations up to Lamech and his two wives. “18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.” Here we see the tragic beginnings of man perverting God’s institution of marriage. God made his will for marriage known in 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Multiple wives as a departure from God’s norm becomes a part of both the City of Man and the City of God, as the rest of Genesis records. Abraham and the Patriarchs all bought into this invention of Cainite culture. As Jesus said warning about divorce, “from the beginning it was not so.” As the City of Man advanced, so did its rejection of God’s Word. That God-rejecting culture slithered its way into the City of God on earth as well. “…nearly every polygamous household in the OT suffers most unpleasant and shattering experiences precisely because of this ad hoc relationship. The domestic struggles that ensue are devastating.”
The City of Man prospered. “19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.” 
The Godless City of Man produced huge cultural achievements that benefited all humanity. That doesn’t exclude the City of God from making its own cultural advancements since both kingdoms are populated by people made in God’s image and both societies are gifted to create by their Creator God. Moses mentions these achievements so that we understand that the Curse of the Covenant of Works does not prevent all mankind from learning, creating, and inventing. We can recall the Greeks and their contributions to art and philosophy and the Roman contributions to law and engineering. God’s mercy is at work among both cities; but his grace extends only in the City of God.
Lamech’s two sons by Adah excelled, one in agribusiness and one in musical arts. “Jubal’s name [is connected] with Israel’s delightful concept of Jubilee and with words that indicate joy and happiness. …Jubal’s name also corresponds with the melodic ram’s horn (the yôbēl), which in later Israel was used to joyously announce the Year of Jubilee.”  Zillah’s son, Tubal-cain, is the ancestor of technology. His name means “to hammer, to sharpen.” He no doubt made farm equipment and weapons as hinted by his double name – which hints at his murderous ancestor and Lamech’s “Sword Song” that follows.
Textual critics have difficulty understanding how references to metallurgy can be made at the early stages of history before what is commonly called the Bronze Age (3200-1200 B.C.), much less the Iron Age that follows later (1200-330 B.C.). That is no great difficulty. The flood is coming and, much like the fall of Rome resulted in the loss of great technological advances and the Dark Ages that followed, many technological advances of Cainite civilization made over centuries would have been wiped out in the deluge as well.
As R. Kent Hughes writes:
These cultural skills (the production of food, the arts, and technology) should be and can be devoted to the highest interests of human life, and to the glory of God. However, civilization’s advances apart from God have untold potential for evil. Nuclear technology, for example, is a double-edged sword. Today thousands of lives are being saved by diagnostic procedures only possible through nuclear medicine. …The potential for good is staggering. However, in a flash an H-bomb could kill more people than nuclear medicine could save in a generation— and maim generations to follow.
A microchip can be used to find your lost pet or guide a smart bomb through your roof. Pharmaceuticals can save lives even though they may come with devastating side effects or addictions. Music and the arts are a wonderful gift. But they can be used to convey either noble ideals or Lamech’s ode to murder. Whatever kind of “paradise” man creates, there is always the tree of death in the middle of it. The City of Man has God’s mercy in it. The City of God has God’s grace in it. But both cities still experience together the cultural effects of Adam’s fall.
Cain’s family reflects the pattern of technical prowess and moral failure that is humanity outside the garden-temple. Culture, whether used or abused, offers no redemption. “Neither low culture, nor pop culture, nor high culture …can redeem. No combination of agricultural abundance, the arts, and technology can save society.”  In the 20th Century, Nazi Germany believed itself to be the repository of high art and the leader in science and technology, while enslaving the helpless and murdering millions they considered culturally undesirable.
Human beings are all gifted to manage our surroundings in order to prosper physically and materially. But we cannot manage our lives. We cannot be the captains of our souls and the masters of our fates without being overwhelmed in moral darkness. That is Moses’ point as he records Lamech’s Sword Song. “I have killed a man for wounding me, /a young man for striking me. /24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, /then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” 
Where Cain submitted to sin, Lamech exults in it. Cain asked for protection from the consequences of murder. Lamech searches for reasons to kill. It’s possible to translate these perfect-tense verbs as his bragging of having already killed. But it’s likely that he is bragging of his ability and eager willingness to kill – even a little boy. Lamech seeks no divine protection because he is his own security. He alone is the master of his fate. If Adam’s song about Eve was the first Broadway musical number. Lamech’s sword song is the first gangsta rap.
Lamech glories in violence. And he sings it to his wives, suggesting he was cruel to them as well. “Rather than shame, Lamech wore violence as a badge of honor. This was a remorseless, carnivorous man.” The final stanza of his song threatens an avalanche of violence – seventy times seven. Lamech is the poster boy for the City of Man’s bankruptcy of spirit combined with God’s merciful gift of human creativity. If the phrase “seventy-sevenfold” sounds familiar, it’s because Jesus makes a reference to this passage when answering Peter’s question of how often one must forgive in Matthew 18:21. “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Jesus says the City of God offers seventy-sevenfold forgiveness in the face of the City of Man’s seventy-sevenfold vengeance.
CITY OF GOD (4:2526)
Jesus, being the King of the City of God, offers the perfect contrast to Lamech. The story of Cain’s family ends abruptly in verse 24. Picture a large space in between verse 24 and 25 because Moses shifts the picture from the seed of Cain back to the seed of the woman. In that large space are the rising waters of the coming flood, because Lamech and his line are never heard from again. On the other side of this white space is the true line of the Promised Seed that begins with Seth. “25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring [ lit. “seed”] instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” 
After that white space between Genesis 4:24 and Genesis 4:25 there is the beginning of the history of those who truly loved God and began “to call on the name of the Lord” for salvation. Their history began with “righteous” Abel and was renewed with Seth, another seed “granted” to Eve (“Seth” means “granted”). The line of the Promised Seed continued with all those listed in Genesis 5. The City of God contained godly Noah and his descendants. “It was lost from sight for a time, but it emerged again in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is seen in the godly within Israel, at times a large number, at other times a remnant. At the time of the birth of Christ that line of history was still flowing on, for we see Mary and Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, and all those who ‘were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem’ (Luke 2:38).”
Cain’s firstborn pioneered cities and civilization, but Seth’s firstborn pioneered worship. In Moses’ writings “call upon” means to proclaim. The idea is that the people began to make proclamation about the nature of the Lord. “When Cainite civilization began to rise and worship at the shrines of abundance and art and technology— when abuse and violence and the devaluation of life became commonplace— when vengeance became exponential— when men fancied that they were captains of their souls— Sethite civilization began to proclaim the name of the Lord, the Captain of their salvation!”
Moses gives us, in this last section of chapter 4, a template for how to understand culture and civilization in our own day with the impressive increase of technology and the abundance of arts and sciences. Culture cannot tame the savage beast of the sin nature. Culture cannot save. It cannot restore perfect fellowship with God. It cannot get mankind back to the garden-temple we desperately seek without true understanding. The only hope for true life is found in the City of God where grace resides in the person and work of its King – the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Trust into his perfect law-keeping life and sacrificial blood-shedding death as the payment for your sin. Then, one great day, you too will see the perfected City of God upon the perfected new earth.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 4:17–26.
 Augustine, City of God, book 14, chapter 28, 282–83.
 Boice, 269–270.
 Kidner, 83.
 Boice, 265–266.
 Hamilton, 237 (Footnote 5).
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 4:18–19.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 2:24.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 19:8.
 Hamilton, 238.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 4:19–22.
 Hughes, 112. Kindle Edition.
 Kidner, 75, 83.
 Hughes, 113. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 4:23–24.
 Hamilton, 241.
 Hughes, 114. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 18:22.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 4:25–26.
 Hughes, 115. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Re 21:1–4.