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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Tu'bal Ka'yin, תּוּבִל קִיַן , apparently of foreign etymology; Sept. θοβέλ ; Vulg. Tubal cain), the son of Lamech the Cainite by his wife Zillah (Genesis 4:22). B.C. cir. 3700. He is called "a furbisher of every cutting instrument of copper and iron." The Jewish legend of later times associates him with his father's song. "Lamech was blind," says the story as told by Rashi, "and Tubal-cain was leading him; and he saw Cain, and he appeared to him like a wild beast, so he told his father to draw his bow, and he slew him. And when he knew that it was Cain his ancestor, he smote his hands together and struck his son between them. So he slew him, and his wives withdraw from him and he conciliates them." In this story Tubal-cain is the "young man" of the song. Rashi apparently considers the name of Tubal- cain as an appellative, for he makes him director of the works of Cain for making weapons of war, and connects "Tubal" with תִּבֵּל, tabbel, to season, and so to prepare skillfully. He appears, moreover, to have pointed it תּוֹבֵל tobel, which seems to have been the reading of the Sept. and Josephus. According to the writer last mentioned (Ant. 1, 2, 2), Tubal- cain was distinguished for his prodigious strength and his success in war.

The derivation of the name is extremely obscure. Hasse (Entdeckungen, 2, 37, quoted by Knobel on Genesis 4:22) identifies Tubal-cain with Vulcan; and Buttmann (Mythol. 1, 164) not only compares these names, but adds to the comparison the Τελχῖνες of Rhodes, the first workers in copper and iron (Strabo, 14:654), and Dwalinn, the daemon smith of the Scandinavian mythology. Gesenius proposed to consider it a hybrid word, compounded of the Pers. tupal, iron slag, or scoria, and the Arab. kain, a smith; but this etymology is more than doubtful. The Scythian race Tubal, who were coppersmiths (Ezekiel 27:13), naturally suggest themselves in connection with Tubal-cain.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tubal-Cain'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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