Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg THE DESCENDANTS OF CAIN - Musical Idolatry - Soothsaying

Ginzberg defines Lamech's descendants according to the Hebrew definition of their names. Music was always associated with idolatry and Babylon whose symbol was the serpent. The legends, like modern sermons, takes liberty with the facts but they represent what the people believed.



[36] Adam remained in the Adamah until after the birth of Seth. Then, passing the third earth, the Arka, the abiding place of the Cainites, and the next three earths as well, the Ge, the Neshiah, and the Ziah, God transported him to the Tebel, the seventh earth, the earth inhabited by men. Cain knew only too well that his blood-guiltiness would be visited upon him in the seventh generation. Thus had God decreed against him.

[37] He endeavored, therefore, to immortalize his name by means of monuments,

[38] and he became a builder of cities. The first of them he called Enoch, after his son, because it was at the birth of Enoch that he began to enjoy a measure of rest and peace.

[39] Besides, he founded six other cities.

[40] This building of cities was a godless deed, for he surrounded them with a wall, forcing his family to remain within. All his other doings were equally impious. The punishment God had ordained for him did not effect any improvement.

He sinned in order to secure his own pleasure, though his neighbors suffered injury thereby.

He augmented his household substance by rapine and violence;

he excited his acquaintances to procure pleasures and spoils by robbery, and he became a great leader of men into wicked courses.

He also introduced a change in the ways of simplicity wherein men had lived before, and he was the author of measures and weights. And whereas men lived innocently and generously

while they knew nothing of such arts, he changed the world into cunning craftiness.

41] Like unto Cain were all his descendants, impious and godless, wherefore God resolved to destroy them.

[42] The end of Cain overtook him in the seventh generation of men, and it was inflicted upon him by the hand of his great-grandson Lamech.

This Lamech was blind, and when he went a-hunting, he was led by his young son, who would apprise his father when game came in sight, and Lamech would then shoot at it with his bow and arrow.

Once upon a time he and his son went on the chase, and the lad discerned something horned in the distance. He naturally took it to be a beast of one kind or another, and he told the blind Lamech to let his arrow fly. The aim was good, and the quarry dropped to the ground. When they came close to the victim, the lad exclaimed:

"Father, thou hast killed something that resembles a human being in all respects,

except it carries a horn (cornet) on its forehead!" Lamech knew at once what had happened--he had killed his ancestor Cain, who had been marked by God with a horn.

Animal horns and bones were the first musical instruments. For instance when David established the kingdom to be "like the nations"--

All these were the sons of Heman the kings seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 1 Chronicles 25:5

Qeren (h7161) keh'-ren; from 7160 (To shine); a horn (as projecting); by impl. a flask, cornet; by resembl. an elephant's tooth (i. e. ivory), a corner (of the altar), a peak (of a mountain), a ray (of light); fig. power: - * hill, horn.

That at what time ye hear the sound of the (horn) cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: Da.3:5

Alexander Hislop Notes:

Hence the "Horned bull" signified "The Mighty Prince," thereby pointing back to the first of those "Mighty ones," who, under the name of Guebres, Gabrs, or Cabiri, occupied so conspicuous a place in the ancient world, and to whom the deified Assyrian monarchs covertly traced back the origin of their greatness and might. This explains the reason why the Bacchus of the Greeks was represented as wearing horns, and why he was frequently addressed by the epithet "Bull-horned," as one of the high titles of his dignity. Even in comparatively recent times, Togrul Begh, the leader of the Seljukian Turks, who came from the neighbourhood of the Euphrates, was in a similar manner represented with three horns growing out of his head, as the emblem of his sovereignty. (Fig 9)



This, also, in a remarkable way accounts for the origin of one of the divinities worshipped by our Pagan Anglo-Saxon ancestors under the name of Zernebogus. This Zernebogus was "the black, malevolent, ill-omened divinity," in other words, the exact counterpart of the popular idea of the Devil, as supposed to be black, and equipped with horns and hoofs. This name is analysed and compared with the accompaniment woodcut (Fig. 10), from Layard. casts a very singular light on the source from whence has come the popular superstition in regard to the grand Adversary.



The name Zer-Nebo-Gus is almost pure Chaldee, and seems to unfold itself as denoting "The seed of the prophet Cush." We have seen reason already to conclude that, under the name Bel, as distinguished from Baal, Cush was the great soothsayer or false prophet worshipped at Babylon. But independent inquirers have been led to the conclusion that Bel and Nebo were just two different titles for the same god, and that a prophetic god. Thus does Kitto comment on the words of

Isaiah 46:1 "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth," with reference to the latter name: "The word seems to come from Nibba, to deliver an oracle, or to prophesy; and hence would mean an 'oracle,' and may thus, as Calmet suggests ('Commentaire Literal'), be no more than another name for Bel himself, or a characterising epithet applied to him; it being not unusual to repeat the same thing, in the same verse, in equivalent terms." "Zer-Nebo-Gus," the great "seed of the prophet Cush," was, of course, Nimrod; for Cush was Nimrod's father.

There was another way in which Nimrod's power was symbolised besides by the "horn." A synonym for Gheber, "The mighty one," was "Abir," while "Aber" also signified a "wing."

Nimrod, as Head and Captain of those men of war, by whom he surrounded himself, and who were the instruments of establishing his power, was "Baal-aberin," "Lord of the mighty ones." But "Baal-abirin" (pronounced nearly in the same way) signified "The winged one," * and therefore in symbol he was represented, not only as a horned bull, but as at once a horned and winged bull--as showing not merely that he was mighty himself,

but that he had mighty ones under his command, who were ever ready to carry his will into effect,

and to put down all opposition to his power; and to shadow forth the vast extent of his might, he was represented with great and wide-expanding wings.

Hislop notes that the power of Nimrod's "horn" was music:

Looking at the subject in the light of the Bacchanalian orgies, which, as the reader has seen, commemorated the history of Nimrod,

it is evident that he led mankind to seek their chief good in sensual enjoyment,

and showed them how they might enjoy the pleasures of sin, without any fear of the wrath of a holy God.

In his various expeditions he was always accompanied by troops of women; and by music and song, and games and revelries, and everything that could please the natural heart, he commended himself to the good graces of mankind.

[43] In despair he smote his hands together, inadvertently killing his son as he clasped them.

Misfortune still followed upon misfortune. The earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the four generations sprung from Cain--Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, and Methushael. Lamech, sightless as he was, could not go home; he had to remain by the side of Cain's corpse and his son's.

Toward evening, his wives, seeking him, found him there. When they heard what he had done, they wanted to separate from him, all the more as they knew that whoever was descended from Cain was doomed to annihilation. But Lamech argued, "If Cain, who committed murder of malice aforethought, was punished only in the seventh generation, then I, who had no intention of killing a human being, may hope that retribution will be averted for seventy and seven generations." With his wives, Lamech repaired to Adam, who heard both parties, and decided the case in favor of Lamech.

[44] The corruptness of the times, and especially the depravity of Cain's stock, appears in the fact that Lamech, as well as all the men in the generation of the deluge, married two wives,

one with the purpose of rearing children,

the other in order to pursue carnal indulgences,

for which reason the latter was rendered sterile by artificial means. As the men of the time were intent upon pleasure rather than desirous of doing their duty to the human race, they gave all their love and attention to the barren women, while their other wives spent their days like widows, joyless and in gloom.

The two wives of Lamech, Adah and Zillah, bore him each two children, Adah two sons, Jabal and Jubal, and Zillah a son, Tubal-cain, and a daughter, Naamah.

Jabal was the first among men to erect temples to idols, and

Jubal invented the music sung and played therein.

Tubal-cain was rightly named, for he completed the work of his ancestor Cain. Cain committed murder, and Tubal-cain, the first who knew how to sharpen iron and copper, furnished the instruments used in wars and combats.

Naamah, "the lovely," earned her name from the sweet sounds which she drew from her cymbals when she called the worshippers to pay homage to idols.

From Adam's union with this demoness, and with another like her named Naamah, Tubal Cain's sister,

sprang Asmodeus and innumerable demons that still plague mankind. Many generations later, Lilith and Naamah came to Solomon's judgement seat, disguised as harlots of Jerusalem.

See the Punishment of the Fallen Angels

These mighty descendants of Cain are grouped together under Genun who was given the power of mixed-sex choirs and instrumental music to seduce the holy people into idolatry.

The Entire Books are Available at

The Legends of the Jews : From Joseph to the Exodus by Louis Ginzberg, Henrietta Szold. Paper

The Legends of the Jews : Notes to Volumbes 1 and 2 ; From the Creation to the Exodus

The Legends of the Jews : Notes to Volumes 3 and 4 : From Moser to Esther


Musical Worship Index Two

Serpent and Devil Worship