What Happened to Cain in the Bible?

Did Lamech kill Cain?

DID LAMECH KILL CAIN? How did Cain die? This 12th-century column capital from the Cathedral of Saint-Lazre in France depicts Lamech hunting with his son Tubal-Cain. They accidentally shoot and kill Cain, mistaking him for a wild animal. Photo: Cathedral Museum of St. Lazare, Autun, Burgundy, France/The Bridgeman Art Library.

DID LAMECH KILL CAIN? How did Cain die? This 12th-century column capital from the Cathedral of Saint-Lazre in France depicts Lamech hunting with his son Tubal-Cain. They accidentally shoot and kill Cain, mistaking him for a wild animal. Photo: Cathedral Museum of St. Lazare, Autun, Burgundy, France/The Bridgeman Art Library.

What happened to Cain in the Bible? In the Book of Genesis, we are told about Cain’s birth, his violent act of fratricide and his subsequent exile. We learn that he married and had descendants, but the Bible is strangely mute about his death.

How did Cain die? If he did not die naturally, who killed Cain? In the Bible, do we have any clues? John Byron, professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary, tackles these questions in his column “Did Cain Get Away with Murder?” which appears in the May/June 2014 issue of BAR.

Byron explains that ancient interpreters were not afraid to change the story of Cain in the Bible to fit with their sense of justice, ensuring that he was adequately punished for killing his brother Abel. One of the most popular interpretations credits Lamech—Cain’s great, great grandson—with killing Cain.

Lamech admits to having killed a man in Genesis 4:23–24. Ancient interpreters believed that this passage sheds light on who killed Cain in the Bible, and they identified the man Lamech killed in verse 23 with Cain.

In the free eBook Exploring Genesis: The Bible’s Ancient Traditions in Context, discover the cultural contexts for many of Israel’s latest traditions. Explore Mesopotamian creation myths, Joseph’s relationship with Egyptian temple practices and three different takes on the location of Ur of the Chaldeans, the birthplace of Abraham.

How and why did Lamech kill Cain? According to the Lamech legend—which was based on Genesis 4 but which evolved over the centuries—Lamech accidentally killed Cain while he was hunting with his son Tubal-Cain. In the legend, Lamech is a blind but skilled hunter, and Tubal-Cain accompanies him to direct his bow and arrow. Hearing a noise in the bushes, they shoot what they think is a wild animal. Upon investigation, though, they discover that Lamech’s arrow has killed Cain.

In this version of events, how did Cain die? Like an animal. Justice is served.

However, the Lamech legend is just one of the ways ancient interpreters sought to answer the question: How did Cain die? Did Cain die in the flood? Did he die naturally? Did Lamech kill Cain? If Lamech did not, then was there someone else who killed Cain? In the Bible, we will not find a definitive answer.

To find out more about the Lamech legend and other interpretations that seek to explain what happened to Cain in the Bible, read the full column by John Byron, professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary, in the May/June 2014 issue of BAR.

BAS Library Members: Read the full column “Did Cain Get Away with Murder?” by John Byron, professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary in the May/June 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.

Learn more about Cain in the BAS Library.

Mary Joan Winn Leith, “Biblical Views: Who Did Cain Marry?” BAR, November/December 2013.

“Gallery: Cain,” Bible Review, Spring 2005.

Bryan Bibb, “What’s a Pleasing Sacrifice?” Bible Review, October 2004.

Elie Wiesel, “Supporting Roles: Cain & Abel,” Bible Review, February 1998.

Joseph P. Klein, “How Job Fulfills God’s Word to Cain,” Bible Review, June 1993.

Ronald S. Hendel, “When God Acts Immorally,” Bible Review, June 1991.

Mayer I. Gruber, “Was Cain Angry or Depressed?” BAR, November/Decemer 1980.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.


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  1. Victor says

    The Book of Jasher Chapter 2
    26 And Lamech was old and advanced in years, and his eyes were dim that he could not see, and Tubal Cain, his son, was leading him and it was one day that Lamech went into the field and Tubal Cain his son was with him, and whilst they were walking in the field, Cain the son of Adam advanced towards them; for Lamech was very old and could not see much, and Tubal Cain his son was very young.

    27 And Tubal Cain told his father to draw his bow, and with the arrows he smote Cain, who was yet far off, and he slew him, for he appeared to them to be an animal.

    28 And the arrows entered Cain’s body although he was distant from them, and he fell to the ground and died.

    29 And the Lord requited Cain’s evil according to his wickedness, which he had done to his brother Abel, according to the word of the Lord which he had spoken.

    30 And it came to pass when Cain had died, that Lamech and Tubal went to see the animal which they had slain, and they saw, and behold Cain their grandfather was fallen dead upon the earth.

  2. pst. says

    No doubt married one of his sisters but another account noted that he was killed when his house built of stone fell on him! Thus he killed his brother Abe with stone and received righteous judgement of being killed by stone. . …a divine accident

  3. dadz says

    it’s a waste of time to make assertions on things we do not have proof, and above all has no bearing with our salvations. .that habit could only loose a lot of speculations that could mislead one from God’s truth.

  4. Eric says

    OK, nice story, but what about the mark of Cain, that God had put upon him that NO ONE shall kill him?
    Is God a liar?

  5. Efrain says

    The book of Jasher is not holy scripture. We would have to assume Cain died an old man.

  6. allan says

    The Lord placed a mark on Cain so he wouldn’t be killed…an example of forgiveness. ..He may have lived a productive and fulfilling life and then died of old age

  7. Arthur says

    Cain committed murder, but the lesson of Cain is that no one is beyond redemption. The Deity gave him a way to gain forgiveness and it appears he followed that way to obtain forgiveness. He named his son Enoch (Hanoch in Hebrew) which means “dedicated.” His grandchildren bore the names of Mehujael, which means “Struck by God,” and Methusael, which means “(He) Who is of God.”

    Therefore, it seems clear that Cain had repented of his crime and dedicated his children and grandchildren to the Deity. Therefore, Cain obtained salvation from God.

  8. Michael says

    I am very curious about this book( jasher)is

    this a part of the original book of scriptures please give me some feedback

  9. Observer says

    Cain was CHINA.
    Cain was CHINESE.
    Epicanthic Fold is THE MARK of CAIN.

  10. SL says

    What I want to know is, if Cain and Abel were sons of Adam, where did all these other people come from to whom Cain would be an outcast? If we all came from Adam, there is no explanation for this.

  11. Kimberly says

    In The Forgotten Books of Eden, Adam and Eve, chapter 13, verses 7-13, It tells the story of how Lamech, who was blind, accidently killed Cain with an arrow mistaking him for a wild animal or a robber. The youth (a grandson of Cain) that was with Lamech was his eyes. The youth told Lamech to shoot. Lamech struck Cain in the side with an arrow. When the youth realized they had killed his grandfather, Cain, Lamech became embittered and killed the youth.

  12. Kimberly says

    Observer, I do not believe Cain was Chinese. However, Cain was exiled to the “land of Nod in the east” which I believe was China or Mongolia. There he took a wife. She may have been Chinese or a Mongol. There are clues in the Mongol names, such as Khan, which may be derived from Cain. Cain was a nomadic wanderer, murderer, and a robber. He raided villages and pillaged everything. This may be why Genghis Kahn rose to be such a tyrant and raider of villages.

    There was an archaeological find in China a few years ago, the (Caucasian) Mummies in the Taklamakan Dessert/Tarim Basin, which is “east” of the Fertile Crescent. There we see Caucasians were buried with Asians. The tallest of the male mummies believed to be the leader of this particular tribe had a strange tatoo along side his face. A mark? The mark of Cain? As were others in the tribe carried this mark. These mummies are between 5500 and 7000 years old.

    Also, there is archaeological evidence that the Sythians, who were Caucasian, traded and fought along side the Mongols in battle as tombs were found in Mongolia of Sythian warriors.

    Remember, the Bible is not about the rest of the world, but about “one man’s family”, the family of Adam to Noah to Abraham to Jacob, to Jesus.

  13. Kimberly says

    SL, you could interpret Genesis as “men were created on 6th day”. But Adam was created AFTER the 7th day, after God rested. Adam, because he would be the progenitor of Jesus, was special. Adam was the beginning of the “priestly” cast, the order of Melchezidek as told in the book of Hebrews. Adam was first, and Jesus is the “last priest after the order of Melchezidec.” His family line is distinct from the rest of the world. “And God created them male and female and called THEIR name, Adam. In other words, the Adamites were a whole tribe of people, separate and distinct from the rest of the world. I know this is not what is commonly taught by pastors today. Which is why we must all read the scriptures ourselves very carefully. Adam and Eve were not the only people on earth. They were the first of the priestly cast.

  14. dadz says

    God’s servants today put their interest, first of all ,in knowing God and God’s will for them to do, for that is the meaning of loving God first..Mark 12:29,30;Jhn 17:3; Matt 7:21…Knowing who killed Cain is of little interest for sincere Bible students who is seeking a close and meaningful relation with his Creator. Besides, they are content with God’s penalty given to Cain for his misdeed recorded at Genesis 4:10-16, instead of putting their own very human imperfect sense of perfect justice above that of God’s. . . .Knowing God and the doing of his will is of utmost importance to any who desires to have an everlasting life here on a paradisaic earth,soon, when the present wicked system of things by man will be completely eradicated by God..Dan.2:44.. Yes, confusion abounds today because there are multitudes of individuals and organizations talking and teaching about God and about the Bible,but in quite different tone from each other. So people are confused and got discouraged as to what really is the truth about God and the Bible,REALLY! ! !. No wonder people retired from God and religion ,and turn materialistics and all mundane pursuits of life of what they perceived as a short and transient existence. Very effective strategy of the Devil of keeping people away from God ,his truth and real life. Descontentment, disappointments, discouragements, confusions and hopelessness about God’s truth and religion, played very well into the hands of the Devil. BUT GOD has his own way, if one is just humble enough to have a heart ready enough to be taught by God.His provision for honest people and humble enough to seek Him? THIS: He promised the dying Moses that He was going to send someone like him, to teach the people of the ULTIMATE TRUTH about himself,and he decreed that people must listen to this prophet that he was going to send into the earth in order to teach people the the way of true worship of the true God ,amid many imitation teachers about God,for people truly seeking God and his way,not to be mislead. … Deut.18:18,19; Matt 17:5; Jhn 14:6: 8:31,32…The prophet that he promised like Moses proved to be Jesus which he anointed with his holy spirit, the messiah, or Christ. He came to teach us the way to God by means of the truth about God,,Jhn 18:36..so anyone seeking God’s,truth and desires to come to an accurate knowledge about God, must listen to Jesus only as His SEND ONE to teach us about his God and Father as to how to worship God in an acceptable way or manner.But since Jesus is no longer here with us now, we have the inspired written word of God,the Bible,to enable us to know God. 2Tim 3:16,17; Jhn,17:3..Find out; WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY TEACH???..TRUTH can be known if we let the Bible speak to us,instead of speaking for the Bible….Let the Bible be the final arbiter as to what really is God’s truth, all other source is just a referrals,but the Bible must be the ULTIMATE ANCHOR in seeking God’s truth…..this site is of great help in answering your personal Biblical questions..jw.org.

  15. Shane says

    In my understanding, the real lesson of Lamech is that the wicket take God’s mercy and interpret it as a blessing for licentiousness. This is as it is written in Psalm 50:21, “thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself….”

  16. Yoki says

    Satan fornicated with Eve & she had twins…….Able & Cain.The proof is as you read the scriptures
    God pointed at Satan and said…I will put enmity between your (offspring) and Eves (offspring).
    Cain is the son of the wicked one & the more you read you can see by what Jesus said in order
    to make sense….In fact Cain is the Anti-Christ….Scripture reads as Jesus said to the Pharisees,
    You are like your father for he was a Liar & a Murderer from the beginning(Cain killed Able).
    Remember God put a mark on Cain so that no one can kill him & in fact the Anti-Christ as the
    Bible states therefore he is a MARKED MAN who will raised the dead and perform miracles just
    as Jesus did. Jesus stated we will have the( MARK OF THE BEAST)

  17. Kurt says

    The son of Methushael and a descendant of Cain. (Ge 4:17, 18) His lifetime and Adam’s overlapped. Lamech had two wives, Adah and Zillah, at the same time and is the first polygamist of Bible record. (Ge 4:19) By Adah he had sons named Jabal, “the founder of those who dwell in tents and have livestock,” and Jubal, “the founder of all those who handle the harp and the pipe.” (Ge 4:20, 21) By Zillah, Lamech became the father of Tubal-cain, “the forger of every sort of tool of copper and iron,” and a daughter named Naamah.—Ge 4:22.

    The poem that Lamech composed for his wives (Ge 4:23, 24) reflects the violent spirit of that day. Lamech’s poem ran: “Hear my voice, you wives of Lamech; give ear to my saying: A man I have killed for wounding me, yes, a young man for giving me a blow. If seven times Cain is to be avenged, then Lamech seventy times and seven.” Evidently Lamech was presenting a case of self-defense, pleading that his act was not one of deliberate murder, like that of Cain. Lamech claimed that, in defending himself, he had killed the man who struck and wounded him. Therefore, his poem stood as a plea for immunity against anyone desiring to get revenge against him for killing his attacker.

    It appears that none of Cain’s descendants, which would include Lamech’s offspring, survived the Flood.

  18. Observer says

    KEN son of EOCHU (ESAU) alias ALPIN son of ACHAY (HABRAICHINA)
    KEN alias CON/COIN was CAIN


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