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Tubal-Cain, Right on Time
Witnessing Tools
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Wendy Wippel

The funny thing about the young-earth/old-earth argument is that no matter how many total years are postulated for creation (typically about 7000 for by young earth proponents versus nearly 14 billion years for old earth adherents) the Biblical record of humankind still matches up with the archaeological record. Rather astoundingly, actually. Take Tubal-Cain, the world’s first metallurgist.  

If you remember the early chapters of Genesis, when God determined to judge the earth. He purposed to preserve only the righteous descendant of Seth (Noah), and his sons to repopulate the earth.

So Cain’s descendants perished.

All of them.

Tubal-Cain, the grandson of Adam through his father, Cain, being one of them.

But even beyond the veil of Noah’s flood and the demise of all of Tubal-Cain’s ancestors as well as progeny, we can still determine at least the approximate time that Tubal-Cain lived. Even though the Bible doesn’t give us any age figures at all for the sons of the accursed Cain, as it does for the line of Seth.

We can make a pretty tight estimate, courtesy of the thorough coverage of pre-flood lifespans of Seth’s descendants that the Bible provides us.

If you look at the line of Seth and in Genesis 5. Use the ages at which each male descendant (more accurate for our purposes than just straight longevity), you see that Adam begat Seth at the age of 130.

And that Seth begat Enosh at the age of 105.

Enosh begat Qenan at the age of 90.

Qenan Adam begat Mahalalel at the age of 65.

Mahalalel Adam begat Yared at the age of 162.

Yared begat Enoch  at the age of 65.

Enoch begat Methuselah at the age of 65.

Methuselah Adam begat Lamech at the age of 187.

And last but not least, Lamech Adam begat Noah at the age of 182.

How do we get from that to Tubal-Cain?

Despite the fact that God didn’t provide us with the pre-flood lifespans of the line of Cain (perhaps because they were accursed), we can still make a pretty good estimate by using Seth’s data. From the Scriptures (Genesis chapter 4), we known that there were also ten generations from Adam to Tubal-Cain, and that Tubal-Cain was the last descendant of Cain before the flood.

What that means is that he was a contemporary of Noah.

Now that we have determined when he lived, let’s make sure we know exactly who he was.

(For real, that is -not in pop culture- who has used his name for one of Doctor Who’s Time Lords, and as a pen name, and for and as a secret word for freemasons.) 

Because the Scriptures describe Tubal-Cain otherwise. As a real historical figure, who lived at specified time.

In Genesis Genesis 4:22, Cain is described as a man who made tools out of bronze and iron. (Jewish Bible; Contemporary English Bible.)

That’s actually all we got, at least from the Bible. One verse.

Commentators tell us that the name means Tubal the smith, the Cain (smith) being added on to distinguish him from other Tubals like Tubal the son of Japheth mentioned in Genesis 10:2.

Ancient rabbinic writings inform us that Tubal-Cain made both weapons and farming implements.

Quite possibly devised in that order, as military applications of new technology tend to proceed consumer applications even today.

(Not that I have a problem with that. "Cover me" has two possible meanings, and I’d take safe over chic every time.)

But I digress. Back to Tubal-Cain’s invention of bronze tools.

The Biblical lineage of Seth informed us that Adam was 130 years old when Eve had Seth, and Seth was 105 when his wife had Enosh, and so on, with the whole total of years to the flood adding up from that detailed lineage to a total of 600.

Putting Tubal-Cain’s invention of bronze implements at about the middle of Noah’s lifetime (he and Noah were contemporaries, remember), and adding up the number of years that had passed (from the detailed information given in the lineage of Seth), Tubal-Cain’s invention of bronze tools (fighting or farming tools) would be (roughly) somewhere close to 2377  B.C.  

If you think about it, Tubal-Cain’s metalworked objects are the earliest thing we could expect to be able to find in excavations.

And, archaeology backs that up. Bronze implements are the earliest things found. Israel’s collection of archaeological artifacts—housed in the Israel Museum–features several bronze tools, the earliest dating to 2400 BC, right in the time that Seth’s lineages suggest that Tubal-Cain would have lived. 2400 BC.

And according to the bronze age timeline, the knowledge of bronzeworking started in the middle east during prehistoric times (when no kingdoms yet existed), then spread through the Mideast before being adopted by countries further out.  Bronze appears in Egypt about 2200 BC and in Greece about 1400 BC. Bronze is in use in Sumer, at Ur, in around 2800 BC, and in Anatolia shortly afterwards. Bronze appears in the Indus Valley by 2500 BC, then in Europe by 2000 BC, then spreads spasmodically. It appears in the Indus Valley in about 2500 BC, and progresses westwards through Europe from about 2000BC. At much the same time it is appears in crude form in China, where by 1500 BC it is being used to construct bronze at a unprecedented level of sophistication and produces bronze objects of exceptional beauty.

Tubal-Cain is so far back in human history that we can barely fathom him being an actual human figure that was the “world’s first chemist”, as some have called him. 

But by the specific description of Seth’s lineages we see clearly that he was real, and in fact, right at the time that we should expect him. All of metalogical history bears his imprint. What was that the Psalmist said? Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. Psalm 33:4

Every time. Amen?

About Wendy Wippel

Last week:  A Divine Déjà vu

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