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Is the Bible contradictory? (Genesis chap. 4, vers.12)

 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

Much of the reconstruction of ancient history, human progress in civilization proceeded through four periods: the Stone Age (100,000-4000 BC), the Copper Age (4000-3200 BC), the Bronze Age (3200- 1200 BC), the Iron Age (1200 – 330 BC). This verse would instead suggest the concomitant, and not sequential, use of copper and iron. Even the very activity of Tubalkain – i.e. a blacksmith – leaves us thinking of rather complex activities such as fondue and modeling work. But this is not the precision that the authors wanted. The text brings together so much data according to the intentions known to him but unknown to us.

However, besides the hypothesis already suggested, it can be observed that the three names Jabal, Jubal and Tubal also recall another name: yobel  i.e. the ram’s horn, a musical instrument (see Ex 19:13 ) and finally also the instrument that announced the year of the Jubilee (Lv 25). Another possible derivation of the three names is from yabal to carry in procession and, therefore, once again the text has an exuberance and a festive atmosphere.

In short, these are names and professions that refer to a urban environment and also the profession of Jabal, a shepherd who was in tents, doesn’t contrast this setting, as pastors and flocks often surrounded more organized urban centers. Finally, the verse also speaks of a female daughter of Cain named Naamah who in Hebrew means pleasant, graceful, magnificent.

All of this contrast with the curse launched by God to Cain immediately after he had killed his brother! (Cfr. Gen 4:12). He had sons, and from Cain derived the typical professions of a city, which  took its name from his son: Enoch. What does all this mean? And, among other things, Cain is the eldest son of Adam, equally cursed to cultivate a cursed soil and therefore an ungrateful and fruitless job. Here, instead, the sons of Cain not only don’t have an ungrateful job, but they are smiths and flute players and therefore they devoted themselves to much higher and also fun activities.

In short, why these contradictions? Experts say that these pieces are juxtaposed with each other in different periods, in a drafting work where the oldest pieces have not merged together with the new ones, forming a unified and coherent plot. But this explanation is not enough for us modern and rightly so. So is the Bible contradictory?

A man far from God and totally focused on oneself, satisfying any istinct without censorship or limits, is not necessarily subjected to God’s curse. People enjoy and have fun. This was the case before the flood, and so it happens even today without a new flood coming upon us. A violent and corrupt world is not made by this or that guy, but by a community who behave in a certain way for a certain time. The consequences are not on the short, but on the long side and the following passages of Genesis will describe this process very well.

Simone Venturini

Scrittore

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