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TUBAL-CAIN (Heb. תּוּבַל־קַיִן), son of *Lamech. Genesis 4:22 states that "Zillah bore Tubal-Cain, who forged implements of copper and iron; Tubal-Cain had a sister Naamah." Various attempts have been made to identify Tubal-Cain as the name of an ancient tribe somewhere in the Near East. S. Mowinckel, however, followed by W.F. Albright, understands Tubal as a generic name for smith, derived from ybl, "to bring, produce." The second element of the name is universally connected with the Arabic qāyin, Aramaic qaināyā (qaināʾah), "smith, metalworker." In later times, Tubal-Cain was confused with the Tubal of Genesis 10:2, for example, and mistakenly identified with the Tuscans, well-known smiths of the ancient world. A. Dillmann pointed to the parallel between Tubal-Cain and his beautiful sister Naamah and the Greek smith-god, Hephaestus, and his sister Aphrodite.

[Daniel Boyarin]

In the Aggadah

The aggadic interpretation of the meaning of Tubal-Cain's name, is based upon the biblical record that he was "the forger of every cutting instrument" (Gen. 4:22). The aggadah teaches that by thus furnishing mankind with the means to repeat Cain's act of killing, with even more ease, he perfected (tibbel, תִּבֵּל) Cain's sin (Gen. R. 23:3).


S. Mowinckel, The Two Sources of Pre-deuteronomic Primeval History in Genesis, 1–11 (1937), 81–82; W.F. Albright, in: jbl, 58 (1939), 95–96. in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, index; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 430.