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I also asked this here, but I think it fix better in Biblical Hermeneutics after thinking about it.

Genesis 4:23-24 NIV

23 Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. 24 If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times. ”

Who did Lamech kill and why is this even important?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

While we do not know the identity of the man killed, we see here Lamech's (perverted) idea of justice.

From the NET Bible

sn Seventy-seven times. Lamech seems to reason this way: If Cain, a murderer, is to be avenged seven times (see v. 15), then how much more one who has been unjustly wronged! Lamech misses the point of God’s merciful treatment of Cain. God was not establishing a principle of justice when he warned he would avenge Cain’s murder. In fact he was trying to limit the shedding of blood, something Lamech wants to multiply instead. The use of “seventy-seven,” a multiple of seven, is hyperbolic, emphasizing the extreme severity of the vengeance envisioned by Lamech.

Lamech has taken two wives. In the verses just before, we see that people have learned to shape metal and some have become nomadic shepherds. We are seeing here the decline of human ethics/morality/justice even as their technology and skill increase.

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