Genesis 4:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 4:20, NIV: "Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock."

Genesis 4:20, ESV: "Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock."

Genesis 4:20, KJV: "And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle."

Genesis 4:20, NASB: "Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and have livestock."

Genesis 4:20, NLT: "Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the first of those who raise livestock and live in tents."

Genesis 4:20, CSB: "Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of the nomadic herdsmen."

What does Genesis 4:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This section provides genealogies listing the important descendants of Cain. Ancient genealogies did not typically mention every single son or daughter. Rather, they focused on important figures, or simply listed the bloodline from one person to another. Even then, generations would sometimes be skipped to make the list shorter.

Lamech is the seventh generation from Adam, through Cain. One of his two wives, Adah, gives birth to a son called Jabal. We're told Jabal became the father of those who live in tents and have livestock. In other words, Jabal and his descendants likely became a nomadic people managing herds of several kinds of animals, perhaps including sheep, cattle, and others.

Later, we will see Lamech bragging about his murder of a younger man. The society which came from Cain was not only defiant towards God, but boldly and arrogantly sinful. As we move close to the story of the flood, this is crucial for realizing just how depraved mankind will become.