Genesis 4:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 4:23, NIV: "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."

Genesis 4:23, ESV: "Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me."

Genesis 4:23, KJV: "And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt."

Genesis 4:23, NASB: "Lamech said to his wives, 'Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice, You wives of Lamech, Pay attention to my words, For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me!"

Genesis 4:23, NLT: "One day Lamech said to his wives, 'Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; listen to me, you wives of Lamech. I have killed a man who attacked me, a young man who wounded me."

Genesis 4:23, CSB: "Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words. For I killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me."

What does Genesis 4:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Lamech, six generations removed from Cain, demonstrates that he shared Cain's anger, violence, and arrogance—and then some. In this speech, continuing into the following verse, he brags about his sin in an almost unbelievable way.

He announces to his two wives that he has killed a man in revenge for wounding and/or striking him. We obviously don't know the whole story. However, Lamech's response indicates that his action was out of proportion with what was done to him. The Hebrew word used for "kill" here is from the root word hā'rag, the same used to describe the murder of Abel in Genesis 4:8 and Moses' murder of the Egyptian in Exodus 2:14.

He sounds proud and arrogant, and even more so in light of the following verse. The fact that he specifically directs this confession of murder to his wives can be interpreted in several ways. One prominent possibility is that this is meant to be a threat: "look what happens to people who cross me."