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Tubal-cain the Smith
Tubal-cain in his forge. Tapestry, Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge
Other namesTubal-Cain, Tubalcain, Tubal (simplified name)
Known forForefather of smiths
Title"An instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron"
Parent(s)Lamech and Zillah
RelativesJabal (half-brother)
Jubal (half-brother)
Naamah (sister)

Tubal-cain or Tubalcain (Hebrew: תּוּבַל קַיִןTū́ḇal Qáyin) is a person mentioned in the Bible, in Genesis 4:22 as well as in the Hebrew Book of Jasher, known for being the first blacksmith.

Early life[edit]

A descendant of Cain, he was the son of Lamech and Zillah. He was the brother of Naamah and half-brother of Jabal and Jubal.


Tubal-cain at his forge, by Andrea Pisano, 1334-1336

In Hebrew, his name is תּוּבַל קַיִן (Tū́ḇal Qáyin). In the King James Version, this is rendered as Tubalcain. In the New International Version and the English Standard Version, it is Tubal-cain; the Latin Vulgate renders him as Thubalcain. Rashi interprets the name to mean "he who spices the craft of Cain."[1]

It is not clear why he has a double-barreled first name. Gordon Wenham suggests that the name Cain means smith (which would anticipate the remarks about his metalworking skill), or that he is called Tubal Cain in order to distinguish him from the other Tubal, the son of Japheth.[2]

Richard Coggins suggests it "may be a variant of the same tradition which lists Tubal in the table of nations" at Gen 10, as a land well known for metalwork.[3]

In the Book of Jasher (Pseudo-Jasher) (1751), the name of Tubal-Cain is explained by Zillah, his mother: "After I had withered away have I obtained him from the Almighty God" (2:24). The intended conclusion here is that "Cain" (given earlier in the idea of "obtaining") was merged with "Tubal", a word seemingly to denote "withering" by contextual speculation.[citation needed]


Genesis 4:22 says that Tubal-cain was the "forger of all instruments of bronze and iron" (ESV) or an "instructor of every artificer in brass and iron" (KJV). Although this may mean he was a metalsmith, a comparison with verses 20 and 21 suggests that he may have been the very first artificer in brass and iron. T. C. Mitchell suggests that he "discovered the possibilities of cold forging native copper and meteoric iron."[4] Tubal-cain has even been described as the first chemist.[5]

In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus says that "Tubal exceeded all men in strength, and was very expert and famous in martial performances, ... and first of all invented the art of working brass."[citation needed] Walter Elwell suggests that his invention of superior weapons may have been the motivation for Lamech's interest in avenging blood.[6] Alternatively, E. E. Kellett suggests that Tubal-cain may have been a miner.[7]


  1. ^ Rashi. "Bereishit – Genesis – Chapter 4 (Parshah Bereishit)". www.chabad.org.
  2. ^ Gordon Wenham, Genesis 1–15 (Word, 1987), 113.
  3. ^ Richard Coggins (1981). Who's Who in the Bible. London: Batsford. p. 154. ISBN 0-7134-0144-3.
  4. ^ T. C. Mitchell, "Tubal-cain," in New Bible Dictionary (IVF, 1962), 1302.
  5. ^ "Tubal-Cain Acclaimed as Pioneer Chemist". The Science News-Letter. 40 (9): 142. 1941. JSTOR 3918014.
  6. ^ Elwell, Walter E. (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. p. 2109. ISBN 0-8010-3447-7.
  7. ^ Kellett, E.E. (24 July 2016). "Some Old Testament Notes and Queries". The Expository Times. 33 (9): 426. doi:10.1177/001452462203300918.

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