Rashi (Beraishis 4:24) writes that the descendants of Kayin are to be decimated as it is indicated in the Pasukim, but we know people that are descendants of Kayin, so how can this be?

  • 6
    Hi Kimberly and welcome to Mi Yodeya! What descendants of Kayin do you know? – Harel13 Apr 8 at 15:41
  • 1
    If they are only going to be decimated, that means there are still 90% of them around – Joel K Apr 8 at 15:56
  • @IsraelReader Thank you for spotting the typo. I will fix that. – sabbahillel Apr 8 at 19:54
  • All the descendants of Adam died in the Flood except for Noach, his wife, their three children, and their three wives. There are those who say that Noach's wife Na'amah was a descendant of Kayin. In that case she was the only one – sabbahillel Apr 8 at 19:54

You misunderstood the situation. Rashi explains the meaning of the verse to mean that Lemech thought that the Flood would be postponed for many future generations.

Rashi says

If Cain be avenged sevenfold: Cain, who killed intentionally, was given an extension until seven generations. How much more should I, who have killed unintentionally, be given many times seven.

seventy-seven fold: Heb. שִׁבְעִים וְשִׁבְעָה An expression meaning many sevens is used here. So did Rabbi Tanchuma explain it. [This does not appear in extant editions of Tanchuma, but in Yalkut Shim’oni it is quoted from Tanchuma]. In Midrash Genesis Rabbah (23:4): Lemech did not kill anyone, but his wives separated from him after they had fulfilled [the commandment of] propagation, because a decree had been issued to destroy Cain’s seed after seven generations. They said, “Why should we give birth in vain? Tomorrow, the Flood will come and inundate everything!” He answered them, “Have I slain a man for whom I should be wounded? Did I slay Abel, who was a man in stature and a child in years, that my seed should be annihilated for that iniquity? If Cain, who killed, was given an extension of seven generations, I, who did not slay- how much more so should I be given an extension of many sevens!” Now this is an absurd deduction from a minor to a major case, [because] if so, the Holy One, blessed be He, could not exact His debt nor fulfill His word.

In any case Ramban among others says that Noach's wife was descended from Kayin. She was the only direct descendant of Kayin to survive the flood.

  • 1
    It's hard to say they misunderstood the situation if it's unclear what they did understand. I'd wait for clarification before offering an answer. – robev Apr 8 at 18:04
  • @robev That is why I cited Rashi in order to say what actually happened. – sabbahillel Apr 8 at 19:56
  • Do you know who claims that Noach's wife was from Kayin? I only recall Noach having one wife (if there's a midrash that says otherwise I'd love to find out) which would mean that she also was the mother of shem cham and yafes- or in other words, the whole world ultimately descended from Kayin via Naama. – Binyomin Apr 9 at 1:51
  • @Binyomin The Ramban there mentions the midrash that Noach married Naamah - and that that would mean that there was a remnant of the descendants of Kayin. – MichoelR Apr 9 at 23:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .