In Bereshis 4:18 Lemech is introduced. Do any commentators explain the meaning or implication of his name?

  • 1
    According to R. SR Hirsch, we don't know the implication of the name: רש"ר הירש פרשת בראשית אחרי מתושלח בא למך. (אין אנחנו יודעים את משמעות שם למך)
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 28, 2016 at 20:11
  • 1
    Note there were two people with the name Lemekh.
    – Double AA
    Oct 28, 2016 at 20:29
  • @DoubleAA …at least. :-)
    – msh210
    Oct 30, 2016 at 6:30

2 Answers 2


See Midrash Rabba paracha 23 , paragraph 2:

‏ ויולד לחנוך את עירד וגו' ‏

‏אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי: כולן לשון מרדות הן.‏

‏עירד, עורדן אני מן העולם.‏

‏מחויאל, מוחן אני מן העולם.‏

‏מתושאל, מתישן אני מן העולם.‏

למך, מה לי ללמך ולתולדותיו?

‏ויקח לו למך שתי נשים שם האחת עדה ושם השנית צלה.‏

About the names of the sons of Kain, Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said they are all names concerning rebellion against HaShem ... for Lemech, "What are Lemech and his descendants to me?" {There is apparently a circular definition. The Yalkut Shim'oni chapter 4, paragraph 38 contains the same text exactly.}

This name is a notrikun expressing the little regard of this man for his offspring. Another interpretation may be the little regard of HaShem for this family line. See in the commentaries, Ets Yosef, number 3 (i.e. letter gimel) He reported also that by killing Kayin, Lemech led to the families of Chanoch, Erad, Mechuyael and Metushellach being swallowed by the earth.

  • where in the midrash rabba is this found? Oct 31, 2016 at 1:09
  • @rikitikitembo fixed
    – kouty
    Oct 31, 2016 at 3:35

The Netziv in his commentary HaEmek Davar on 4:18 actually addresses your question and says the following:

(Source from Sefaria)

ויולד לחנוך את עירד – כאן אין צריך לפרש טעמי השמות אחר שיחסם על שם אביהם כדרך המקרא לייחס המשפחות אחר האב. משא"כ במקום שמיחס שם הבן אחר האם הוא נקרא בשם זה בשביל הטעם שאמרה האם.

And Hanoch bore Irad: Here, we need not explain the reasons of the names because it associated them to their fathers name, like the way of the verses to associate the families after the father. Which is not so where the name of the son is associated with the mother where he is called that because of a reason the mother said

  • 2
    "actually addresses your question" Is that really an accurate description of the Netziv's comments, which don't mention "Lemekh" at all?
    – Double AA
    Oct 28, 2016 at 21:25
  • @DoubleAA what is noted is that the Netziv explains being that Lamech was was named after his father, there is no need to explain why he was called such. Oct 30, 2016 at 0:04
  • The OP asked "what is the meaning or implication of his name" and a source addressing the issue was provided appropriately. Oct 30, 2016 at 0:08
  • I'm pretty sure "א״צ" means not that we don't need but that the Torah doesn't need, and "אחר שיחסם" means not "after their association" but "because it associated them". So the העמ״ד is saying only why the Torah doesn't explain the name (as opposed to e.g. by Adam's sons) and not whether we can do so. That leaves open the question (ours here) of why Lemech was called that.
    – msh210
    Oct 30, 2016 at 6:35

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