For other uses, see Tubalcain (disambiguation).

Tubal-cain the Smith

Tubal-cain in his forge. Tapestry in the Musée de Cluny
Born Tubal-cain
Other names Tubal-Cain, Tubalcain, Tubal (simplified name)
Occupation smith
Known for forefather of smiths
Title "an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron"
Parent(s) Lamech and Zillah
Relatives Jabal (half-brother)
Jubal (half-brother)
Naamah (sister)

Tubal-cain is a person mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in Genesis 4:22. He was a descendant of Cain, the son of Lamech (not the other Lamech, father of Noah) and Zillah. He was the brother of Naamah and half-brother of Jabal and Jubal.


Tubal-cain at his forge

In Hebrew his name is תובל קין (Tūḇal Qayin). In the King James Version this is rendered as Tubalcain. In the New International Version and the English Standard Version it is Tubal-cain. 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 metal-working skill), or that he is called "Tubal Cain" in order to distinguish him from the other Tubal, the son of Japheth.[2]

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]


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]

Others connect Tubal-cain's work to making weapons of war. Rashi notes that he "spiced and refined the Cain's craft to make weapons for murderers."[1] In The Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius 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." 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. 1 2 Rashi, Bereishis, chapter 4.
  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. Society for Science & the Public. 40: 142. August 30, 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. E. E. Kellett (1922), "Some Old Testament Notes and Queries", Expository Times, 33 (9): 426, doi:10.1177/001452462203300918
  8. "NewsRadio, Rose Bowl, Quotes". IMDB. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  9. Cornell Law School. Cornell University http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/faculty/bio_stewart_schwab.cfm. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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