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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 and Zillah, 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-barrelled 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."[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]

In popular culture

  • Tubal Cain was the pen name of Tom Walshaw, a British writer on Model Engineering.
  • In the 2014 film Noah, Tubal-Cain, played by actor Ray Winstone, is portrayed as the nemesis of Noah.
  • In a 1982-83 Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, The Stockbridge Horror, a militaristic Time Lord named Tubal Cain pilots a massive Battle TARDIS armed with "time torpedoes".
  • On the NewsRadio television show, in an episode called Rose Bowl, Joe the electrician teaches Jimmy James the secret masonic word "Tubalcain" that allows freemasons to ignore justice and might automatically win him a particular court case irrespective of justice.[8]
  • Professor Stewart Schwab, of Cornell Law School, has been known to discuss a famous Torts case (In re Eastern Transportation Co. (The T.J. Hooper)), involving Tubal-cain as a reference for a practice being ancient.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Elwell, Walter E. (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. p. 2109. ISBN 0-8010-3447-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. E. E. Kellett (1922), "Some Old Testament Notes and Queries", Expository Times, 33: 426, doi:10.1177/001452462203300918<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "NewsRadio, Rose Bowl, Quotes". IMDB. Retrieved 26 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Cornell Law School. Cornell University http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/faculty/bio_stewart_schwab.cfm. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • Media related to Tubal-Cain at Wikimedia Commons