Genesis 4:20-21, The Fathers of Music and Tent-Dwellers

Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.

//This is the sort of Bible verse that leaves me puzzled. Surely, it’s a mythical reference, an ancient story collected and included in the Bible, but where does it come from? Are we really supposed to believe that the writer of Genesis was suggesting that all the tent-dwellers around him descended from Jabal, and all those who play pipes descended from Jubal?

Here’s the really odd thing about Jabal and Jubal: These two brothers lived before Noah, so they must have died in the flood. They couldn’t be the ancestors of anyone.


  1. If this was where civilization began and these brothers developed those skills, they “fathered” those trades. The knowledge could have been passed on through Noah’s family, and/or through nephilim (giants) who survived the flood (Gen. 6:4). Some giants were living in Canaan during the conquest. I’m assuming that the flood didn’t cover the entire earth.

    The people at the tower of Babel certainly seem to have had a lot of knowledge. Nothing was impossible for them (11:6).

  2. Lee Harmon

    You know, that actually makes sense, Martin, thanks!

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