October 7, 2021
View of the marble sculpture Cain after killing his brother Abel (1896) by Henri Vidal (1864-1918) in the Tuileries Park, Paris, France. Credit: Kutredrig/Getty Images

When Cain killed his brother God exiled him in
a monosyllabiblical wasteland called Nod,
where he built a great city designed to be in-
tellectual, called Enoch, meaning educate. How odd!
The first man killer was an intellectual!
He thought his city would make his Lord God revoke
His harsh exile decree, thus rendered ineffectual,
most impressed by how Cain tried to make folk woke
in a city with a motto that was deep:
“Cogito ergo sum,” “I am, that’s why I think.”
He failed upon his slippery slope, since God’s asleep
quite often, causing Cain’s descendants all to sink
in the Flood because it’s clear that very sadly
He’s far less woke than many of our people are,
and likely to keep slumbering, behaving badly,
unless He’s woke-enlightened in a seminar.

The only good news I can tell you is this:
just one sole Cainite managed the Flood to survive.
Her name is Naamah, Tubal-Cain’s fair young sis.
She was the wife of Noah! Yes, she stayed alive,
the midrash tells us, since she used to smile and sing,
and also, I think, how to write some lovely verse,
which must be why she won from Noah a gold ring,
and nurtured their three sons, their midrash-mother nurse.

This poem was inspired by an article by Abe Mezrich in Tablet, 9/29/21   (“ Not to Kill”) which also inspired me not only to compose a longer response in prose(“Cain Builds a University: Abraham’s Fate is the Reverse of Cain’s, and led to exile and slavery of his  descendants”).

Gen. 4:
22 states:

כב  וְצִלָּה גַם-הִוא, יָלְדָה אֶת-תּוּבַל קַיִן–לֹטֵשׁ, כָּל-חֹרֵשׁ נְחֹשֶׁת וּבַרְזֶל; וַאֲחוֹת תּוּבַל-קַיִן, נַעֲמָה.  And Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron; and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan explains why Naamah was so special:
וְאַחְתֵיהּ דְתוּבַל קַיִן נַעֲמָה הִיא הֲוַת מָרַת קִינִין וְזִמְרִין
. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah; she was mistress of elegies and songs.

Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored “Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel.” He can be reached at gershonhepner@gmail.com.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.