Jabal And Jubal Genesis 4:20-21

Jabal and Jubal—Gen_4:20-21

One of the sons of Lamech by Adah was Jabal. He, we are told, “was the father of such as dwell in tents, and such as have cattle.” This is a very important fact. It shows that man had existed thirteen centuries upon the earth before the nomad life, to which a large proportion of mankind have since been addicted, received its origin. There had been shepherds before, and sheep had before been kept; but it was not until the time of Jabal that pasturage was organized into a distinct form of social existence. The care of man was by him extended to larger animals than sheep—and they were taught to cast off the restraints which the habit of living in towns and villages imposed, and to betake themselves wholly to the pastures, dwelling in portable habitations, and removing from place to place for the convenience of pasturage. This is a mode of life frequently brought under our notice in the Scriptures, being essentially that of the patriarchs whose history occupies the greater portion of the book of Genesis. This circumstance, therefore, will come frequently under our notice, and will not need here any anticipatory description.

Jabal had a brother named Jubal, and “he was the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ.” Had, then, the world been for above a thousand years without music, till Jubal appeared? Perhaps not. Man could scarcely for so long a time have been without some efforts to produce musical sounds; and the birds could scarcely for so many ages have poured forth their melodious throats to him, without some attempts at imitation. But hitherto, probably, all their attempts had been vocal, until Jubal discovered that instruments might be contrived to give vent to musical sounds of greater compass and power. We may conceive that he had many anxious thoughts, many abortive trials, until  perseverance conquered—as it always does—and he had brought his “harp and organ” to perfection. The “harp” was something of that sort which we call a lyre, and the form and character of which is better known to us from sculptures, paintings, and medals, as well as from poetical descriptions, than from actual knowledge, the instrument being virtually extinct. And let not “the organ” of Jubal perplex us with large ideas of pipes, and keys, and bellows. It was nothing more than a simple “mouth organ”—a bundle of reeds, a Pandean pipe, that is, such a pipe as the god Pan is seen to blow in ancient sculptures, and such as is often enough to this day witnessed in our street exhibitions.

Jubal has been, of course, a favorite with the poets, who strive to render due honor to the great promoter, if not the originator, of the sister art. Du Bartas, to whom we always refer with pleasure, very fancifully supposes that the idea of instruments for producing musical notes, may have been suggested by the regulated strokes of the hammer upon the anvil of his Vulcanian brother, and his companions.

“Thereon he harps, and ponders in his mind,
And glad and fain some instrument would find
That in accord these discords might renew,
And th’ iron anvil’s rattling sound ensue,
And iterate the beating hammer’s noise,
In milder notes, and with a sweeter voice.”

Accident, such as only occurs to the thoughtful and the observant, who know how to take the hints which nature offers to all but the slow of understanding, enabled the son of Lamech to realize his hopes.

“It chanced, that passing by a pond he found
An open tortoise lying on the ground,
Within the which there nothing else remained
Save three dried sinews in the shell stiff-strained:
This empty house Jubal doth gladly bear,
Strikes on those strings, and lends attentive ear, 
And by thus mould frames the melodious lute,
That makes woods hearken, and the winds be mute,
The hills to dance, the heavens to retrograde,
Lions be tame, and tempests quickly vade.”

Nor does he stop here—

“This art, still waxing, sweetly marrieth
His prancing fingers to his warbling breath:
More little tongues to ’s charm-care lute he brings,
More instruments he makes: no echo rings
’Mid rocky concaves of the babbling vales,
And bubbling rivers roll’d with gentle gales,
But wiry cymbals, rebeck√ęs sinew twin’d,
Sweet virginals and cornet’s curled wind.”

So a poet of our own day—whose very name is a word of honor—James Montgomery, in his “World before the Flood,” renders due honor to Jubal, through he finds no place for Jabal or Tubal-Cain. There is a touching and beautiful conception with reference to him, which we should be reluctant to omit noticing.

“Jubal, the prince of Song (in youth unknown),
Retired to commune with his harp alone;
For still he nursed it like a secret thought,
Long cherish’d, and to late perfection wrought—
And still with cunning hand and curious ear,
Enriched, ennobled, and enlarged its sphere,
Till he had compass’d in that magic round,
A soul of harmony, a heaven of sound.”

He sings to his instrument of God, of man, and of creation. The song is given: then couched before him, like a lion watching for its prey, he beheld a strange apparition—
“An awful form, that through the gloom appeared,
Half brute, half human, whose terrific beard,
And hoary flakes of long dishevell’d hair,
Like eagle’s plumage ruffled by the air,
Veil’d a sad wreck of grandeur and of grace.”

Who was this? It was Cain, who had seven years since gone mad under the stings of conscience—

“Jubal knew
His kindred looks, and tremblingly withdrew;
He, darting like the blaze of sudden fire,
Leap’d o’er the space between, and grasp’d the lyre;
Sooner with life the struggling hand would part;
And e’er the fiend could tear it from his heart,
He hurl’d his hand with one tremendous stroke,
O’er all the strings; whence in a whirlwind broke
Such tones of terror, dissonance, despair,
As till that hour had never jarr’d in air.
Astonish’d into marble at the shock,
Backward stood Cain, unconscious as a rock,
Cold, breathless, motionless, through all his frame
But soon his visage quickened into flame
When Jubal’s hand the crashing jargon changed
To melting harmony, and nimbly ranged
From chord to chord, ascending sweet and clear,
Then rolling down in thunder on the ear;
With power the pulse of anguish to restrain,
And charm the evil spirit from the brain”

It had this effect upon Cain, who exhibits signs of returning consciousness and intellect—
“Jubal with eager hope beheld the chase
Of strange emotions hurrying o’er his face,
And waked his noblest numbers to control
The tide and tempest of the maniac’s soul;
Through many a maze of melody he flew.
They rose like incense, they distilled like dew,
Pass’d through the sufferer’s breast delicious balm,
And sooth’ d remembrance till remorse grew calm;
Till Cain forsook the solitary wild,
Led by the minstrel like a weaned child.”

From that time, the lyre of Jubal was to Cain what in later ages the harp of David was to Saul—
“The lyre of Jubal, with divinest art,
Repell’d the demon and revived his heart”
And thus the poet concludes—
“Thus music’s empire in the soul began:
The first-born poet ruled the first-born man.”