In Perakim 4 and 5 of this week’s Parsha, the Torah records all of the descendants of Adam’s sons, Kayin and Shet. It is interesting to note that many of their descendants have very similar names. Kayin’s descendants include Chanoch, Irad, Metushael and Lemech. Similarly, Shet’s descendants include Chanoch, Yered, Mitushelach and Lemech. The Lemech who descended from Shet gives birth to the famous Noach, and the Lemech who descended from Kayin gives birth to Naama, who, according to the Midrash, was Noach’s wife. A close examination of this family tree will indicate why this occurs.
Kayin’s descendants are the great builders and workers. Kayin himself builds a city, which he names after his son Chanoch. Also, his descendant Lemech is a great hunter. In contrast, Shet’s descendants are very spiritual people. For example, the Torah describes Chanoch as “Vayithalech Chanoch Et Haelokim,” “Chanoch walked with God” (Bereshit 5:24). Another of Shet’s descendants, Noach, is described in the same way.
Earlier in Perek 4, Kayin kills his other brother, Hevel, and is punished by Hashem. Hashem says, “Lachen Kol Horeg Kayin Shivatayim Yukam,” “All who kill Kayin, before seven generations he will be punished.” Sure enough, Rashi on 4:24 and the Bereshit Rabbah tell us that Lemech, the sixth generation from Kayin, kills Kayin and his son, Tuval Kayin, who is the seventh generation, while hunting. Now that Kayin’s Aveirah has been reciprocated, the world could be improved with the help of Noach and Naama. The Torah writes, “Vayikra Et Shemo Noach Lemor, ‘Zeh Yinachamenu Mimaasenu,’” “He called his name Noach saying, ‘He will comfort us from our deeds.’” Even Noach’s name describes his ability to improve things. Also, Noach’s wife’s name is Naama, which means ‘comfort’. The marriage of Noach and Naama demonstrates the joining of two families and two ideals. In order to make the world better, it must contain some creativity and work and some spirituality. These are also the best ideals to have when rebuilding the world.