We use this word often in Masonry and it should be familiar to you, but what exactly is a Tubal Cain?
Origin of Word
The word is thought to be derived from the Bible. It is a man’s name, derived from the marriage of Lamech and Zillah. Not very interesting at first blush, but if we look at this from a genealogical perspective we find that Tubal-Cain is the 8th generation from Adam, from the line of Cain.
He is briefly mentioned in Genesis 4:22 as the son of Lamech and Zillah. His brothers were Jubal, a famous musician and Jabal who was a heardsman. His sister is Naamah who is said to have perfected weaving and other skills. Tubal-Cain was an artificer in bronze and iron works.
It is interesting to note that the Bible tells us little about the relationship either Lamech or his wife had with God. Experience tells us that those who don’t have a relationship with God also don’t teach their children about Him and I believe in this case the Bible is telling us that because Cain was cursed by God after killing Able. Cain became a city builder, he moved away from God relying on himself before he relied on God. To further the point Lamach probably didn’t know anything about him and probably didn’t pass on a tradition of worship on to Tubal-Cain.
It may also be interesting to look at the analog character from the Greek histories – Vulcan, the god of fire and metal working. This is a bit of a stretch, but we find other creation stories that overlap and it is worth noting the Greeks viewed Vulcan as the God of fire, something both needed and hated. It was needed to cook, craft and clean fields and brush for harvest. It was also a destroyer in that it would kill anything in its path.
Jewish tradition holds that before the flood, the four siblings created two pillars that could not be destroyed and encoded all of the known science of the time onto them. One pillar of bronze and one of clay; one would not burn the other would not sink. These were to protect all knowledge in case of a massive fire or flood.
It is a bit of a reach but you might also thing of Tubal-cain as our first war-monger or profiteer. A person who crafted metal to be both a working tool as well as a weapon of war. He was godless and carried the curse of Cain.
Flavius Josephus the 1st century historian describes Tubal-Cain as “[exceeding] all men in strength, and was very expert and famous in martial performances, … and first of all invented the art of working brass.“
The tribe of Nepthali is important here because this ties this Hiram back to Jacob through the slave of his daughter Rachel. That slave was Bilhah who gave birth to Dan as well as Nepthali. He was the fifth son of Jacob and was given wise council from the blessings of Jacob and Moses. He was also the 10th point of ancient Masonic Lectures tying him to the lecture on the apron.
So why the big round about circle?
Hiram of Tyre or King Hiram was the Phoenician King of Tyre, or Southern Lebanon. This is the place that Europa and Elissa were born, the founders of Europe and Carthage. King Hiram and King David were friends this is well documented( 1Ki5:1). And Solomon asked King Hiram to help him build the temple, to complete his father’s work when he was crowned. Don’t miss the point here. God had Solomon work with foreign workers to create His temple. He gave Solomon the wisdom to work with these people, which also gave him the resources he needed to complete God’s work. This should remind us that we should emulate King Solomon’s wisdom and work in harmony with others.
How does this tie back to Tubal-Cain? Remember he was just an artificer in metals. I’ll get there in a minute.
The Nepthalis while living adjacent to Phoenicia were intermarrying with the foreigners and kept close ties with the Phonecians. Effectively we can say that cousins of the line of David were keeping company with foreigners. This probably helped to keep King David close to King Hiram of Tyre.
We read in 1 Kings 7:23 about a certain craftsman who was summoned to help work bronze in a new construction site. He was a member of the tribe of Nepthali and was a widow’s son; Hiram King of Tyre brought him in to help craft King Solomon’s Temple. There he crafted two very beautiful pillars in the portico of the sanctuary. On the left was a brass pillar called Boaz and the one on the right was called Jachin. See it is someone living in King Hiram’s land who is also an artificer in metals that is brought into the mix.
Now be aware that the pillars aren’t the same ones as the pillars from the Jewish tradition of preserving science. Also be aware that Tubal-Cain isn’t Hiram of Tyre. The link here is that they are both from the same craft (metal workers).
In 1Kings 7:14 we find proof that this different Hiram character in the mix isn’t the King of Tyre, but Hiram King of Tyre knew him and so in turn did Solomon. This is the Hiram our tradition hold dear to. He was the bronze craftsman who added beauty and decoration to the Temple.
See in this instance Hiram the Widow’s Son from Tyre, or as we call him Hiram Abiff, had the skill, was in the right place and followed the command he was given to build God’s Temple.
So to tie this all back…
Tubal-cain is the prototype for Hiram Abif. Hiram Abif is our prototype.
How it is used
We use this term primarily for identification. P-G O a MM
Two-ball cane. We have all seen them is just a silly way to remember the word and an inside joke.
If you can make the jump, Tubal-Cain started what we know as the Bronze Age. This was very important to mankind and brought ne
We were divested of all metals – it is thought that metal interfered with magic and it was therefore important to make sure it was not part of the work. Also the threat or danger of bringing a weapon into the craft was thought to be offensive to the work and would diminish the capabilities. You’ll also remember that there was no sound of metal in the construction of Solomon’s Temple. Peace and harmony being important to the construction of the temple to God.
As part of the craft lectures you will remember that we are presented with the formative parts of metal working: Clay, Charcoal and Chalk.
- Clay providing the minerals for the art of metal working.
- Charcoal to heat, smelt and refine the mineral and;
- Chalk to provide a flux to alloy with the gangue and separate from the ore.
Who is a machinist? What are the most important tools for doing this work? A gauge, square, compass? What is the forerunning process step to machining? Casting. In that process a raw shape is made into a mold, maybe of clay, then the molten metal is poured into the mold for finishing process. I like to think of him as a tool maker more than just an artificer.
Metal working is advancement in the knowledge of science and a practical application of that art. Tools can be used to craft or destroy. A knife’s edge can cut to kill or clean a fresh kill. A mallet can be used to crush a skull or chip away at a stone for building.
We should think in these terms then that the tools Tubal-Cain imparts to us as tools that can either help or harm. What tools we create with our hands, those malleable items can provide peace, comfort help or can harm, maim or kill. It is also important to think of him in terms of a person laying building tools for others to use and learn from as they gain more light.