The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

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Adah 1: Bible

by Carol Meyers

In Brief

The Hebrew Bible character Adah appears in Genesis and is one of the two wives of Lamech. Her sons are in the seventh generation of naturally born human beings, and they are the founders of the civilized arts.

Article

According to the genealogy of Gen 4:17–19, Adah is one of the two wives of Lamech and the mother of two sons. Those sons, along with the son and daughter of her co-wife, Zillah, are in the seventh generation of naturally born human beings. They are the founders of the civilized arts, which are thus presented as a fully human product and not as a gift of the gods, as in many mythological beginnings stories of other cultures. Adah and Zillah are both addressed in Lamech’s poetic account of a violent deed he has committed. Perhaps he anticipated that they will respond with a song celebrating his deed, in keeping with the tradition in ancient Israel for women to compose victory songs.

The name Adah, in signifying aesthetic qualities, is common in the ancient Semitic world and may point to the fact that female beauty was deemed important. It should be noted, however, that several men’s names in the Hebrew Bible are based on the same root (‘dh, “to adorn, ornament oneself”).

Bibliography

Meyers, Carol, ed. Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

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How to cite this page

Meyers, Carol. "Adah 1: Bible." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 31 December 1999. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 6, 2022) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/adah-1-bible>.