Adah

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In the book of Genesis, two women are named "Adah". One is the wife of Lamech – the seventh anti-Diluvian patriarch after Adam – and the other is the wife of Esau (Gn 36:2). Of the latter it is said she is Hittite (ittî), causing embarrassment in historians and exegetes. If Esau's wife – brother of the patriarch Jacob – is of Hittite origin, can it be assumed that Adah, Lamech's wife, is too? In Genesis and more generally in the entire Bible, the meaning of the term "Hittite" is not clear, only now the proximity to the Neo‑Hittite kingdoms of northern Syria, such as the one recently discovered (Hawkins 2009 [1]; Dinçol et al. 2015 [2]; Weeden 2015 [3]), by the suggestive name of W/Palastina makes the suggestion more concrete. These are kingdoms of Luwian origin, known through the testimony of the Hieroglyphic Luwian, with which seals and stelae are written, found in the kingdoms born after the fall of the Hittite Empire (Bryce 2012 [4]) (1200 B.C. ca.). Within this historical-cultural framework where the languages of Anatolia play a pivotal role, hypotheses can be suggested about the identity of Adah. Now, if Lamech, that is *Luq, maybe Luqqa – a traditional enemy of the Hittites – marries Adah, the "Hittite", one is forced to think that Cain himself, as ancestor of Lamech, belongs to that people of raiding nomads. Adah and Zillah – his wives – could be understood as prey of war, of an expansive motion that brings Lukka southeast, probably to Lycaonia (Bryce 1992 [5]), where Nod (Naid according to LXX) the upati Nata in Hittite sources, is the end of the Cainite migration. In fact, we will gradually see the emergence of a more convincing background – and consistent with the "matrilinear" context – that women are authoritative benchmarks within a one-of-a-kind society. It cannot be excluded that the two women, to whom Lamech's speech is addressed, his own wives, are not a war prey but on the contrary women belonging to kin tribes who stand out as respected individuals in the community. In other words, what has been called "the song of the sword" (Johann Gottfried Herder) because it was meant to celebrate the first sword forged by Lamech’s son Tubal-Cain, is actually a song celebrating two women who are to be taken in due consideration, a sort of show before prominent ladies. Even though the sixth chapter of Genesis opens with these words: "And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of whomsoever they chose" (Gn 6:1–2), which may bring forth the wrong conviction that Adah and Zillah belong to the "daughters of men" because they were chosen as wives by such a mighty man as Lamech. The latter’s parade appears nonetheless more like a show of strength between equals that reminds of a dialogue between Hector and his wife Andromache, a Cilician woman from Thebe Hypoplakia (1.366, 2.691, 6.397.416), whose name supposedly means "she who fights with men" and perhaps refers to a particular condition of women from Cilicia, which some scholar would call "matriarchal" (Hirvonen 1968 [6]; Pomeroy 1975 [7]), to underline how Andromache's mother is called: "queen" (6.425) and potnia, "lady" (Capettini 2007 [8]; Kanavou 2015 [9]: 82). Her famous lament (6.395-435) is cut short by Hector, who implicitly highlights a feature of Cilician women, who dare to intrude in manly matters (Muich 2011 [10]). She is rebuked: "Nay, go thou to the house and busy thyself with thine own tasks, the loom and the distaff, and bid thy handmaids ply their work: but war shall be for men, for all, but most of all for me, of them that dwell in Ilios." (6.490) Apparently nobody has pointed out the ethnogenesis of the weird lament of Andromache when Hector is still alive: "Presently she came to the well-built palace of man-slaying Hector and found therein her many handmaidens; and among them all she roused lamentation. So in his own house they made lament for Hector while yet he lived; for they deemed that he should never more come back from battle, escaped from the might and the hands of the Achaeans." (6.495-504). Hector’s wife is Cilician, and as already noted, Adah is mother of Jubal, whose name itself may express an occupation as professional "lamenter", together with the kinnor he invented, an instrument devoted to lamentation as musical genre and attributed to Cinyras, a Cilician king. Is this enough to establish an ideal trajectory between northern and southern Cilicia? This path has already been clearly travelled in the myth of Bellerophon. Since Homeric times there has been a tendency, starting with the Greek colonies in Asia Minor, to re-establish the links of Greek history and mythology with the culture of conquered lands. The myth of the Corinthian hero who fled to Lycia (Tagliabue 2009 [11]), the participation of Glaucus, his nephew in the Trojan War, Homer's reference to Cilicia – the place where Bellerophon's epic ends in an inglorious way – trace the Anatolian path of the Lycians, which connects North and South, passing through Xanthos, or classical Lycia. In Genesis, such a reunion is established through Lamech's marriage to Adah and Zillah, both mothers of peoples who considered them "great women." I have already pointed out the link between Zillah and the goddess Anzili, while Adah's profile remains more enigmatic, apparently less terrible than Zillah and her offspring; yet, her husband also addresses her, in a context of violence threatened to the extreme: "Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, give ear to my speech; for a man I slew, as soon as I wounded (him), yea, a young man, as soon as I bruised (him)." (Gn 4:23) Just as Zillah is a counterfigure of a Hittite goddess, Adah should also belong to the same department and the most promising comparison comes from the goddess Ala (Archi 1975 [12]; McMahon 1991 [13]: 11-14; Marazzi & Bollati-Guzzo 2010 [14]), who in the Luwian field can easily appear as "Ada", given the documented confluence of phonemes /l/ and /d/ (Melchert 2020: 248). To recommend this perspective, the fact that the goddess is honored with various titles (Archi 1975: 100-101; McMahon 1991: 108-115), including "of cattle", "of the countryside"(gimras),"of the pasture" (lapanassis). The first epithet is defined in the Hittite text through MAS.ANSE, a Sumerogram corresponding to the Akkadian bulu,"the cattle" (Fleming & Milstein 2010 [15]: 23-27), equivalent to the Hebrew mqnh, the term used about the first son of Adah (Gn 4, 20; Amzallag & Yona 2018 [16]); (Amzallag 2018 [17]: 32-33). and contrasted with Hittite huitna-, "wild beasts, game" (EDHIL 355-356, s.v. uitar- / uitn-). The association between Ala and cattle is generally confirmed by the animals offered in her honour: "A prairie cow, three goats" (Archi 1975: 114; McMahon 1991 [13]: 109). An affinity that seems confirmed by a seal (Herbordt 2005 [18]: 223; Herbordt 2008 [19]: 163 and fig. 165 nr. 166), in which the goddess appears sitting enthroned on a lying goat, a symbol of her sovereignty on the animals that men can control. In fact, also the second epithet, gimras, means "of the steppe", the uncultivated space, far from the inhabited centers (EDHIL 476-477, s.v. gimra-) where Jabal would be at home with his tents: "he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle." (Gn 4:20). Finally, the third epithet derives from a Luwian term for summer grazing (Starke 1990 [20]: 230-231, s.v. lapan-; DLL 125, s.v. lapan(a)- "salt-lick". In light of the new interpretation of the hieroglyphic sign L. 172, first read <ta5> and now <lá/í>, (Rieken & Yakubovich 2010 [21]: 203–204; Yakubovich 2017 [22]: 4), followed by Hawkins (2013 [23]: 65, 71), have proposed a syncretism between Kubaba and Ala; while other scholars reject the idea (Simon 2014 [24]: 247-248; Hutter 2016 [25]).

Originally Published: April 24, 2021

Last Updated: April 30, 2021


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