Women of the Bible: Adah and Zillah
The Sin of Adam and Eve resulted in the fall of humanity. Every generation after them became wicked and that is why scripture affirms, ‘that there is no one righteous, no, not even one.’ Mankind became enslave to the passions of its flesh, its desires became its ruler and men followed the natural dictates of their hearts; and were it not for Sovereign grace, the race of men would now only be read of by angels in the library of extinct creatures.
Adam and Eve witnessed the consequences of their sin in the death of their beloved son, Abel, by the hands of Cain who murdered his brother in anger and was thus sent away from the presence of God. My dear sisters, sin is not only sin when it is found in its extremes, sin is also sin in its subtlety and vanity. Sin is sin when one's affection is set on another and not on God, when one lives to please a thing or a being which is not God; this is also sin.
This becomes especially evident in the lives of Adah and Zillah the wives of Lamech. The breaking of God's law and ordinance of one man and one woman is thrown to the fire, as Adah and Zillah lusted after the same man and both accepted Lamech's call to matrimony. True, that there may have been genuine love to Lamech present in both of their female hearts, yet, one of them could have said to Lamech that you are only to take one woman as your wife. Two, is to introduce a new sin to our already cursed existence. But no, they would have Lamech and have him together.
Adah and Zillah’s names tell us something about who the women were. Adah means adornment or ornament and Zillah means the tingling of things that rings (bells) or a shadow. Both of these woman's names suggest nothing which would bring us to admire them as being righteous, but rather forces us to remember the sober words of the Apostle when he writes in 1Peter 3:3 “Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear-”.
O that these two women could have had the privilege of listening to such an instruction, having their conducts condemned and encouraged with these heavenly instructions, 1Pe ter3:4 “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”
Such a godly feminine spirit is scorned at by women in our modern society and it was ridiculed at back then too. Women, understanding beauty to mean being sexually appealing to men have sought with all of their feminine strength to appeal to the eyes of man, making him lust after them as to desire them and ultimately love them. But, all this commotion only produce the man to make them the object of his desires rather than the object of his love, for when the flesh is only what is appealed to, only the fruits of the flesh will be born, namely death.
Adah and Zillah are good examples of the outworking of the curse pronounced on Eve, namely, that her desires shall be for her husband and he shall rule over her. Adah and Zillah had eyes for Lamech, they saw him and both wanted him, therefore they enhanced themselves with worldly beauty. Adah adorned herself and Zillah decorated her body with jewelries and items which jingles so that she may be noticed from afar. Their entire philosophy was contained in the beauty of their appearances as to please the man, and being emerged in this vanity, Zillah gave birth to a girl and named her Naamah which means Stunning girl. Beauty is not to be hated or shunned but if it is what a women lives for, for the sake of attaining the attention of men, then she is to be pitied, considered more miserable than Eve when she lost the garden.
Adah and Zillah's desire were for Lamech and as a consequence he could rule over them. Although they may have sought to rule over him as it is found in many women today, hating the curse pronounced by God on their kind seek to rule over man by appealing not to his senses but living with an unquenchable desire to usurp man’s authority. Lamech had the advantage in this polygamy to choose as he saw fit. He was not tied down to one but to two; if one displeased him, he could forsake her and go to the other. Instead of friends he could make them enemies of each other, having both at constant alert on how to please the man lest they lose him completely to the other. Their beauty which they had designed to control him, he uses to control them.
The only words recorded of Lamech uttering to his wife were of those of a wicked spirit. He followed in the way of Cain and so wickedly so that his revenge is seventy-seven fold. Cain had killed his brother, yet his revenge was seven fold but Lamech is to be seventy-seven fold. Perhaps these words uttered by Lamech were taken in without care by Adah and Zillah and were extremely glad that it was not their husband whose blood was spilt on the earth; or perhaps they were of a lamentable self-pitiful spirit, cursing their hearts that why did we marry such a violent man, causing them to dwell in their imprisoned tents in sorrow and regret-fullness.
These women are not to be entirely written off without praise; for we can infer that they were good mothers to their children and taught them the way of gaining wisdom and understanding however far from the truth their conception of wisdom was, yet the principle is there. They bore children who were no less than geniuses for we read that Genesis 4:20-22 “Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.”
Eve had lost her paradise and her daughters inherited the curse she heard uttered from God. Adah and Zillah's desire were for their husband, and he ruled over them. Both women were entertained in worldly beauty; they had surrendered the inner beauty and covered themselves in adornment, in those things which causes the eyes of men to lust after a woman. Our generation is no different; external beauty is queen and a gentle and quiet spirit, yea, those inner qualities that are so precious in the eyes of God are trampled upon. Only if women today spend as many hours as they do on their external beauty as on refining those inner qualities which are precious in God’s eyes, how much truly will woman now reflect that original image to which God created her.
I have seen such woman in the Church of Christ who have departed from the ways of Adah and Zillah, those whose nature has been changed. But as a warning to them all, as to every woman who calls herself a Christian, that she ought to be on the pursuit of that which pleases the eyes of God rather than the eyes of men, lest man, rather than Christ should rule over her and her desires.