4:24ד׳:כ״ד
1 א

כי שבעתים יקם קין. קַיִן שֶׁהָרַג מֵזִיד נִתְלָה לוֹ עַד שִׁבְעָה דוֹרוֹת, אֲנִי שֶׁהָרַגְתִּי שׁוֹגֵג לֹא כָּל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁיִּתָּלֶה לִי שְׁבִיעִיּוֹת הַרְבֵּה:

כי שבעתים יקם קין IF CAIN SHALL BE AVENGED SEVENFOLD — (according to Rashi, as previously explained, it signifies “If vengeance shall be taken on Cain after seven generations”). If in the case of Cain who killed with premeditation the punishment was suspended for him until the seventh generation, in the case of myself who slew inadvertently does it not necessarily follow that it should be suspended for me until many seven generations?

2 ב

שבעים ושבעה. לְשׁוֹן רִבּוּי שְׁבִיעִיּוֹת אָחַז לוֹ, כָּךְ דָּרַשׁ רַבִּי תַּנְחוּמָא. וּמִדְרַשׁ בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה לֹא הָרַג לֶמֶךְ כְּלוּם, וְנָשָׁיו פּוֹרְשׁוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ מִשֶּׁקִיְּמוּ פְּרִיָה וּרְבִיָּה, לְפִי שֶׁנִּגְזְרָה גְּזֵרָה לְכַלּוֹת זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל קַיִן לְאַחַר שִׁבְעָה דוֹרוֹת, אָמְרוּ מָה אָנוּ יוֹלְדוֹת לַבֶּהָלָה? לְמָחָר הַמַּבּוּל בָּא וְשׁוֹטֵף אֶת הַכֹּל וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לָהֶן וְכִי אִישׁ הָרַגְתִּי לְפִצְעִי? וְכִי אֲנִי הָרַגְתִּי אֶת הֶבֶל, שֶׁהָיָה אִישׁ בְּקוֹמָה וְיֶלֶד בַּשָּׁנִים, שֶׁיְּהֵא זַרְעִי כָּלֶה בְּאוֹתוֹ עָוֹן? וּמַה קַּיִן שֶׁהָרַג נִתְלָה לוֹ שִׁבְעָה דוֹרוֹת, אֲנִי שֶׁלֹּא הָרַגְתִּי, לֹא כָּ"שֶׁ שֶׁיִּתָּלוּ לִי שְׁבִיעִיּוֹת הַרְבֵּה? וְזֶהוּ קַל וָחֹמֶר שֶׁל שְׁטוּת, אִם כֵּן אֵין הַקָּבָּ"ה גּוֹבֶה אֶת חוֹבוֹ וּמְקַיֵּם אֶת דְּבָרוֹ:

שבעים ושבעה SEVENTY AND SEVEN — He uses a term that denotes many periods of seven generations. Thus did R. Tanchuma 1:1:11 explain this passage; but the Midrash Rabbah (Genesis Rabbah 23:4) does not mention that Lamech slew anyone at all, and only states that his wives had lived apart from him after they had born children, because God’s decree had been issued that Cain’s descendants should be exterminated after seven generations. They said, “Why should we bear children only to be destroyed? Soon the Flood will come and will sweep everyone away!” Lamech then said unto them, “Did ‘I’ slay a man ‘לפצע for my wounding” (i.e. that I should be wounded — punished)? Did “I” slay Abel who was a man in height but a child in years, that my descendants should be exterminated on account of this sin (the sin of Cain who killed Abel)? If Cain who did kill had his punishment suspended until the seventh generation, I who have not killed — does it not necessarily follow that my punishment) should be suspended for many seven generations? This, however, is an absurd argument a fortiori, for if so, the Holy One, blessed be He, could never exact his debt nor fulfil his word.