The Forge of Music

Genesis: Bereshit

The Forge of Music

“Yuval! Cease that infernal noise!” Lemech bellowed in the tool-filled smithy.

“My apologies, Father,” Yuval responded meekly, “the spirit of music possessed me again.”

“Nonsense,” retorted Lemech, “are you a man? Or are you an animal that cannot control itself? Your constant banging is driving me mad.” He continued angrily. “Besides, it will ruin our tools and is a distraction from our work.”

“Yes, Sir,” Yuval mumbled, looking down as he examined the molding he was setting. They were preparing for the production of cooking pots.

Lemech eagerly returned his attention to the molten copper in his furnace, making sure the color reached a precise reddish hue. Lemech, had the broad build and darkened skin of a master blacksmith, and could practically manufacture metal by instinct. Nevertheless, he still needed to inspect the coloring. The specific hue of red signified the ideal moment for pouring the flowing metal into the mold.

Suddenly Lemech heard a tapping sound with an unfamiliar rhythm. As he realized the source of the disturbing noise, his blood began to boil. He could not believe his son would continue banging after the strong admonition.

Through clenched teeth, Lemech turned to Yuval and whispered in a deadly tone: “By the Cursed One. Your disruptions are becoming unforgivable. ”

Lemech then started to pour the copper from the furnace into the mold, but it was too late. The copper had passed the right color. Lemech’s anger became explosive. “Fool of a son!” he roared, “You have cost us good metal and an entire day of work!”

“You are good for nothing!” he continued, his anger overcoming his senses, and menacingly raised the molding with the liquid metal still in it, “You add nothing but distress and troubles”.

Yuval stepped back from his father’s threatening moves and grabbed a nearby pan to afford him some protection.

Lemech tripped and the molding with its red hot contents went flying towards Yuval.

Instinctively Yuval raised the pan to cover his face from the molten copper. The copper fell on his shoulders and chest, immediately combusting his clothing. However, part of the copper bounced right into Lemech’s face.

Primal screams erupted from Lemech’s workshop.

* * * * * *

Lemech’s eyes had not been burned completely, but enough so that he could barely see shadows. It took several weeks before Lemech, now the Blind Blacksmith, would enter his forge again.

Yuval had recovered quickly from his superficial burns and had dedicated himself exclusively to the blacksmithing. There were already rumors going about that Yuval’s creations were even better than Lemech’s renowned work. It was reported that Yuval also started producing many more wooden tools and not predominantly metal, as Lemech had. However, there were also rumors that Yuval was creating tools that no man had ever made before and that apparently served no purpose.

Lemech’s youngest son, Tuval-Kayin, became his eyes. Over the course of a few weeks at home, they had developed a rapport. With minimal guidance by Tuval-Kayin, Lemech could move around and function again. The big test however, would come in the smithy.

As Lemech approached the workshop, he already knew something was wrong. Sounds were emanating from the forge that were not natural to metalworking. Not the sound of the roaring furnace, nor that of a hammer on an anvil, nor even the sound of delicate metalwork. It was a sound unlike any Lemech had ever heard, and it was not produced by man.

It had the rhythm of clapping or even whistling or song, but it was not man-made. It sounded as if it were made by a tool.

Lemech, in hand with Tuval-Kayin, rushed to the smithy.

“Yuval!” Lemech asked in a mixture of anger and confusion. “What is that sound?”

“What sound father?” Yuval asked taken aback by his father’s sudden intrusion.

“That sound I just heard.”

“Nothing, Father. Just the wind rattling some of the hanging tools.”

“Do not play the fool with me, son. I ought to kill you for your insolence.”

“You tried that already father,” Yuval said quietly, with both fear and resentment in his voice, “and it did not turn out so well for you.”

Lemech was about to charge towards the sound of Yuval’s voice, but froze mid-stride. After a moment’s pause he said:

“My intention was never to hurt you,” Lemech explained haltingly, “my temper got the best of me, and the rest was an unfortunate accident.”

Yuval remained silent.

“Hmph,” Lemech breathed out, breaking the silence. “Let us move on then. Show me what you have been working on.”

Yuval placed a new pot in Lemech’s hands.

Lemech touched, caressed, and weighed the pot in his thick hands as a jeweler would examine a diamond.

“Give me one of my old pots.” Lemech requested.

Lemech went through the same procedure. After having inspected all of the new items with silent admiration Lemech inquired.

“Is there anything else you have been working on?”

“Like what?” Yuval answered defensively.

“Enough Yuval! Stop playing games with me. Just show me what you have.”

Out of instinctive obedience, Yuval handed him an instrument.

Lemech inspected the instrument with his hands for a long time before speaking. He perceived a wooden frame covered with plated bronze on the edges. Within the frame Lemech counted with his seeing fingers ten strings drawn across the frame. The combination of wood, metal and string was one he had never dreamed of, let alone understood.

“What is it?”

“I call it a lyre. It plays music.”

Lemech started to laugh from surprise. It was a deep rumbling laugh that radiated from his torso.

“No. Truly Yuval. What does this contraption do?”

“Father. The instrument you are holding when touched a certain way makes musical notes that cannot be copied by man. When played in certain sequences it can be quite beautiful.”

“Show me.”

Yuval took the instrument back and ran his fingers across the strings.

At first he played a soothing melody, followed by a dramatic piece full of anger and love and passion. He ended with a light wistful score that spoke of dreams unfulfilled.

Lemech was dumbstruck. For several moments he did not move at all. Then big salty tears streamed down his scarred face. He started crying. He sat his large bulk down on the smithy floor and began to sob uncontrollably.

After a few minutes he composed himself. He raised his towering figure up again, to stand facing Yuval.

“Yuval,” he said, with a voice no one had ever heard before.

“Yes, Father,” replied Yuval in apprehension.

“What you have created is magical. I was a blind and arrogant fool not to appreciate your musical inclination before.”

“I am sorry as well father, for being the cause of your physical blindness.”

“Do not be. I am finally able to see clearly. My wounds are self-inflicted. But that is enough time spent on self-remorse. We have work to do.”

“Yes, Father. What would you like to do?”

“Why, we have lots of pots and pans, and hammers and hoes, and spears and arrowheads and many more things to make.”

Yuval was crestfallen at the verdict. He died a small death, but walked back to the furnace with resignation.

But Lemech continued: “And I would also like you to show me how you make those clever musical instruments of yours.”

* * * * * *

From Genesis 4:17-21

“And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. He became a city-builder, and named the city after his son Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad begot Mehuyael, and Mehuyael begot Metushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.

Lamech took to himself two wives: The name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Yaval; he was the founder of those who dwell in tents and breed cattle. The name of his brother was Yuval; he was the founder of all who handle the harp and flute.”

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