Genesis 4 & 5: The Progeny of Adam

A review of the descendants of Adam leading to Noah, as well as the story of the first murder.


Genesis 4 and 5 trace the lineage of Adam and Eve to Noah. One of the major concerns in the Old Testament is tracing the lineage of God's people. Whether it's to establish that all people come from Adam and Eve, the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, to the lineage of Christ, the Old Testament details the lineage of every major person in Biblical history. This trend begins in Genesis 4 and 5.

Cain & Abel

Some time after Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, they give birth to Cain and Abel. We are told that Cain becomes a tiller of the ground (or a farmer) and Abel a keeper of the flock (or a shepherd). Much of Genesis 4 centers on these two brothers.

1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. 2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.Genesis 4:1-2 KJV


Some scholars believe Cain and Abel were twins. This assumption is usually rooted in either an assumption made from the rapid pace of the of the text, which does not mention any time between Cain's birth and Abel's birth, or the original root of the word again, which is yacaph in Hebrew[4]. Yacaph means to add to or to continue to do something[2]. There is nothing that particularly supports this idea, nor is there anything that conclusively tells us they were not twins. From the information given, the only conclusion we can make is that Cain was born first.

An even wilder attachment to the idea of Cain and Abel being twins, is that they are fraternal twins with different fathers[11]! Some believe that the sin of eating from the tree is symbolic of lust (and adultery) and that Eve's true sin was sleeping with the devil—how do people come up with this stuff? One contradiction with theory off the bat is that God tells the serpent that his seed and Eve's seed will be at odds with each other. While Cain clearly had a problem with Abel, we see no evidence of Abel having a problem with Cain. On top of that, if one son were actually fathered by the serpent (or the devil), the seed would be both Eve's and the serpent's... That doesn't make any sense at all. Another piece of conclusive evidence that this is not what happened is that Adam also eats the fruit and is also punished by God; in Romans 5:12-14 the blame is placed solely upon Adam for the fall of man. If Eve committed adultery with the devil, why would anyone blame Adam? Furthermore, elsewhere in the Bible, when a man committed adultery and bore a child, we are still told of this. Why would God hide it in Genesis 3?

12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.Romans 5:12-14 KJV

What was the Difference Between the Offerings?

A better, and more relevant, question from the narrative of Cain and Abel is what made God accept Abel's offering but reject Cain's? We are told that Abel offers God the firstlings (or firstborn) of his flock plus the fat of said animals, while Cain offered fruit from the ground.

3And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.Genesis 4:3-5 KJV
When God rejects Cain's offering, Cain gets angry (wroth[1]) and God tell him that if he does well he will be accepted—implying that Cain has not done well so far. God takes this opportunity to remind Cain that if he doesn't do well sin will rule over him. God tells Cain that "sin lieth at the door" and "shalt rule over him" if he doesn't do well. We know that sin attacks those who turn away from God, it overwhelms them because they don't have the power of God to over come it. So in this passage, God is essentially telling Cain that if he turns away from God he will be drawn to sin.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.Genesis 4:7 KJV

Some may assert that God preferred the blood offering provided by Abel, citing Jesus' blood as the ultimate offering/payment to God, however there is a lot more that can be seen in this passage. The first thing to be noted is that we are told that Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and their fat. From this we know that Abel brought his best, and possibly most prized, to offer God. We are not told anything of Cain's offering. Did Cain offer him rotten over ripe fruit, or fresh fruit? Did he offer the juiciest, plumpest fruit he could find or small, disfigured, and blemished fruit. In other words, what was the quality of his offering? Another question to be asked is where was his heart? Was he happy and excited to give this offering to God or was he already a little irate at having to give some of his crop away?

Murder and Punishment

As God warned Cain, sin did rule over him, and Cain killed his brother out of jealousy. Just as Adam and Eve were unable to admit their sin to God, Cain refuses to admit to killing his brother when God asks where Abel is (just Adam and Eve did not confess their own sin). God gives Cain a chance to confess, just as we are given a chance to confess, however when Cain refuses to admit guilt and repent, God punishes him. Cain's punishment was to be a vagabond and to lose his ability to harvest crops from the Earth.

11And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; 12When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.Genesis 5:11-12 KJV

The Mark of Cain

People use to believe the mark (or curse) of Cain was dark skin—it was used to dehumanize Africans and justify slavery during the colonial era. No one knows exactly what the mark looked like, however the mark itself was not the curse but rather a mark of protection ensuring that no one would avenge Abel by killing Cain.[5]


The Second Sin

One question the come up amongst theologians is who the law applies to. Some assert that the law was written for the Jews and that they were the only ones bound to keep the law. As we continue to dive into the Bible, there will be many occasions when we see explicit instructions about the law but there is much to be pointed out even in Genesis 4. It is confirmed in Romans 5:12-14 that the disobedience of Adam and Eve allowed sin to enter the world and that it was a sin. These verses also define sin as disobedience of God's law/command. Even though we have not gotten to the 10 commandments or the laws of Leviticus, Cain and Abel are already presenting offerings to God and Cain is punished for killing Abel. The fact that Cain is punished and God refers to Cain's jealousy (coveting) as sin tells us that Cain had been command not to do either of those prior to that point in the story. It also means that the law of God also predates the Jews.


Questions From God

In my History of the Old Testament class, the professor questioned God's omnipotence citing the fact that here in Genesis 4, God asks where Cain is and in Genesis 3, He asks where Adam and Eve are. The professor suggested that if God knew, He wouldn't have asked. However, in many cases, we give people a chance to fess up to their wrong doings—even in today's society the punishment is often less severe when we you confess what you have done (particularly if you admit remorse). God knew that Adam and Eve were hiding, by asking where they were He was giving them a chance to show themselves and accept their punishment. Similarly God knew that Cain had killed Abel, He says, just after Cain responds, that Abel's soul cries out to Him from the ground. God either wanted to see if Cain would admit to murdering His brother, or was simply beginning the conversation in a non-accusatory tone. If God didn't know where Abel was, why didn't He ask Adam, or Eve? He asked Cain because He knew Cain had killed Abel.

Descendants of Adam and Eve

The Mysterious Wives of Cain and Seth

A question many ask is if Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel (who died), and Seth. Neither are given by name, but we are told that they married and had children. So, who are these mysterious women? First let's revisit the statement that Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel, and Seth. Genesis 5:4 marks the possibility that Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters other than Cain, Abel, and Seth. If you follow the passage into verses 5 and 6, along with examining the sentence structure it becomes obvious that Moses does not start talking about Seth's descendants until verse 6, thus the "he" in Genesis 5:4 must be referring to Adam, not Seth. This verse is telling us that Adam and Eve had more children, both sons and daughters.The pattern we see in the listing of lineage is that the first son is the only son mentioned, with notable exceptions (Abel, his brother Seth, the son's of Cain's descendant Lamech). Each of the sons mentioned outside of the normal pattern play an important role in the story (Abel is the first murder victim, Seth is the one to carry Adam and Eve's lineage, Lamech's sons are progenitors of particular crafts). Therefore it is possible that Adam and Eve had a daughter—possibly multiple daughters—between the birth of Abel and birth of Seth, and definite that they had daughters at some point. According to an endnote in The Works of Flavius Jospehus, Adam and Eve had 33 sons and 23 daughters[9]

4And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: 5And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.Genesis 5:4-5 KJV
The answer to the question has two possible answers; each answer is contested by those who agree with the other, but each have plausibility.


Cain & Seth Married Their Sisters?

Many who study God's Word will tell you that it is from the daughters of Adam and Eve that Cain and Seth probably chose a wife. Dissenters of this idea argue the problem of incest. In Leviticus 18, God commands that it is not right to have sex with close relatives (thus it is not right to wed close relatives either). The question then is was this law in effect at the time of Cain and Seth? There is much to be considered. The fact that Cain was punished for murder implies that some law was in existence at the time, but we are not told exactly what it is. Further in Genesis, we will learn the Abraham married his sister[3].

An argument for Cain and Seth being permitted to marry their sister, while later generations were not, stems from the concept of sin causing death. In the beginning, man and woman were created with the potential to live forever (even today our brains are said to hold enough memory to store 300 years worth of footage![10]), however upon sinning, they were condemned to die, and we inherited this curse. The Earth also inherited the curse. Theories such as gene decay stem from the idea that with each generation the human genome is decaying, which would also explain why we have much shorter lifespans that those that lived before the flood. Evidence for this theory is being researched by some Creationists[12]. With perfect DNA, there would be no concerns over intermarrying as there would be no mutations or defects to be passed on to the child. It is only imperfect DNA that creates a problem. Therefore it is plausible that God allowed intermarrying between siblings until human DNA was no longer tolerant of such standards. Remember Romans 5:13 tells us that we cannot commit a sin if there is no law, thus in the cases where we are told incest occurred before a record of God commanding them not to commit incest, the fact that there are no reprimands from God for these acts suggests that God did not consider it a sin[8].


God Created Other People?

The second idea is that God created people other than Adam and Eve as well. It is obvious that the Old Testament is telling us the origin story of all mankind and the tribes of Israel, and connecting the dots that we are all descendants of the first family. If God created another couple or even several other couples after Adam and Eve there would be no reason to mention them as they were not the first family. If God created other couples, their children would have been among the candidates for wife for Cain and Seth. Those who are against this idea cite that it is through Adam that sin entered the world and propagated into mankind and that only a descendant of Adam can be saved[6], [7].

Adam was not only the first man created, but also the first person created. That would have made him the oldest, and the de facto leader if there were a band of people. He would have known God the longest and may have even been a "sheriff" type in terms of upholding the command to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge. If he agreed to eat the fruit himself, he would also have given permission to the others (if only implicitly) to partake of the tree as well. This would still make him the one to usher sin into the world. When speaking of descendants, adding other people to the mix does change the likelihood of someone being a descendant of Adam and Eve, however this is only true if multiple couples were created and still becomes void after the flood. As you will see in the discussion on Seth's line, Noah is a direct descendant of Seth, who is the son of Adam and Eve. This means all of Noah's descendants are descendants of Adam and Eve as well. Since only Noah and his descendants survived the flood, everyone who is alive today is a descendant of Noah and thus a descendant of Adam and Eve. Arguments that there couldn't have been other couples generally cite Eve being the mother of all (yet, she is not the mother of Adam) and the need for all men & women to be descendant of Adam and Eve to be saved. The biblical passage closest to contradicting this idea is in Acts, in which Paul tells us that of one blood God made all the nations—implying everyone all came from one bloodline.

24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;Acts 17:24-26 KJV

Deciding Between the Two

Overall, I find the idea that Cain and Seth married their sisters to have less holes and less need for assumption (which is a dangerous act in both Biblical interpretation as well as daily life). The fact that there are two possible answers negates any arguments based on who Seth and Cain married to deny the plausibility of Genesis' creation account.

Seth's Line

Genesis 5 gives us the progeny of Seth; his descendants are the only descendants we are also given ages for since it is through his descendants that we are all descended. Seth lives to be 912, and his line continues through Enos. Enos has Cainan and lives to be 905. Cainan had Mahalaleel and lives to be 910. Mahalaleel has Jared and lives to be 895. Jared has Enoch and lives to be 962. Enoch has Methuselah. He was such a righteous man that God took him to heaven and he did not experience death. Methuselah has Lamech and lives the longest out of all the people we are given ages for in the Bible—969. Lamech has Noah and lives 777 years (he may be the youngest to die, that we are told). It is Noah's son Shem, Ham, and Japheth re-populate the earth after the flood.

Cain's Line

Cain gets married and has a son named Enoch, for which he names a city after. Enoch has Irad, and Irad has Mehujael. Mehujael has Methusael, and Methusael has Lamech. Lamech has three sons Jabal, Jubal, and Tubalcain, and a daughter, Naamah. We are told several things about Cain's line; Lamech takes two wives, Jabal is the father of "tent dwellers" and cattle keepers, Jubal is the father of harpists and organists (possibly referring to musicians in general), and Tubalcain is an instructor of blacksmiths. It is also important to note that Lamech's wives, Adah and Zillah, as well as his daughter Naamah are the first women other than Eve to be named. It is a break from the typically patriarchal lineage we are given throughout the Bible, but why? The marriage of Lamech to both Adah and Zillah is the first record of a man having more than one wife in the Bible. Why is Naamah important? Is she mentioned again?

Shortly after introducing Cain's descendants we also learn that Lamech has murdered someone (just like Cain). Lamech kills not just one man, but two men and Lamech suggests that he should be protected from vengeance even more so than Cain was! As a polygamist, Lamech also violates God's law for monogamous marriage (see the description of marriage by God in Genesis 2:24 KJV and Mark 10:6-8 KJV).

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.Genesis 4:24 KJV


  1. Church of the Great God. "Strongs #7107: qatsaph". 2015
  2. Church of the Great God. "Strong's #3254: Yacaph". 2015
  3. Genesis 20
  4. Gilkerson, Luke. "All the Twins in the Bible". Intoxicated On Life. October 15, 2012
  5. "What was the mark God put on Cain?". 2015
  6. Ham, Ken, Sarfati, Jonathan, Wieland, Carl. "Where Did Cain Get His Wife?". Edited by Don Batten. Creation Ministries International. 2000
  7. Ham, Kenneth. Cain's Wife: It Really Does Matter. Acts & Facts. 1993
  8. Jackson, Wayne. "Does the Bible Conflict with Itself in the Matter of Incest?". Christian Courier Publications. 2015
  9. Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whiston. pg 361. 1737
  10. Reber, Paul. "What is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain?". Scientific American. April 1, 2010
  11. "Who was the Father of Cain, Adam or Another Source?". Let Us Reason Ministries. 2010
  12. Wood, Todd Charles. "Genome Decay in the Mycoplasmas". Acts & Facts. 2001

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