Genesis 4 & 5: The Progeny of Adam

Original Publication Date
June 7, 2015
Jan 10, 2023 1:03 AM
GenealogyAdamEveCainAbelNoahEnochGenesisChapter Study
Bible References
Genesis 4:17-26; Genesis 5
In progress
Table of Contents
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on June 7, 2015 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Starting in the end of Genesis 4 and concluding at the end of Genesis 5, the lineage of Adam and Eve is traced 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.

The Mysterious Wives of Cain and Seth

If Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel (who died), and Seth, who did their sons marry? Neither son’s wife is given by name, but we are told that they married and had children. So, who are these mysterious wives?

First let's revisit the statement that Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel, and Seth. Genesis 5:4 confirms that Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters—children 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.

4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: 5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

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, and 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.[5] 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 us that it is not right to have sex with close relatives (thus it follow that it is not right to wed close relatives either). The question 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 that Abraham married his half-sister.[1]

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 and the overall decay of mankind. 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![6]), 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 than those that lived before the flood. Evidence for this theory is being researched by some Creationists.[7]

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.[4]

God Created Other People?

The second possibility is that God created people other than Adam and Eve. 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.[2][3]

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 (if only a single the couple was created, after one generation they would all be descended from both couples) and still becomes void after the flood. 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.

24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And 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;

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). Though the second is more interesting, perhaps because it does have holes and the need for assumption which you could sit a ponder for hours without truly knowing the answer. Nonetheless, 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 in which we are also given ages fo—perhaps because 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 lived to be 910. Mahalaleel has Jared and lives to be 895. Jared has Enoch and lives to be 962. Enoch has Methuselah. Enoch 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 sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth re-populate the earth after the flood (and we get their progeny in Genesis 10).

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)
  • 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 deviates from God's favor to 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.

References and Footnotes

  1. Genesis 20
  2. Ham, Ken, Sarfati, Jonathan, Wieland, Carl. "Where Did Cain Get His Wife?". Edited by Don Batten. Creation Ministries International. 2000
  3. Ham, Kenneth. Cain's Wife: It Really Does MatterActs & Facts. 1993
  4. Jackson, Wayne. "Does the Bible Conflict with Itself in the Matter of Incest?". Christian Courier Publications. 2015
  5. Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whiston. pg 361. 1737
  6. Reber, Paul. "What is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain?". Scientific American. April 1, 2010
  7. Wood, Todd Charles. "Genome Decay in the Mycoplasmas". Acts & Facts. 2001

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