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Are the writers of Genesis trying to compare Cain's (Genesis 4:6) and Adam's lineages (Genesis 5) to show the difference between a community that follows God and a community that moves away from God?

Is there a significance behind Enoch's appearance in Cain's lineage and Enoch in Adam's? What about Lamech in Cain's vs. Lamech in Adam's? They obviously aren't the same men, yet each has a specific role in the lineage that seems to have a third layer of meaning, especially when compared to its counterpart in the other (they almost seem to mirror each other). Am I just making this up or looking too deeply, or was this a literary tool the ancients would have used to communicate a deeper point, and if so, what?

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@bmargulies: The lineage of unrighteous Cain is given first in Genesis chapter 4:11-22, then the lineage of Adam's righteous line through Seth is given in Genesis 5, and the story is carried forward. This pattern is employed throughout the book of Genesis. –  user2027 Oct 13 '13 at 17:54
Oh, you mean the descendents of Adam. –  user947 Oct 13 '13 at 18:22
The accounts of Cain’s and of Adam’s descendants belong to different compositional strands: the former belongs to J, but the latter to P. But both strands seem to use a common source, namely a list of persons between Adam and Noah. –  fdb Mar 7 '14 at 16:01

3 Answers 3

Leon R. Kass, author of The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis says that the line of ten generations from Adam to Noah begs to be compared to the seven generations from Cain to the sons of Lamech.

Genesis chapter 4

Adam Cain Enoch Irad Mehujael Methusael Lamech

Genesis chapter 5

Adam Seth Enos Cainan (Cain) Mahalaleel (Mehujael) Jared (Irad) Enoch (Enoch) Metheluselah (Methusael) Lamech (Lamech)

Names from Genesis 5, in the second list, can be compared with those from Genesis 4 (in parentheses), to show that they are substantially the same, with just a minor change of sequence. Biblical hermeneutic consistency says they originated with the same early mythology, but at some stage a new tradition emerged, which was subsequently brought back to enhance and add to the original tradition.

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If you remove the last sentence I'll up-vote. I don't think it's true or necessary. –  Jas 3.1 Dec 7 '13 at 2:17

Though it certainly seems that the righteous genealogy is contrasted against the unrighteous one, it is doubtful whether the repeated mention of the same names are meant to be symbolic. Repetition of the same names are common throughout the Bible, and this rarely if ever has symbolic significance. For instance, several people named "Jesus" are recorded in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 7:45, 13:6, Col 4:11). It is a fact of life that people have the same name, so unless one believes that the names in Genesis were invented, there is no reason to read any significance into their recurrence.

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The two lineages give much info. The Seth line named two or more of their children after great uncles from the line of Cain, which is common to name children after grandfathers and or uncles. The wifes of lamech in the Cain line came from the Seth line, daughters of Mahlaleel. Both lines cover up the role of women / wives / queen bees. Cain's wife is the second queen bee to Adams Eve. Both bloodlines were of divine origin and they were living much longer than normal regular humans, who only live about 100 years. This is why they were kings, rulers and mighty men. In the days of jared more divine blood was injected from the fallen sons of God Gen 6. Noah's wife, Naamah was from the cain lineage, daughter of Lamech via his wife Zillah.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. Please don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. Cite some sources or biblical references to back up your claims and fully support your arguments. –  Dan Mar 6 '14 at 15:40
Do you have some sources for this? –  Frank Luke Apr 22 '14 at 17:11

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