In Genesis 4:

17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch 1.
18 And unto Enoch was born Irad 2: and Irad begat Mehujael 3: and
Mehujael begat Methusael 4: and Methusael begat Lamech 5.
19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
20 And Adah bare Jabal 6: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. 21 And his brother's name was Jubal 6: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain 6, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

As to the lineage of Seth;

Genesis 4

25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. 26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD

Genesis 5

6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos 1:
7 And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
8 And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
9 And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan 2:
10 And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
11 And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
12 And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel 3:
13 And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
14 And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
15 And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared 4:thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
17 And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.

And so forth...

Is there a significance to this 'omission'?

  • 1
    Related? "Is there an implicit comparison between the lines of Cain and Seth?"
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:42
  • @Dɑvïd Yes, to a degree. But I tried to narrow the question down to the missing lifespan and his death so as to elicit a simple response .
    – Ted O
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 20:35
  • My answer would be much longer than a comment; it would look only at the lives of every forefather of Jesus (from Adam to Seth, through to Jacob). In Chapter 5 each has when he became a father, how long he lived after his son’s birth, and his lifetime given. For Noah, the same information is given. However, in Chapter 11, from Noah’s son, Shem, for 8 generations, any age at death is excluded. For me the subject became not the importance of that individual but fatherhood/parenthood overall. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 15:22
  • My answer to another question touches on this question a bit. The tl;dr is: Genesis 4 and 5 are the same genealogy from two different authors, and have undergone redaction to be placed together. The second author was concerned with ages and dates, the first was not.
    – user2910
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 19:42

3 Answers 3


I believe there is significance in everything. But not the kind we will always be able to identify. In this very specific example, for there to be significance in not numbering Cain's years and not stating his death, we'd need that to be more isolated. For instance Judah's life span and death are not recorded. So in that sense it's not specific to Cain. While there may be significance, it's likely not due to life span and death not being mentioned.

  • You made a good observation in your, still I draw your attention to Genesis 5:1; This is the book of the generations of Adam..., and then he continues with only the line of Seth afterwards, ignoring Cain altogether whereas he was still 'alive', and a son of Adam...It's understandable for Abel to be missed because he died, but Cain was simply 'sent away', that's why it's unusual.
    – Ted O
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 20:48
  • Certainly. Your pause here is understandable. I would posit, it's not exhaustive. Surely the intent is not to exhaust Adam's genealogy. If I may draw your attention to Genesis 2:4 "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,". Now certainly it was not exhaustive, more could have been written. But for the intended purpose and for the message to be communicated, we have that info. Adam's generations are likewise. Not exhaustive, but the proper amount of information to serve the intended communication.
    – N.Ish
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 20:59

In real life do we actually bother to list every little detail of our lives? The answer is no. Typically we provide information that is important or on a need to know basis. In the case of history not every single deed and word of a King or government is officially recorded.

If you look at the creation week it was not meant to be an exhaustive list of every single thing God created: the main message Moses wanted to convey in Genesis 1:1-2:3 is that God created the world and everything in it in 6 Days and rested on the 7th Day. It would stand to reason then that since Jesus would descend from the line of Shem that Cain was not remembered. 1 Chronicles 1:1-8:40 does not include the line of Cain anywhere; and the genealogical accounts of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 don't include every single person nor do they start at the same points: therefore unless dates are given we should pay closer attention to the purpose of the genealogy(ies) in question.


The significance is that Cain was not in the lineage of Jesus Christ / Yeshua. The Bible is about God's creation and plan of salvation foreordained from the beginning through the Messiah's sacrifice that would allow all men to be reconciled to God, the Father.

Gen chap. 5 follows the line of the faithful "sons of God" from Adam to Noah.

Gen. chap. 11 follows the line of the faithful from Shem (Noah's son) to Abram / Abraham.

Matt. chap. 1 traces Christ's lineage back to Abraham.

(Note: Rom. 8:14, " For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." So the sons of God of Gen. 5 & 6 were the faithful men of God, and not fallen angels as so many today suppose.)

Luke 3:23-38 traces Christ's lineage all the way back to Adam, through Adam's son Seth.

Cain was not in the lineage of Christ.

Psa. 62:1-2,

"Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. 2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved."

Luke 1:69,

"And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;"

Luke 2:29-32, the just and devout Simeon saying,

"29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."

1 Cor. 15:45,

" And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."

1 Pet. 1:20,

" Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,"

(Note: As Christ was manifest in "these last times", and we know He was manifested / appeared in the first century A.D., then you might ponder when the last days really were.)

The whole theme of the Bible centers around Christ, who was prophesied as the promised Seed from the beginning (Gen. 3:15, 15:5; 17:7; 22:18; 49:10) throughout all of the prophets and was manifested in that very special generation of the first century A.D. (See also Gal. 3:16)

As Cain had murdered his brother, he fell away from YHWH in sin, and his lineage was not of the faithful of God. The text does not tell us whether or not Cain remained in a sinful condition. There were many other people and many other events of which we are never told because they are not central to the theme of salvation in and through Christ.

The point is that God always chose the lineage of the faithful to bring the promised Messiah to His people and ultimately the entire world. The Bible is the record of His salvation plan.

All scripture references are from the KJV. Bold emphasis is mine.

  • 1
    We don't know if Cain was in the lineage of Christ or not. All we know is that he wasn't in the male-line lineage.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 12:40
  • Noted, especially as Rahab and Ruth are of the line of faith.
    – Gina
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 15:55

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