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?

  • @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, 2013 at 17:54
  • 2
    Oh, you mean the descendents of Adam.
    – user947
    Oct 13, 2013 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, 2014 at 16:01

4 Answers 4


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.

  • If you remove the last sentence I'll up-vote. I don't think it's true or necessary.
    – Jas 3.1
    Dec 7, 2013 at 2:17

There most definitely is a connection!

Both Adam and Enosh mean ‘man’. Thus The LORD was almost starting again through Seth!!! (Kind of like He did with Noah).

There is a strange crossover for the middle three. This indicates a switch. Yet there may be even more significance somewhere in there as to why this switch took place?

I only came across this amazing reality yesterday during a Bible study at church on Genesis 4. It hit me that (though the pastor skimmed over the connection between the genealogies), there MUST BE something more !!

So — here it is...

Amazing symmetry in the two genealogies indicating a switch-over!


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.


I think Cain's line was trying to somewhat fulfill God's plan. I think this behavior is from Satan himself who try's to do this in other situations and in other ways.

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