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I have read answers to the question who did Cain fear could kill him. The typical answer is Adam and Eve must have had more children. Then it list the descendants of Cain. If Lamech killed “a man” (23) it would have to have been a brother. It doesn’t seem natural to speak this way considering all other scripture. Between Cain worried about a relative killing him and Lamech speaking of a man who he was not related to, it appears there were other people in the earth at this time. Does anyone have thoughts on this?

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This question puzzles many, but there is no indication in the scriptures of the number of years that passed between Gen. 4:1 and Gen.4:8 before Cain murdered Abel. The genealogy in Gen. 5 sets out the years for the begetting of children, and lists Seth as the first son of Adam. But Cain was living outside of the family, outside of the presence of God (Gen. 4:14). The genealogy of chap. 5 does not include Cain's genealogy from chap.4.

The reason is that Christ's genealogy follows the line of faith, not the first born. So all those that were outside of Christ's lineage are not listed there. Many other people were born that we are not told about.

The scriptures often skip long periods of time between one verse and the next, so we do not know how long after Cain was evicted that he begat his son Enoch (not to be confused with Jared's son Enoch, Gen. 5:18). People multiply quickly and it does not take very long for thousands of children to born to the sons of Adam and Eve.

Although I find Clarke's basis to be faulty, the calculation he presented for Gen. 4:15 is fair.

Most people who read this account wonder why Cain should dread being killed, when it does not appear to them that there were any inhabitants on the earth at that time besides himself and his parents. To correct this mistake, let it be observed that the death of Abel took place in the one hundred and twenty-eighth or one hundred and twenty-ninth year of the world. Now, "supposing Adam and Eve to have had no other sons than Cain and Abel in the year of the world one hundred and twenty-eight, yet as they had daughters married to these sons, their descendants would make a considerable figure on the earth. Supposing them to have been married in the nineteenth year of the world, they might easily have had each eight children, some males and some females, in the twenty-fifth year. In the fiftieth year there might proceed from them in a direct line sixty-four persons; in the seventy-fourth year there would be five hundred and twelve; in the ninety-eighth year, four thousand and ninety-six; in the one hundred and twenty-second they would amount to thirty-two thousand seven hundred and sixty-eight: if to these we add the other children descended from Cain and Abel, their children, and their children's children, we shall have, in the aforesaid one hundred and twenty-eight years four hundred and twenty-one thousand one hundred and sixty-four men capable of generation, without reckoning the women either old or young, or such as are under the age of seventeen." Source: Clarke's Commentary

The genealogies listed in Gen. 4 and 5 are all of the descendants of Adam and Eve, are there fore the available pool of those that Cain would fear might hunt him, and those that Lamech may have killed.

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It is true that “there were other people in the earth at that time”. But whoever they were, definitely they were all children of Adam and Eve.

Why?

The Scripture says:

“Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of ALL human beings” (Gen 3:20).

From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth” (Acts 17:26).

The truth is inescapable: we are all blood-related and brothers and sisters of the same parents.

“For just as ALL people die because of their union with Adam” (1 Cor 15:22).

So there were no other people around who were not children of Adam and Eve.

Genesis 4:2, when talking about the birth of Abel, says thus:

“And she continued to bear his brother, Abel”.

This she continued soon afterwards also:

“And the days of Adam after he fathered Seth were eight hundred years. And he fathered sons and daughters (Gen 5:4).

Since Genesis beginning was a historical narrative, it highlighted the murder of Abel by Cain before describing other things. But we need to understand that by the time of Lamech, there were other children (of Adam and Eve) and their families already around.

If Cain can kill his own brother and reply to God whether he was his brother’s keeper, as if he had no relation to him, then Lamech can definitely talk about a relative as “a man” quite naturally.

So, to answer your question, yes, there were other people with their families around during the time of Cain and Lamech but they were all relatives.

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Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain ... Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them ... and of all the defiant words ... they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

Jude 1:11,14,15,16 NIV

Enoch, seventh from Adam via Seth - Genesis 5
Lamech, seventh from Adam via Cain - Genesis 4:16-18

'... all the defiant words ... they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage ...' :

Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed (הָרַ֙גְתִּי֙) a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

Genesis 4:23,24 NIV

The AKJV has a marginal reference for "have killed" being "would kill".
From elsewhere :

I would certainly have killed (הָרַ֖גְתִּי) you by now ...

Numbers 22:33 NIV

These are defiant words and nothing else.

It's Genesis 3:15 playing out.

Lamech is boasting to his wives of his intent to kill any male for any slight.
The deliberate encompassing nature of the boast precludes it from being an act, rather a threat.

More than that, he is threatening to take matters into his own hands regarding the exile of Cain :

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear."

Genesis 4:13 NIV

If a seven-fold vengeance would be inflicted for the death of Cain in isolation, a seventy-seven-fold vengeance would be inflicted by the annihilation of the line of Seth, who were still in "the land", and still in fellowship or "walking with" elohim, and that would require death of father or son or both.
It's hyperbole.

Enoch was translated, so as not to see death, and was not found, because that, God, had translated him ...

Hebrews 11:5 Rotherham

Was not found by Lamech and therefore did not see death by the hand of Lamech at that time.

'... and Enoch walked (וַיִּתְהַלֵּ֨ךְ) with god ...' Genesis 5:22

'... and Enoch walked (וַיִּתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ) with god ...' Genesis 5:24

Elohim had walked or 'fellowshipped' with Adam and Eve in the garden :

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking (מִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ) in the garden in the cool of the day ...

Genesis 3:8 NIV

Direct interaction between elohim and the faithful, and the wicked, was a feature after the ejection from Eden :

After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:24 NIV

Then the Lord said to Cain ...

Then the Lord said to Cain ...

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence ..."

Genesis 4:6,9,13-14 NIV

This fellowship, or judgement, was withdrawn before the flood :

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with (or judge - יָד֨וֹן - as with Cain) humans forever, for they are mortal (בָשָׂ֑ר - corrupt); their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

Genesis 6:3 NIV

The tree of life being lost to us in this flood, the cherubim no longer being required.
Concomitantly, elohim became infrequent visitors.

Enoch produces the next heir in the line of Seth :

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.

Genesis 5:21 NIV

Then he is translated or moved out of harms way so that he should not die at the hand of Lamech :

After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.

Genesis 5:21-23 NIV

Then his age at death :

Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.

Genesis 5:21-23 NIV

This translation at 65 and walking with elohim for a further 300 years, is given in summary as the notable feature of his life :

... and Enoch walked with God,––and was not, for God had taken him.

Genesis 5:24 Rotherham

ALL these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles ON THE EARTH.

Hebrews 11:13 NASB
referring to Enoch in verse 5

Died in faith when he turned up his feet, and not by the hand of Lamech 300 years earlier in spite of his boast.
Moved, out of harms way, away from the grasp of a man who would recompense the wounding he inherited from Cain, on the line of Seth.

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There seem to be two possibilities: either there were other proto-humans who were not descendants of Adam and Eve, or else these people were Adam and Eve's descendants.

The hypothesis that there were other proto-humans around is a problem from biblical literalists, since this contradicts the idea that Adam was created directly by God and Eve was taken from Adam's rib. It is not a problem for theistic evolutionists, who see the story as an allegory about the creation of humans as spiritual beings with an awareness of God.

The hypothesis that these were Adam and Eve's descendants is plausibly consistent with the biblical text. Cain may have been as old as 120 years when he murdered Abel. The fact that Seth is next child of Adam and Eve to be mentioned does not preclude the possibility of other children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren being born in the interim. Nor should we presume Cain's banishment was immediate, although it is natural to read the text that way.

Regarding Lamech's victim, the text does not say that he was a non-relative. Indeed a rabbinical tradition (Midrash Tanchuma, Bereshit 11:2-4) identifies Lamech's (accidental) victims as two close relatives - one of whom was indeed Cain. Further discussion on this point here.

Conclusion: either there were other humans or proto-humans alive whom Cain feared, or the people he feared were Adam and Eve's descendants.

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  • I wonder too. As DNA in modern humans conclusively proves humans today are an assortment of Neanderthal, Denosovan and other ancient extinct variations, the question of proto-humans possibly co-existing and later mingling with descendants of Adam and Eve, God’s special image-bearing creation, somehow occurred. I think it’s even possible they were already existing outside the garden, although reconciling all this with classic Judeo-Christian teaching is a bit difficult. Nevertheless, science must be honestly embraced: we now know the earth is round and revolves around the sun.
    – Rachel
    Jan 16 at 21:56

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