"Generations of Adam" is a concept in Genesis 5:1 in the Hebrew Bible. It is typically taken as name of Adam's line of descent going through Seth. Another view equates the generations of Adam with material about a second line of descent starting with Cain in Genesis 4, while Genesis 5 is taken as the "generations of Noah".

Seth and Cain[]

Both the Cainite and the Sethite lines begin with Adam. The Sethite line in Genesis 5 extends to Noah and his three sons. The Cainite line in Genesis 4 runs to Naamah. The seventh generation Lamech descended from Cain is described as the father of Jabal and Jubal (from his first wife Adah) and Tubal-cain and Naamah (from his second wife, Zillah). The ninth generation Lamech, descended from Seth, is described as the father of Noah. (Gen.4:17-22 Gen.5:1-32)

Sethite Cainite
Seth --
Enos --
Cainan Cain
Mahalaleel Enoch
Jared Irad
Enoch Mehujael
Methuselah Methusael
Lamech Lamech
Noah Naamah

The Sethite line also gives ages at fatherhood and at death. In the Masoretic text, ages at death range from 777 (Lamech) to 969 (Methuselah), placing the text in the category of longevity narratives. The Septuagint and Samaritan Pentateuch differ somewhat in the ages given; in the Septuagint, the age at fatherhood is often 100 years later than that in the Masoretic text, extending the genealogy by several centuries.

The 2nd-century BC Book of Jubilees, regarded as non-canonical except by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Beta Israel, gives the wives' names for the Sethite line:

Husband Wife
Seth Azura
Enos Noam
Cainan Mualaleth
Mahalaleel Dinah
Jared Baraka
Enoch Edna
Methuselah Edna
Lamech Betenos
Noah Emzara


Form critics consider the two lines as corruptions of one tradition. Both the similarities and the differences between lines are significant and do not admit simple explanation. Still, there is a general consensus that the Cainite list was from the Jahwist source, while the Sethite was added in from the Priestly source.[1][2][3][4]

The Sethite genealogy may also be connected to the Sumerian King List.[5][1][2][3] Evidence for this include the solar symbolism of the seventh figure on each list (the Sumerian king Enmeduranna sharing his name with the city where worship of the sun god was focused, Enoch living 365 years).[1] Like Enoch, Enmeduranna's advisor Utuabzu ascended to heaven.[5] Fritz Hommel further argued that Amelon was Enosh (both third in the list with names meaning "mankind"), that Ammenon was Cainan/Cain (both fourth and connected to craftsmanship), and so on; noting that the tenth in each line was a hero who survived a world flood. Still, this position is argued against due to linguistic incompatibilities in half the names.[2] Similarities between Irad and Eridu have also been pointed out.[6]Thomas Kelly Cheyne argued that the two genealogies may also be connected to a North Arabian genealogy, one reproducing the other. Cheyne claimed that Mahalalel was a corruption of Jerahmeel, and Methuselah was a corruption of Ishmael.[3] Cheyne's theories are now rejected, however.[7]

The following table displays the most common line of comparison between the Sethite and Cainite lines (which reverses much of the Cainite list),[1][3][4][8]as well as North Arabian genealogy (per Cheyne),[3] and the Sumerian king list.[5]

Sethite line Cainite line North Arabian (Chayne)[3] Sumerian kings[5]
1. Adam 1. Adam 1. Jerahmeel 1. Alulim of Eridu
2. Seth 8. [Seth] 2. Eshtaol 2. Alalgar of Eridu
3. Enosh 9. [Enoch] 3. Ishmael 3. Enmenluanna of Bad-tibira
4. Kenan 2. Cain 4. Kain 4. Enmengalanna of Bad-tibira
5. Mahalalel 5. Mehujael 5. Hanoch 5. Dumuzid the Shepherd of Bad-tibira
6. Jared 4. Irad 6. Arvad 6. Ensipazianna of Larak
7. Enoch 3. Enoch 7. Jerahmeel 7. Enmeduranna of Sippar
8. Methuselah 6. Methusael 8. Ishmael 8. Urbatutu of Shuruppak
9. Lamech 7. Lamech 9. Jerahmeel 9. [Illegible]
10. Noah 10. [Noah] 10. Nahman 10. Ziusudra


  1. ^ a b c d The Collegeville Bible Commentary: Old Testament, "Genesis" by Pauline A. Viviano, ed. Dianne Bergant and Robert J. Karris, Liturgical Press, 1992, p. 46-47
  2. ^ a b c The new Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia of religious knowledge, Volume X, edited by Johann Jakob Herzog and Philip Schaff; Funk and Wagnalls company, 1911, p. 375-377
  3. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopædia biblica: a critical dictionary of the literary, political and religious history, the archæology, geography, and natural history of the Bible, Volume 4, edited by Thomas Kelly Cheyne and John Sutherland Black; A. and C. Black, 1903, p. 4411-4414
  4. ^ a b The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies with Special Reference to the Setting of the Genealogies of Jesus, by Marshall D. Johnson, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 12 Jul 2002, p. 7-14
  5. ^ a b c d Misunderstood Stories: Theological Commentary on Genesis 1-11 by Robert Gnuse, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 20 Mar 2014, p.172-176
  6. ^ The World's Oldest Literature: Studies in Sumerian Belles-Lettres, by William W. Hallo, Brill Publishers, 2010, p. 669-
  7. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, "Jerahmeel"
  8. ^ R.M. Best, Noah's Ark and the Ziusudra Epic, page 154

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