Generations of Adam

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"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[edit]

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


Seth to Cain[edit]

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:

Sethite line Cainite line
Seth Yahweh
Enos (mortal) Adam (mankind)[¶ 1]
Kenan Cain
Mahalaleel Enoch
Jared Irad
Enoch Mehujael
Methuselah "Methuselah" (per Septuagint)[¶ 2]
Lamech Lamech

Robert Best[1] suggests that the sequence of Enoch and Mehujael are parallel in Genesis 4 and similarities in the following table suggest a common source.

Genesis 5 Genesis 4
Kenan Cain
Mahalalel Mehujael
Jared Irad
Enoch Enoch
Methuselah Methushael
Lamech Lamech

Seth to Sumer[edit]

Both the Sethite line and the antediluvian Sumerian king list have ten names prior to a flood and speak of exceptional longevity that significantly diminishes after the flood. However, tentative homologies between the names on the two lists, besides possibly Adamu (Adapa) and Adam, are matters of dispute.[citation needed]


  1. ^ R.M. Best, Noah's Ark and the Ziusudra Epic, page 154

Family tree notes[edit]

Other notes[edit]

  1. ^ cf Adamant
  2. ^ "Methusael" (per Masoretic)