Uncle Aaron’s Bible Stories – Genealogy Break!
I couldn’t really think of a funny way to write about the genealogies in Genesis, because it’s just this guy is this other guy’s father with occasional “and he did this thing” peppered in. So, you just get my crappy amateur commentary. Note, I cannot read Hebrew, I can however match shapes to other shapes, especially in an interlinear Bible, so my speculation here is not coming from a place of deep understanding of the original languages these books were written in, but rather trying to understand other people’s work.
In the second half of Genesis 4, Cain founds civilization. He has sex with his wife, she gives him a son who they name Enoch. Cain then goes and builds a city and names it after his kid. Explanations abound for which city was called Enoch. Honestly, there doesn’t have to be a city named Enoch for this to be true or entirely made up. There could have been a city named Enoch, maybe it even existed when this part of Genesis was being penned, maybe it was a half remembered place from some oral history the author wrote down. This is just a possible explanation as to how it was founded. Was it really founded by the second man on earth? No, certainly not. Was there a hypothetical City of Enoch, founded by a guy named Cain who named it after his firstborn son? There’s no reason to think so, but there’s also no reason to think there wasn’t, or at least something similar that gave rise to the story.
What I found interesting, pouring over the genealogies is that the descendants of Cain have awfully similar names to the descendants of Seth. Two people having the same name is fine, what’s weird is that they’re in the mostly the same order. I looked up why this might be. My thought was someone’s way of reconciling two groups stories about Cain without angering either side. Here’s a side by side comparison.
|Seth’s Line||Cain’s Line|
|Kenan (Cainan in some texts)||Irad|
|Shem, Ham, Japheth|
Sure enough a lot of scholars agree that they are just variations of the same name. Also, if you assume “Cainan/Kenan” and “Cain” are the same person, and note that the only other difference is when Mehujael/Mahal’alel and Enoch/Enoch were born the lists are identical, with the addition of an “Enosh” on Cain’s line. The list looks like this:
|Seth’s Line||Cain’s Line (with Enoch and Mehujael swapped)|
|Enosh||(Hypothetical Enosh/Enoch father of Cain(an). Enosh might just be another name for Adam.|
|Noah||Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain, Na’amah (daughter)|
|Shem, Ham, Japheth|
Adding a hypothetical Enosh before Cain is not that weird, because Enosh just means “Man” the same as Adam. It could just refer to the same person. One group may have thought the progenitor of humanity was Seth, and the other thought it was Enosh/Adam. At any rate, placing all that next to each other as above shows the family lines are identical.
Speaking of Enoch, he and Lamech are the only two people in either genealogy where something they did or involved in was mentioned.
|Accomplishment: Cain’s Line|
|Enoch||Was so righteous God took him and he did not die.||The world’s first city was named after him.|
|Lamech||Prophesied that his son, Noah would relieve the people of the world from their endless labor.||A dude punched him, and he killed him to set an example of what happened to anyone who wronged him. Invented the phrase “Assert Dominance”.|
Seems like a game of oneupmanship by the Seth group to prove their guys with the same name were not only different people but had different personalities. I see the endless bullshitting by ancient priests like this:
Cain Priest: “Yeah our boy Cain’s son Enoch had the oldest city in the world named after him. Beat that.”
Seth Priest: “Oh yeah? Our guy Seth’s great, great, great, great, great grandson Enoch, who is a different guy from your Enoch as is our Enosh, was so pure and righteous that God didn’t let him die. He took him, and he’s still alive in heaven, hell, some say he’s the literal voice of God.”
Cain Priest: “Sure but our man Lamech’s kids invented musical instruments, metallurgy, and figured out how to raise cattle and make better tents. His daughter is the ancestor of people in Egypt.”
Seth Priest: “Your Lamech murdered a guy for punching him. Not a cool guy. Our dude Lamech prophesied his kid Noah would save the world from all work and toil. Noah was the guy who built an ark and preserved all of humanity while God wiped out the wicked people.”
Cain Priest: “Are we not still endlessly working to eat? Aren’t there still wicked people? Like the Moabites?”
Seth Priest: “Sure but…”
Cain Priest: “No, seems to me your Lamech was full of shit. Our cat Tubal-Cain figured out how to make bronze and discovered the secrets of iron working. One of his brothers figured out cows, and the other figured out music. All of those things made our lives a lot easier, more pleasant, and with few drawbacks. What did your idiot Noah do? Built a boat, probably using T-Cain’s nails. Also he invented wine. A product that not only makes you stupid, but literally happens on its own if you just mash some grape up and leave them in a jar in the closet. Good job Noah, you invented something nature does by itself.”
And the argument continued until there weren’t any more Cainite priests to voice their opinion.
One other thing that sticks out to me about these genealogies is that, and I’ve mentioned this before, it specifically states that Adam had sex with his wife to produce a child. It also says Cain had sex with his wife and produced a child. It does not say that about anyone else. In Genesis 5 where Adam’s descendants through Seth are listed, it says nothing of the sort. Genesis 4 and 5 also use different words for “was born to”. Genesis 4 also uses “Yahweh” for God, while 5 reverts back to “Elohim”. My guess is, whoever wrote Genesis 4 did not also write Genesis 5 based on their writing style and what name they ascribe to God.
Lastly, Genesis 4 speaks of the female descendants of Cain, but we do not see any other women mentioned by named until Sarai is introduced in Chapter 10. No woman is named in the story of the Flood (one would think the four women who gave birth to humanity would be important enough to name). No women are named in the story of the Tower of Babel, and it’s not until the end of chapter 10 that we’re introduced to Sarai and her sister in law Milcah.
It’s worth noting that, at least from a cursory look at Genesis 1-5, the sections that mention specific women also use the word “Yahweh”. I do not know if there is a connection between the two or not, other than just different tastes from different authors.