The Line of Cain

When reading about the early chapters of Genesis — particularly the events of Genesis 6 — it’s been rare to find the texts spoken about without reference to the “ungodly line of Cain” and the “godly line of Seth.” I admit, for much of my Christian life, I’ve judged Cain’s line by Cain’s actions, and Seth’s by Seth’s.

I’ve read Genesis 4 [amp] 5 umpteen times, and just about every time, I do so with the idea that Cain’s descendants are all patently “ungodly,” in a way over and above the fallen nature common to all men.

And I admit, it doesn’t start well for that family.

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. The Book of Genesis, 4:8

Murder. Countless families have faced generations of strife because of murder, and no doubt there are grim results to Cain’s selfish act.

What immediately happens as a result of Cain’s disobedience? I would have expected that Cain would be put to death — smote by Yahweh for his disobedience. Harsh? Perhaps, but it would be a punishment fitting the crime (Genesis 9:6).

What happens, though, is the complete opposite: God has mercy on Cain. In a testament to the patience, the love, the grace, the pure mercy of God, history’s first murderer comes face to face not with a guillotine, noose, electric chair, or stoning… but with a second chance.

And while Cain’s life would never be the same, the Lord allowed him to at least have life. Cain would be an outcast, a wanderer in the world, alienated from his parents and other siblings.

The mercy just keeps on flowing, though, for when Cain points out how hated he would be, that anyone who finds him would kill him, God places a mark upon Cain, a mark of protection, ensuring Cain that anyone who would attack him would be punished sevenfold. It seems to me that God has a plan for Cain, and I don’t say that in the warm [amp] fuzzy way that the prosperity or self-esteem preachers might say it. Rather, I’m saying it in the sense that God is sovereign — a corollary to that is God has a plan for your life. Such it is with Cain.

Cain and Abel

The Land of Nod

Cain leaves his family. If you’re a parent of adults, you know what it’s like for your children to leave home. I don’t know that feeling, but I can imagine that it is difficult.

I can imagine it being much harder for Adam [amp] Eve. They had just lost one son to murder and, as a result, are now losing another.

At this point, I would expect the Scriptures to no longer tell us about Cain. Adam [amp] Eve bore him, he grew up, hardened his heart against God [amp] brother, murdered his brother, and was now exiled. What more could we possibly need to know?

God tells us that Cain “settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (v. 16. Do you know where Adam [amp] Eve, Seth, or even Noah dwelled? No? Neither do I.

Yet we know where Cain, a man of unencumbered evil (1 John 3:12), settled with his family. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

So Cain moves to Nod, the land of wandering, with the woman who would become his wife. Who was she? Suffice it to say, I believe she was his sister; incest was not forbidden until much later, and the relative purity of the human genome at this point would have precluded any negative birth affects due to inbreeding.

What do they do? They obey. That’s not what we typically think when we think of Cain is it? I’m not trying to make Cain out to be a saint — the elder apostle John says Cain was of the evil one — but he was a man who was fruitful. He multiplied. I doubt that he had children out a desire to obey; his child-bearing may have been motivated by a desire to surround himself with people who were not aware of his seedy past.

Or it may have simply been a desire to have a family. Such a desire is very human.

Cain and his wife had a child Enoch, after whom Cain’s city was named (Genesis 4:17). Thus began the “[ungodly] line of Cain”:

The Line of Cain

Cain ⇒ Enoch ⇒ Irad ⇒ Mehujael ⇒ Methushael ⇒ Lamech

Of most of these men, we don’t know much, at least not until we get to Lamech (Genesis 4:18).

The first interesting thing we’re told about him? Lamech had two wives. I durst not say whether this was right or wrong of Lamech; the Scriptures do not record any sort of reproof of Lamech’s sexuality, so make of it what you will. If you decide to defend Lamech, though, be forewarned that doing so is a “thankless job” which requires a steadfast determination that few people seem to have nowadays, at least so far as so-called “lost causes” are concerned.

Whatever the conclusions regarding Lamech’s marital relationships, our culture — and thousands of other cultures throughout human history — owe a great deal to his family.

One of his wives was Adah; she bore a son named Jabal who pioneered animal husbandry, making him the “father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock” (v. 20). Jabal wasn’t their only son, and his brother Jubal helped revolutionize music as “the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe” (v. 21).

Lamech’s other wife was Zillah, and she bore to Cain a son named Tubal-cain, a groundbreaking metalworker who was “the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron” (v. 22).

Technology. Music. Husbandry. Isn’t it interesting that that the sovereign Lord would choose the “ungodly line” to bring such advancements into the world?

Through the technology pioneered by Tubal-cain, the Israelites would forge the adornments, furniture, and items used in their worship.

Through the musical instruments first devised by Jubal, the Israelites would worship the Lord in song.

Through the husbandry skills passed down by Jabal, the Israelites would manage the livestock used not just for food but also for sacrifice.

I don’t know if anyone in Lamech’s family had faith in God. The text doesn’t tell us that, so I won’t speculate. Whether they knew it or not, Lamech’s boys have a fantastic legacy, one which benefits us even today.

Lamech also had a daughter (v. 22, Tubal-cain’s sister Naamah. The immediate text doesn’t say much about her, and it’s at least a little peculiar that a daughter would be mentioned by name here. Even our first parents’ daughers (6:4) are nameless in history, but not Lamech’s. It’s almost as if she has been here memorialized; the speculation in this area is interesting to say the least.

Things were not all happy-go-lucky, reinventing-the-way-humans-do-society for the Lamech family, though.

The Vengeance of Lamech

We aren’t given the specifics. Perhaps there was a dispute over whatever was considered wealth at that time. Perhaps there was an argument over over the works of Lamech’s sons.

Perhaps, like so much senseless violence today, somebody simply wanted Lamech’s shoes.

Whatever happened, a man wounded Lamech, and Lamech killed him (4:23). If we are to take Lamech’s word for it — and the Scriptures record no other word for us to take — then I think we must conclude that Lamech acted in self-defense. He killed the man not out of jealousy-fueled sibling rivalry. No, this was not like what happened between Cain [amp] Abel. This was different. Lamech had cause. Perhaps if Lamech had no acted in self-defense, that man would have killed him. Who’s to say that the man would have stopped at simply wounding Lamech?

In this age especially — an age of no human government, of no law enforcers — did not a man have the right to defend himself, his family? I really don’t know; the subject of self defense once came up at the Fellowship Hall, and I don’t think a conclusive answer was ever determined. I’d love some feedback on this point from you!

The ESV Study Bible says this in its note on this passage:

Lamech’s response is out of proportion to the injury, showing his inordinate vengefulness. This, like his bigamy (v. 19), reveals his depravity. His behavior reveals that the line of Cain is dominated by those who have no regard for the lives of others or respect for the principle of monogamy that 2:23–24 endorses.

I’m a big fan of this study Bible, but I’m thinking it’s way off base with this note. I don’t get the impression that the Scriptures are intending to paint the line of Cain as being “without regard for the lives of others” and so on. Actually, aside from the judgment against Cain, we aren’t told of other judgments against this family. Even Lamech, who the study Bible says demonstrated his depravity in a couple of ways, receives no rebuke from the Lord.

Yet he even invokes the name of the Lord. His great-great-great-grandpappy Cain received God’s mercy [amp] protection after having killed Abel in cold blood.

Lamech is confident in the mercifulness of the Lord; if Cain would receive sevenfold revenge for being killed, how much more should Lamech receive.

The ungodly line of Cain… Music makers. Metalworkers. Cattle raisers. Men who believed that the best defense is a good offense.

And maybe even Noah’s wife.

They may not have the godly legacy of Seth, Enoch, or Noah, but Cain’s line have had a profound impact upon humanity.

At least, that’s the impression I get from the fourth chapter of Genesis. What about you?

24 thoughts on “The Line of Cain”

  1. Very interesting read, I’m always amazed at how God can use anyone, regardless of their past. Another thing that struck me… I went back and read Genesis Chapter 5 yesterday, is that there were two separate Enoch’s, and two separate Lamech’s, one each from the “ungodly” line, and the other two, in the most “Godly” of lines…

  2. Very good post Rick. Barnes’ comment on v. 23 is: “Every pair of lines is a specimen of the Hebrew parallelism or rhythm of sentiment and style. They all belong to the synthetic, synonymous, or cognate parallel, the second member reiterating with emphasis the first. Here we observe that Lamek was a poet;…”

    Some claim (Jewish Tradition) that v. 23 is speaking of two people here that Lamek killed. Cain his great-grandfather, and Tubalcain his son. Jewish tradition goes that Lamek was blind and couldn’t see well, but was out hunting with his son when they heard a noise. His son thought it was a wild beat so had Lamek draw his bow and kill him. When they got closer, and knew what they did, Lamek became angry and attacked his son. Arab writers have a bit different twist, but won’t get into it, cause it’s all speculation, just found it very interesting how they take it that he killed two people in that verse.

  3. I suppose I always viewed the “godly line of Seth” and the “ungodly line of Cain” in a similar way that I viewed Jacob and Esau. Seth’s line was the one chosen to eventually give us Christ. Cain’s was not. Perhaps Cain’s should have been because he was older (at least in some minds, that was often not the case throughout the Bible though).

    But yeah, Cain’s line gets no slack. Even looking up the name Naamah (which I LOVE!) says that it means “beautiful one” and is a sign of the depraved nature they have, looking to outside beauty rather than inside character (see, studying names can be interesting. haha)

    Oh, and there were two Lamechs and two Enochs. There are quite a few repeat names throughout the Bible.

    I had heard in the past that the fact that Cain’s line made instruments is one reason why music can be so evil…but oddly enough, nothing is ever mentioned about animal farming being so evil or metalworking.

    Sorry this was random. I just typed whatever/however it came to mind.

  4. Hi – I discovered your blog through reference at the Modern Pharisee, for which I’m very grateful!

    My question is – The whole line of Cain perished in the flood, did it not? So there went the animal husbandry, the musical inclination, and the forging of metal instruments.

    Yet, they are recorded as having come to civilization through the line of Cain.

    I also find it interesting how closely the names in Cain’s line copy (they were probably first as Seth was years younger) Seth’s line of ‘godly’ offspring.

    If you will look a little ahead in Scripture, you will also see that God greatly blessed Esau, although later in Scripture, it is recorded that God said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

    I look forward to a response. :) Please understand that I mean no disrespect, these are just a couple of observations which I’ve never voiced aloud for fear of disrupting another’s faith.

    What I find most reassuring is that each of us stands individually before our God – not dependent upon the behavior or either our ancestors or our offspring. :)

    Many thanks for letting me have a say.

    1. I’m not convinced that the lines of Seth & Cain were completely segregated. It’d be remarkable if one half of the family was making all of these advances forward without sharing any of it with the others in the family.

      Noah and his family had to deal with every type of animal while on the ark (and likely for some time afterward), and it’s entirely feasible that the husbandry skills developed and passed down by Cain’s line helped in this.

      And who knows, maybe part of Cain’s line survived on the Ark as Noah’s wife. If anything, that would explain why her ancestry is spoken so highly of whereas we know very little about the line of Seth save for Enoch and Noah. It seems typical to me that it’d be the woman to pass on more details about her family — not that that’s a bad thing at all!

    2. there were 2 of each flesh on the ark that includes cane lineage you can read of his offspring in 1 st chronicles 2-55 do a search on rechab as concerning esau the lord hated him not for what he was in this earth age but for what he did in the first earth age at the fall of satan in revelations god is happy with 2 churches read why and follow there example

    1. Honestly, I have no idea. I thought I found it on Wikimedia Commons, but I don’t see it there anymore. A Google Image search didn’t help determine its source either, though I saw it used by quite a number of other bloggers.

  5. Is it mere coincidence that the fellow cain, the one slaying, looks like a zionist Ashkenazi jew?? Note* This is not a slight to ALL jews no more than Charles Manson is a mascot for all white people, just the truth.

  6. According to some ancient texts, Adam had two wives, Lilith being before Eve, that account for different lineages. Also, just to be fair, some other texts purport that Eve had a trist with that ol devil, Satan to produce Cain. His line being responsible for the attrocities throughout history to date. Seth’s line went on to produce the sheeple. Food for thought. Sacred-Texts and Scribd are really good sites for discovery.

  7. In your first comment, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    In your second comment, while the “Lilith” theory is interesting, it isn’t true. Stick with the Scriptures. :)

  8. I keep hearing about this “ungodly” line of Cain and this “godly” line of Seth. If this line was so godly, why did God destroy them all in the flood except for Noah and his family? I know there were a few people mentioned in the line of Seth who sought after God but this hardly makes the whole line “godly”.

    GE 6:5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

    The Lord did not tell us in this passage that he destroyed the earth with a flood because of the line of Cain.
    This “godly line” stuff probably comes somewhat from the belief that the “sons of God” who saw the “daughters of men” were sons of Seth versus daughters of Cain but I think that is pretty lame. Typically, men who do evil are not called “sons of God” by the Lord but sons of Belial.

  9. Oh, and I just wanted to say what a blessing it is disscuss ( or just read in my case)openly the beautiful complexity of the bible without the over weighing critiscism that seem to bring a case closed attitude by the common era christians toward what is in the scriptures. Rick I have enjoyed reading several of your post and its threads!

  10. We are curious, who is the painter of the Cain & Abel artwork shown above. It is a masterpiece.
    Your prompt response is appreciated.

  11. cains line is from the evil one, adam was not his father, eve had sex with the devil also known as the snake, sex was the tree of all knowledge of good and evil, the devil took her virginity and then she took adams, after that thereinnocense was taken and they felt emberassed without clothes,god spared him so that he could test his people . god is always tring to test us in some way. cain and abel were faternal twins meaning cain could have been from a different father ( it happens now today as well) if you think of all the things that his sons and there sons invented and created,,, well music now a days is crap , global warming due to polution and well lets just say technology is going to be the death of us.we are sucking our planet dry with it, now im no hipocrite or hippy i too use technology but just look at where it has gotten us…we are killing our planet and minds.
    serpentseedline.com/ i found this website very usefull. when i went back and re read my bible itmade much sense. the things cains lineage did is more of a story on what not to do then it being ok.

  12. “Serpent’s seed?????”
    Where do you guys get this junk? The scripture is clear and not at all foggy about where Cain is from:

    “And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…” The “And…and…and” grammar in Hebrew is known as the vav consecutive; it’s a linking structure (kinda like a good semicolon – it directly ties the syntax together like a compound sentence, but leaves the clear sense of the context to guide the reader in understanding just what is the link).

    In Genesis 4:1, it could just as rightly be translated “Now when Adam knew Eve his wife, she then conceived and later bore Cain” or “While Adam was knowing his wife she came to conceive and so bore Cain.” The structure of the vav consecutive within this sentence forms an impregnable (ahem), causal link between Adam’s intimacy with Eve and the conception and birth of Cain.

    That’s just part of how the language works. There is no room within the meaning of this Hebrew sentence to allow for even a hint of a shadow of some other father for Cain. Any source that suggests otherwise isn’t speculatively supplementing some unspoken shadow of Biblical history; it’s flat out contradicting the Bible (semicolon, FTW!).

  13. Oops! “(kinda like a good semi­colon —it directly ties…” should read “(kinda like a good semicolon) directly ties…”

    Semicolon fail ;(

  14. Can someone tell me why Abel is not listed in Adam’s family tree?
    Is it possible that Adam was not his father?
    Could Abel be a kind of/ or Jesus in an earlier visitation to earth?
    Also, is it possible that Adam was the devil?
    or at least had the devil indwelling him? After all he was willing to let Eve die by eating the apple, (he did not tell her that she would die and then grab it away from her). He was content to let her eat it and see what happened.
    I don’t mean to offend anyone but I want to be sure I know the truth.

  15. People keep referring to the line of Seth as “Godly”… but if they were so Godly, why did God wipe them all out in the flood, with the exception of Noah’s family? Just food for thought.

  16. Hi.
    Cain was given a mark, a sign that he should not be killed for his evil acts. The sign was his wife. And this explains the reason of sevenfold revenge for killing Cain. Let me explain
    The number of Adam is seven. To begin with it was six, just like the rest of the creatures of the dust. But Adam was obedient to death. He fell into a deep sleep and got his female through this way contrary to all other creatures. And when the seventh day appeared. God raised Adam from the death on the seventh day. God FINISHED the seventh day through resurrection from the death. This explains why Adam was punished with work and sweat. Adam was losing his state of rest and have to work and sweat.
    When he was raised from the death he was no longer alone. The woman was now created through resurrection into the seventh day. Her number is seven like her husband.
    This explains why Cain receives a holy woman. He received a daugther of Adam and Eve to be his wife. A “God daugther.” The man is made holy by his wife and vise versa.
    This also explains why it is called a mystery, that a man appear with the number 666. They were wiped out, right? They were wiped out from the face of the earth with Noah. The number of Cain was six like his father the serpent who was of flesh and blood. He was not the devil. The devil is a spirit. The serpent was a beast created of the field on the sixth day.
    And no, Cain was not the most evil when it comes to measuring evilness.
    But the seventh from the serpent, the sixth from Cain, Lamech. He took himself two wifes, and believed then to become twice as holy. To be revenged two times sevenfold for HIS killings. Because of his two wifes…
    God cursing Lamech comes from the prophet Enoch.
    Enochs prophecy tells us that DEATH is coming to wipe out all evil from the face of the earth. But he shall not live to see it happen. He dies 4 years before Noah was born. Enoch did never see the angel of death. He died before death/Noah was born. He who saw Jesus as a little child had already seen the salvation of the world. He who had seen Noah as a little child had already seen the judgement of the old world. That is how bible talks its hidden language.
    And the bible does not say that Enoch did not die. In hebrews it is written that all these prophets died. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Sarah and Abraham. They all died, it is written, in hebrews. Enoch not seeing death does not mean that he is not going to die. But this is the secret way of speaking spiritual words in the bible. A prophet is also called a seer. The seer foresaw death but did not see that death which he saw. This is a play with words. Very common in the bible.
    The worst evilness of the days of Noah was the mingling of seeds thou. The sons of God taking themselves daugthers of man. In direct terms this means: The sons of Adam took themselves daugthers of Hi.
    Cain was given a mark, a sign that he should not be killed for his evil acts. The sign was his wife. And this explains the reason of sevenfold revenge for killing Cain. Let me explain
    The number of Adam is seven. To begin with it was six, just like the rest of the creatures of the dust. But Adam was obedient to death. He fell into a deep sleep and got his female through this way contrary to all other creatures. And when the seventh day appeared. God raised Adam from the death on the seventh day. God FINISHED the seventh day through resurrection from the death. This explains why Adam was punished with work and sweat. Adam was losing his state of rest and have to work and sweat.
    When he was raised from the death he was no longer alone. The woman was now created through resurrection into the seventh day. Her number is seven like her husband.
    This explains why Cain receives a holy woman. He received a daugther of Adam and Eve to be his wife. A “God daugther.” The man is made holy by his wife and vise versa.
    This also explains why it is called a mystery, that a man appear with the number 666. They were wiped out, right? They were wiped out from the face of the earth with Noah. The number of Cain was six like his father the serpent who was of flesh and blood. He was not the devil. The devil is a spirit. The serpent was a beast created of the field on the sixth day.
    And no, Cain was not the most evil when it comes to measuring evilness.
    But the seventh from the serpent, the sixth from Cain, Lamech. He took himself two wifes, and believed then to become twice as holy. To be revenged two times sevenfold for HIS killings. Because of his two wifes…
    God cursing Lamech comes from the prophet Enoch.
    Enochs prophecy tells us that DEATH is coming to wipe out all evil from the face of the earth. But he shall not live to see it happen. He dies 4 years before Noah was born. Enoch did never see the angel of death. He died before death/Noah was born. He who saw Jesus as a little child had already seen the salvation of the world. He who had seen Noah as a little child had already seen the judgement of the old world. That is how bible talks its hidden language.
    And the bible does not say that Enoch did not die. In hebrews it is written that all these prophets died. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Sarah and Abraham. They all died, it is written, in hebrews. Enoch not seeing death does not mean that he is not going to die. But this is the secret way of speaking spiritual words in the bible. A prophet is also called a seer. The seer foresaw death but did not see that death which he saw. This is a play with words. Very common in the bible.
    The worst evilness of the days of Noah was the mingling of seeds. The sons of God taking themselves daugthers of man. In direct terms this means: The sons of Adam took themselves daughters of man. The sons of Cain were not God sons. But sons of man, Eve. She was created in the image of man. And the children that she got with the serpent were not God sons. They were having the status of being men because of their mother, Eve.
    This also explains why the generation of Cain conseqently are evil all the way, and the generation of Adam, Set are good all the way up to the created second Adam, Jesus.

  17. While I appreciate biblical folklore admixed with truth of the day, the bible says that the Nephilim were destroyed in the days of Noah, yet reintroduces them as alive and well later on.

    Numbers 13

    26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

    30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

    31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

  18. I have shared your curiosity over the amount of Bible info concerning Cain’s descendants. My search for answers revealed that they were not destroyed with all life on the face of the Earth, because they had already been driven from the face of the Earth by God, and not subject to God’s destruction by the flood. They are the “wise ones” in the parable, that built their house on the rock and it was not destroyed by the flood. Jesus used a true example to base his parable on, and it had of course to be the flood of Noah’s time. They only needed a tower of 15 cubits on the top of the mountain to clear the water, and this would not be difficult for the 8 cubit plus giants who existed then and after the flood. While the water was receding the tops of the mountains were visible while the face of the Earth was still covered. Cain’s descendants would know well that if God told someone to build a large ark that they had better be prepared for high water. These are the ‘sons of god’ that visited those on the face of the Earth, coming down from their obscured retreat in the clouds. These are the real people, the mighty ones that legends are based on.

  19. The correct translation for Cain’s line is not “ungodly” but ‘not of god’, as with Seth’s line not bein”godly” but ‘of god’.
    Cain means ‘acquired’, a strange name to give one’s first born ie, a blatant statement from Adam that the firstborn wasn’t his.
    Abel means ‘first of god’ or ‘god’s first’, an equally strange name to give one’s second son.
    Seen from this perspective it is far more understandable why Cain murdered his half-brother Abel.
    Yaweh did not recognise Cain’s status as the first born and instead gave favour and the status of firstborn to Abel.
    By killing Abel he removed all possibility that Adam”s line would develop in its purest form, as well as being a blow against Jaweh who had created Adam using his own DNA, Cain’s male DNA component came from one of those opposed to Yaweh, most likely the Lord of Light.

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