#8. Who was the father of Lamech: Methushael OR Methuselah?
#9. Who was the father of Enoch: Cain OR Jared?
#10. How many antediluvian patriarchs were there: 8 OR 10?


Part of the Priestly redactor’s interpretive framework included the use of extensive genealogical lists, or records of generations, in Hebrew toledoth. These toledoth provide a structural unity and shape to the narrative arc of Genesis, and the Priestly redactor inserted them throughout the book of Genesis to transition from one story to the next, or from the end of one age or generation to the beginning of the next. Thus, the toledoth of chapter 5—”this is the record of the generations of Adam” (Gen 5:1)—connects the narrative from Adam’s son Seth to that of Noah, in other words from creation to flood.

This structural framework is visible throughout the book of Genesis. There are: the toledoth of the heaven and the earth (Gen 2:4a), the toledoth of Adam (Gen 5:1-32), the toledoth of Noah (Gen 6:9), the toledoth of the sons of Noah (Gen 10:1-7, 22-23), the toledoth of Shem (Gen 11:10-26), the toledoth of Terah (Gen 11:27), the toledoth of Ishmael (Gen 25:12-18), the toledoth of Isaac (Gen 25:19), the toledoth of Esau (Gen 36:1-30), and by way of summation, the toledoth of Jacob (Gen 46:8-27). Such periodization of history in an attempt to sew together the mythic past with the patriarchal era for example is a central concern of the Priestly source. In Genesis 4:17-22, however, we get a rare instance where the Yahwist source has also left behind a toledoth; its genealogical list, however, looks cannily similar to that of P’s (Gen 5:1-25), yet strikingly different.

J’s toledoth
P’s toledoth

In comparing the two lists above, it is clear that they both exhibit similar traits, which might suggest that they both made use of a common textual or oral source. Yet it is also possible that P was working from different archival material or, as some scholars have suggested, was actually rewriting J. Another marked feature is that the Cain and Abel story is only found in the J narrative, while there is no mention of Seth (#7). P, on the other hand, makes no mention of Cain and Abel and gives us only a genealogy for Seth, who is the first born of Adam (5:3-4)—likewise the genealogical list found in 1 Chr 1-3.

There can be little doubt that both lists, J’s (4:17-24) and P’s (5:1-32), are fictional and were heavily influenced by Mesopotamian literary traditions. Both the lists of antediluvian patriarchs in Genesis 5:1-32 and the Sumerian Kings List express, in mythical terms, how the life-span of man was drastically reduced after the flood, and both sources list ten antediluvian figures who live mythically long lives prior to each account’s flood narrative. This is dramatized considerably more in the Sumerian Kings List where we have kings reigning for twenty to seventy thousand year periods prior to the flood. Obviously we are in the realm of myth, not historical data, and the biblical scribes were well aware of this fact.

A contradiction a day! These 3 leave me off the hook for a bit. Make sure you plug back in on the 11th. The 11th contradiciton (I am officially numbering them; that’s right!) is one of my favorites because we start to see how the various biblical authors crafted their narratives in a manner that legitimated and advocated for their own theological convictions and even placed those convictions on the lips of Yahweh!

12 thoughts on “#8. Who was the father of Lamech: Methushael OR Methuselah?
#9. Who was the father of Enoch: Cain OR Jared?
#10. How many antediluvian patriarchs were there: 8 OR 10?

  1. On the other hand, when you get to Genesis 5:29 you see that after Noah is born Lamech mentions both the divine name and the cursing of the ground, both of which at this point are characteristics of J. Is it possible this text originally belonged with the text in Genesis 4?

  2. It seems clear that the form of the text we have today was written to convey the existence of two separate lines of descent which are later negated by the flood narrative. (only one survives) The lists would seem to serve to distinguish between descent from vulgar farmers and descent from priests.
    One might note that the line of descent from Cain includes all the primal workers (herdsmen, metalworkers, etc…) from which all other persons of skill are said to be descended. What’s not included in their midst is any sort of woodworker, boat builder, carpenter; a very basic skill in the ancient world. Also, these skills are attributed exclusively to the sons of Lamech; the name the two lists converge on.
    The Sethite line consists of persons who live, have offspring and die, representing the elite. The Cainite line consists of people who do things. Lamech for instance kills someone and claims a magnification of Cain’s protection for himself. None of them ever die. Of course, neither does the Enoch of Seth’s line who it is said: “walked with God”. If we presume this statement once was in the Cainite legend it might have explained the redemption of the line which would explain why the line, soon to be wiped out in the flood (in the edited version) is included in the narrative.
    Lamech has two wives who each bear two children. The one bears Jubal and Jabal while the other in symmetry bears Tubalcain and his sister Naamah.
    My speculation is that a redactor trying to justify two or more traditions removed Noah from the Cainite line and preserved the symmetry by replacing him with Naamah. In addition there are many possible skilled professions missing from the Cainite line which we might reasonably expect to see there.
    The only person in the entire Sethite line who does anything is Noah, son of Lamech. Noah must be a builder, a craftsman much like his “brothers” Jubal, Jabal, and Tubalcain, the sons of Lamech.
    We can further speculate that perhaps there was no Sethite line originally included, and that it was only added to give a line of descent which did not include Cain. Since the names needed only to take up the space between Adam and Noah they were given no real existence. They live, procreate and die. The line did however need to end with the son of Lamech; Noah.
    I find the possibilities fascinating.

  3. Dear Dr. DiMattei:

    I’m really enjoying reading through your website and supplementing my knowledge on these matters. It’s been very educative for me. I also know it’s been a while since I’ve commented here, so let me preface my questions my reminding you that I accept the basic findings of historical criticism on the composite history of the Pentateuch and the Biblical histories not being historical in a modern Western sense. So my questions are not informed by an desire to force the original source materials into theological frameworks that developed centuries later.

    That having been said, your finding of a “contradiction” here seems a little forced. Granted that these are two distinct genealogies penned by unique authors, it’s not at all clear — from the text or from your analysis — that these authors are intending to describe the same genealogy. Genesis 4, for example, does not say that its Lamech fathered a Noah, and it’s not at all clear that the Enochs and Lamechs mentioned in the two genealogies are supposed to be referring to the same persons.


    1. I’m busy working on it, hopefully by year’s end. Thanks for the interest, greatly appreciated. Enjoy the site till then. Oh, here are the books currently being finished.

  4. Trueir, Dr DiMattei, Laodeciapress – Thank you for taking the time to express your valuable views. I kindly request that we tone down on the the verbal attacks and name calling. We can all enjoy intense debate by drawing attention to the texts, our views and other works relating to the texts. Where fellow contributors’ contributions have short comings well we can point out the shortcomings themselves, where we disagree we can disagree and move on to the next bone to chew.

  5. Hi Steven,

    You are a huge fan of letting the text speak for itself – I heartily agree! Quite frankly, you are doing the exact opposite. You start off this post with an assertion about who wrote what and what they would have been thinking. You must be able to recognize how devoid of true scholarship these baseless assumptions and preconditions are. There is absolutely no manuscript evidence to support this and the internal textual evidence is easily refuted.

    Clearly both of these genealogies are completely separate from the very beginning. The genealogy in Genesis 4 is referring to Cain’s line and the genealogy in Genesis 5 is the line from Seth. Yes, there are some of the same names – is it really that hard to imagine that two distant cousins would share a name? The Enochs are different people and the Lamechs are different people.

    What really astounded me is how you included Noah in the Genesis 4 genealogy (“J’s toledoth”). THIS IS NOT IN THE TEXT!!! The Lamech of Genesis 4 does not have a son named Noah – his sons from his wives are mentioned but, of course, Noah is not one of them. Hence this is a different Lamech all together.

    This, Steven, is not letting the text speak for itself.

    1. Your rhetoric is not only juvenile and tasteless, but you precede as if this is some sort of game and that there has been no erudition on this material over the past centuries. I take my work and my expertise very seriously, as do many of my colleagues. The opening references to the Priestly writer and the Yahwist are not “baseless assumptions and preconditions.” Your ignorance about the Bible and biblical studies is glaring. You should spend more time reading, thinking, and studying prior to posting erroneous comments. In fact, one of my colleagues who teaches at Yale Divinity school has just come out with a book that I am currently reading, and I’d be happy to open a new post where we can discuss it: Joel Baden’s The Composition of the Pentateuch.

      Reference to the Priestly writer and the Yahwist are conclusions drawn from, affirmed, and reaffirmed by studying the biblical texts themselves for over 200 years now! Educate yourself here: How the Bible reveals its composite nature. Furthermore, the best explanation for, not just the differences in this genealogy, but many of Genesis’ and the book of Chronicles’ genealogies is the recognition that they derive from different sources. This is affirmed even more when we look at all the genealogies together, and the features, language, vocabulary, and theological outlook they share with each other and how these features are not found in their immediate contexts—thus supporting the view that a later editor stitched together two once separate sources. But as you have voiced elsewhere, what is more important to you is how these texts were viewed, read, and conceived by readers living centuries later who had their own agendas, etc. Rather, the above are the conclusions drawn from approximately 300 years of paying attention to the biblical texts and their authors. But you’d rather deny the message of these authors and how they interacted with one another.

      And yes, it would seem that I erred in noting Noah in the Yahwist toledoth. I think another reader tried to bring that to my attention as well. That does not, however, change the fact that these two lists are drawn from 2 separate sources. And it’s not just this passage that indicates that, but examining the whole of the Pentateuch at large.

  6. Since when is myth determined by how we “feel” about a thing? If you think to argue well how do we know santa isn’t real, I’d immediately argue we can trace this story back in history and know it is a myth. The creators of the santa claus story did no create as to form a form of worship passing it off as true. The life spans in Genesis sound far fetch but we can not simply dismiss these stories because how they sound to us. The conditions of the earth and atmosphere were different at the time of Adam-Noah which allowed for longer life spans.

    1. Who says anything about real, feelings, etc… I’m quite capable of talking about things of that nature, and rather good at it if I may say so, but what does this have to do about the text? Rather, are not queries such as this about ourselves?

  7. I personally am failing to see the contradiction in this. This is no different than saying the genealogy of Luke and Matthew are contradictions. No, the two genealogies are different because they serve two different purposes not that there is a mistake. Really, does anyone honestly think that if someone was creating a make believe story and trying to pass it off as true that they would forget what they just got done saying in the previous chapters? You don’t think they read this for themselves? The Messiah comes from the line of Shem. It is pointless to mention Cain’s genealogy in the next chapter when we know that it has been stated that he was cursed. Abel was killed by his brother…which is why he was excluded. The genealogy found in Chapter 5 shows us where the Messiah came from and that he came from a righteous line. In addition, the names found in Gen. 5 have within in them an encoded message that reveals G-d’s plan for humanity. One is able to find this message by understanding the definition of the Hebrew names mentioned. To one who is not familiar with the Hebrew this is not as easily understood.

    The message reads the following: Adam=Man(is) Seth=appointed Enosh=mortal sorrow;(but) Mahalalel= The blessed G-d Jared=shall come down Enoch=teaching Methuselah=his death shall bring Lamech=the despairing Noah=comfort, rest. So, it isn’t coincidental that the genealogy is different.

    Lastly, these are not the only genealogies in which names are found missing in scripture. It is more than evident this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list as scripture clearly says, “4 After Shet was born, Adam lived another 800 years and had both sons and daughters.” We never hear about the daughters do we? Every jot and tittle of the Torah serves a purpose and it is up to man to find this by humbly seeking G-d and research.

    1. “I personally am failing to see the contradiction in this.” — of course you do, because you’re not actually reading the text.
      “not that there is a mistake” — take a good look at the presuppositions you harbor here. Who says anything about a mistake? What have you assumed here? I’m not going to help you out with this; you’ll have to think on it.
      “Lastly, these are not the only genealogies in which names are found missing in scripture. It is more than evident this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list as scripture clearly says” — nothiing is missing here, and stop making excuses for the authors, or trying to squeeze the text into your own configuration. Let the text say what it says.

      You come at the text with x, y, z, expectations and beliefs that are dear to you (and I understand and even sympathize), but then you do something I cannot sympathize with — you make the text fit into you presuppositions and beliefs. Now, I realize the sensitivity of this issue. But we are going to talk about the texts here, there authors, audiences, varying sources…. then if these clash with our expectations, beliefs, etc, that is the conversation. So what textual evidence would support your claim that the author left somethings out here?

Leave a Reply