The original question was:
If Genesis Chapter 5 is the written account of Adam’s line, why is there no mention of Cain or Abel (Adam’s children from chapter 4)?

Answer by John Mackay

Genesis 4 and Genesis 5 are an example of how Hebrew authors often wrote history – in parallel segments. Most people are aware that in the Hebrew Psalms which are poetry, the author repeats the same thought using slightly different words in following lines. It makes it easy to find the meaning as you can check the next line of the pair. These two-line ‘repeats’ are known as Hebrew parallelisms.

The same literary form can also be used with longer segments of an historical narrative to give a more complete picture. Like the same object viewed from two different perspectives. Genesis chapter 4 gives the account of Adam and Eve bearing Cain and Abel who were obviously an important part of the first family and it records the first human death by murder. Genesis 5 then restarts Adam’s family tree but gives no mention of Cain or Abel. Since the editor of Genesis (Moses) left both chapters 4 & 5 in the book, and his obvious purpose is not to contradict himself, what reason did he have to organise the text like this?

The Genesis 5 chronology of Adam’s descendants (minus Cain and Abel) is repeated several times in Scripture (see Luke 3:23-38, and 1 Chronicles 1).The purpose of these much longer chronologies is to show Adam as the legally provable ancestor of Jesus Christ, via all linking relatives. Since Abel was killed with no known offspring (Chapter 4), he could not have been an ancestor of Christ. Cain and his descendants were all eliminated by the time of Noah’s Flood so they likewise played no part in Christ’s family tree. Therefore, Genesis Chapter 5 mentions only those people through whom Christ was descended, therefore it has no need to mention either Cain or Abel from Chapter 4.

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About The Contributor

John Mackay