Repopulating After The Flood: Was Cainan or Shelah the Son of Arphaxad? -- By: Wilbur N. Pickering

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 18:34 (Spring 2005)
Article: Repopulating After The Flood: Was Cainan or Shelah the Son of Arphaxad?
Author: Wilbur N. Pickering


Repopulating After The Flood:
Was Cainan or Shelah the Son of Arphaxad?

Wilbur N. Pickering

Retired Missionary
Brasília, Brazil

Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Salah [or Shelah]. After he begot Salah, Arphaxad lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters.

- Genesis 11:12–13

…the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech.

- Luke 3:35e–36

I. Introduction

With only 8 total people on planet earth after the flood, bearing children was obviously a high priority.

Both the Old and New Testaments give genealogies of the sons of Noah. But there is a minor inconsistency between what Moses and Luke report. Moses says that Shelah (=Salah) was the son of Arphaxad. Luke says that Shelah was the son of Cainan and the grandson of Arphaxad.

There is, of course, a simple way to harmonize these accounts as both being true. The term “begot” refers not only to sons, but to grandsons (or even great-grandsons).

In this paper we will speculate as to why Moses left Cainan out of the genealogy and see why, in any case, this is not evidence that the dates reported in Genesis are thereby unreliable. And, since this issue concerns children born immediately after the flood, our inquiry will necessarily consider the uniqueness of that time for mankind.

II. Was Cainan the Son of Arphaxad?

There are several spelling variations that together are attested by almost one percent of the manuscripts. Ninety-nine percent have Cainan.

Apparently only two omit, P75v and D, but no printed text follows their lead. So there is no reasonable doubt that Luke in fact wrote that Shelah was fathered by Cainan, not Arphaxad.

This Cainan has been widely used to justify treating the genealogies in Genesis like accordions—if one name was demonstrably left out in the Genesis account, then who knows how many others were also left out. This Cainan is also used to deny the validity of constructing a strict chronology based on the time spans given in the genealogies.

But where did Luke get this information? The LXX contains Cainan in Gen 11:12, but is so different from the Massoretic text here that it looks like fiction. Recall that the LXX is based on codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandri...

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