Bible Question:

I was wondering what happened to the “second Cainan” that is listed in Luke 3:36. In Genesis 10:24 it says that Arphaxad begat Shelah, but Luke says that Cainan was the son of Arphaxad and Shelah was the son of Cainan. Do you know why the name Cainan isn't included in the Old Testament? I am completely baffled by this.

Bible Answer:

The table below provides a side-by-side comparison of the genealogies given in Genesis 10 and Luke 3.

Genesis 10:1-24Luke 3:35-36

It should be noted that the two genealogies are virtually identical. Noah, Shem, and Arpachshad or Arphaxad appear in sequential order in both passages. Cainan does not appear in Genesis 10, but he is listed in Luke 3:35-36. This should not be a concern since Reu does not appear in Genesis 10 but is listed in Luke 3. It was common for names to be skipped in the Jewish genealogies For example, while Reu does not appear after Peleg in Genesis 10 he is listed in the genealogy in Genesis 10 (Gen. 11:18). If everyone had been included over the years of humanity, the list would be extremely long. So the author selected the names that he would include. Was there something significant about Cainan? We do not know. This is the only place in scripture he is listed.


We would encourage you to read the studies “Joseph’s Genealogy” and “Mary’s Genealogy.” They will explain some important details about genealogies. It should also be noted that “son of” or “begat” does not occur in the Greek version of Luke 3. It is also important to note that the Greek word tranlated as “begat” does not necessarily mean “son.” It only means “descendant.” May the Lord bless you.

Suggested Links:

Joseph's Genealogy
Mary's Genealogy