The Qenite and Israelite sources of Genesis 1-11

I for my part am convinced that in the two genealogies of Genesis 1-11 we have the legendary origins of two different people groups, both of whom had an important part to play in the history of Yahwism. Genesis 4 I am convinced was the origin story for the Qenite, or Midianite people who lived in the deserts around Sinai, and were probably the original worshippers of YHWH (See Deut 33:2, Judges 5:4 and Habakkuk 3:3). This explains why Cain (whose name is cognate of the Qenites) is given a mark of divine protection, despite being a murderer, it also explains why Cain is the first to worship YHWH. Genesis 2-4, I hold is very old, possibly the oldest part of the Bible.

Then later in the narrative of Genesis 4 we hear that the Sethites were the first to worship YHWH, which contradicts the earlier story, and is probably an interpolation. I follow Amar Annus in linking Seth to the Sutean people. Genesis 1 and 5 are almost certainly exillic or post-exillic, but I would suggest that Seth was an earlier figure in Hebrew folklore, likely an ancestor figure, with the Suteans being the ancestors of the Israelites, as well as the other Hebrew kingdoms.

Just my insight into the early chapters of Genesis.

1 Like

A common interpretation of Hab 3:3 is that the passage of verse 3 to verse 6 is a reference to Abraham, verses 7-10 are a reference to Moses and verses 11-15 are a reference to Joshua. Judges 5:4 and Deut 33:2 are historic references to God leading Israel. I do not see the connection.

I feel the different uses of YHWH and Elohim in chapters 2 and 1 is due to Chapter 2 references God’d relationship with His people. The chapter 2 creation narrative describes the chosen line, the line leading to the Messiah. Chapter 1 describes the creation of the non-chosen people, where the term Elohim is used, a more general term for God. The genealogy of the line (or lines) not leading to the Messiah are always given before the line leading to the Messiah throughout Genesis and Chronicles. This is another reason why I feel chapters 1 and 2 should be read sequentially and are not a retelling of the same narrative in greater detail.

With this interpretation, the creation of man in chapter 1 is not in conflict with evolution.

1 Like

According to Richard Elliott Friedman, the original J document (c.950 BC) knew only of Adam, Eve & Cain his progeny

The Priestly P document (c.700 BC) knew only of Seth and his line

The Redactor R (Ezra c.450 BC) combined the two in parallel, perhaps transferring Noah son of Lamech (J) to the Sethite lineage

1 Like

Not a huge fan of JEDP myself (but I don’t dogmatically hold to any of the major theories), but I concur with the idea that there are multiple sources.

I find the language of the theophanies in the three verses are too similar to be coincidence, and most likely refer to the same event.

It’s not just this, it’s the fact that the creation chronologies contradict each other with regard to the creation of animals.

The conflicts in the creation sequence support my argument of a sequential reading of Chapters 1 & 2. The events of Chapter 1 occur first, including the creation of men and women, followed by a local creation of the Garden, Adam and all life in the Garden

1 Like