The Generations from Adam to Noah
Genesis 5. This chapter gives us the generations from Adam to Noah, through the line of Seth. This is the family of faith in contrast to the world, as seen in the line of Cain. While there was rapid technological and cultural advancement with the line of Cain, the line of Seth appears very ordinary by contrast. Very few details are given about most of these individuals. “But that which is spiritual was not first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:46). Only three of Seth’s line are singled out by the Spirit of God for special attention: Adam, Enoch, and Noah. We will notice the special remarks made on each man by Divine inspiration. The Septuagint text (LXX) has a discrepancy with the dates given in this chapter in the Masoretic Text (MT). The discrepancy occurs with the “begetting year”, rarely with the overall lifespan. Some of the years given by LXX are are the same as in the MT, and others are plus one-hundred years. The same discrepancy occurs in other genealogies, such as the genealogy from Shem to Abraham. I am not sure of the cause of the discrepancy. The addition of 100 years to some of the generations actually adds up to quite a difference in time from Adam to Abraham. It adds up to a difference of nearly 1400 years. However, the bulk of the evidence points to the years given in the Masoretic Text as being correct.
1 This is the book of Adam’s generations. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him. v.1 This is one of ten generations mentioned in Genesis, all beginning with the words “the generations of”, etc. Read more… We read in ch.1 that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God, but here only likeness is mentioned. Why? Image is the thought of representation, and likeness the thought of resemblance. As the likeness of God, Adam resembled God morally, in that he was without sin. But in the fall, God-likeness was lost and God-image was distorted. It would seem that the primary thought here is the loss of God-likeness.
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. v.2 We have a beautiful truth in that God “called their [man and woman] name Adam [singular]”. In the mind of God, husband and wife are “one flesh” in marriage. Adam called his wife’s name Eve, but God always sees them as one. This is a type of the union of Christ and His Church (Eph. 5).
3 And Adam [‘red’ or ‘earth’] lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth [‘appointed’]. v.3 Compare with v.1. Adam’s race is begotten in the image and likeness of fallen Adam. Adam was created sinless and thus in the likeness of God. Seth could not be said to be in God’s likeness, because Adam passed on a sinful, fallen nature to his descendants. However, in that Seth was a faithful man, he stood as Adam’s representative, and was therefore “after his image”.
4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years; and he begot sons and daughters. 5 And all the days of Adam that he lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. vv.4-5 We are not given the details of Adam’s life in the 800 years that followed the birth of Seth. By contrast, we are given many more details of the activity of Cain’s line; city, industry, music, etc. The line of faith is not marked by great natural activity. Faith does produce works (James 2:22), but it works in view of God and His claims, rather than in view of self-exaltation, competition, and public opinion. Those of faith are not looking to achieve greatness in this world, but are looking instead for another world altogether (Heb. 11:16). Adam had sons and daughters, although we know little about them. Eventually, death overtook Adam. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and although Adam lived for 930 years, he eventually died. The world has a saying, ‘There are two things no one can avoid: death and taxes’. But more solemnly, God says there are two things man cannot avoid: “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). In fact, death is the common lot of every name in this chapter, although with one (Enoch), a supernatural event took place which exempted him from his otherwise-inevitable appointment.
Incest and the Gene pool. Adam begat sons and daughters. It would follow that Cain, Seth, and the other sons found wives from the daughters born to Adam and Eve. As this first generation was closer to creation, there were probably far less if any genetic mutations in the gene-pool. God did not prohibit sibling-to-sibling marriage until the time of Moses (see Leviticus 18:9). The notion that the sons of Adam and Eve found mates from another race of men that was on the earth before Adam and Eve is ruled out by the statement of Paul in 1 Cor. 15:45, that Adam was “the first man”, by Adam’s statement in Gen. 3:20 that Eve was “the mother of all the living”, and by Paul’s statement in Acts 17:26 that God “made of one blood all nations”. Certainly, Adam was the first man in a moral sense, but he also was first in a chronological sense. There was no other race of men existing before Adam!
The Antediluvian Lifespan. The natural mind of man chokes at the idea of a human living over 900 years. William Kelly remarked that, after all “man was made to live, not to die”.1 Further, we find that in the Millennium (1000 years), when the curse is remove, the antediluvian lifespan will be restored. If people do not sin openly, they will not die (Isa. 65:20). A sinner who dies at 100 years old will still look physically like “a youth” (Isa. 65:20). It was only through man’s sin that the lifespan was reduced. The reduction seems to have taken effect around the time of the flood, or shortly thereafter. Moses gives the post-diluvian lifespan in general terms; “our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years” (Psa. 90:10). One of the reasons for the long lifespan may have been the need for high quality transmission of the facts of Genesis, chapters 1 to 4. For example, Adam’s life overlapped Methuselah by several hundred years, and Methuselah overlapped Shem by a hundred years, and Shem overlapped Abraham by more than a hundred years. Shem probably even knew Isaac. Four links was all that was needed to pass from the creation of man to Abraham and Isaac, and something like four more to Moses. Such a strong connection was important, because the Word of God was not written down at this time, but instead was passed along orally. With fewer links, there were less avenues for corruption, although God is ultimately over the preservation of His Word regardless. When Moses finally did write these words, he did so by inspiration of the Spirit of God.
6 And Seth lived a hundred and five years, and begot Enosh [‘weak’ or ‘frail’]. 7 And Seth lived after he had begotten Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters. 8 And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. 9 And Enosh lived ninety years, and begot Cainan [‘possession’]. 10 And Enosh lived after he had begotten Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begot sons and daughters. 11 And all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died. 12 And Cainan lived seventy years, and begot Mahalaleel [‘praising God’]. 13 And Cainan lived after he had begotten Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begot sons and daughters. 14 And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died. 15 And Mahalaleel lived sixty-five years, and begot Jared [‘descent’]. 16 And Mahalaleel lived after he had begotten Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters. 17 And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died. 18 And Jared lived a hundred and sixty-two years, and begot Enoch [‘initiated’]. 19 And Jared lived after he had begotten Enoch eight hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. 20 And all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died. vv.6-20 All the generations from Seth to Jared are swiftly passed over without comment. Other than hints taken from the meaning of their names, we know little about them. They were born, they had children, and they died. “So death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
21 And Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methushelah [‘death sending’, or ‘after his death it shall come’]. 22 And Enoch walked with God after he had begotten Methushelah three hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. vv.21-24 Enoch. The genealogical account is interrupted with a man who did not keep his appointment with death! Enoch was taken out of this world by God without seeing death. He is an exception to the rule that “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22). This is amazing! Another man to experience such a thing is Elijah, who was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Both Enoch and Elijah lived in times of great and growing wickedness, both were prophets of judgment, and both were translated without going through death (Genesis 5:24, 2 Kings 2:11). In the same way, the translation of Enoch and Elijah typify the rapture. Elijah might speak of the believer being taken up, and Enoch might picture the Church collectively being translated. This Enoch is quite a contrast to the Enoch in the line of Cain. The name means “initiated”. The first Enoch was initiated into the system of the world, but the second Enoch was initiated into heaven itself! This Enoch wasn’t interested in the city of his own name (ch.4)… he had a higher occupation. Did Enoch’s “walking with God” cause him to be useless in service on earth? No. Heb. 11:5 says of Enoch, “before his translation he has the testimony that he had pleased God”. His life was an example of godliness to the godless world around him. If Abel is a type of Christ rejected and cast out of the world, then Enoch is a type of that company whose life is in heaven, hid with Christ in God, and who seek nothing of the world’s glory, yet faithfully warn sinners of the judgment that is surely coming. Enoch’s walk was coupled with a prophetic message for the world. “And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied also as to these, saying, Behold, the Lord has come amidst his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all; and to convict all the ungodly of them of all their works of ungodliness, which they have wrought ungodlily, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 1:14-15). Enoch prophesied of a judgment that was future when he spoke it, and is still future. Perhaps part of Enoch’s testimony was what he named his son. Methushelah means ‘death sending’, or ‘after his death it shall come’. If you work the dates out, you will see that the flood came on the earth the year Methushelah died. But Enoch “was translated that he should not see death” (Heb. 11:5). There was a flood coming on the world, and Enoch was taken out before it. Also, Enoch did not see his own death! He was exempted from death. In a similar way, the Church’s hope is not death, but the return of the Bridegroom to take us up to be with Himself, in the Father’s house. Exemption from death was the greatest triumph one could know, prior to the “appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has annulled death, and brought life and incorruptibility to light by the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). Resurrection is a greater triumph than immortality.
25 And Methushelah lived a hundred and eighty-seven years, and begot Lemech [‘strong’ or ‘overthrower’]. 26 And Methushelah lived after he had begotten Lemech seven hundred and eighty-two years, and begot sons and daughters. 27 And all the days of Methushelah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died. vv.25-27 Methushelah was the oldest man who ever lived, totaling 969 years. He almost reached 1000, but did not quite make it. Perhaps this is significant. For a man to live through a millennium is a wonderful triumph. But true Millennial blessing is something that is reserved for Christ alone. He alone can usher in the age to come.
28 And Lemech lived a hundred and eighty-two years, and begot a son. 29 And he called his name Noah [‘rest’ or ‘consolation’], saying, This one shall comfort us concerning our work and concerning the toil of our hands, because of the ground which Jehovah has cursed. vv.28-29 Noah’s father gives a prophetic utterance concerning Noah. Perhaps he had a sense that Noah would usher in some period of relief from the work and toil of farming a cursed earth. See Gen. 8:21-22. After the flood, God gave a certain amount of relief concerning the climate and agriculture. However, the true fulfillment of the prophecy will be in Christ, who will fully remove the curse, and usher in the Millennium. Noah is a type of the Jewish remnant, whose restoration is a harbinger of the Millennial rest. Like the parable of the fig tree, “when already its branch becomes tender and produces leaves, ye know that the summer is near” (Matt. 24:32).
30 And Lemech lived after he had begotten Noah five hundred and ninety-five years, and begot sons and daughters. 31 And all the days of Lemech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years; and he died. 32 And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth. vv.30-32 The details of Noah’s three sons will be covered in ch.9.
Typical Teaching. Is there meaning to the order of the names in this genealogy? As to this, J.N. Darby said:
As to any consecutive meaning in these names, certain people have made something out of them; but I think nothing of this and the like spinning of webs out of the imagination. We must look for scriptural warrant, at least for the principle and this is lacking here.
With this warning duly noted, I cannot see how the names are random. It is important not to build a doctrine on the meaning of names when we have no direct teaching. We can easily fall into building elaborate systems from the simplest names, when in reality it all is figment of the imagination. However, nothing in the Word of God is random, and I believe there is some meaning to the names. Following is a suggestion from my own meditation, but it should be taken very lightly.
|————— The life of a believer —————-|
|Adam||red, earth||Natural birth|
|Seth||appointed||God’s sovereignty in new birth|
|Enosh||weak, frail||A quickened soul without peace|
|Cainan||possession||Believing the gospel|
|Mahalaleel||praising God||Worship and praise|
|—————- Dispensational Outline —————-|
|Jared||descent||The Day of Pentecost|
|Methushelah||after his death it shall come||Tribulation|