New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam- A Hebraism for "an account of the story of...". This phrase is found throughout Genesis, introducing the various sections: Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2. The focus of the material reduces each time; from the heavens and earth, to Adam, to the faithful line through Seth, to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Joseph.

In the day that God created man, He made him in God’s likeness- This is to be connected with how Adam had a son "in his own likeness" (:3), as if to imply that the Divine likeness is passed on through procreation. This "likeness" therefore refers to something physical rather than spiritual or mental; for His ways are far above ours, and we are to take on His mind through wilfully being open to His Spirit. These reflections are hard evidence that God is not totally immaterial, but exists as an actual entity. Admittedly all terms such as corporeal, physical, material etc. leave us beneath "the tyranny of words"; but all the same God is real and actual, creating a man after His likeness, in the same way as that man then procreated according to his likeness, which was God's.  

5:2  He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created- The record intentionally confuses the singular "Adam" with the married couple. This may explain why Rom. 5:12 speaks of sin entering the world by one man, Adam- when Eve was equally part of the transgression. We also see a reflection of the unity God perceives between married couples whom He joins together. Here and in :1, we are reading of the events of "the day when they were created". The fall of Adam and Eve and the issues with Cain and Abel are overlooked; because this account is focusing upon the development of the more spiritual line which emerged through Seth, culminating in Noah; whereas chapter 4 has given us the line of evildoers through Cain, and this will climax in the way that the sons of God [the righteous] intermarried with the daughters of men [the line of Cain] until only Noah was left righteous.

5:3  Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth- As noted on :1, this begettal of a son after his own image and likeness is to be connected with how he had been created in God's image and likeness; which surely refers to the physical rather than the moral. Much is therefore implied here about the nature of God Himself. As noted on Gen. 4:25, here we see yet another hope for a Messiah, a Saviour figure who would be appointed [= "Seth"] by God as the seed of the woman. All these hopes didn't come to anything; perhaps they potentially could have done, and were only ruined by human dysfunction. The whole experience was used to deepen an understanding and desire for the Lord Jesus. "Appointed" can also mean "substituted", which is the more exact meaning of "Seth". He was hoped to be a substitute for Abel, a kind of resurrected form of Abel; but in the end, death is death, and there can be no substitute; only a representative sacrifice which we identify with in faith.

5:4  The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he became the father of sons and daughters- We can assume that he had many. But the faithful line was through only one of them, Seth; and that too had all but spiritually died out by the time of Noah. It must've been hard for Adam and Eve to see their scores of children and thousands of grandchildren, great grandchildren etc. all fall away from the faith; for there were none righteous by the time of Noah. We can assume that they themselves kept the faith; for Eve's later hatred of the serpent and struggle with it until she killed it became programmatic for the true "seed of the woman" subsequently. The line of Seth alone were the only "seed of the woman" whilst Cain's line, and presumably the rest of the children, were the seed of the serpent.

5:5  All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, then he died- The genealogies emphasize "death", a reminder that indeed death passed upon all men (Rom. 5:12). The longer lifespans could be explained by the different environment and climate before the flood; there had been no rain before the flood, and the canopy of water came down to earth at the deluge. This canopy may have shielded people from harmful radiation.

5:6  Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh- There is an Enoch around the same time in the line of Cain, as listed in Gen. 4. And there are several similar names at the same points in the genealogies through both Seth and Cain. I have suggested above that these two lines are effectively the seeds of the serpent and the woman developing, although by chapter 6 they have intermarried until Noah alone is left faithful. Why the similarities, and at the same time? Perhaps we are to conclude that the seed of the serpent appears similar to the seed of the woman and even imitates her, externally. Just as the Assyrians offered life in their kingdom to Judah in the language of the Kingdom of God on earth- sitting under their own vine and fig tree etc. Likewise the antiChrist is a fake Christ, an imitation of the true.

5:7  Seth lived after he became the father of Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and became the father of sons and daughters- The ages recorded here differ markedly between the Masoretic [i.e. Hebrew] text, the various versions of the LXX, and Josephus. The New Testament, under inspiration, repeatedly quotes the LXX in preference over the MT [Hebrew text]. Luke's genealogy of Christ only makes sense when compared against the LXX rather than the MT. It is worth noting that if the LXX genealogies and ages are followed, and the manner of New Testament quotation encourages us to follow them, then the Lord was not born at 4000 years after Adam, and so 2000 AD was not 6000 years after creation. This has drastic implications for the "6000 year plan" theory, with the Millennium anticipated as the seventh day "sabbath of rest". 

5:8  All the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, then he died- "He died" runs as a refrain here (Gen. 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27,31). The reality of the curse upon Adam, of paradise lost, is being brought home.

5:9  Enosh lived ninety years, and became the father of Kenan- The longer lifespans would imply a far stronger race than we now experience. Each woman may well have had a few hundred children. Coupled with the long lifespans and healthy environment, there would have been a few million people alive by the time of the flood. And out of all of them, only Noah was found righteous. This mass population explosion is another connection between our last days and "the days of Noah".

5:10  Enosh lived after he became the father of Kenan, eight hundred and fifteen years, and became the father of sons and daughters- Perhaps this was from whom the faithful Heber the Kenite was descended (Jud. 4:11,17; Jud. 5:24).

5:11  All the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, then he died- "Enosh" is translated "mortal man" in Job 4:17, and is used in the sense of man in his humanity and weakness. And so man dies.

5:12  Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel- "Praise of God". It's questionable how much significance we should attach to the meaning of names; but this meaning would encourage us to again see some spirituality in the line of Seth.

5:13  Kenan lived after he became the father of Mahalalel eight hundred and forty years, and became the father of sons and daughters- We may enquire as to why one son is chosen for mention, when that son may not have been the firstborn, and then this point is made a measuring point in the life of the person. Perhaps the idea is that the birth and raising of the faithful seed who would continue the line of the seed of the woman was the most significant point in their long lives. And so in many ways it is with believing parents and family lines today.

5:14  And all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, then he died- "All the days" is a metaphor meaning "the length of the life". Our lives are counted in days by God; for each day ought to be significant.

5:15  Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Jared- The rubric in the genealogies is clear- how long a person lived before they had a significant child, how long they lived afterwards, and then a note that they died and their final age on death. This is exactly the style of the king lists found  amongst the Egyptians and Sumerians. We must ever remember that the Pentateuch was originally produced for the Israelites in Egypt. The idea would have been that this line of the seed of the woman were actually kings; such rubric was only used for the kings. That might have been literally true, but I suggest the idea is that ordinary faithful people within the seed of the woman were kings in God's eyes. Indeed all the faithful shall be king-priests (Rev. 5:10).

5:16  Mahalalel lived after he became the father of Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and became the father of sons and daughters- The mention of other sons and daughters may be to highlight the significance of the one who was faithful and through whom the line of the seed of the woman continued. In some genealogies, being the father of a person may simply mean that you were their ancestor. Generations were skipped. But giving the ages of the person when they had a child was perhaps to flag that this is not the style here. The genealogy of Cain in chapter 4 isn't recorded in this way; no time periods are mentioned.

5:17  All the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years, then he died- There appears to be an intended contrast with the line of Cain, the seed of the serpent, recorded in Gen. 4. Cain's children have a note made of their secular achievements; nothing like that is mentioned in the line of Seth, the seed of the woman. Worldly advantage and achievement mean nothing for those whose focus is upon being the seed of the woman. Worldly achievement and contribution to society is of absolutely no moment in the eternal record.

5:18  Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch- Jared had this child somewhat later in life. Perhaps this reflects a lengthy search for a Godly wife; or perhaps his earlier children were spiritual failures and weren't therefore the ones through whom the seed was to be preserved.

5:19  Jared lived after he became the father of Enoch eight hundred years, and became the father of sons and daughters- The genealogy will conclude with Noah being the only faithful believer even in the line of Seth. This means that his contemporaries had rejected the faith; the reality is that the vast majority of the children of these faithful men didn't remain in the faith. It would have been a most depressing and disappointing environment for those who were spiritually minded.

5:20  All the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, then he died- The genealogy through Cain in chapter 4 doesn't mention this repeated note that "he died" which we have here in the genealogy of the faithful. Perhaps we are to conclude that for the seed of the serpent and those "in the way of Cain", death is something they can't cope with and act as if it doesn't happen to them- although it does. The seed of the woman fully accept death, it is part of their necessary path towards eternal salvation.

5:21  Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah- Adam Clarke and others see "Methuselah" as meaning something to the effect of "When he dies, it [or judgment] shall come". And he died in the year the flood came. Jude 14 mentions that Enoch prophesied of judgment to come upon the world of his day. This would suggest that there had been a revelation about the flood before Noah received the command to build the ark. He would've obeyed, encouraged by Methuselah. The threat of judgment was therefore hanging over the earth for many centuries before the flood came; they were a society without excuse, and the gradual falling away of the faithful until only Noah was left would've been an awful period to live through. And the days of Noah are as our last days.

5:22  Enoch walked with God after he became the father of Methuselah for three hundred years, and became the father of sons and daughters- Walking with God in a Genesis context reminds us of how God walked in the Garden of Eden, and fellowshipped with Adam and Eve before their sin. This may be another hint in early Genesis that the effects of the "fall" could in essence and principle be overcome in the lives of the Godly; just as John's gospel records the Lord offering "eternal life" right now, presenting Himself as the tree of life. The Kingdom is both now and not yet.

5:23  All the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years- This presents Enoch as ending his mortal life much earlier than the others mentioned in this genealogy.

5:24  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God snatched him away- This may well imply a snatching away from  persecution. The seed of the serpent and that of the woman have always been in conflict, and so it would be no surprise if Enoch was persecuted by the line of Cain recorded in Gen. 4. But the standard rubric here in chapter 5 concludes each account with "and he died". That is notably absent here. But immortality was first granted to the Lord Jesus, who thus became the firstfruits of the redeemed. Enoch all the same had sinned and surely had to taste of death. The Bible knows nothing of immortal souls living in heaven after death; and even that approach fails to make sense of the pointed omission of the standard note that "he died". For immortal soulism claims that on death the supposed immortal soul goes to heaven. So the problem of his death being unrecorded remains. Heb. 11:5 says that Enoch "was not found", he was not grabbed as others intended, because God "removed" him (Gk.) so that he should not see death- i.e. the death that others intended, at that point. And yet he surely died, for Hebrews 11 says that all those mentioned in that chapter, including Enoch, "died", in sure hope of reward at the last day (Heb. 11:39,40). He died, because God removed him from the death others intended; rather like Moses was effectively taken away to death by an Angel. Paul likewise seems to suggest that he was given the opportunity to die, but he chose to remain (Phil. 1:23,24). I suggest the "and he died..." was omitted in order to continue the idea that for the seed of the woman, even if they remain within the physical parameters of the curse, they are in another sense free from it. God in grace gradually reduced some aspects of the curse in the lives of His children, the seed of the woman. We see this likewise in how the Law of Moses, which was likewise "added because of transgression" (Gal. 3:19), was amended and ameliorated as time went on. I have demonstrated elsewhere that Gentiles were initially forbidden to eat of the Passover, but this was amended later. Sinners were to have their children punished for some generations (Ex. 34:7), but by the time of Ezekiel 18 this had been ameliorated.

5:25  Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech- The righteous seed was not born to Methuselah early in his life. Perhaps he had to search long to find a Godly wife; or maybe his other children slid away into the mass apostacy of that period.

5:26  Methuselah lived after he became the father of Lamech seven hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of sons and daughters-  We wonder why Lamech was not saved in the ark, and why he died relatively young. We can assume that he fell away from the faith, whilst his father and son [Noah] remained faithful. To hold to the faith amidst such mass apostacy, including amongst your immediate family, is notable indeed. Or it could simply be that he died younger than the others because of persecution or natural causes.

5:27  All the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, then he died- Methuselah lived longer than any other recorded man, dying in the year the flood came; see on Gen. 5:21. Perhaps his longevity was a reflection of God's blessing upon him. A more negative reading would be that Methuselah fell away from the faith and perished in the flood.

5:28  Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son- As noted on :26, we are left to assume that Lamech fell away from the faith, or died relatively young. His faithful father Methuselah outlived him. Lamech was the sixth from Adam in this list, just as there was a Lamech the sixth from Adam in the line of Cain (Gen. 4:16-24). This highlights how the two lines were parallel, with the seed of the serpent being but a mimic of that of the woman; just as the antiChrist is a fake, imitation Christ, and this world, the kingdom of men with its offers and claims, is but a fake Kingdom of God.

 5:29  And he named him Noah, saying, This same will comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, because of the ground which Yahweh has cursed-

Perhaps they hoped that this would be the seed of the woman who would bring the curse on the ground to an end. Clearly this hope for a Messiah figure would have been significant in the thinking of the faithful. Or did Noah's parents expect Noah to be the child who would do all the hard menial work for them, so that they would suffer less from the curse placed upon the ground in Eden? This might explain why Noah had children when he was 500, far older than others of his time (Gen. 5:32- Noah's father had had his first children at 182, Gen. 5:28; Seth had his first child at 105, Gen. 5:6; Enos at 95, Gen. 5:9; Cainan at 70, Gen. 5:12; Mahalalel at 65, Gen. 5:15; Jared at 162, Gen. 5:18; Enoch at 65, Gen. 5:21; Methuselah at 187, Gen. 5:25); Gen. 6:18 implies that Noah only had three sons, whereas for people with such long life spans we'd have expected him to have had far more than that. He only had three children- for he prepared the ark to save "his house" (Heb. 11:7) and Gen. 7:1 is quite clear: ""Go into the ark, you and all your household"- his whole household was his wife, three sons and their wives. Period . Perhaps we get the picture of a man who was the underdog, the farm worker, the sidekick of the family, whose own family life was delayed and limited by this background. Perhaps he turned to alcohol for comfort (hence Gen. 9:21). But it was he whom God chose to save, he alone who was righteous in that generation which perished. It was the quiet, broken man who was saved. The Hebrew word for "Comfort" [a play on 'Noah'] occurs later, when we read how God "repented" that He had made man (Gen. 6:6,7). Lamech's desire for 'comfort' was fulfilled but not as he imagined; not through his son being his personal slave, but rather in God changing His mind about humanity and making a new start. We get what we desire, in essence; and so we need to desire the right things. Another alternative is that we are to understand 'comfort' in 5:29 as only one possible translation; the idea could be that Lamech hoped that his son Noah would be the one who would bring about repentance / changing in God regarding the curse upon the earth. In this case, we see Lamech hoping that this son of his would be the promised "seed of the woman" of Gen. 3:15, a Messiah figure. However, the Lamech of 5:28 may well be the Lamech of Gen. 4:18-22; both Lamechs are described as having Methuselah as their father. As often in early Genesis, this would be a case of one history being recorded in one chapter and then another one in the next- as with the two creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2. In this case, if Lamech is the same Lamech, then Noah had very gifted and high flying siblings. His brother Jabal was the leader of the cattle owners (4:20); his brother Jubal was the leading musician of the age (4:21); Tubalcain his other brother was the leader of all the metalworkers. Lamech was the first polygamist, who killed a young man for a slight insult and boasted about it; and whose wife Adah means 'decorated / adorned'. These were people of the world. And Noah was the sidekick brother who was to do all the menial farm work so the rest of them could pursue their careers and social lives. Against this of course it can be argued that there are differences in the genealogies of chapters 4 and 5. However, in the context, Gen. 6:1-4 describes how the lines of Seth and Cain intermarried [the sons of God married the daughters of men] and it could be argued that the genealogies we have aren't complete, generations are skipped, and 'having a son' could be understood in a wider sense than referring to a son directly fathered by the person concerned. 'Lamech' in Hebrew is comprised of the three central letters of the Hebrew alphabet and it could be argued that this reflects his 'joining' function [as it does in other Semitic literature], in joining the Sethite and Cainite lines together. The resemblances between the six names in Gen. 4:17,18 with six in chapter 5 is striking, and they both culminate in Lamech, as if he was the one in whom the lines mixed. Interestingly, Lamech in Gen. 4:24 speaks of 77 fold vengeance coming upon him; and the Lamech of Gen. 5:30 [the same Lamech?] dies at 777 years old. It also needs to be carried in mind that Semitic 'genealogies' aren't always chronological; they are constructed in order to make various points or develop themes, as in the genealogies of the Lord in Matthew and Luke.


The same root word for "Noah" is found in 2 Chron. 6:41, where the ark of God 'rested' or 'Noah-ed' in the tabernacle. When the ark 'rested' on Ararat ['holy hill'] the same word is used (Gen. 8:4). A case can be made that Ararat was in fact Mount Zion, where the ark was later to 'rest' in the temple. The 'resting' of the ark was therefore the fulfilment of God's intention in Noah- God's salvation is described as a "promised rest" (Heb. 4:10,11), and it was prefigured in the final resting of the ark. Thus the final salvation of God is to be understood in terms of God 'resting' with us, in us, within His ark. He labours and struggles too... for us. And those struggles will only be at rest when we are saved in the last day; a Father's eternal struggle for His children. The 'rest' spoken of in Noah's name was thus a rest for God. Noah's going out of the ark into a cleansed, pristine world was therefore symbolic of our going forth into the Kingdom at Christ's return.


It's significant that the various Mesopotamian legends about a flood all speak of there being conflict between the divinities before the decision to flood the earth was taken; and then quarrels and recriminations between them after it. The Biblical record has none of this- the one true God brought the flood upon the earth by His sovereign will, and He lifted the flood. In the legends, the hero of the flood [cp. Noah] is exalted to Divine status, whereas in the Biblical record Noah not only remains human, but is described as going off and getting drunk. Throughout pagan legends, the Divine-human boundary is often blurred- gods get cast down to earth and become men, whilst men get exalted to 'Heaven' and godhood. This gave rise to the idea of 'angels that sinned' and were cast down to earth. But in the Biblical record, the Divine-human boundary is set very clearly- the one God of Israel is so far exalted above humanity, His ways are not ours etc. (Is. 55:8), that there can be no possibility of this happening. The exception of course was in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ- but even He was born as a genuine human upon earth, and [contrary to Trinitarian theology] He was no Divine comet who landed upon earth for 33 years. The whole idea of the Divinity and personal pre-existence of Jesus Christ is simply not Biblical. The Mesopotamian legends speak of the flood being sent to stop man destroying Enlil's "rest" by his noise. The Mesopotamian gods sought for a "ceasing from toil", "rest from labour"- identical ideas to the Hebrew concept of shabbat. This was why, it was claimed, the gods first created man and put him to work in their garden- so that they could "rest". This background is alluded to in the way that Genesis speaks of man being cast out of tending the garden of Eden as a punishment- scarcely something the gods would wish if man was there to save them working there. God speaks of Him giving man a shabbat as a rest for man from his labour. And the flood, although it was Divine judgment, ultimately worked out as a blessing of 'rest' for man in that the 'world' was cleansed from sin. Thus 'Noah' was given that name, meaning 'rest', "because this child will bring us relief from all our hard work" (Gen. 5:29 G.N.B.). Adam's work in Eden wasn't onerous; his work when cast out of the garden was hard. The wrong ideas are clearly alluded to and often reversed- in order to show that a loving God created the world for humanity, for our benefit and blessing- and not to toil for the gods in order to save them the effort. The 'rest' so sought by the Mesopotamian gods was actually intended by the one true God as His gift to humanity.

5:30 Lamech lived after he became the father of Noah five hundred and ninety-five years, and became the father of sons and daughters- He died relatively young compared to his contemporaries, five years before the flood. We can assume he was supportive of Noah's life work until he died. But I suggested on :29 above another possible take on Lamech.


5:31 All the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years, then he died- I suggested on :29 that his death at 777 would connect him with the Lamech in the line of Cain, who pronounced a multiple seven curse upon others.

5:32 Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth- see on Gen. 5:29. The flood came when Noah was 600 (Gen. 7:11), yet he spent 120 years preparing it (Gen. 6:3). So it's possible that he wasn't married when the call came to build the ark; he'd have explained his life mission to his wife, and she'd have been his first convert. Alternatively, if he were already married at 480, they had many years of barrenness in their marriage. Given the long lifespans in those days, this would've been very hard to take. Yet he didn't take another wife. He was "moved with fear", 'reverently apprehensive' at what God told him, and prepared the ark in order to save his family (Heb. 11:7). Yet he began doing this before he had any children, and perhaps before he was married. He had faith that he would one day have a family, in accordance with God's invitation to make an ark in which to save his family. The mention of three sons being born in one year might mean they were triplets. Perhaps there was a far higher incidence of multiple births in those days, just as lifespans were far longer. This would mean that there would have been a veritable population explosion going on in the lead up to the flood- another connection with our last days, which are "as the days of Noah".

Ez. 14:20 could imply that Noah's sons and daughters in law were saved by his faith and intercession, rather than their own righteousness: "Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, says the Lord Yahweh, they would save neither son nor daughter; they would save only their own lives by their righteousness". He presumably had other children, and his three sons and their wives presumably had children and grandchildren. But none of these were saved. They would've been destroyed amongst the wicked. We can imagine the deep division within the family as a result of Noah's commitment to the ark project, his belief in judgment to come and God's word. Or maybe the rest of the family were killed due to the conflict with the line of Cain. Or it could be that for some reason, the family was afflicted with barrenness, as were many other faithful in the Biblical record. I suggest this because Noah is described as preparing the ark for the saving of his household, and his three sons and their wives and Noah's wife are described as "all of your household" (Gen. 7:1). But it could be that he was commanded to prepare an ark for the saving of his household (Heb. 11:7), but many of his family refused the salvation made potentially available to them.