I would like to begin, with a scripture that has been on my heart lately. This scripture is from Proverbs 3 vs. 3 – 4: Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Wonderful passage isn’t it? What does it mean to you? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand - Genealogies.
Before we begin however I do want to draw your attention to the most important part of Genesis 5. While we chat about genealogies and ages, I need you to keep in the back of your mind that the main part of this passage is that these people actually lived (regardless of how long) and they actually died as God promised they would.
Ok now some of you are going to find this surprising but I absolutely love genealogies!! I don’t know why but for some reason I love to see who was related to whom and in what way. Like Lamech descendant from Cain’s line and Enoch descendant from Seth’s line were distant cousins and maybe even born around the same time.
The Bible contains several of these genealogies / list of ancestors. It is important to mention again as I have in a previous blog that the word ‘begat’ or ‘father of’ often meant ‘father’ but could also mean ‘fathered a descendant of’ and therefore sometimes there is a possibility of it skipping a generation or two as they sometimes only indicated heads of family or famous people. That is why the same record from two different places in the Bible will differ slightly. So in saying this we cannot take the family tree at face value but I think it was a pretty close record most of the time.
So this brings us to the question of why genealogies are included in the Bible? Well there are a few reasons for this:
(1) At first there was no form of writing and the genealogies were passed down verbally from generation to generation along with the ancestors’ stories. So the genealogies formed an outline and way to remember all the stories.
(2) Later when writing came to be, it would have been recorded as a way to show that the coming messiah, Jesus Christ, would be born into the line of Abraham.
(3) It is also important to mention that each individual person is important to God. Therefore God refers to them by name and mentions the age that respective individual lived to.
GEN 5 1-32 … This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.”
Isn’t it amazing that everyone is related to Adam and Eve. So technically mankind has the same blood and are very distant relatives – hence we are all brother and sisters in Christ.
When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.
Most of genesis 5 will take the same form / layout in each paragraph and the pattern is set out as follows with a few variations: When “A” had lived “X” years, he fathered “B”. After “B” was born, “A” lived “Y” years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, “A” lived “Z” years (Z = X + Y) and then he died.
Next let’s talk about a few of the variations:
In this paragraph the slight variation is the words “in his own likeness.” So Seth was created in the likeness of Adam which implies once more that Seth was a man who walked with God and thereby Seth’s line is portrayed more positively than Cain’s line.
When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Seth lived 912 years, and then he died.
When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. And after he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died.
When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel. And after he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died.
When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. And after he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Mahalalel lived 895 years, and then he died.
When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. And after he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Jared lived 962 years, and then he died.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
This is another differentiation in the sentence structure.
“Enoch walked with God” thereby enjoying an on-going intimacy with God, possibly similar to the way God had envisioned it. This sentence is also in fantastic contrast to Cain’s line. Remember in the beginning I mentioned that Enoch was probably born around the same time as Lamech. Can you remember back to our last discussion what Lamech did? He killed a man! But Enoch walked with God. Cain’s line produces another killer in the 7th generation but in Seth’s line it produces Enoch who walked with God.
Then what happened to Enoch? Well this is an amazing differentiation in the passage structure. It does not state the Enoch died but actually suggests that Enoch was taken and implies that he did not die! Where was he taken? Heaven? The Garden of Eden? There are some theories that even states that he was chosen to write down the condemnation and sins of the world? Numerous apocalyptic writings even mention him as the angel closet to God? We will never know but isn’t it an awesome thought? To be taken by God because of how you walked with him. WOW! To be such a human being in the eyes of God.
When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.
Methuselah is the oldest recorded here. By the time he died he could have seen great-grandchildren to the 4th or 5th generation. Imagine having the family over for Sunday lunch? LOL!!
Anyway given the dates when he lived, he probably died in the year of the flood. Did you know that other near eastern text interestingly before “a flood” attributes even longer lives to earlier generations?
When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died.
After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.
At this point the genealogy pattern is broken to explain Noah’s name. Lameach expects Noah will bring rest and comfort from painful toil of working the soil.
Ok now in summary I want to chat more about how long these people seemed to live. We have already chatted briefly above about this but let’s now chat in more depth about it.
In Genesis 5 we see people living to huge ages and a question comes to mind … How did these people live so long?!? Well there are a number of thoughts that experts have had surrounding this:
(1) The human race was still so genetically pure that they had stronger immune systems
(2) Maybe there was absence of sickness and disease
(3) They probably had a much healthier diet than us – remember they were vegetarian
(4) No rain had yet fallen on the earth yet and plants were still watered from waters bellow (or by humans carrying water from a river) so humans had not yet been exposed to harmful cosmic rays
(5) God gave people longer lives so they would have time to “fill the earth”
Some say these figures can’t be taken at face value and offer other suggestions:
(1) These are ages listed of family dynasties and not individual men
(2) These figures could be symbolic
(3) These figure are encoded with an honorary significance
(4) These figures are calculated by a different numbering method
We will never truly know and can only guess at the answer but possibly it was a combination of a few of them? Traditionally speaking though the numbers are taken at face value and it appears that something changed, either the cosmology of the earth or physiology of humans (or both), after the flood resulting in a rapid decline in longevity finally stabilising at a ‘normal life span’ in the range of 70 or 80 years.
But even after all this interesting discussion I must bring us back to the main part of this passage and that is that they actually lived (regardless of how long) and they actually died as God promised they would.