1) Gen 5:28–32: Moses began this section by writing, “And Lamech lived 182 years, and he fathered a son.”

This Lamech differed greatly from the one depicted in Gen 4:19, 23–24.[1] The one who came from the lineage of Seth desired deliverance from God’s curse upon the ground, instead of seeking revenge (Gen 3:17–19).[2]

As a result of Adam’s choice to pursue wisdom on his own without depending upon the Lord (Gen 3:1–7),[3] human mastery over creation was subjected to frustration (Gen 1:26–28),[4] replaced by alienation from our environment (Rom 8:19–22).[5]

Land blessed by God is well-watered and fertile (Gen 2:8–10; Deut 33:13–16). Under his curse, it becomes dry and unproductive (Deut 28:17–18).[6] Since God removed his protection and favor, the ground yielded produce only through hard labor.[7]

No longer a delight, work had become an enemy.[8] Since inedible growth replaced plants needed for food, people constantly toiled to sustain life (Prov 24:30–34).[9]

For the first time in Gen 5, a father explained his rationale for the name he chose for his son:[10] Lamech “called his name Noah, saying, ‘This one shall relieve us from our work and from the painful toil of our hands [arising] from the ground which the Lord has put under a curse.’”

Lamech used the same Hebrew word which described what Eve and Adam experienced: “pain” (itsabon) (Gen 3:16–17).[11]

Due to Noah’s importance in the book of Genesis, Moses repeatedly related the sound of his name to important theological themes in Gen 6–10.[12] Noah’s name sounds like the Hebrew word which means “comfort” or “relieve” (nuah).  However, it does not derive from it.[13]

The desire to receive rest from one’s toil conspicuously appears in Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) literature.[14]

In Enuma Elish, the boisterous antics of some lesser gods disturbed the rest of Apsu, the chief god. He complained to the water goddess Tiamat, “Their ways are truly loathsome unto me. By day I find no relief, nor repose by night. I will destroy, I will wreck their ways that quiet may be restored. Let us have rest!”[15]

Tiamat reacted to his desire to kill the other gods by rebelling. Consequently, the absence of rest led to primordial conflict before the gods created people.[16] After the battle, Marduk announced to the other gods that people “shall be charged with the service of the gods that they might be at ease!”[17]

Freed from the menial tasks of managing the earth and providing food for themselves, the gods could rest.[18]

Similarly, the Akkadian myth Creation of Man by the Mother Goddess states, “That which is slight he shall raise to abundance, the work of god man shall bear!…Create, then…and let him bear the yoke! The yoke he shall bear…the work of god man shall bear!’”[19]

Thus, in ANE thought, people labored so the gods could rest.[20]

The biblical concept that God intended for humans to participate in his rest is unique in the ANE (Gen 2:1–3; Exod 20:8–11).[21] It appears that Israel first kept the Sabbath during their time in the wilderness (Exod 16:22–30).[22] Therefore, Lamech most likely did not observe days of rest from his toil, nor did he conceive the possibility of such a luxury.

Perhaps Lamech prophesied that his son Noah would introduce new agricultural practices (Gen 9:20).[23] On the other hand, his words may reflect his desperate desire for relief from his miserable life of servitude to the ground, as it needed constant tending to produce food.[24]

Moses returned to the standard format of this genealogy by writing, “And Lamech, after fathering Noah, lived 595 years. And he fathered [other] sons and daughters.”

Just as with the linear genealogies of Cain and Shem (Gen 4:19–22; Gen 11:26), the tenth generation in Seth’s ancestral record names three sons. Moses wrote, “And Noah was 500 years old. And he fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”[25]

Then, the genealogical record of Noah comes to a halt. It shall not resume until after the deluge (Gen 9:28–29). This indicates that Moses inserted the flood narrative here to expand the account of the descendants of Seth.[26]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Gen 5:28–32. Why did Lamech name his son Noah? How does the biblical notion of rest differ from the concept in other ANE literature? Do you think that Lamech was prophesying or expressing his desperation? How would you have felt in his place?

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Groaning for a Redeemed Body

 

[Related web pages include Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); The Lord Blesses the Seventh Day (Gen 2:3); A Well-Watered Garden (Gen 2:8–14); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); An Anguishing Process (Gen 3:16); Thorns and Thistles (Gen 3:17–18); Two Wives (Gen 4:18–19); Lamech’s Ode to Himself (Gen 4:23–24); Ancient Near Eastern Genealogies (Gen 5:1); The Death of Noah (Gen 9:28–29); and Subjected to Futility (Rom 8:20)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 5: Groaning and Grieving (Genesis 5:28–6:8)]

 

[1]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 128.

[2]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 115.

[3]John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 143–4.

[4] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 94.

[5]Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3 (ed. Martin Rüter, Ilse Tödt, and John W. De Gruchy; trans. Douglas Stephen Bax; DBW; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2004), 133–4.

[6] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 82.

[7] Walton, Genesis, 229.

[8] Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3, 134.

[9] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 95.

[10]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 258.

[11] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “עִצָּבוֹן” (itstsabon), BDB, 781, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/780/mode/2up.

[12]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 128.

[13] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “נוּחַ” (nuah), BDB, 628–9, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/628/mode/2up.

[14]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 5:32.

[15] “The Creation Epic” (Enuma Elish), ANET, tablet 1:35–40, 61, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n85/mode/2up.

[16] Walton, Genesis, 150.

[17] “The Creation Epic” (Enuma Elish), ANET, 6:8, 68, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n93/mode/2up.

[18] Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 143.

[19]E. A. Speiser, trans., “Creation of Man by the Mother Goddess,” in ANET, obv. 1–9, 99, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n123/mode/2up.

[20] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 53.

[21] Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 143.

[22] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 36.

[23]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 115.

[24]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 259.

[25]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 129.

[26]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 259–60.