Genesis 5 begins with “This is the book of the generations of Adam.”

This introductory formula denotes that we have entered a new major segment of Genesis.[1]

Since the word “generations” derives from the verb which connotes “fathering offspring,” it connotes a family or clan history.[2]

Genealogies in the Ancient Near East suggested continuity and relationship to increase a person’s power and prestige.[3]

Moses began this chapter by returning to the sixth day of creation. He wrote, “On the day when God created humanity, in the likeness of God he created him. Male and female, he created them. And he blessed them and he called their name ‘human’ on the day they were created.”

Unlike the animals, which God created in various species and kinds, Moses described people in terms of gender. Therefore, this verse affirms that the Lord created both men and women in his image to rule over creation (Cf. Gen 1:26–28).[4]

He also designed us to experience community with each other. This enables us to express all that it means to be fully human, whether we marry or remain single.[5]

Moses concluded Adam’s biography by writing, “And it was that the days of Adam after his fathering of Seth [were] 800 years, and he fathered sons and daughters. And so it was that all of the days of Adam which he lived [were] 930 years. And he died.”

Here we finally see the physical death which resulted from the fall. The refrain, “and he died” at the end of the description of even the oldest patriarch points to the universality of the impact of sin upon Adam.[6]

Once again, Moses surveyed the era of Gen 4 but from the vantage point of the line of Seth.[7]

Unlike Cain’s cursed line, which prominently features two murderers, the promised lineage of Seth links the two founders of humanity: Adam and Noah.[8] Thus, Moses recognized Noah as the legitimate seed who built a godly culture.[9]

By limiting the Gen 5 and Gen 11 accounts to ten generations of people of importance or who lived at critical times, Moses presented the flood as the important dividing line of primeval history.[10]

These genealogies contain broken lines of descent which include only the most significant ancestors. This enables us to recognize that the periods of time from Adam to Noah and from Noah to Abraham almost certainly differ in length.[11]

The long lives of the descendants of Seth may depict that they were unusually godly people or that the curse of death gradually took its hold upon humanity.[12]

By recording precise numbers, this genealogical record conveys that Moses discussed real people.[13]

While God’s blessing remained upon them in terms of their fruitfulness, Moses reminds us that the effects of sin remained by repeating the refrain, “and he died.” [14]

We know virtually nothing about the men listed in Gen 5 through v. 20 aside from the meaning of a few of their names.[15] They simply form links in the chain between Seth and Noah.

In contrast, Enoch walked in fellowship with God; and God walked in close communion with Enoch.[16] Both parties experienced mutually-satisfying intimate communication.[17]

Yet, Enoch lived for a relatively short time since “Enoch walked with God, and he [was] not, because God took him.”

Precisely because Enoch walked with God, he did not suffer the fate of Adam and his other descendants.[18]

Thus, Enoch found true life in the midst of the curse of death.[19] The greatest honor is not a long life but to be lifted into the presence of God without dying.[20]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

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[Related posts include Ancient Near Eastern Genealogies (Gen 5:1); Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); In the Likeness of God (Gen 5:1–2); In Adam’s Likeness and Image (Gen 5:3–5); Walking with God (Gen 5:21–24); Methuselah (Gen 5:25–27); The Son of Adam, the Son of God (Luke 3:23, 38); and Pleasing to God (Heb 11:6–6)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 4: The Generations of Adam (Genesis 5:1–27); or to Chapter 5: Groaning and Grieving (Genesis 5:28–6:8)]

 

[1]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 121.

[2]Schreiner, “תּוֹלֵדוֹת” (toledot), TDOT, 15:582–8, 582–3.

[3]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 5:1–32.

[4] Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 138–9.

[5] Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3, 83

[6]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 135.

[7]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 189.

[8]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 112.

[9]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 109.

[10]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 111.

[11]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 10–1.

[12]Walton, Genesis, 282.

[13]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 134.

[14]Walton, Genesis, 284.

[15] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 127.

[16]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 114–5.

[17]F. J. Helfmeyer, “הָלַכְ and הֲלִיכָה. ” (halakh and halikhah) TDOT 3:388–403, 394.

[18]Walton, Genesis, 279.

[19]Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary, 118.

[20]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 257.