Genesis 5

This verse by verse Bible study on Genesis is an inductive verse by verse study with extensive reflections, teaching points, cross-references, and applications. They are the personal study of notes of a very good doctor friend of mine. His native tongue is Mandarin, but his English is amazing as you will see below. It is refreshing to take a look at this important book of Genesis through the eyes of a believer from another culture. Without further adieu: The Scribblings According to David.

Genesis 5 Inductive Bible Study

General Observations:

Although no substantial proof can support this, some commentators believe that the list is probably representative rather than exhaustive (i.e. compressed rather than complete) because the word father could mean being the ancestor of, for in Jewish thinking, “father” and “son” in a genealogy can be sometimes be used to mean “ancestor” and “descendent”, respectively. Similar abbreviated records is found in Ruth 4:18-22, also the cross examination of Ex. 6:1-16 with 1 Chron. 7:23-27. Nevertheless, either way, this genealogy is to be taken at face value.

Repetitive literary pattern: “When A had lived X years (“walked with God” for Enoch), he fathered B. A lived Y years after he fathered B and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of A were Z (Z=X+Y) years, and he died (“he was not” for Enoch).”

The expressions “he lived… had sons and daughters…” and “he died” echo the command of God “be fruitful and multiplied” (2:17) and the curse of sin “you shall surely die” (1:28), respectively. These two recurring phrases, according to MacArthur, “carry redemption history forward”.

Based on a strict interpretation of the chronology, a timeline of Genesis 5 can be drafted as follows:

An interesting fact is that this passage is juxtaposed with 6:1-8, which is the ever-increasing human depravity on a worldwide scale. ESV Study Bible note says,

The contrast between these two elements is not simply between the particular (the preservation of the messianic line; footnote mine) and the universal (the unrestrained expression of wickedness; footnote mine) but more importantly, between righteousness (God’s chosen remnant; footnote mine) and evil (Sinners left to their own devices; footnote mine).” In Dispensationalist terms, this is the age of conscience.

Ten specific families were mentioned: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. Some scholars have speculated, based on the Hebrew meaning of these names (and the sequence thereof), that the Gospel message is marvelously hidden in this seemingly plain and simple antediluvian genealogy:

Interpretative Challenge

The incredible longevity of pre-Flood mankind

Footnote from the ESV Study Bible:

… One of the most striking aspects of the passage is the great age of the first people in Genesis. (Other ancient Near East texts attribute even longer lives to earlier generations, e.g. the Sumerian King mentions kings who reign – interestingly, before a flood – for periods of 28,880, 36,000, and 43,200 years.) Given that the life span of people today (and at least since the flood) is much shorter than the life span of those listed from Adam to Noah, the question is often raised as to whether the remarkable longevity of these patriarchs as given in 5:1-32 should be taken at face value or whether their longevity has some other explanation. Some have suggested that the figures should be understood as symbolic (e.g., that they may be related to various astronomical significance; or that the figures were calculated by a different numeric method (e.g., that they should be divided by a factor of 5, plus, in some cases, the addition of the number 7 or 14). No writer, however, has offered a convincing alternative explanation, and none of the proposed alternatives can be substantiated with any certainty. The traditional understanding is that the numbers should be taken at face value, often assuming that something changed in the cosmology of the earth or in the physiology of humans (or in both) after the flood, resulting in a rapid decline in longevity, finally stabilizing at a “normal” life span in the range of 70 years or 80 years (see Ps. 90:10). …

Excerpt from The Evolution of a Creationist

Longevity of Life

Another result of the water being above the firmament in which the birds fly would be the shielding effect from cosmic radiation. Scientists have studied how much solar radiation is filtered by water. Dr. Joseph Dillow reports their conclusions in his book, The Waters Above: Earth’s Pre-Flood Water Vapor Canopy. In heaven-and-earth system #1, people could live to be very old. Some scientists believe that one of the primary aging factors is solar radiation. By filtering out the harmful radiation (as a water canopy would do), humans might be able to live close to 1,000 years.

The Bible reports that Adam died at 930 years of age and that Methuselah lived almost 1,000 years. After the Flood, the ages of people dropped off drastically to an average of 70 to 80 years. A lot of people think that you cannot believe the Bible when it says people lived to be 800 or 900 years old— that it must be a different kind of year or the writer did not know quite what he was talking about. Isaac Asimov, for one, said Adam did not personally live 930 years, but that his tribe lived that long.

Those old ages are 360-day years just like the Bible says (compare Genesis 7:11 and 8:3,4). You can believe the Bible as it is written. Some present-day researchers who study longevity of life believe that humans could live that long again if we were sheltered from the harmful effects of the sun and the now polluted air (plus eliminate most of our mutations and disorders).

Solar shielding by the water canopy above the atmosphere where the birds fly would also affect dating techniques. Negligible amounts (or none at all) of carbon 14 (C14) would have formed before the Flood. This pre-Flood water canopy can also explain one of the sources of water for the Flood. The water that God separated from the water on the surface of the earth when he said “let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters” on day two of the creation week, rained down providing some of the Flood waters (Genesis 1:6-8).

— P175-176, The Evolution of a Creationist by Jobe Martin

Verse-by-verse Exegesis

v.1a “the book of the generations of Adam…”

Reflections:

(1) This phrase here, in the LXX translation, became the exact same phrase that was used for the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matt. 1:1. Some commentators believe this was referring to an actual book, probably a clay-like tablet that preserved the contents of 5:1-21 and possibly 11:10-26. In such a case, the author was citing other sources from history. The Bible is historically accurate (e.g. the book of Ezra included many correspondences in the Persian royal archives; the life of Christ was recorded by extra-biblical historians like Josephus; etc.). It records real people, real places and real events. It is infallible not only in the sphere of its moral and spiritual truths; it is also historically and scientifically accurate (as far as history and science is concerned). The Bible is absolutely, completely, and authoritatively TRUE in every way.

(2) The word Adam in Hebrews (‘adam) means man. Hence, the phrase can also be translated the book of the generations of man. And thus, it can be quite fittingly interpreted as a generic description of a particular genealogy of mankind (the messianic line, in fact), with Adam being the first man.

v.1b-2. “When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. Male and female He created them, and He blessed them and named them Man when they were created.”

Reflections:

(1) The doctrine of Imago Dei. Secular psychology, sociology and anthropology have all set their wrong feet out on their metaphysical quest of answering Who Am I, and thus when they see man, they see within him neither his natural fallenness, nor the image he bears of his Maker. But for the latter, Scripture makes it clear that we are not only made in the likeness of our Creator but were given dominion over all creation (cf. Matt. 19:4, Mk. 10:6). To deliberately reduce man to any state of being lower than that to which he was created (e.g. the tree-hugging environmentalist extremists may believe that humanity is no different, or perhaps even worse, than other animals) is, perhaps, a quite bizarrely reverse kind of idolatry.

(2) The phrase “male and female He created them” probably had not caused any problem whatsoever for several millennia until the sweeping tides of radical feminism and LGBT movement in the last century. Ever since then, biblical gender roles have been under serious attacks at all fronts. The devil is indeed exceedingly crafty in all his schemes. He knows full well that the best way to bring down a civilization is to start with dismantling the family by messing up the roles of man and woman, husband and wife. An in-depth look at the biblical instructions on gender roles, marriage and family would be beyond the scope of this essay. Reference passage is Eph. 5:22-33.

v.22. “Enoch walked with God…” and v.24. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

Reflection: Such is an unusual pattern in the genealogy. Enoch, being the 7th generation from Adam, did not just “live”; he literally “walked with God”. Nor did he die, but, amazingly enough, “he was not, for God took him”.

For the latter, there is another (and the only other) OT saint who experienced rapture without experiencing death: Elijah (2 Ki. 1-12). Some Bible scholars even speculated during the 7-year Tribulations, the two witnesses in Jerusalem, who will prophesy in God’s name but eventually be killed by the Anti-Christ and then rise again, are Enoch and Elijah (Rev. 11:1-13).

But for the former, NIV Study Bible note says, “The phrase replaces the word lived in other paragraphs of the chapter and reminds us that there is a difference between walking with God and merely living.” The phrase “walking with God” was only used in the OT to describe Enoch and Noah (Gen. 6:9). It is not an abstract conception, nor is it a supernatural pageantry; it simply indicates closeness and harmony with God. And as can see, the intimacy Enoch had with God was later commended by NT writer in Heb. 11:5. Most assuredly, as God’s elect, it is imperative that we walk with the Lord. The question, then, becomes, how can we walk with the Lord? Cf. Gen. 17:1, Deut. 13:4, Mic. 6:8.

Enoch’s life was short, but by no way insignificant. He even proclaimed the word of God against the wicked culture he lived in (Jude 14-16). Enoch lived in an age of increasing depravity; yet he remained faithful and pure.

v.25. “Methuselah…”

Reflection: An interesting note here is that Methuselah in Hebrew means “he dies, there is a dart”, or “he dies, there is a sending forth”, or simply “something will come after he dies”. The thing is, of course, the Flood. Another interesting note is that Methuselah lived 969 years, the longest record on earth.

v.29. “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”

Reflection:

(1) The Hebrew words for rest and comfort are nuakh and nakham, respectively, both of which resembles Noah (Hb. noakh). Noah was a righteous man (Gen. 6:9), and his faith had made it to the Hall of Fame of the Faithful (Heb. 11:7).

(2) Lamech understood the curse of sin. He personally felt the burden of it. That’s why he named his son “comfort and rest”. Do we feel the same way, as Rom. 8:22-24 puts it, groan inwardly for the redemption of our bodies? Lamech might not truly find his peace in Noah; yet we have found our peace in the Lord (Jn. 16:33).

Study Genesis 6-7

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