by Robert Brow    (

Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: 2004

Introduction | Genesis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12| 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

31 | 32 | 33| 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41| 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50| PostScript

Table Of Contents:

Genesis 5:1-2 Genesis 5:24
Genesis 5:3-5 Genesis 5:25-27
Genesis 5:6-20 Genesis 5:28-29
Genesis 5:21 Genesis 5:30-31
Genesis 5:22 Genesis 5:32
Genesis 5:23  

GENESIS 5:1-21 (Line of Adam)

5:1-2 We suggested that Genesis might have originated when Abraham invented alphabetical writing and copied onto a single scroll the contents of ten clay tablets giving the family origins of the Jewish people (2:4-6). Each of these ten tablets began with the expression "These are the generations (Hebrew toldoth)" The first of these went back to the account of the enclosed garden in the plain (eden) located in what we guessed might be the Turkish district of Mus (2:8).

This second tablet begins with the same expression "This is the book of the generations (toldoth) of Adam" which is translated in the NRSV as "This is the list of the descendants of Adam." The tablet refers back to the statement that "God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (1:27). The female offspring of Adam are not mentioned because these ancient lists were limited to the male heirs of each generation.

5:3-5 After we were given the genealogy of the line of Cain (4:18-24) the birth of Seth was mentioned (4:25). He is described in Adam’s "likeness according to his image" which seems to indicate that like his father he also was in the image of God (1:26).

In our age we are used to men fathering their children before the age of thirty or forty, so we wonder about Adam having his third son at the age of 130, and dying at the age of 930 years. By adding the length of the lives in the list (5:3-31) it seems that Adam was alive to see eight generations of children and great-grandchildren.

If we plot on a graph the long ages of these patriarchs, we can see that before the flood several of them were recorded as living nine hundred years (5:5, 8, 11, 17, 20, 27). The one who lived longest was Methuselah, but his son Enoch was taken at the comparatively early age of 365 (see note under 5:21-24).

What are we to make of these dates? They do not read like myth. Some scholars imagine that a scribe hundreds of years after the events produced this very carefully constructed interlocking pattern of dates. We prefer to go with the fact that, after hominids had roamed our world for two million years, Adam and Eve were created as the first true humans in the image of God (see notes on 1:26-27). There is no reason why they should not have been given a much longer life than we are used to (see note on 5:32).

After the flood the age of the patriarchs is recorded as dropping steadily. Shem lived 600 years (11:10), Arpachshad lived 438 years (11:12), Shelah 433 years (11:14), Eber 474 years (11:16), Peleg 239 years (11:19), Reu 239 years (11:20). Serug 230 years (11:22), Terah 205 years (11:32), Abraham 175 (25:7), Moses 120 years (Deuteronomy 24:7). The drop in longevity could be due to in-breeding after the flood, or dietary or climate changes

5:6-20 Each generation is carefully listed with the age of the patriarch when his male heir was born, how long he lived after that, and his own age at death. We have suggested that when a male heir was born a new clay tablet was made to record the fact, and when it was baked the old tablet was discarded (see note on 2:4-6). This would explain how this very early genealogical information survived for posterity.

5:21 With the birth of Enoch we are given an important fact without any explanatory comment. Enoch decided to call his son Methuselah (Hebrew mathushelakh meaning "his death shall send"). From the figures we can work out that Methuselah died exactly the year of the flood (compare 5:25, 31, 7:6). No comment is made but this can hardly be an accident. It seems like a long term prophecy 969 years before the flood. Much nearer the time a short term prophecy came as a warning to Noah and he received the command to begin building the ship that would survive the flood (6:13-17).

5:22 The fact that Enoch walked with God (see 5:24) seems to refer back to Adam’s refusal to walk with God in the safety of the enclosed garden (3:8). The difference is that now Enoch is metaphorically walking with the Son of God in a world that was getting crowded and increasingly dangerous. In the next chapter we read that "the LORD saw that the wickedness of the human mind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually" (6:5).

By this time there had been a huge population explosion among the descendants of Seth (4:25, 5:6-8). This is indicated by the refrain "he had other sons and daughters," which happened in every patriarchal generation (5:4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 26, 30). Meanwhile the descendants of Cain had moved out all over the ancient world (4:16). Their building skills could have produced Egypt’s Old Kingdom Pyramid Age (c.2650-2240 BC).

5:23 Looking at a chart of the ages of the patriarchs (see 5:3-5) there is a sudden drop in the age of Enoch from the early patriarchal average of over 900 years.

5:24 The New Testament described Enoch as a prophet. "Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘See the LORD is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 14-15). This might be a medium term prophecy of the flood (5:21).

Concerning Enoch’s walk with God we are also told that "by faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’ For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God.’ And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:5-6).

Here we have the first hint of God’s plan for the resurrection of the body. Enoch’s physical body was disintegrated or disposed of somewhere, but he was immediately given a resurrection body to continue his life in the presence of God. Except in the case of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-6) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) other Old Testament believers remained in sheol, the abode of the dead, till Jesus brought them up from there in his resurrection (Matthew 27:52-53, 1 Peter 3:18-20, see Job 19:25-26).


5:25-27 We noted that Enoch was a prophet (5:24) and he called his son Methuselah (Hebrew mathushelakh meaning "his death shall send"). The flood came exactly the year of the end of his long life of 969 years.

5:28-29 Lamech also prophetically named his son Noah (Hebrew noakh from the verb nuakh meaning rest, or settling down, or more probably from the verb naakham meaning comfort or bring relief). Perhaps the name was a play on words. He explained that this son would "bring us relief" (NRSV) or comfort us (the verb is used in Isaiah 40:1).

5:30-31 The dates given in this chapter suggest that at the age of 56 Lamech buried his ancestor Adam who by then was aged 930 years (5:5). And Lamech himself died five years before the flood, for which we will tentatively put a date of 2244 BC. This is based on the dates given in 5:32, 11:10, and a guess at a timing for Exodus 12:40-41, and Solomon who reigned 971-931 BC, 1 Kings 6:1.

5:32 Assuming that Shem was Noah’s second son we can deduce that Shem was born 98 years before the flood (compare 11:10). It seems that whereas the other patriarchs in this chapter had their children at the age of 130, 105, 90, 70, 65, 162, 65, 187, Noah was listed as not having a son till he was 500 years old. We can imagine his impatience as the long delay!

As we noted (5:3-5) some have explained the vast ages in this chapter as the ingenious concoction of a Jewish scribe many centuries after the events. In that case we might wonder at the logic of what he had in mind. One theory is that he tried to duplicate the genealogies of the pharaohs of Egypt. We prefer to work with a model in which we assume that when the first true humans (Genesis Man) were created their normal life-span was designed to be over 900 years. We don’t know how long the various species of hominids lived before that.

There is no scientific evidence that Genesis Man must have lived what the Psalm writer viewed as a normal life-span of 70 - 80 years (Psalm 90:10). To attain their huge size some of the dinosaurs must have lived to a very long age. More recently a Box Turtle in the state of Rhode Island was proved to be 130 years old. The record for tortoises is 150 years, but some apparently lived much longer than that. Many factors affect the ages of various species, and humans are no exception.

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