October 15, 2013
Commentary on the Book of Genesis
By: Tom Lowe
PART I: A GENERAL HISTORY FROM ADAM TO ABRAHAM—Gen. 1:1-11:9.
Topic #C: Three Sons of Adam and Their Posterity. Gen. 4.1-5.32
Lesson I.C.5: The Book of the Generations of Adam. (Genesis 5.1-32)
In the first section of the book of Genesis (chapters 1-11), we have world events—first the creation, then the fall, and now the flood in chapters 5-9. In chapter 5 we have the book of the generations of Adam through Seth. We have read about Cain’s line and now it is dropped. It will be mentioned again only as it crosses the godly line. This is a pattern that will be set in the book of Genesis.
In one sense, chapter 5 is one of the most discouraging and despondent chapters in the Bible. The reason is that it is like walking through a cemetery. God said to Adam, “…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2.17), and they all died, because they were all sons and daughters of Adam. Paul says, “For as in Adam all die… (1 Cor. 15.22).
1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
“And blessed them, and called their name Adam”—not the Adamses, but Adam. He called their name Adam—Eve is the other half of Adam.
“The book of the generations of Adam” is a strange expression and it occurs only here and in the beginning of the New Testament, and there it is “the book of the generations of Jesus Christ.” There are these two books and there are these two lines, two seeds, and they are against each other. The struggle is going to be long and it is going to be between the line of Satan and the line of Christ. The line which we are following now is the line through Seth, and it is through this line that Christ will ultimately come.
Genesis 5 is the first genealogy in Scripture and introduces “the book of the generations of Adam” (v. 1). Ten generations are listed here, from Adam to Noah, just as ten generations are listed from Shem to Abraham in “the generations of Shem” (Gen. 11.10-26). Eight times in Genesis 5 you find the melancholy phrase “and he died,” because death was now reigning over mankind because of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5.12-17, 21). Sin and death still reign today, but through Jesus Christ we can “reign in life”—“For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ… That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5. 17, 21).
This chapter is the only authentic history of the first age of the world from the creation to the Flood, in existence, and it contains according to the Hebrew text 1656 years. It is not one of those which the apostle Paul calls “endless genealogies”—“Neither give heed to fables and ENDLESS GENEALOGIES, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith…” (1 Tim. 1.4). Christ who was the end of the Old Testament Law, was also the end of the Old Testament genealogies: they looked forward to Him and their religion was centered in Him. The genealogy recorded here is inserted briefly in the pedigree of our Savior given in Luke 3, and it shows that Christ was the seed of the woman that was promised; and there is the additional purpose of linking the history of the early people to the story of Noah, and of showing the result of sin. In fact it answers a problem raised in the previous section. If in spite of sin there is progress, civilization and prosperity, what about the curse? The answer is that despite people’s aspirations, they die!
I have read the Bible through several times, but I have to admit that I have skipped over the genealogies some of those times, but let us remember that they are important, if for no other reason than God has placed them in his book—All Scripture being given by inspiration of God, is profitable, though some is more profitable than others.
3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
When Adam was 130 years old, how old was he? In other words, when God created Adam, did He create him thirty years old, or sixteen, or fifty? Now here is something we could debate for days. The truth is, I don’t know—anything would be speculation. And if He created him that old, was he that old? What did I say! May I say to you that this answers a lot of questions about how old the earth is? When someone says there are rocks that are billions of years old, they just do not know. Maybe when God created them, He created them two or three billion years old. The important thing here is that when Adam had been here 130 years, he “begat a son in his own likeness.” Adam was made in the image of God, but his son was born in his likeness—this is something very important.
Adam was made in the image of God; but when he was fallen and corrupt, he begat (was the father of) a son in his own image, sinful and corrupt, frail, mortal, and miserable, like himself; not only a man like himself, consisting of body and soul, but a sinner like himself, guilty and obnoxious, degenerate and corrupt. Even the man after God’s own heart, acknowledges himself conceived and born in sin—“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51.5). This was Adam’s own likeness, the reverse of that Divine likeness in which he was made; but having lost it himself, he could not convey it to his seed. The capacities and qualities of a parent are passed on to his children by natural reproduction.
In Bible history, very often the birth of a baby has made a difference between defeat and victory for God’s people. During the Jews difficult years in Egypt, Moses was born and became the liberator of his people (Ex 2.1-10). When the lamp of prophesy was burning very low, Samuel was born to bring God’s people back to God’s Word (1 Samuel 1-3), and when the kingdom was disintegrating under Saul, God sent a son to Jesse whom he named David, the man God had chosen to be the next king (Ruth 4.18-22; 1 Sam. 16). At a very low point in Jewish history, a little boy continued the messianic line of David—“When Athaliah, Ahaziah's mother, saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to annihilate all the royal heirs. Jehosheba, [who was] King Jehoram's daughter and Ahaziah's sister, secretly rescued Joash son of Ahaziah from the king's sons who were being killed and [put] him and his nurse in a bedroom. So he was hidden from Athaliah and was not killed. Joash was in hiding with Jehosheba in the Lord's temple six years while Athaliah ruled over the land” (2 Kings 11.1-3). In spite of Satan’s attacks and His people’s disobedience, God was faithful to work so that His promise of a Redeemer would be fulfilled.
Knowing this should encourage God’s people as they see the world turning more and more toward sin and rebellion. HE WILL ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSES!
4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:
7 And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
8 And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
9 And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:
10 And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
11 And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
12 And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel:
13 And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
14 And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
15 And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:
16 And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
17 And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died. 18 And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch:
19 And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
20 And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
Adam died according to the sentence given him—“to dust thou shall return.” Though he did not die physically the day he ate the forbidden fruit, yet that very moment he became mortal; then he began to die; his whole life afterwards was only a reprieve, a forfeited, condemned life; it was a waiting, dying life; he was not only like a criminal sentenced to life, but like a person crucified, that dies slowly, by degrees. If one were to doubt whether the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6.23), he only needs to look at human history.
Now we start through the graveyard, and we read the names and dates on the tombstones. Adam begat sons and daughters, “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years”—and what happened? “And he died.”
In verse 8 we read what happened to Seth. He died. He had a son by the name of Enos, and what happened to him? In verse 11 we are told he died. But he had a son, and Cainan was his son. And what happened to old Cainan? In verse 14 we find that he died too. He had a son Mahalaleel, and what happened to him? In verse 17 it says he died. But he had a son, and his name was Jared, and, well, he died too (v. 20).
Seth is a very important person in this genealogy. He was 105 years (literal years) old when Enosh was born (v. 6). Enosh means “man” and comes from a Hebrew word that means “frail, weak.” It’s the word for man that emphasizes how fragile and weak we really are in ourselves.
A remarkable thing is recorded in connection with the birth of this boy; at that time people began to gather together to worship God, proclaim His name, and pray. There was a revival of public worship and believing in prayer as the descendants of Seth met together in the name of the Lord. While the worldly Cainites were boasting of their strength and valor (Gen. 4.23, 24), the godly Sethites were giving glory to the name of the Lord.
People like Kenan, Mahalalel, and Jared may not seem important to God’s great story of salvation, but they are important; for they were living links in the great generational chain that reached from Seth to the birth of Jesus Christ. God’s promise in Genesis 3.15 could never have been fulfilled were it not for the faithfulness of many undistinguished people who to us are only strange names in an ancient genealogy.
They all lived a very long time; not one of them died until he had seen almost eight hundred years, and some of them lived much longer. Daily life was not for them the burden that it commonly is now, or else they would have grown weary of it. Nor was the future life so clearly revealed then, as it is now under the gospel, or else they would have urgently desired to be removed from this life and go on to the next. All the patriarchs that lived before the flood, except Noah, were born before Adam died. From him they might have received a full account of the creation, the fall, the promise, and the divine precepts about religious worship and a religious life. Thus God kept up in His church the knowledge of His will.
The most striking feature in this catalog is the longevity of Adam and his immediate descendants—the shortest span being 365 years and the longest is 930 years. It is useless to speculate about what causes may have contributed to these men living to such a ripe old age—whether it was a vigorous constitution, the nature of their diet, better control of their passions, or the quiet, even tenor of their lives. Perhaps the most popular theory around today states that the pre-flood environment, provided by the earth being under a canopy of water, filtered out the ultraviolet rays of the sun and produced a much more moderate and healthful condition. Since we cannot obtain satisfactory evidence on any of these points, it is wise to assign the cause to the sovereign will of God to accomplish His purposes—it was the chief means of insuring the continuation of the knowledge of God, of the great truths of religion, as well as the influence of genuine piety. Since their knowledge of God came from experience and revelation it could be preserved in the greatest purity.
21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
Before he died Jered had a son by the name of Enoch. “And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah.” And then did Enoch die? No! He did not die. This is a dark chapter, but here is the bright spot in it. This is one of the most remarkable things, that in the midst of death, one man is removed from this earth. It is said about Enoch that he “walked with God.” This is quite remarkable, by the way. Only two men are said to have walked with God. In the next chapter, we also find that Noah walked with God. Only two men are said to have walked with God. These were two antediluvians (before the flood), and they walked with God. There are actually only two men in the Old Testament who did not die. One of them is Enoch, and the other, of course, is Elijah.
Enoch is one of the few before the flood of whom we have any record at all. We are told that he did not die but that the Lord took him—he was translated. What do we mean by translation? Translation is taking a word in one language and putting it into another language without changing its meaning. Enoch was removed from the earth; he was translated. He had to get rid of the old body which he had. He had to be a different individual—yet he had to be the same individual, just as the translated word must be the same. Enoch was taken to heaven.
We read that Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begat Methuselah, and after that he walked with God. I don’t know what the first 65 years of his life were like. I assume he was like the rest of the crowd—this is a very careless period, as it moves closer to the days of Noah. But when that little boy Methuselah was born, Enoch’s walk was changed. It is my opinion that that baby turned him to God. My friend, sometimes God puts a baby in a family just for that purpose, and if that baby will not bring you to God, nothing else will. For three hundred years after that Enoch walked with God, and he begat other children, sons and daughters. “And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years”—that is how long he was on this earth, but he did not die. It does not say, “And Enoch died,” but it says, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”
The best way I know to explain what happened to Enoch is to tell you a story I read about a little girl and how she explained it to her mother when she got home from Sunday school. She said, “Teacher told us about Enoch and how he walked with God.” Her mother said, “Well, what about Enoch?” And the little girl put it something like this: “It seems that every day God would come by and say to Enoch, ‘Enoch would you like to walk with me?’ And Enoch would come out of his house and down to the gate, and he’d go walking with God. He got to the place that he enjoyed it so much that he’d be waiting at the gate of his house every day. And God would come along and say, ‘Enoch, let’s take a walk.’ Then one day God came by and said, ‘Enoch, let’s take a long walk, I have so much to tell you.’ So they were walking, and walking, and finally Enoch said, ‘My, it’s getting late in the afternoon. I’d better get back home!’ And God said to him, ‘Enoch, you’re closer to My home than you are to your home; so you come on home with Me.’ And so Enoch went home with God.” I don’t know how you can put it any better than that. That is exactly the story that is hers.
Enoch was the seventh from Adam. Godliness is walking with God; which shows reconciliation with God, for two cannot walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3.3). It includes all the parts of a godly, righteous, and sober life. To walk with God, is to set God always before us, to act always as if we were under His eye. It is to constantly try to please God in all things, and to never offend Him. It is to be followers of Him as His dear children. The Holy Spirit, instead of saying, Enoch lived, says Enoch walked with God. This is what he did all the time, 24-7; while others did whatever they wanted to do, he lived for God. It was the joy of his life. Enoch was removed to a better world. Since he did not live like the rest of the world, he didn’t leave the world by death, as they did. He was not found because God had translated him (Heb. 11.5). He had lived 365 years, which as men’s ages were then, were only the middle-age of man’s days. God often takes those the soonest that He loves best; the time they lose on earth is gained in heaven, to their unspeakable advantage. Notice how Enoch’s removal is expressed: he was not, for God took him. He was not any longer in this world; he was changed, as the saints shall be, who are alive at Christ’s Second Coming. Those who begin to walk with God when they are young, may expect to walk with Him for a long time, comfortably, and usefully. The true Christian’s steady walk in holiness, for many years, until God takes him, will do a great deal to commend that religion, which many oppose and many abuse. And walking with God agrees well with the cares, comforts, and duties of life.
“Walked with God” is a common phrase in Eastern countries referring to constant and intimate relationship. We are informed in Hebrews 11.5 that Enoch was translated to heaven—a mighty miracle, designed to achieve what ordinary means of instruction had failed to accomplish, gave a palpable proof to an age of almost universal unbelief that the doctrines which he had taught (Jude 14, 15) were true and that his devotedness to the cause of God and righteousness in the midst of opposition was highly pleasing to the mind of God.
The name “Methuselah” signifies “He dieth, and the sending forth,” so Enoch gave it as prophetical of the looming flood. It has been computed that Methuslah died in the year of that catastrophe.
Some students see in Enoch’s pre-Flood “rapture” a picture of the church being taken to heaven before God sends tribulation on the earth (1 Thess 4.13-5.11).
It was by faith that Enoch was taken to heaven—“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translatedhim: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11.5). He believed God, walked with God, and went to be with God, which is an example for all of us to follow. Imagine how difficult it must have been to walk with God during those years before the flood, when vice and violence were prevalent and only a remnant of people believed God—“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6.5). But Enoch’s life of faith wasn’t a private thing, for he boldly announced that God would come to judge the world’s sins (Jude 14, 15). In his day, the judgment of sins did come; but the judgment Enoch was announcing will occur when Jesus Christ returns, leading the armies of heaven and condemning Satan and his hosts—“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (Rev. 19.11). Enoch’s life and witness remind us that it is possible to be faithful to God in the midst of “a crocked and perverse generation” (Phil 2.15). No matter how dark the day, and how bad the news, we have the promise of our Lord’s return to encourage us and motivate us to be godly. One day sin will be judged and God’s people will be rewarded for their faithfulness, so we have every reason to be encouraged as we walk with God.
25 And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:
26 And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
27 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
Methuselah signifies, “he dies, there is a dart,” “a sending forth,” namely, of the deluge, which came the year Methuselah died. Did Enoch give him this name for a warning to a careless people a long time before the judgment? He lived 969 years, longer than Adam, and the longest that any man ever lived on the earth; but the longest liver must die at last. These men Adam and Methuselah pretty much bridge the gap between creation and the Flood. According to our genealogy, this man Methuselah could have told Noah everything from the beginning of the world.
What God is trying to get over to us with the genealogies is the religious, the redemptive, history of mankind on this earth. In addition to what I said previously about the meaning of Methuselah’s name, I must add that others believe this name means, “When he is dead, it shall be sent.” What will be sent? The Flood. As long as Methuselah lived, the Flood could not come. The very interesting thing is that according to a chronology of the genealogy of the patriarchs (shown in the following verses) the year that Methuselah died is the year that the Flood came. “When he is dead, it shall be sent”—that is the meaning of his name.
28 And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
31 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
It is the popular opinion in the world, blindly accepted by men, and the conclusion, I think, of all philosophy, that human nature is inherently and innately good and that it can be improved. The whole program that is around today is that, if we will just try to improve the environment of man and his heredity, he can really be improved. Communism and socialism seek to improve man. Arminianism means that man can assist in his salvation. Modernism means that man can save himself. In other words, salvation is sort of a do-it-yourself kit that God gives you. Some of the cults tell us that human nature is totally good and that there is no such thing as sin.
What does God say concerning man? God says man is totally bad, totally evil. That is the condition of all of us. “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3.10). That is the opinion of the Word of God. If you will accept God’s Word for it, it will give you a truer conception of life today than is given to us by others.
Here is mankind, and we are following a godly line now. Where is it going to lead? Is it going to lead to a millennium here upon this earth? Are they going to come to Elysian (blissful, delightful) Fields and establish a Utopia? No! The very next chapter tells us that a Flood, a judgment from God, came upon the earth.
This “Lamech” in the line of Seth was radically different from the Lamech in the line of Cain (Gen 4.18-24). Seth’s Lamech fathered a son, Noah, who walked with God—“These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6.9)—and was used by God to save the human race and continue the messianic promise. Cain’s Lamech murdered a young man who had wounded him and then boasted to his wives about his evil deed.
Lamech’s great concern was that mankind find comfort and rest in the midst of a wicked world where it was necessary to toil and sweat just to stay alive. Life was difficult and the only hope that true believers had was the coming of the promised Redeemer. Lamech named his son Noah, which sounds like the Hebrew word for “comfort.” His hope was that his son would somehow bring to the world the rest and comfort that people so sorely needed. Centuries later people would hear the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11.28).
Lamech was 682 years old and Noah 500 years old when Noah’s son Japheth was born. The listing in Genesis 5.32 is not the sons’ birth order, because Ham was Noah’s youngest son (Gen. 9.20-24) and Japheth his eldest (Gen. 10.21). The birth order would be Japheth, Shem, and Ham. But why is Shem listed first? Because in him the covenant was rested, as appears from Genesis 9.26, where God is called the Lord God of Shem—“And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” The birthright was probably given to him, and it is certain that both Christ the head, and the church the body, descended from him; therefore he is called Shem which signifies a name; because the name of God should always remain in his posterity; until He, whose name is above every name, should come out of his loins. So, by putting Shem first, Christ was in effect put first—who in all things must have preeminence. That Lamech, Noah, and the other patriarchs were advanced in years when children were born to them is a difficulty that can probably be accounted for from the circumstance that Moses does not record here their first-born sons, but only the succession from Adam through Seth to Abraham.
Noah signifies rest; his parents gave him that name with the hope that he would be a great blessing to his generation. Observe his father’s complaint concerning the calamitous state of human life, due to the entrance of sin, and the curse of sin—“Lamech…saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed” (v. 29). Our whole life is spent in labor, and our time filled up with continual toil. Because God has cursed the ground, it is as much as some can do, with the utmost care and hard work, to get a hard livelihood out of it. “This same shall comfort us” signifies that not only desire and expectation which parents generally have about their children, that they will be comforts to them and helpers, though they often prove otherwise; but it also signifies a prospect of something more. Is Christ ours? Is heaven ours? We need better comforts while we are living under our toil and sorrow, than the dearest relations and the most promising offspring; may we seek and find comfort in Christ.