Genesis 5
Pulpit Commentary
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
Verses 1, 2. - This is the book. Sepher, a register, a complete writing of any kind, a book, whether consisting of a pair of leaves or of only a single leaf (Deuteronomy 24:1, 3; "a bill of divorcement;" LXX., βίβλος; cf. Matthew 1:1; Luke 3:36, 38). The expression presupposes the invention of the art of writing. If, therefore, we may conjecture that the original compiler of this ancient document was Noah, than whom no one would be more likely or better qualified than he to preserve some memorial of the lost race of which he and his family were the sole survivors, it affords an additional corroboration of the intelligence and culture of the antediluvian men. It is too frequently taken for granted that the people who could build cities, invent musical instruments, and make songs were unacquainted with the art of writing; and though certainly we cannot affirm that the transmission of such a family register as is here recorded was beyond the capabilities of oral tradition, it is obvious that its preservation would be much more readily secured by some kind of documentary notation. Of the generations - i.e. evolutions (tol'doth; cf. Genesis 2:4) - of Adam. In the preceding section the tol'doth of the heavens and the earth were exhibited, and accordingly the narrative commenced with the creative labors of the third day. Here the historian designs to trace the fortunes of the holy seed, and finds the point of his departure in the day that God (Elohim) created man (Adam), i.e. the sixth of the creative days. More particularly he calls attention to the great truths which had been previously included in his teaching concerning man; viz., the dignity of his nature, implied in the fact that in the likeness of Elohim made he him; his sexual distinction - male and female created he them; their Divine benediction - and blessed them (cf. Genesis 1:27, 28); at the same time adding a fourth circumstance, which in the first document was not narrated, that their Maker gave to them a suitable and specific appellation - and called their name Adam (vide Genesis 1:26), in the day when they were created.
Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
Verses 3-5. - At the head of the Adamic race stands the first man, whose career is summarized in three short verses, which serve as a model for the subsequent biographies. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years. Shanah, a repetition, a return of the sun s circuit, or of similar natural phenomena; from shanah, to fold together, to repeat; hence a year (Gesenius, Furst). Cf. Latin, annus; Greek, ἐνιαυτός; Gothic, Jar, jar, jet; German, jahr; English, year - all of which "seem to carry the same thought, viz., that which comes again" (T. Lewis). "Shanah never means month" (Kalisch). And begat a son in his own likeness, - damuth (cf. Genesis 1:26) - after his image - tselem (cf. Genesis1:26); not the Divine image in which he was himself created (Kalisch, Knobel, Alford), but the image or likeness of his own fallen nature, i.e. the image of God modified and corrupted by sin (Keil, Murphy, Wordsworth). "A supernatural remedy does not prevent generation from participating in the corruption of sin. Therefore, according to the flesh Seth was born a sinner, though he was afterwards renewed by the Spirit of grace" (Calvin). The doctrine of inherited depravity or transmitted sin has been commonly held to favor the theory which accounts for the origin of the human soul per traducem (Tertullian, Luther, Delitzsch), in opposition to that which holds it to be due to the creative power of God (Jerome, Augustine, Calvin, Beza, Turretin). Kalisch thinks the statement "Adam begat Seth in his own image ' decisive in favor of Traducianism, while Hodge affirms "it only asserts that Seth was like his father, and sheds no light, on the mysterious process of generation ('Syst. Theol.,' Part I. Genesis 3. § 2). The truth is that Scripture seems to recognize both sides of this question. Vide Psalm 51:5 in favor of Traducianism, and Psalm 139:14-16; Jeremiah L 5 in support of Creationism (cf. Martensen's 'Dogmatics,' § 74), though there is much force in the words of Augustine "De re obscurissima disputatur, non adjuvantibus divinarum scripturarum certis clarisque documentis." And called his name - probably concurring in the name selected by Eve (Genesis 4:25) - Seth - Appointed, placed, substituted; hence compensation (Genesis 4:25). And the days of Adam after he had begotten - literally, his begetting - Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters. "In that primitive time the births did not rapidly follow each other - a fact which had to indicate that his having a posterity at all was conditioned by the ripeness of his faith. At the same time the lateness of paternity among these primeval men may have been partly due to a physical cause as well, "since in exact accordance with the increasing degeneracy and rankness of human life is there, in a literal sense, the increase of a numerous and wretched offspring" (Lange). And all the days that Adam - not the whole tribe (Gatterer, vide Bohlen; cf. Balgarnie, 'Expositor,' vol. 8.), "as in this case Enoch must have been taken to heaven with his whole family" (Kalisch); but the individual bearing that name - lived were nine hundred and thirty years. The remarkable longevity of the Macrobii has been explained -

1. On the supposition of its non-authenticity.

(1) As a purely mythical conception (Knobel, Bauer, Hartmann, Bohlen); which, however, may be safely rejected as an altogether inadequate hypothesis.

(2) As due to an error in the traditional transmission of the genealogical registers, several names having fallen out, leaving their years to be reckoned to those that remained (Rosenmüller); but against this conjecture stands the orderly succession of father and son through ten generations.

(3) As representing not the lifetimes of individuals, but dynastic epochs (vide supra); and

(4) as signifying lesser spaces of time - e.g. three months (Hensler), or one month (Raske) - than solar years; but even Knobel admits that "no shorter year have the Hebrews ever had than the period of a year's time."

2. On the basis of its historic credibility; as attributable to -

(1) The original immortality with which man was endowed, and which was now being frayed away by the inroads of sin (Kalisch).

(2) The superior piety and intelligence of these early father's of the race (Josephus, 'Antiq.,' I. 3:9).

(3) The influence of the fruit of the tree of life which, while in the garden, Adam ate (Whately, 'Ency. Brit.,' eighth ed., Art. Christianity).

(4) The original vigor of their physical constitutions, and the greater excellence of the food on which they lived (Willet). But if the first and second opinions are correct, then the Cainites should have died earlier than the Sethites, which there is no reason to believe they did; while the third is a pure conjecture (vide Genesis 2:9), and the fourth may contain some degree of truth. We prefer to ascribe the longevity of these antediluvian men to a distinct exercise of grace on the part of God, who designed it to be

(1) a proof of the Divine clemency in suspending the penalty of sin;

(2) a symbol of that immortality which had been recovered for men by the promise of the woman's seed; and

(3) a medium of transmission for the faith, for the benefit of both the Church and the world. And he died. "The solemn toll of the patriarchal funeral bell (Bonar). Its constant recurrence at the close of each biography proves the dominion of death from Adam onward, as an immutable law (Romans 5:12; Baumgarten, Kefi, Lange); "warns us that death was not denounced in vain against men" (Calvin); "is a standing demonstration of the effect of disobedience" (Murphy); "was intended to show what the condition of all mankind was after Adam's fall (Willet). The expression is not appended to the genealogical list of the Fathers after the Flood, doubtless as being then sufficiently understood; and it is not said of the descendants of Cain that they died, "as if the inheritance of the sons of God were not here on earth, but in death, as the days of the deaths of martyrs are held in honor by the Church as their birthdays" (Wordsworth).
And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:
Verses 6-20, - The lives of the succeeding patriarchs are framed upon the model of this Adamic biography, and do not call for separate notice. The names of the next six were Seth (ver. 6; vide Genesis 4:25); Enos (ver. 9; vide Genesis 4:26); Cainan, possession (Gesenius); a child, one begotten (Furst); a created thing, a creature, a young man (Ewald); possessor, or spearsman (Murphy; ver. 12); Mahalaleel, praise of God (Gesenius, Furst, Murphy; ver. 15); Jared, descent (Gesenius); low ground, water, or marching down (Furst); going down (Murphy; ver. 18); Enoch, dedicated, initiated (ver. 19; cf. Genesis 4:17).
And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:
And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel:
And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:
And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.
And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch:
And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
Verse 21. - The dedicated and initiated child grew up, like an Old Testament Timothy let us hope, to possess, illustrate, and proclaim the piety which was the distinguishing characteristic of the holy line. At the comparatively early age of sixty-five he begat ("forbidding to marry" being unknown then) Methuselah. Man of a dart (Gesenius), man of military arms (Furst), man of the missile (Murphy), man of the sending forth - sc. of water (Wordsworth), man of growth (Delitzsch). And Enoch walked with God (Elohim). The phrase, used also of Noah, (Genesis 6:9), and by Micah (Genesis 6:8. Cf. the similar expressions, "to walk before God," Genesis 17:1; Psalm 116:9, and "to walk after God," Deuteronomy 13:4; Ephesians 5:1), portrays a life of singularly elevated piety; not merely a constant realization of the Divine presence, or even a perpetual effort at holy obedience, but also "a maintenance of the most confidential intercourse with the personal God (Keil). It implies a situation of nearness to God, if not in place at least in spirit; a character of likeness to God (Amos 3:3), and a life of converse with God. Following the LXX. (εὐηρὲστησε δὲ Ἐνὼχ τῷ θεῷ), the writer to the Hebrews describes it as a life that was "pleasing to God," as springing from the root of faith (Hebrews 11:5). Yet though pre-eminently spiritual and contemplative, Jude tells us (vers. 14, 15) the patriarch s life had its active and aggressive outlook towards the evil times in which he lived. After he begat Methuselah. "Which intimates that he did not begin to be eminent for piety till about that time; at first he walked as other men' (Henry). Procopius Gazeus goes beyond this, and thinks that before his son's birth Enoch was "a wicked liver," but then repented. The historian's language, however, does not necessarily imply that his piety was so late in commencing and it is more pleasing to think that from his youth upwards he was "as a shining star for virtue and holiness (Willet). Three hundred years. As his piety began early, so likewise did it continue long; it was not intermittent and fluctuating, but steadfast and persevering (cf. Job 17:9; Proverbs 4:18; 1 Corinthians 15:58). And begat sons and daughters. "Hence it is undeniably evident that the stats and use of matrimony doth very well agree with the severest course of holiness, and with the office of a prophet or preacher" (Peele). And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. "A year of years" (Henry); "the same period as that of the revolution of the earth round the sun. After he had finished his course, revolving round him who is the true light, which is God, in the orbit of duty, he was approved by God, and taken to him" (Wordsworth). Modern critics have discovered in the age of Enoch traces of a mythical origin. They conclude the entire list of names to be not older than the time of the Babylonian Nabonassar, and believe it to be not improbable that "the Babylonians regulated the calendar with the assistance of an Indian astrologer or ganaka (arithmetician) of the town of Chanoge" (Von Bohlen). But "it would be strange indeed if just in the life of Enoch, which represents the purest and sublimest unity with God, a heathen and astrological element were intentionally introduced;" and, besides, "it is almost generally admitted that our list contains no astronomical numbers that the years which it specifies refer to the lives of individuals, not to periods of the world; and that none of all these figures is in any way reducible "to a chronological, system" (Kalisch). And Enoch walked with God. "Non otiosa ταυτολογία," but an emphatic repetition, indicative of the ground of what follows. And he was not. Literally, and not he (cf. Genesis 12:36; Jeremiah 31:15; καὶ οὐχ εὐρίσκετο LXX.). "Not absolutely he was not, but relatively he was not extant in the sphere of sense." "Non amplius inter mortales apparuit" (Rosenmüller). "If this phrase does not denote annihilation, much less does the phrase "and he died." The one denotes absence from the world of sense, and the other indicates the ordinary way in which the soul departs from this world" (Murphy). For God (Elohim) took him. Cf. 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 9, 10, where the same word לָקַח is used of Elijah's translation; ὁτι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θέος, LXX.). Though the writer to the Hebrews (Genesis 11:5) adopts the paraphrase of the LXX., yet his language must be accepted as conveying the exact sense of the words of Moses. Analyzed, it teaches

(1) that the patriarch Enoch did not see death, as did all the other worthies in the catalogue; and

(2) that in some mysterious way "he was taken up from this temporal life and transfigured into life eternal, as those of the faithful will be who shall be alive at the coming of Christ to judgment" (Keil). The case of Elijah, who was also taken up, and who afterwards appeared in glory on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17; Mark 9; Luke 9.), appears to determine the locality into which Enoch was translated (which Kaliseh willingly leaves to antiquaries to decide) to be neither the terrestrial Eden (certain Popish writers) nor the heavenly paradise where the pious dead are now assembled - sheol (Delitzsch and Lange), but the realm of celestial glory (Keil). That the departure of the good man was witnessed by his contemporaries we may infer from what occurred in the case of Elijah; and, indeed, unless it had been so it is difficult to see how it could have served the end for which apparently it was designed, which was not solely to reward Enoch's piety, but to demonstrate the certainty and to stimulate the hope of immortality. That the memory of an event so remarkable should have survived not merely in Jewish (Ecclus. 44:16) and Christian tradition (Jude 1:15), but also in heathen fable, is nothing marvelous. The Book of Enoch, compiled probably by a Jew in the days of Herod the Great, describes the patriarch as exhorting, his son Methuselah and all his contemporaries to reform their evil ways; as penetrating with his prophetic eye into the remote future, and exploring all mysteries in earth and heaven; as passing a retired life after the birth of his eldest son in intercourse with the angels and in meditation on Divine matters; and as at length being translated to heaven in order to reappear in the time of the Messiah, leaving behind him a number, of writings on religion and morality. The Book of Jubilees relates that he was carried into paradise, where he writes down the judgment of all men, their wickedness and eternal punishment" (Kalisch). Arabic legend declares him to have been the inventor of writing and arithmetic. The Phrygian sagsannacus (Ἀνακος: "nomen detortum ab Chanoch") is said by Stephanus Byzantinus, and Suidas, who corrupts the name into Nannacus, to have lived before the flood of Deucalion, to have attained an age of more than 300 years, to have foreseen the flood, gathered all the people into a temple and made supplication to God, and finally to have been translated into heaven. "Classical writers also mention such translations into heaven; they assign this distinction among others to Hercules, to Ganymede, and to Romutus (54:1:16: "nec deinde in terris fuit"). But it was awarded to them either for their valor or their physical beauty, and not, as the translation of Enoch, for "a pious and religious life." Nor is "the idea of a translation to heaven limited to the old world; it was familiar to the tribes of Central America; the chronicles of Guatemala record four progenitors of mankind who were suddenly raised to heaven; and the documents add that those first men came to Guatemala from the other side of the sea, from the East" (cf. Rosenmüller and Kalisch, in loco).
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:
Verses 25-32. - The shortest life was followed by the longest, Methuselah begetting, at the advanced age of 187, Lamech, - strong or young man (Gesenius); overthrower, wild man (Furst); man of, prayer (Murphy), - continuing after his son s birth 782 years, and at last succumbing to the stroke of death in the 969th year of his age, the year of the Flood. Lamech, by whom the line was carried forward, was similarly far advanced when he begat a son, at the age of 182, and called his name Noah, - "rest," from nuach, to rest (cf. Genesis 8:4), - not "The Sailor," from the Latin no, and the Greek ναῦς (Bohlen), but at the same time explaining it by saying, This same shall comfort - na-cham, to pant, groan, Piel to comfort. "Nuach and nacham are stems not immediately connected, but they both point back to a common root, nch, signifying to sigh, breathe, rest, lie down" (Murphy) - us concerning our work and toil of our hands. To say that Lamech anticipated nothing more than that the youthful Noah would assist him in the cultivation of the soil (Murphy) is to put too little into, and to allege that" this prophecy his father uttered of him, as he that should be a figure of Christ in his building of the ark, and offering of sacrifice, whereby God smelled a sweet savor of rest, and said he would not curse the ground any more for man's sake, Genesis 8:21" (Ainsworth), is to extract too much from his language. Possibly he had nothing but a dim, vague expectation of some good thing - the destruction of sinners in the Flood (Chrysostom), the use of the plough (R. Solomon), the grant of animal food (Kalisch), the invention of the arts and implements of husbandry (Sherlock, Bush) - that God was about to bestow upon his weary heritage; or at most a hope that the promise would be fulfilled in his son s day (Bonar), if not in his son himself (Calovius). The fulfillment of that promise he connects with a recall of the penal curse which Jehovah had pronounced upon the soil. Because of the ground which the Lord - Jehovah, by whom the curse had Been pronounced (Genesis 3:17) - hath cursed. The clause is not a Jehovistic interpolation (Bleek, Davidson, Colenso), but a proof "that the Elohistic theory is unfounded" ('Speaker's Commentary').
And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
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.
And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Verse 32. - And Noah was five hundred years old. Literally, a son of 500 years, i.e. going in his 500th year (cf. Genesis 7:6; Genesis 16:1). The son of a year (Exodus 12:5) means "strictly within the first year of the life" (Ainsworth). And Noah begat - i.e. began to beget (cf. Genesis 11:26) - Shem, - name (Gesenius), fame (Furst) - Ham, - chain; hot (Gesenius, Murphy), dark-colored (Furst) - and Japheth - spreading (Gesenius, Murphy); beautiful, denoting the white-colored race (Furst). That the sons are mentioned in the order of their ages (Knobel, Kalisch, Keil, Colenso) may seem to be deducible

(1) from the fact that they usually stand in this order (cf. Genesis 6:10; Genesis 7:13; Genesis 9:18; Genesis 10:1; 1 Chronicles 1:4);

(2) from the circumstance that it is commonly the eldest son's birth which is stated in the preceding list, though this is open to doubt;

(3) from Genesis 10:21, which, according to Calvin, Knobel, Keil, and others, describes Shem as Japheth's elder brother; and Genesis 9:24, which, according to Keil, affirms Ham to be the younger son of Noah;

(4) from Genesis 10:2-31, in which the order is reversed, but not otherwise altered. But there is reason to believe that Japheth was the eldest and Ham the youngest of the patriarch's children (Michaelis, Clarke, Murphy, Wordsworth, Quarry). According to Genesis 11:10 Shem was born 97 years before the Flood, while (Genesis 6:11) Noah was 600 years old at the time of the Flood. Hence, if Noah began to beget children in his 500th year, and Shem was born in Noah's 503rd year, the probability is that the firstborn son was Japheth. In accordance with this Genesis 10:21 is understood by LXX., Vulgate, Michaelis, Lange, Quarry, and others to assert the priority in respect of age of Japheth. In the narrative ahem is placed first as being spiritually, though not physically, the firstborn. Ranke perceives in the mention of the three sons an indication that each was subsequently "to lay the foundation of a new beginning."

THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN. The chronology of the present chapter represents man as having been in existence at the time of the Deluge exactly 1656 years. According to the Septuagint, which Josephus follows except in one particular (the age of Lamech), and which proceeds, again with two exceptions (the age of Jared, which it leaves untouched, and that of Lamech, which it increases by six), upon the principle of adding 100 to the Hebrew numbers, the age of man at the date of that catastrophe was 2262 (vide Chronological Table). The dates of the Samaritan Pentateuch, being manifestly incorrect, need not be considered. Adding to the above dates the subsequent chronological periods from the Deluge to the call of Abram (Hebrew, 367; LXX, 1017), from the call of Abram to the exodus from Egypt (430 years according to one calculation, LXX.; 730 according to another, Kalisch), from the exodus to the birth of Christ (1645, Hales; 1593, Jackson; 1491, Ussher; 1531, Petavius; 1320, Bunsen), the antiquity of man, according to the Biblical account, is not less than 5652 and not more than 7536 years. The conclusion thus reached, however, is somewhat scornfully repudiated by modern science, as affording, on either alter. native, an altogether inadequate term of existence for the human race. 1. The evidence of geology is supposed irrefragably to attest that man must have been upon the earth at least 1000 centuries, and probably ten times as long (Wallace on 'Natural Selection,' p. 303). The data for this deduction, as stated by Sir Charles Lyell, are chiefly the discovery, in recent and post Pliocene formations of alleged great antiquity, of fossil human remains and flint implements along with bones of the mammoth and other animals long since extinct ('Antiquity of Man,' Genesis 1. - 19.). But

(1) "So far as research has been prosecuted in the different quarters of the globe, no remains of man or of his works have been discovered till we come to the lake-silts, the peat-mosses, the river-gravels, and the cave-earths of the post-tertiary period," which seems at least an indirect confirmation of the Biblical record.

(2) "The tree canoes, stone hatchets, flint implements, and occasional fragments of the human skeleton," upon which so much is based, "have been chiefly discovered within the limited area of Southern and Western Europe," while "we have scarcely any information from the corresponding deposits of other regions;" consequently, "till these other regions shall have been examined - and especially Asia, where man flourished long prior to his civilization in Europe - it were premature to hazard any opinion as to man's first appearance on the globe."

(3) "It is true that the antiquity of some of the containing deposits, especially the river drifts, is open to question, and it is also quite possible that the remains of the extinct quadrupeds may in some instances have been reasserted from older accumulations."

(4) "Historically we have no means of arriving at the age of these deposits; geologically we can only approximate the time by comparison with existing operations; while palaeontologically - the differences between these extinct pachyderms and those still existing are not greater than that which appears between the several living species, and would therefore indicate no great palaeontological antiquity - nothing that may not have taken place within a few thousand years of the ordinarily received chronology" (Page on 'The Philosophy of Geology,' Genesis 12. pp. 114-117). With these undesigned replies from a late eminent authority in geological science, the Bible student will do well to pause before displacing the currently-received age of man by the fabulous duration claimed for him by the first-named writers.

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