This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;…
I. IT IS ESPECIALLY IN THE LINE OF CAIN THAT WE FIND THE ARTS OF SOCIAL AND CIVILIZED LIFE CULTIVATED. They increased in power, in wealth, and in luxury. In almost all earthly advantages they attained to a superiority over the more simple and rural family of Seth. And they afford an instance of the high cultivation which a people may often possess who are altogether irreligious and ungodly, as well as of the progress which they may make in the arts and embellishments of life.
II. THE GODLY SEED WAS PERPETUATED IN THE FAMILY OF SETH, whose name signifies "appointed, placed, or firmly founded." For on him now was to rest the hope of the promised Messiah. So God ordained, and so Eve devoutly believed. The posterity of Seth maintained the cause of religion in the midst of increasing degeneracy. It is true they did not always maintain it very successfully; perhaps they did not always maintain it very consistently. In the first place, in the days of Enos, the grandson of Adam, a signal revival took place among those who adhered to the true faith (Genesis 4:26). Again, secondly, several generations later, contemporary with Lamech in the house of Cain, lived Enoch in the family of Seth, the seventh from Adam. He was raised up as a remarkable prophet, and the burden of his prophetic strains is preserved to us by the Apostle Jude (vers. 14, 15). Once more, in the third place, still later in this melancholy period, the Lord raised up Noah, or Nee, as his name is often written. That name signifies "comfort" or "consolation." Thus, in three successive eras, the Lord remarkably interposed to arrest the progress of the sad apostasy.
1. It is interesting in this view to consider the longevity of the patriarchs. The length of their days well fitted them for being the depositories of the revealed will of God, preserving and transmitting it from age to age; and so many of them surviving together to so late a period must have formed a holy and reverend company of teachers and witnesses in the world. So, at least, it should have been; since, at all events, this longevity of the fathers was a boon and privilege to the Church. It served the purpose of the written Word. It transmitted, not a treacherous and variable tradition passing quickly through many hands, such as some would fondly prefer even to the Bible, but a sure record of the truth of God. Hence it was fitted to rally with no uncertain sound, and not by the artifice of any dead and nominal uniformity, but on a trustworthy principle of living unity, the Church of the living God. If the effect was otherwise — if the testimony of the long-lived fathers then, like the teaching of the abiding Word now, failed to keep the sons of God at one among themselves, and separate from the world, their sin was on that account all the greater. Nor was the agency wanting which alone can give a spiritual discernment of the truth. The Spirit, who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God, was, throughout these ages, continually striving with men, and by the Spirit Christ was ever preaching to the successive generations of that antediluvian world.
2. But it is not the length of their lives only that is to be taken into account when we would estimate the effect which the testimony of the godly patriarchs was fitted to have in stemming the torrent of ungodliness. Their deaths also must have been instructive and significant. That they all lived so long, witnessing for God, believing and showing forth His righteousness, was a standing reproof to the wicked. That, long as they might live, they all died at last, gave a warning more affecting still. The death of each, coming surely in the end, though long delayed, must have rung emphatically the knell of judgment.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;