GENESIS 5:1-32


            37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:37-39).


Jesus said that, if you want to know what the earth will be like at the time of His return, then study the days of Noah in the time before the coming of the flood.  The conditions will be  of a similar nature.  There will be eating and drinking.  There will be marrying and giving in marriage.  In other words, it will be business as usual.  The coming of Christ will be as unexpected as was the coming of the flood.


Everything we know about the days before the flood are given to us in Genesis 4-6.  These three chapters form a subset of the larger narrative in which they are found.  They give us the condition of the world prior to the flood. [1]


Genesis 4

Genesis 5

Genesis 6

The descendants of Cain

The descendants of Seth

The intermarriage of sons of God and daughters of men

A picture of those following in the way of Cain

A picture of those descended through Seth

A picture of moral wickedness


The Biblical picture of life prior to the flood as seen in these three chapters is one of a growing apostasy as pictured in the descendants of Cain, or a believing remnant as seen in the persons of Enoch and Noah and a polluting influence that is pictured in the intermarriage described in the first several verses of chapter 6.


In particular, there is a contrast that is set up between the two genealogies in Genesis 4 and 5.  These two genealogies, presented as they are in parallel, are meant to be seen in contrast to one another.


The Line of Cain

The Line of Seth

We can theorize that Eve named Cain as she says, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD" (4:1).

We are told that Adam called his name Seth (5:3).

Cain murdered his brother Abel (4:8).

Seth was appointed to take Abel’s place (4:25).

Cain’s son was named Enoch -- “Dedicated” (4:17).

Seth’s son was named Enosh -- “Mortal” (5:6).

Lamech was the seventh from Adam through Cain; he killed a young man.

Enoch was the seventh from Adam through Seth; he walked with God and did not die.


As we come to Genesis 5, our focus shifts from the line of Cain and the rebellious attitudes to the line of Seth and the godly remnant that was preserved amidst the growing apostasy.  Each reference to a patriarch follows a specific pattern.


           His name.

           His age at the birth of his first son.

           The length of his remaining life (along with a statement that he begot other sons and daughters).

           His age at his death.


There are only three variations from this formula.  They take place when we speak of three  of the patriarchs: Adam (5:3), Enoch (5:22-24) and Lamech (5:28-29).





            1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.

            3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. 4 Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. 5 So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. (Genesis 5:1-5).


We have already seen in Genesis 2:4 the introduction of that section described as the generations of the heavens and the earth.  This time we are introduced to the BOOK of the generations of Adam.  This suggests that these records had long since been reduced to writing and passed from father to son until they came into the hands of Moses.  While these might have originally been made up of oral traditions, they were now known as a book.


Just as the generations of the heavens and earth were given in chapters 2-4, so now we read of the generations of Adam.  These will be the “histories” of Adam and what came as a result of his legacy. [2]


1.         Adam’s Age:  When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years... (5:3).


When we read through the creations narratives of both Genesis 1 and 2, we get the sense that creation took place with an appearance of age.  Plants were created yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit.  In a similar manner, Adam himself seems to be fully formed as an adult rather than as a baby.  This would indicate that he was created in such a way as to appear as though he had gone through the natural maturing process.


Adam and Eve were apparently in the garden only a short time prior to the temptation and fall.  After their expulsion from the garden, Eve gives birth to both Cain and Abel and perhaps a number of daughters, one of which will ultimately become Cain’s wife.  It is only after the murder of Abel and the departure of Cain that we read of Adam and Eve having a son to replace the fallen Abel.


Thus by the time Adam was 130 years old (marking time from his creation), his first two sons had already grown to adulthood, the murder of one had taken place and Cain had been banished to the land of Nod where he was engaged in building a city.


2.         Adam’s Likeness and Image:  He became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image (5:3).


Adam had been created after the image and likeness of God.  We do not read here that his sons were born in the image and likeness of God, although we understand from other passages of Scripture that this relationship continues today.[3]  Instead we are told that they were born in the likeness and image of Adam.  Is this significant?  Perhaps it is.  This might indicate that Adam’s son was born with the fallen image and likeness of his father and that he was born as a sinner.


What is involved in being in the likeness and according to the image of Adam?  We have already noted the context of Genesis 1:26-27 points in the following verse to the aspect of rulership.  Man was created to exercise dominion over the animal and the plant kingdom.  He served as the representative of God to the rest of creation.  There is a sense in which this same pattern continues in Adam’s descendants.


At the same time, we must admit there may be additional aspects to being in the likeness and image of both Adam and in the likeness and image of God.  We are in God’s likeness and His image as...


           We are thinking and rational beings.

           We are self aware.

           We have a sense of that which is beyond the physical; we are spiritual beings.

           We have an immortal aspect to us that shall transcend this mortal body.


Christ came, not only to restore us to the previous image, but more specifically, to conform us to His own image.  Romans 8:29 describes how we have been predestined by God to become conformed to the image of His Son.


3.         Adam’s Sons and Daughters:  And he had other sons and daughters (5:4).


This chapter records some extraordinarily long life spans.  If we take this report at face value (and it is difficult to take it any other way), then this would suggest that both Adam and Eve and their descendants were able to have a great many children, leading to an extensive population explosion.





            6 And Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. 7 Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. 8 So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.

            9 And Enosh lived ninety years, and became the father of Kenan. 10 Then Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. 11 So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died.

            12 And Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel. 13 Then Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. 14 So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.

            15 And Mahalalel lived sixty‑five years, and became the father of Jared. 16 Then Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he became the father of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. 17 So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety‑five years, and he died.

            18 And Jared lived one hundred and sixty‑two years, and became the father of Enoch. 19 Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty‑two years, and he died. (Genesis 5:6-20).


What are we to make of this list of names?  It brings up a number of questions and poses a number of problems for the Bible student.


1.         The Age of Humanity.


If we treat this genealogy as a strict history by which we are to derive the dates of our ancestors, then we could count backwards from Abraham (around 2000 B.C.) to arrive at a date for the creation of around 4000 B.C.


It was by the use of such methods that James Ussher (1581‑1656), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice‑Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin published his chronology establishing the first day of creation as Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC.


The problem with such a chronology is that it is flatly contradicted by archaeological finds, not to mention those of geologists and biologists.  One would be hard pressed to postulate a creation in 4004 B.C. and a subsequent flood in 2348 B.C. when we can date the beginnings of the Egyptian monarchy to around 3100 B.C.


Fortunately, the Scriptures themselves bear testimony that such genealogies are understood to be stylized so that they contain deliberate omissions.  This is seen in the genealogy of Matthew 1 where a number of kings are omitted. [4]


2.         Antediluvian Longevity.


Even a cursory look at the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 indicate a great difference in the average life span of mankind before the flood to what it is today.  For example, Noah lived to be a total of 951 years old.  Neither is he an isolated case.  The patriarchs living prior to the flood are all typically presented as living up to eight or nine hundred years.  A notable and dramatic change takes place after Noah.  Was this one of the judgments of God upon the postdiluvian world?  Was it the result of different ecological conditions?  We do not know. The Bible does not tell us.


There are some who have suggested that this reflects only a different means of measuring time.  For example, it has been suggested that each of these years actually represents only a month.  This presents its own set of problems, since this would mean that Enoch was only five years old at the birth of his son.  Other views that see these numbers as either symbolic or else as a literary device fail to account for the variations and for the extensive attention to detail.


It is perhaps significant that the oldest names from the Sumerian King lists also reflect very lengthy ages among those kings (some of these kings were said to have lived for over 20,000 years).  This can be seen as an independent testimony to this same phenomenon of an extended longevity in mankind’s past.


3.         A Repetitious Requiem.


One of the striking things about these series of names is the repeating refrain with which each account closes: “And he died.”  It is a droning drumbeat of death.  It is a reminder that the effects of sin continued to be felt throughout history.  A great fall had taken place and death is now seen to be reigning throughout these genealogies.


4.         A Listing of a Godly Line.

You might be the only one in your family who believes.  You can be the beginning of such a godly line in your family.  Determine today that every generation coming from you will be a part of a godly line.  Make this your life’s priority.


This genealogy lists only the Godly line of Seth.  We do not read here of any that followed in the way of Cain or Lamech.  These are the men who stood for God in the midst of a generation that was so bad that God would rather remove them from the earth than to allow them to remain.  It is a listing of faithful men.


The people in this line were a minority.  They stood up against the people of the day and they held to their faith.  They are a reminder that you need not be discouraged when you are alone.


The marvelous thing is that these men are listed by name.  God has the names of His book recorded in a book.


            Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17 "And they will be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him." (Malachi 3:16-17).


Have you ever met a VIP who called you by your name?  It would be a man who meets hundreds and thousands of people each day, but who knows you by name.  The God that we worship is greater than any VIP and yet He knows your name and He tells you to call Him “Father.”





Just as Genesis 4 spotlights the rebellious nature of the seventh from Adam through the line of Cain in the person of Lamech, so now Genesis 5 spotlights the seventh from Adam through the line of Seth by focusing on the person of Enoch.




Seventh from Adam through Cain

Seventh from Adam through Seth

He killed a man and wrote a boastful song of his deed.

He walked with God and did not die.


These two men stand in contrast to one another and they serve to exemplify the two lines of mankind that were living upon the earth in the days before the flood.


1.         Enoch Walked with God.


            21 And Enoch lived sixty‑five years, and became the father of Methuselah. 22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty‑five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24).


Twice in this passage we are told that Enoch “walked with God.”  This suggests an ongoing relationship with God.  The same will be said of Noah in Genesis 6:9 -- He walked with God.  We are reminded that our relationship with God can serve as a family legacy to be passed on from father to son to grandson.


Hebrews 9:27 tell us it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, but this is a general principle and has some notable exceptions.

At the end of Enoch’s life, we read that he was not, for God took him.  This is a deviation from the normal pattern of this genealogy that regularly ends with the death of the patriarch whose history is given.  Instead of reading, “And he died,” we read that he was not.  We understand this to mean that Enoch did not die and that he was taken in a manner that did not involve death.


This is not a unique circumstance, for the New Testament teaches that we shall not all sleep (1 Corinthians 15:51).  Those who are alive when the Lord returns shall not die.  Instead they shall be changed and shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).


The Enoch narrative reminds us of two things.  First, it reminds us that death is an enemy.  There are some who maintain that death is merely a natural part of existence and that it is nothing more than the end of life and that it is to be embraced and cherished.  This is not true.  Death is unnatural.  We look at death and something within us tells us, “That is not the way it is supposed to be.”  Death is an enemy.


The Enoch narrative also reminds us that death is an enemy that shall be destroyed.  There is One who has overcome death and there is coming a day when the experience of Enoch will be shared by all who are alive and remain at the Lord’s coming.


2.         Enoch Proclaimed God:  And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." (Jude 1:14-15).


This isolated reference to Enoch seems to be derived from the apocryphal book of Enoch.  That does not mean we must take everything in the book of Enoch to be authoritative, for the New Testament even quotes pagan philosophers on occasion and even a stopped clock can be right twice a day.


This passage contains a prophecy of the second coming of Christ.  Enoch was evidently given this prophecy in his day and he preached it to the people of his generation.  Already at this early date in history, mankind was being warned of God’s coming judgment.


3.         Enoch was Pleasing to God:  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. (Hebrews 11:5).


The writer to the Hebrews indicates that the characteristic about Enoch that was pleasing to the Lord was his faith.  This is not exclusive to Enoch.  Anyone who is pleasing to God will be a person of faith, for without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).


This does not mean there is something particularly meritorious about faith.  Instead, faith is the empty hand that admits its emptiness.  It is the confession of personal helplessness.  It is the admission that we need One greater than ourselves to save us.





            25 And Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty‑seven years, and became the father of Lamech. 26 Then Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty‑two years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. 27 So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty‑nine years, and he died. (Genesis 5:25-27).


We have already noted that Enoch had a prophetic ministry and that he gave a prophecy regarding the coming of the Lord.  A further aspect of Enoch’s prophetic ministry may have been indicated in the name he gave to his son.


Scholars have wrestled with the meaning of the name Methuselah.  Several suggestions have been presented.


           “Man of the weapon” – from math (“man”) and shelah, (“weapon”).


           “He shall be send” – from math; (“man”) and shalah' (“to send”).


           “Sending forth of death” – from methe (“death”) and shalah' (“to send”).


If we assume the absence of gaps in the genealogy between Methuselah and Noah and then calculate the years of their lives, we find that the death of Methuselah corresponds to the exact year as the coming of the flood.  He name may have been prophetic, indicating that at his passing, the deadly weapon of God would be sent to judge the earth.


If this is true, then the interesting fact that Methuselah is the oldest of all the patriarchs is a sign of God’s grace in withholding judgment and giving men every possible opportunity to repent before the coming judgment.





            28 And Lamech lived one hundred and eighty‑two years, and became the father of a son. 29 Now he called his name Noah, saying, "This one shall give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed." 30 Then Lamech lived five hundred and ninety‑five years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. 31 So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy‑seven years, and he died. 32 And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Genesis 5:28-32).


We have already seen that Enoch was a prophet and we have suggested the possibility that he gave his son a name with prophetic significance.  Now we learn that Enoch’s grandson, Lamech, also was a prophet.  His prophecy regards his own son, Noah.  The name Noah means “rest.”  He was given this name because "this one shall give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed."


To what sort of rest did this refer?  It was a promise to the restlessness of the soul that had been seen in Cain and which was passed down to Lamech and which was now making itself known to an entire generation.


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[1] There has been a great deal of speculation on what were the conditions upon the earth prior to the flood.  Speculations have been set forth with a wide degree of imagination.  Immanuel Velikovsky’s World’s In Collision, penned in the 1950's, suggested the year was once only 360 days long and cited Babylonian and Hindu calendars that referenced a 360 day year.  While these are interesting observations, they can be explained in a variety of ways and are more likely the result of the use of a numerical base 6 being rounded off.  Velikovsky has long since been dismissed as having very little in the way of scientific observation to support his outlandish theories.

[2] There is a subtle difference between the Hebrew spelling of tAdl.At in Genesis 2:4 versus the tdol.AT of Genesis 5:1.  This does not reflect a different meaning, but perhaps it does reflect an archaic spelling (it also appears in Ruth 4:10).

[3] James 3:9 speaks about how men in general have been made in the likeness of God.  This is seen again in Genesis 9:6 where capital punishment is mandated for murder because human life is in the image of God.

[4] In Matthew 1:8, the names of Ahaziah, Athaliah, Jehoash and Amaziah are left out between the kings Joram and Uzziah.  This deliberate manipulation of the text to achieve 14 names in each of the three sections of this chapter is done because the Hebrew language used letters as numerical equivalents beginning with the Hebrew a (1), b (2), g (3), etc.  The name “David” in Hebrew consists of only three letters: dwd.  Jesus is being shown to be the son of David.