{12}   Gen 5:1-32  From Adam to Noah


Part D. From Adam to Noah (4:1—5:32)

D4.      Genealogy of Seth (5:1-32)

        What are the general purposes of genealogies? [a] Genealogies are designed to celebrate life and accomplishment by tracing the continuation of family. [b] Genealogies point out that people are important to God as individuals. [c] Genealogies confirm the historicity of the records.

        In Genesis, genealogies also confirm God’s promise that the coming Messiah would be born into the line of Abraham. This genealogy records only the descendants in the chosen branch.

        What are 2 types of genealogies? [a] vertical genealogy: tracing one line of descent, e.g. 5:1; 11:10; [b] horizontal genealogy: tracing through several children, e.g. 10:1; 25:12; 36:1.


5:1       the book of the generations: this is the beginning of the next division in Genesis, the 2nd time with the phrase “the generations of” (Heb. toledot).

5:2       blessed them and named them Man: The blessing and naming were normally done by the father. This reminds us that God is our Father.

5:4       930 years: 7 of 10 patriarchs lived over 900 years. Apart from Genesis, the Bible only records 4 people living over 100 years: Job (age over 170, Job 42:16), Moses (age 120, Dt 34:7), Joshua (age 110, Jos 24:29), and Jehoiada the priest (age 130, 2Ch 24:15).

5:6       Seth: As a replacement for the faithful Abel, he was most likely a person of faith.

Enosh (3rd generation): The name means “man”, perhaps referring to the weaknessof man’s state. Public worship appeared after the birth of Enosh (Gen 4:26). Although the Bible did not clearly attribute this to Enosh, it was likely that Enosh had made a major contribution to such practice.

5:12     Mahalalel (5th generation): name probably meaning “praise God”. The fact indicates that Mahalalel’s father Kenan still recognized God and attributed importance in his belief.

5:22     Enoch (7th generation, also in Jude 1:14): name meaning “introduce” or “initiate”.

walked with God: He kept a constant harmonious and intimate relationship with God whatever he did and wherever he went. This continued for 300 years.

o        Enoch was exemplary of righteousness and faith, two interdependent traits which are required to please God (Heb 11:5).

o        For the psalmist, to “walk before God” means life and prosperity (Ps 56:13; 116:9).

Methuselah (8th generation): The name may mean “he dies, and the sending forth”, that is, something would be sent after he died. Methuselah died exactly in the year that the Flood came. Jewish tradition recorded that Methuselah died “seven days before” the Flood. It is of course possible that Methuselah was drowned in the Flood. However, it is unlikely that Noah would abandon his aged grandfather to a certain death. (Noah’s father Lamech died 5 years before the Flood.)

o        Enoch named Methuselah as a prophesy to the coming Flood 969 years before it actually happened. The Bible recorded that he walked with God after Methuselah was born. It is likely that he received this prophecy from God about the Flood and this motivated him to walk with God.

o        Furthermore, the long life of Methuselah would have had an additional meaning. Since it was God’s plan that the Flood would come after Methuselah’s death, then his longest life span in the whole Bible would have signified God’s attribute of being merciful and long-suffering—to wait as much as possible for human beings to change their ways and to avert God’s harsh judgment.

had other sons and daughters: Walking with God does not require someone to live away from his normal life.

5:24     he was not: translated “he was not found” in Septuagint; meaning disappeared.

God took him: “Took” may mean that Enoch died naturally. But Heb 11:5 clearly says he did not die. Here, “took” means Enoch was “snatched” from death (Ps 49:15) and received into the presence of God. The same verb occurs for the assumption of Elijah (2Ki 2:3,10-11). Only 2 persons in all history have not experienced death when “the gates of Hades had not prevailed.” (Mt 16:18)

Enoch lived much shorter than other patriarchs. Long life is generally a blessing (Ps 34:12-13; Eph 6:2) but if God decides that our work in this life is complete, then death is a blessing (2Co 5:8).

o        The quantity (length or age) of a person’s life is of negligible value compared to the quality of his life as reflected by his relationship with God.

5:25     Lamech (9th generation): The contradiction between the piety of Sethite Lamech, reflected by his prayerful hope in the Lord, and the malevolence of Cainite Lamech’s virulent boasts (Gen 4:23) could not be more sharply drawn.

5:29     Noah (10th generation): the name (Heb. noah) sounds like the word for “rest”, “relief”; 10 generations from Adam to Noah, a perfect number.

relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands: Lamech hoped that Noah would bring his family relief from “painful toil” that Adam received after the Fall. But Noah brought more relief. [a] The word “pain” (Heb. itsavon) occurs only 3 times in the Bible, for Eve, for Adam, and now for Noah. It implies that he brought relief from the curse. [b] He brought relief for the whole mankind. After the Flood, God promised never to wipe out mankind with the Flood again (Gen 8:21; 9:11). [c] Noah provided relief to God too as he provided a way for God to save mankind.

5:32     Shem: The name (Heb. sem) means “name”.

Ham: The name may mean “the black land” in reference to the black fluvial soil of Egypt; it may also mean “hot”. He was the youngest son and the ancester of many of Israel’s traditional enemies.

Japheth: The name may mean “expand” or “extend”.

Question: Did the list in Gen 5 (or Gen 11) record the eldest sons in each generation?

Answer: Many theologians believe that the list from Adam to Noah is all for the eldest sons because the Hebrew tradition gives special honour to the eldest son. But there is no clear evidence from the Bible. The list actually follows only the chosen line from Adam to Noah, not necessarily following the eldest sons because:

o        [1] Seth was not Adam’s eldest son. Arpachshad (Gen 11:12) was the third son of Shem (Gen 10:22).

o        [2] The Bible did not say that the “other sons and daughters” were born after the listed son.

o        [3] Notice the large variations in their age when the listed son was born: from 65 (Enoch and Mahalalel)  to 500 (Noah). For some of them, they must have some other children before the one listed in Gen 5.


        Walking with God is the ultimate objective in life.

        When we witness the constantly declining morality in the society today and the horrible sins that people are committing daily, we often ask why God would not send His judgments immediately (Rev 6:9-10: the saints cried “How long?”). In this chapter, we see people with so much sin and violence that they deserved God’s almost total obliteration of mankind. However, God waited 969 years (the lifetime of Methuselah) for man to repent. We need to accept that God has the best timing.