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Old Testament Study - Genesis 5:1-6:8

Here, we continue our study in Genesis.


The Line of Seth

1This is the written account of Adam's line:


When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man".

3When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. 4After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.

6When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. 7And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. 8Altogether, Seth lived 912 years, and then he died.

9When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. 10And after he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. 11Altogether, Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died.

12When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel. 13And after he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. 14Altogether, Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died.

15When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. 16And after he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters. 17Altogether, Mahalalel lived 895 years, and then he died.

18When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. 19And after he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20Altogether, Jared lived 962 years, and then he died.

21When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. 24Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

25When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 26And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.

28When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. 29He named him Noah and said, "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed." 30After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31Altogether, Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died.

32After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

In chapter 5 of Genesis, we have, as Moses writes, a "written account of Adam's line". Now, Moses limits this genealogy to Adam's line through Seth, which leads to Noah and ultimately leads to Christ. The central character and subject of the Bible is Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself says in the psalms: "In the volume of the book it is written of me" (Psalm 40:7; cf. Heb. 10:5-7; KJV). This being so, the Bible primarily details the history of the line that leads to Christ, in addition to also detailing events that, though not dealing with the genealogical line of Christ, illustrate the main themes of the Bible which are atonement through blood sacrifice and the redemption of mankind through Christ. So we see here that the details of Seth's line through Adam are given because that line leads to Christ through Noah. In the last chapter, Moses described the history of Cain and Abel because their history depicted man's need for redemption and illustrated God's prescribed method for atonement. So, although Adam and Eve "had other sons and daughters", we only are given details about Abel, Cain and Seth.

Seth is described to be in Adam's "own image" and "own likeness". This most likely means that, spiritually, Adam and Seth were similar to each other. Recall from the last chapter that, in Seth's time, "men began to call on the name of the Lord". One can infer that Seth's genealogical line that is given here was a Godly line. Specifically, we know that Seth, Enoch and Noah were Godly men. We can also infer that Kenan was a Godly man, for he named his son Mahalel, which means "praise of God".

There are a few things that stand out in this genealogy. First, the ages of each of the patriarchs is given in detail. This underscores the fact that this is a history: these men really lived. Second, these men lived a long time. Their longevity presents a difficulty for some. This difficulty can be lessened, though, by realizing that we know nothing concerning the physiology of the first men. Certainly, being so closely related to the once immortal Adam, one could surmise that their genetics had not been corrupted as much as ours have been, since the first sin was only beginning to take its toll. Also, we do not know the state of the environment on the earth before the flood. Many surmise that there was a permanent cloud cover before the flood, giving greater protection from harmful cosmic rays. These are speculations, of course. Whatever the physical cause, suffice it to say that it was God's will that the early patriarchs live such long lives, and it is His will that men nowadays live, on average, 70 or 80 years, as Moses writes in Psalms: "The length of our days is seventy years--or eighty, if we have the strength" (Psalm 90:10).

One ramification of the longevity of the patriarch's lives was that the history of the creation and Adam's life in the garden could be transmitted first hand through many generations. Note that Adam was still alive in Lamech's time (see Figure 1 on the next page); also, Noah was still alive in Abraham's time (cf. Gen. 9:28; 11:10-26). So, the account of the creation and the fall could have passed directly from Adam to Lamech to Noah to Abraham, lessening the chance of corruption through oral tradition. We can imagine Adam, in his old age, sitting and talking with Enoch and Methuselah about Eden, and his own regret over his fall, seeing the ever-increasing wickedness of the world.

One other thing that stands out in this genealogy is the repetition of the phrase: "And then he died". The phrase was first used of Adam: "Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died." This was a fulfillment of the Word of God, for God said to him: "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen. 2:17). And so, Adam did die. This certainly must have been shocking to those who were living at the time. Adam quite possibly was the first person who died a natural death (of course, Abel was murdered before Adam died). Even today, it is difficult to witness the decline of an elderly person's body toward death. For the first men, who were unfamiliar with death by natural causes, it must have been sobering to, in this way, come face-to-face with their mortality. Each death was undoubtedly very thought-provoking and instructive then, even as it is today. Each death is a reminder that life on earth will end and, so, it is necessary to prepare for that certainty.

Yet, amidst the death, there was also life, as each new child was born into the world. Life was propagated through the offspring and descendants of those who died. This propagation of life kept alive the promise of the "offspring of the woman", who was prophesied to crush the evil one, and redeem mankind (cf. Gen. 3:15).


Also, amidst the death, there was a demonstration of the possibility of life everlasting, because "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away". The writer of Hebrews explains it more clearly: "By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away" (Heb. 11:5). Enoch's "translation to heaven" (as many call it) showed those who were living at the time that they can achieve life after death. His life was instructive as to the kind of life that will lead to eternal life, for Enoch, "walked with God". Enoch's translation was no doubt a powerful witness to many people of that time. In fact, in spite of the many generations referred to in this chapter, only two of the people mentioned were not alive at the time of Enoch's translation (again, see Figure 1): Adam (who died 37 years before) and Noah (who was born 99 years later).

Indications are that Enoch not only had a noteworthy end to his time on earth, but also lived an exemplary life. Again, it is noted that Enoch "walked with God". Enoch is one of two people of whom it is said he "walked with God" (Noah was the other). Now, others in the Bible are said to have "walked before God" (suggesting true faith and obedience, cf. Gen. 17:1; 24:40; II Chr. 27:6; et. al.); still others have "walked after God" (suggesting following His ways, cf. Deut. 13:4); but only Enoch and Noah are said to have "walked with God". To "walk with God" suggests communion and fellowship with God. It suggests total agreement with Him, for "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3, KJV). Although the Bible only speaks of two people who "walked with God", nevertheless, God requires that we walk with Him, for He says: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Now, walking implies a forward direction, steady progress, not too fast and not too slow. It is significant then that Enoch was able to walk with God for 300 years on this earth. Enoch's long steady walk with God is even more significant when we realize the ungodliness of his environment. Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam through Seth; while Lamech was the seventh generation from Adam through Cain. We can presume that Enoch lived at roughly the same time as Cain's descendant Lamech (not to be confused with Seth's descendant Lamech). Enoch attained the closest communion with God up to that time; his counterpart, Lamech, attained the highest state of ungodliness (see Gen. 4:23-24). While Enoch was walking with God, Lamech was openly and proudly defying Him.

From the Epistle of Jude, we know that Enoch was a prophet: "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these [false teachers]: `See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.' " So, at that early time, Enoch prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord. Many see Enoch as a type of the church: he walked with God; he proclaimed the Lord's coming; he was translated to heaven before the wrath.

Compared to his contemporaries, Enoch was taken to heaven fairly early in life (he was 365 years old, compared to an average life span of over 900 years for the others in this genealogy). This was possibly the grace of God to spare him persecution as a prophet in an ungodly world. Certainly, as a prophet and one who walked closely with God, Enoch had no strong ties to this world. Enoch no doubt was elated to be taken home so soon. Let us not grieve too much for the death of the Godly! The Lord will often, in His grace, take the Godly home, especially in times of evil. An example of this was seen in the time of Isaiah: "The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death" (Isaiah 57:1,2). In the end, those who walk with God are always rewarded with eternal communion with Him in His Kingdom.

Of note, the text suggests that the commencement of Enoch's walk with God was related to the birth of his son Methuselah: "And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years". Often, witnessing the birth of our children will draw us to God as we behold the miracle of new life.

The naming of Methuselah may have been prophetic. One commentator translates Methuselah as "his death shall bring it (i.e., the flood) forth"[Footnote #1]; another commentator renders his name "He (i.e., God) shall send his death."[Footnote #2] These meanings would be significant because Methuselah died the same year that the flood came.[Footnote #3] Given this, Enoch's naming of Methuselah may very well have been prophetic of the coming of the flood. If this is true, then Methuselah becomes a symbol of the grace and longsuffering nature of God: He would not bring the destruction until the death of Methuselah, and He allowed Methuselah to live longer than any other man in recorded history.

Lamech, the son of Metheselah, was apparently also a prophet. When his son was born, Lamech proclaimed: "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed." So, Lamech named his son "Noah", which means "comfort" or "rest". The fulfillment of this prophecy came a long time later, after the floodwaters had receded and Noah was over 600 years old. The life of these patriarchs must have been very difficult because of the curse that God put on the ground as punishment for Adam's sin. He told Adam, "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life" (Gen. 3:17). Moreover, at that time, the ground was man's only means of sustenance, for all men were vegetarians at the time (cf. Gen. 1:29). In His grace, though, God, as Lamech prophesied, comforted man in his labor through the covenant He made with Noah after the flood: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood... As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest...will never cease...Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything" (Gen. 8:21,22; 9:3).


The Corruption of Man


6:1When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

5The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

This section describes, in a nutshell, the corruption of mankind and the events that led up to God's decision to destroy nearly all of mankind. It began "when men began to increase in number on the earth." As we have seen in the previous sections, it seems that men, in all but a few cases, ignored the Lord, their Creator, and chased after worldly pursuits. Of all of Adam's and Eve's children, only Seth is noted to have had Godly descendants. Now, there must have been thousands and thousands of people living on the earth, given the hundreds of years since the creation and the longevity of the people living at that time. It is sad that only a thin line descended from Seth remained close to the Lord.

In fact, it seems that very few even of Seth's descendants stayed close to the Lord, for "the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose." The Godly were indiscriminant concerning whom they married and let the lust of their flesh prevail over better judgment. They did not realize that it is the inner beauty that is most important, "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (I Pet. 3:4).

This is the first of many times in the Bible that the ungodly have corrupted the Godly through marriage with them. The Moabites corrupted the Israelites in this way (see Num. 31); Delilah brought Samson to ruin (Judges 16); Solomon turned to others gods through the influence of his pagan wives (I Kings 11); etc. Paul warns Christians of this: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (II Cor. 6:14). Unfortunately, this warning is all too often ignored. The Christian thinks that he will be able to influence the unbeliever toward God and gets married to the unbeliever in the face of Godly counsel. Almost invariably though, it is the unbeliever that causes the believer to fall away, rather than the believer positively influencing the unbeliever.

Now, some commentators believe that the statement concerning the "sons of God" marrying the "daughters of men" is not referring to the Godly marrying the ungodly, but, rather, to fallen angels marrying women and, in this way, corrupting mankind. One of their reasons for this interpretation is that the exact phrase "sons of God" refers to angels where it is used elsewhere in the Old Testament (see Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). However, this interpretation, which postulates behavior that is without precedent or antecedent, could only be valid if a more plausible, less fantastic interpretation cannot be supported by the text.

Though the exact term used here in the Hebrew for "sons of God" refers to angels in the book of Job, similar terms (such as "children of the Lord", "sons of the living God", God's "firstborn", etc.) are used to refer to God's people in the Old Testament (see Ex. 4:22,23; Deut. 14:1; Deut. 32:5; Ps. 73:15; Isa. 63:16; Hos. 1:10). Certainly, in the New Testament, Christians are referred to many times as children of God (e.g. John 1:12; Rom. 8:14,19; I John 3:1,2; etc.). Moreover, angels have not yet been mentioned in the book of Genesis up to this point; however, the previous chapters have been dealing with the separation of the Godly line of Seth from the worldly line of Cain. Therefore, the context of this passage supports the interpretation that the marriages occurred between God's people, who had been formerly separated from the ungodly, and those who turned their back on God.

In any case, the corruption of man was so great that God, in effect, gave mankind an ultimatum: "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." God was stating here that He would destroy mankind in 120 years, given, presumably, that they did not repent. God always hears and responds to true repentance. In the book of Jonah, the corrupt city of Nineveh was given but forty days before God would bring destruction upon them. However, even without a promise that God would change His mind, "the Ninevites believed God" (Jonah 3:5) and the whole city repented, including the king. God's response was, when He "saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened" (Johah 3:10).

Moses goes on to state that the "Nephilim were on the earth in those days." The Nephilim (later called the "Anakites", cf. Num. 13:33) were apparently a race of very large, mighty men, presumably evil, who historically struck fear in the hearts of God's people (cf. Num. 13:28-33; Deut. 9:2). Moses continues by pointing out that the same time the "sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them", the Nephilim "were the heroes of old, men of renown." So, this period of time was characterized by, not only God's people falling by pursuing the lusts of their flesh, but also by society in general holding up as heroes the mighty and the evil. Unfortunately, throughout the history of mankind, it is the physically strong and not the spiritually strong who gain the public's respect.

"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become." This is a far cry from the time when, just after He finished creating the heavens and the earth, "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). Here we see that, due to the exercise of man's free will, far from "evolving" into a "higher being", man degenerated, falling from a blessed and immortal creation to a corrupt, God-forsaken creation.

Though God gave man 120 years to repent, the possibility that he would was remote, given that "every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." His wickedness had penetrated to the core of his heart. Moses' wording is strong. It was "every" inclination that was "only" evil "all" the time. It is difficult to imagine a world where there is no light, only darkness. We have glimpses of such darkness in the daily news, but a world that contained "only evil all the time" must surely have resembled hell on earth.

Unsurprisingly, "The LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain." Many commentators see this statement as anthropomorphic. Though there certainly is an element of anthropomorphism in it, yet certainly, on some level, God is grieved and pained by the wickedness of man. "So the LORD said, `I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth.' " This was not a rash decision. The Lord saw the wickedness of man, He grieved over it and He gave man 120 years to repent. God does not enjoy judging man. Judgment is called "His strange work" and "His alien task" (see Isa. 28:21). However, the righteousness of God demands that, at some point, He judge unrepentant man.

Unfortunately, the whole creation suffered as a result of the wickedness of man. Man was given sovereignty on earth, thus, he was and is responsible for the living beings on earth. This means that when we fall, the creation falls; when we are judged, the creation suffers. Due to man's fall, the creation began to decay and is still decaying; the Second Law of Thermodynamics holds it in bondage to decay. So, the creation waits for redemption as much as we do. As Paul stated: "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subject to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Rom. 8:19-21).

In Noah's time, there was still some hope for the creation, because "Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD." The fact that "Noah found favor" was very important to mankind and, indeed, the whole creation. Through the Godliness of one man the creation was saved from destruction. The word "favor" used here can also be translated "grace."[Footnote #4] This is the first use of this word in the Bible. Just as the grace of God was important, indeed indispensible, for the salvation of man in Noah's time, so it is just as indispensible for the salvation of man today. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8,9). We are saved by the grace of God, through our faith in Him, just as Noah was. So, by faith, see that you rest in His grace.

Closing Prayer


So, Father, we thank You for Your grace. Help us, by Your Spirit, to be as Noah, and to find favor in Your eyes. Give us the boldness, as Noah had, to live a Godly life in an ungodly world. We trust in Your strength to do this. In Jesus' name we ask these things, Amen.



1. Newbury, cited in Pink, Gleanings in Genesis, pg. 78.

2. Hales, cited in Jamison, Fausset, Brown, A Commentary, Vol. I; pg. 82.

3. The flood came when Noah was 600 years old (cf. Gen. 7:6). Noah was born 1,036 years after the creation of Adam and, thus, was 600 years old the same year that Methuselah died (see Fig. 1), which was 1636 years after the creation of Adam.

4. The word translated as "favor" here is translated "grace" in Ps. 45:2; Prov. 1:9; 3:22; 3:34; 4:9; Zech. 12:10.


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