This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.Genesis 5:1, 5:2
The fifth chapter of Genesis reads very differently than the chapters before it. Instead of a story, chapter 5 is more like a list. It describes each generation of Adam and how long each of them lived. That’s why I don’t think that the best approach is to go verse by verse with this one.
The goal of this chapter is to demonstrate that just as Adam was created in God’s image, so were his children; not in the physical sense, but in the overlord sense. It’s about God giving his image to humans as his representatives on earth. It’s about sharing with humanity his responsibility to rule and subdue the rest of creation.
“Age is Just a Number”
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth: 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: 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.Genesis 5:3, 5:4, 5:5, 5:6, 5:7, 5:8
Note that we will be following the male family tree, and completely ignoring the female side. This is because, in biblical times, women were little more than wives or mothers. Neither an original reader nor the ancient writer of Genesis would have given another thought to this.
We already know that Adam is said to have lived 130 years before passing away; but Adam isn’t an anomoly here. In fact, his life is relatively short lived compared to the lifespans of his offspring and their children. Seth, Adam’s son, gives birth to Enos, who goes on to live 807 years.
Long lifespans would indeed help explain the rapid population of the earth, but it’s wholy inconsistent with our observation of history and evolution. Our lifespans have increased, not decreased, thanks to things like hygiene, medicine and an improved understanding of nutrition and disease. There is no better reason to believe that the ‘first humans’ lived such long lives than there is to believe that there were ‘first humans’ in the first place.
The Many Children of God
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.Genesis 5:9, 5:10, 5:11, 5:12, 5:13, 5:14, 5:15, 5:16, 5:17, 5:18, 5:19, 5;20
Enoch will become the first of the generations of Adam to break the pattern so far. Whereas each of his ancestors eventually die, there is no such verse for Enoch.
Taken by God, a Fate Most Unlike Death
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
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.Genesis 5:21, 5:22, 5:23, 5:24
Enoch’s devotion to God throughout his entire life gives God so much pleasure, he decided to prevent Enoch’s natural death and instead bring him up into heaven with him. It’s a rather confusing verse in the Bible. Many christians are uncertain about the details behind Enoch, but still see this as an act of mercy.
Is this mercy? God singles out those most devoted to him and shields them from the very pain of death he cursed them with so long ago? This is meant to fortify that Adam and Eve’s transgressions against God could be rectified through faith. Is the faith of every christian who dies in today’s world simply not enough then?
The Birth of Noah, Son of Lamech
And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech. 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.Genesis 5:25, 5:26, 5:27, 5:28, 5:29
Lamech was also the name of a descendant of Cain. In the story of Cain and Abel, Lamech slayed a man in cold blood. This Lamech, descendant of Cain’s brother, Seth, is said to be pure in heart. The Bible hopes for us to see the difference in the lineage between Cain and Abel as polar opposites. Cain’s bloodline is supposedly soiled with the Mark of Cain, whereas Seth’s bloodline is blessed with the devotion and faith of Seth.
Whoever wrote Genesis is writing from ignorance here. We shouldn’t be judging anybody off of their ancestors – and if you pick out from an entire lineage the few that help portray your prejudice the best, you are sure to get the results you wanted.
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.Genesis 5:30, 5:31
A Story That Falls Apart Before it Begins
So where do we stand, five chapters into the holy book? We have an all-powerful, all-knowing God who created everything we know of seemingly from nothing. This God creates beings to mimic his authority over the world he made. He then proceeds to micromanage his creation into oblivion, feebly handing out justice with no sense of right and wrong.
Worship of this God seems to be the only path to a good life, and even that alone isn’t enough. God moves the goalpost further and further back until he either shows you favor or punishes you. Either way, you will most likely end up dead. If this is helpful to people, I can’t see how. All I can see is a mysogynystic overlord playing with his toys.