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Genesis 5

Frank Binford Hole


Another section of Genesis starts with Genesis 5, the preface to it being found in verses 1 and 2. Herein the unity of the human race is again stressed, for though Adam called his wife's name Isha (Genesis 2: 26) and then Eve (Genesis 3: 20) God blessed them and called their name Adam from the outset. So Eve too was Adam jointly with her husband. This is not surprising, when we remember that the relationship of husband and wife was designed of God as a type of Christ and the church. So in 1 Corinthians 12: 12 we have "Christ," or, more accurately, "the Christ," used in a way that covers both Christ personally and His body, the church.

Until we reach Enoch the antediluvian patriarchs are mentioned without comment, save their age when the son was born in whom the line of faith and promise was continued, and the total years of their long lives.. Enoch was the seventh from Adam, as we are reminded in the epistle of Jude, and he was an outstanding character, as outstanding for good as Lamech, the seventh from Adam in the line of Cain, had been for evil. If in the one we see the world in its rebellion and sinfulness beginning to take shape, in the other we see the believer's separate pathway through the world.

Enoch walked with God, and as God and the world walk on wholly different planes, the walk of Enoch was of necessity apart from the men of his age. He was no recluse for he begat sons and daughters, and moreover he boldly prophesied, as Jude tells us, predicting the coming of the Lord in judgment upon the ungodly men of his own age, and indeed of all the ages. When he had completed 365 years, "he was not; for God took him." The significance of this is made quite plain in Hebrews 11: 5. He "was translated that he should not see death." This indicates plainly that he was removed because death threatened him.

Seeing that he had barely reached half the average age of the antediluvians, we may feel inclined to enquire how it came to pass that death threatened him, and the more so when we read that, "he was not found, because God had translated him." Why use the word "found" if he had not been sought? Moreover Lamech's murderous act, recorded in the previous chapter, must have taken place some centuries earlier. We judge this was so because Lamech came of the line of Cain which had a start of 130 years over the line of Seth. It apparently started the orgy of violence which filled the earth, according to the next chapter, and helped to provoke the flood. We judge therefore that Enoch's bold denunciation of the outrageous ungodliness which in his time began to fill the earth, would have moved the ungodly to slay him. But when they determined to strike and sought him, he was not there, for God had translated him.

The flood was God's governmental wrath falling upon the ungodly world, and the case of Noah shows us that God knows how to carry saints safely through such a period. But the case of Enoch furnishes us with an example of how God may be pleased to remove a saint to heaven without dying, before His wrath falls. In this Enoch foreshadows the removal of the church before the vials of Divine wrath are poured upon the earth in the great tribulation. It is thank God, definitely stated that "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5: 9). A simple summary of Enoch's life would be: He walked with God; he witnessed for God;he went to God, without seeing death.

When we reach Noah, the tenth from Adam, the history again expands. To begin with, his father Lamech at his birth named him with prophetic insight. He acknowledged that the earth was under the curse of God and anticipated that his son would bring rest or comfort. This he did by building the ark at the command of God, thus carrying a few, that is, eight souls, into a new world. He lived apparently to the great age of 500 years before begetting his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Shem is mentioned first, not because he was the oldest but because his was the line in which faith was preserved. He was apparently the second son, for Ham is called the "younger son" (Genesis 9: 24), and Japheth is called "the elder" (Genesis 10: 21).

We get a further example of this kind of thing when we come to Abraham, at the end of Genesis 11 and this leads us to remark that it is not safe to lay too much stress on chronologies deduced from the details given in our chapter as to the ages of these patriarchs. It is easy to do this, and to make the years from the creation of Adam to the flood to be 1,656. But then the version of the Old Testament in Greek, known as the Septuagint, made about a couple of centuries before the time of our Lord, and, we are told, often quoted by Him, differs from the Hebrew. Adam's age when Seth was born is given as 230, and his subsequent years as 700. The same feature marks the next four patriarchs and also Enoch, so this at once adds 600 years to the calculation. There is also a difference of six years in the case of Lamech the father of Noah, which brings up the total years according to the Septuagint, to 2,262.

The same thing appears when we come to the ages of the patriarchs after the flood in Genesis 11. Here the Septuagint version would add 650 years to the chronology we should deduce. This is the explanation of the difference between Usher's chronology, following the Hebrew, and that of Hales, following the Greek. Some of the earliest "Christian Fathers," asserted that the years were curtailed by the Jews in the Hebrew, in order to oppose the argument of Christians using the Septuagint, that the Messiah appeared in the sixth millennium from Adam, as their tradition had led them to expect.

Be that as it may, the one thing that seems certain is that we cannot arrive at absolute certainty as to these matters, hence it would seem to be rather a waste of time to give much thought as to them. It is quite possible that when the Apostle Paul warned Timothy about "endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith," he had in mind such things as these. Had the exact number of years been of importance from a spiritual standpoint, it would have been made quite clear to us in the Scriptures.

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