O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

The Problem of Context in the Genealogy of Genesis 5

We rarely read things in the Bible in their proper context.  Part of this has to do with the chapter and verse divisions.  I’d like for everyone to read this extended text from Genesis straight through starting near the end of Genesis 4, all the way to my chosen end.

You will notice, in Genesis 4 that we have the birth of Seth and Enosh.  The first two verses of tell us a bit about Adam (the meaning of these two verses is not germane to my point). 

Then, starting in verse 3, we have a three verse pattern that repeats several times:  X lived so many years, and begot a son.  After X begot a son, he lived so many more years and had sons and daughters.  Then all the days of X were so many years and he died.

Please read carefully, and notice how, with just a little adjustment, the basic pattern goes all the way to the end.

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”   26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.

1 This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.  He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. 

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.  After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.  So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.

6 Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begot Enosh.
  After he begot Enosh, Seth lived eight hundred and seven years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died.

9 Enosh lived ninety years, and begot Cainan.
  After he begot Cainan, Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died.

12 Cainan lived seventy years, and begot Mahalalel.  After he begot Mahalalel, Cainan lived eight hundred and forty years, and had sons and daughters.  14 So all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died.

15 Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and begot Jared.  After he begot Jared, Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died.

18 Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and begot Enoch.  After he begot Enoch, Jared lived eight hundred years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died.

21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah.  After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. 

25 Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and begot Lamech.  After he begot Lamech, Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years, and had sons and daughters.  So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.

28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son.  And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”  After he begot Noah, Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years, and had sons and daughters.  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 begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.  So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.

There were three exceptions to the precise pattern describe above.  Enoch had an extra verse and didn’t die.  Lamech had a prophecy.  And I had to go to the end of Genesis 9 to find the last two verses of Noah’s part in the genealogy.

That’s right.  The Genesis 5 genealogy does not end until the end of Genesis 9.  The flood account is part of the genealogy.  The genealogy serves as the context of the flood account.

Have you heard a preacher mention this?  Have you read this in any commentary?  I haven’t.  Yet it’s been there, in the text for thousands of years.

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Comment by Johnny on December 4, 2016 at 10:00pm
Thank you for a timely response. I understand much of what you are saying. The part I would like to understand is the relationship between the flood and genealogy. With your understanding of this passage though a work in progress, could you deepen my view on this in particular? What is the relationship between the genealogy and the flood? Forgive me for my ignorance and any question that may ask that seems elementary. Is the genealogies real, figurative or symbolic? Are the flood and genealogy one and the same? Please explain the value of the two specifically.
Comment by Johnny on December 4, 2016 at 11:02pm
I guess the question that I should be asking is what is the meaning and purpose of the Flood account being apart of the genealogy? What is the meaning and purpose of the genealogy serving as the contex of the flood account? Mr. Vaughn stated this and what I'm desiring to understand is it's meaning and purpose?
Comment by Stephens Bubble on December 5, 2016 at 6:18am

My guess is that it represents a Judgement on the covenant people. The end of the first creation and the creation of a 2nd covenant creation with Noah.

Please see;

Put yourself in Moses position, he has just led a Class of people who are slaves out of Egypt who don't know who they are. He has been educated in all the wisdom of ancient literature and creation myths. He has access to written records of other classic civilizations and needs to communicate who God is and why He chose a people which were far from perfect.  The Flood account is pretty much universal within ancient culture and it's rationale has to be explained within the context of God's plan for Adam/Israel.

Genealogies are usually appealed to as a means of authenticating someones status. Paul used his as Matthew used Jesus' to authenticate his connection with  The Son of God.

Well, that it for now...........................perhaps we should both read the book for a deeper appreciation of "Covenant Creation" and it's implications for abandoning a literal and traditional perspective on Genesis' message.


Comment by JL Vaughn on December 5, 2016 at 10:22am


These two articles are calling into question the common belief that "Adam" means "man" or "mankind" as those words are commonly interpreted today.

Hebrew has three words commonly translated "man."  1. Adam, 2. Ish, 3. Enosh.  Modern scholars believe the three words are generally interchangeable.  

My point is that Adam is not interchangeable with the other two,  In much of Scripture, Adam was a people that God made separate.  They were not defined by race, but by a covenant.

For example, Americans are not defined by race.  We are defined by a covenant.  For us, Jamestown, the Mayflower, the French-Indian Wars, the Stamp Tax, and the American Revolution are our creation story.

Genesis is the creation story of a people called Adam.  (These people were later also called Israel.)  These people called Adam no longer exist, because their covenant no longer exists.

And these people did not include all mankind, because not all mankind was in Adam's covenant with God.

Comment by Johnny on December 5, 2016 at 12:12pm
Still learning to navigate this site but thank everyone who have encouraged and responded to the questions I asked. You all have great spirits, I appreciate that. The emails I received explaining the textual contex has truly opened up an area for examination I look forward to endouver in. Gentleman thank you with all sincerity. I will shortly dive into the book you all have recommended. If possible and willing I could be added to your friends list? I would love to further our conversation on this and other areas as well. Thank you once more.


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