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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 Stephens Bubble on May 6, 2015 at 9:09am

Jeff, Ummm, have you considered P.J. Wiseman's work on form criticism? He would argue that the structure of the text reflects the media through which it was transmitted. This supports your idea as "colophons" signal the beginning of a series of cuniform tablets. The series you've identified would be the 3rd & 4th. The 3rd begins in 5:3 to 6:9 Then 6:9 to 10:2

Very much appreciated your thoughts @ 2010 conference. Am I to infer that you would see "The Image of God" in the union of God & His people?


Comment by JL Vaughn on May 6, 2015 at 11:57am

Stephens, Thank-you very much.

Wiseman's where I first got the "colophon" idea from.  I tend to agree, especially since, the 200+ tablets I've looked at, all have the "colophons" on them.  Not all at the end though.  They are a feature that stands out in the text.

I tend to think that the image of God is something Adam lost when he sinned.  Only Christians have it today.  In ancient societies, kings were in the image of their patron god and were sons of their patron god.  Was this biological or physical?  Or was this a declaration of their "god given" authority (as covenantal head)?


Comment by Stephens Bubble on May 6, 2015 at 3:06pm


I guess if your building a Temple.........OK, but the correspondence between;

  • Genesis and Revelation concerning Union of Adam with his female counterpart as one entity, both made as the image of God.
  • Naming The Woman as Eve
  • The Heavenly Jerusalem (Zion) named as The Bride
  • That The Covenant's intended outcome was for be God's Image.
  • God dwelling with Man.

to me seems to signify that without those who Christ redeemed, God's express image in Jesus could not be seen to be complete..........and the children thou hast given me.

I know our appreciation of Redemption is largely received from the cannon of scripture, but I do think there's a place for Emotional Intelligence ............that as Hebrews teaches, it's our Confidence in Him which is the means to enduring and overcoming.  For me the idea of having that confidence which a wife has in her husband and visa versa is pivotal to our faith, and our heart's desire for Him, as our All in All.

Apart from that.........your reference to Christianity elevating it's followers through Technology is a serious apologetic for The Faith. It really gives us all something to identify with, as well as the work being done in "Discovering" democracy through Christian Governance, during these extremely difficult times.

Thank you once again for the inspiration to look afresh at Beginnings, and their End.


Comment by Doug on May 6, 2015 at 9:43pm

Thank you Stephen for your elegant intellect. And thank you Jeff for once again reiterating how beginnings have influenced the entire biblical narrative.

Jeff, you asked an important question, and one which is at the foundation of most theological systems. Namely, you asked if the image of God is something people lost when Adam sinned. The answer to that forms the basis of what "original sin" is, and based on your interpretation of the intrinsic state of mankind, you develop your assumptions about the need for redemption. And what follows after that is HOW such redemption is achieved.

If one believes that mankind is basically "good", and only needs a little boost from God to achieve goodness, because after all "I am made in God's image, so I am like Him". This elevates man into a place he never had and never will. It also places on man the burden for his own salvation. It is arrogant and I believe angers God.

If one believes man is basically bad, then it is closer to the biblical truth. However, both arguments (man is good or man is bad) does not figure in the idea that God made a covenant only with particular people, not with ALL men.

So then, who was Adam? Was he representative of ALL men everywhere, or was he a covenantal head of a specific people? If a covenantal head, was the covenant that he was head of dependent on Adam's behavior for it to be valid and binding on the people Adam represented? I am not so sure it was.

Instead, I believe that Adam and Eve failed NOT THE WHOLE RACE OF MEN, but he failed only himself and cleared the way for God to prove that salvation can come by no other means than through Jesus. Jesus was the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" Does that mean Jesus was slain BEFORE Adam's sin, or AFTER? Was "the world" referring to the civilization created after Adam's sin, or was it already existing prior to Adam? I think prior, because if "the world" referred to that which came after Adam, then Adam could have been a suitable sacrifice and high priest to atone for men's sins instead of Jesus, had he just not sinned.

But if Jesus was "slain" BEFORE Adam, then God's plan all along was to sacrifice Himself for the people whom He knew in advance would sin, whether in Adam or not. In fact, if you believe that there were men living prior to Adam, then Jesus' "slaying" before the world began would refer to ALL men having salvation in Jesus, not just those "in Adam" The difficulty with believing that salvation began to be offered only AFTER Adam's sin is that it excludes people who were not covenantal people. That would break the pattern of salvation we understand today that is open to all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. In fact, even the pattern of the temple allowed for the gentiles to be part of God's people.

So I have to conclude that the covenant started in Genesis was not a salvational covenant. It was something else. Identifying and defining what that something else is is the real challenge, because knowing what its purpose is allows us to accurately trace its development throughout the bible, and hopefully will allow us to find its logical end. Is it about salvation? Maybe not!

Comment by JL Vaughn on May 6, 2015 at 10:16pm


Yes, it is a very difficult issue.  Made all the harder by the cultural distance between us and Adam.

Between the post above and this post, Who Was Adam in Genesis-6 , I think it's clear that Adam did not represent all mankind.

Another piece of the puzzle can be found here, The Giving of the Law .

Basically, if Adam had essentially all of the Law given in Exodus, and Adam did not represent all mankind, as these posts demonstrate, then we've made a serious misinterpretation of Scripture, that has been going on for a very long time.

Comment by Doug on May 7, 2015 at 6:19am

Difficult, yes. But not impossible, especially if we disabuse ourselves of some assumptions about salvation. My recent post on the differences between immortality and eternal life is a good starting point. 

If one believes the scripture that says "This is eternal life, that you may know me" Jn. 17:3, then it follows that they who DON'T know Christ do not have eternal life.

But contrasting that with "As in Adam all die, and all who are in Christ shall all be made alive" 1 Cor. 15:22 begs the question "Who were 'in Adam'"? Scripturally, we can demonstrate that not all were "in Adam", therefore not all men "died"

The critic would say "What? Everyone since Adam have died!" That then gets into the nature of the death of Adam. If we believe that the law of Moses (in essence) was given to Adam, then the death Adam died was the death prescribed by the law. But that death was not just a physical death, it was the death that comes when sin is revealed, because without the law there is no sin. Sin doesn't necessarily cause physical death, it causes death in the form of separation from God. This was demonstrated by Adam being driven out from the presence of God in the garden.

So then, the law demonstrates our sin and separates us from God, but Christ reconciles us to God apart from the law and through grace. But such was not the case for those not "in Adam" Those outside the garden (outside the law) have no sin. 

When God calls a person, He must first convict that person of their sin in the law. The law of Moses? Well, not directly per se. But yes, a person must be made aware of what sin actually is as originally defined by the law of Moses (which is of course the law of God) Most people are totally clueless that they are sinners and in need of saving. They somehow have to be brought into the condemnation of sin in order to be saved FROM sin, and salvation is eternal life in Christ, the substitute for their sin.

Lots to think about.

Comment by Stephens Bubble on May 8, 2015 at 5:55am


OK, so having established your argument in the your two posts on Adam, can you develop your argument a little; 

As I see your argument;

  • the context of The Flood is within the Genealogy of Noah.
  • The Genealogy of Adam begins with; "And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth".

Jeff I'd love to hear your thoughts on this idea of replicating God's creative act above.

This would put the Genealogy within a "Covenant Context" as it establishes the Covenant Head Seth, who replaces Able as The Seed.

  • Adam in his mortality and weakness to Sin is Archetypal of all of humanity.....
  • Adam in his position at the head of Covenant Creation is Representative of The Seed.
  • Noah's father prophesies Noah as bringing rest.........and inheriting a new creation / order in which the ground is no more cursed, and the covenant people can now enter into rest (dominion/rule over the ground) from their toil.

The sign of the new order or re-established covenant is The Rainbow = Peace.

Would you see the Noah story as one which brings Noah back into "The Garden" / "The Land" which Adam had charge over and was expected to "keep". Or even back into the fellowship of God?


Comment by Johnny on December 4, 2016 at 12:02pm
I'm very intrigued. Can you further explain your conclusive thought? I read both you writings on this subject and both fail to conclude what exactly you are trying to portray concerning the flood and the genealogies. Your thoughts on this matter may have some fruition to it but needs more explanation. Can you revisit this issue and focus more on the flood and genealogy portion. I would love to explore this with you and your constituents in a clearer understanding. I'm very much a newbie to this site and have read many articles and my findings are that more than half of the authors that begin a thought never finish it. The conclusions are never clear and are absent of a solid platform to build a truth on. Its frustrating to me and sad in a way because many of you have great thoughts but never bring about a valid conclusion of absolution. In my mind and the way it works in order for me to teach something to others about truth it must be absolute. I cannot teach possibilities or maybes or could have, but must be. The building of truth in my mind and what I know to be truth so far has taken years of filtering and observing what I was taught. My whole set of theology has been turned twisted and examined to the max. I would love to build on that truth and further it's work inside me and to others. Thank you for excepting my critique.
Comment by Stephens Bubble on December 4, 2016 at 2:29pm

Hi there Johnny,

Good to have you onboard.

Jeff is co-author of "Covenant Creation" which is not only a very influential book but also has it's own web-site featured on the header of this site. The book puts forward a view of Genesis which provides a less traditional and literal interpretation of the message of Genesis.

The interesting thing is Jeff's stated aim of placing Adam as an archetypal "Covenant Man" rather than the first Human Being. That the events described in Genesis are specific to a "Covenant People". That rather than the creation of The Cosmos.............Genesis is describing the self revelation of God. Moses the editor of Genesis as charting the various developments of God's self revelation ( or Redemptive History ) within the Genre of Apocalypse typical of such epics as Gilgamesh ect.

So Jeff is an exponent of events which are local & a Type and vehicle for understanding who God is rather than Global Catastrophic Events of Mass Creation / Extinction.

The Apostle Peter steers a similar course when describing the end of a 1st Creation by water ie The Flood and the 2nd Creation by Fire and the creation of a new Creation (3rd) in which Righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:6 onwards.

The themes identified in Genesis could be said to reverberate throughout every book of The Bible and find expression within the life and ministry of Jesus culminating in Jesus' Revelation delivered through John.

But this approach is a work in progress, although it does seem to have plateaued over the last couple of years.


Comment by Stephens Bubble on December 4, 2016 at 2:38pm


Jeff's book is Beyond Creation Science and that is the web-site featured in the header.

How infallible am I <smile> just show's you what can be accomplished when doing things on "The Hoof".



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