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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 5

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-32


As the human race expanded, the minority of people who remained faithful to God became smaller and smaller. The purpose of the genealogy recorded in this chapter is to trace from Adam to Noah that thin line of believers who kept alive the knowledge of God.

The genealogy does not name every descendant in the line from Adam to Noah, but selects ten important people to form an overall framework. Selective genealogies such as this, being easy to remember, were common in the ancient world. In Genesis 11:10-26 another selective genealogy, also based on ten names, carries on from this one to cover the time from Noah to Abram. (The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 is also selective, omitting several names to produce a simple arrangement of three sets of fourteen.)

Genealogies, particularly selective genealogies, cannot be used to measure the age of the human race. The word ‘son’ may simply mean descendant, and the word ‘father’ may simply mean ancestor (e.g. Matthew 1:1,Matthew 1:8). The ten men named in the genealogy of this chapter are the ten most prominent men of the era. The list notes also the age of each man when he produced the son who became the first link in the chain between him and the next-named person. Death, as usual, demonstrated the results of sin (5:1-20).

The exceptional case of Enoch, however, might have encouraged the faithful to believe that death was not all-powerful. It would not always have power over those who pleased God (21-24; cf. Hebrews 11:5). The father of Noah expressed the hope that the ground also would be freed from the curse that human sin had brought (25-32).

Different weather and living conditions may have been part of the reason for the unusually long life spans of that time. (Non-biblical records also speak of unusually long life spans among ancient races in the Mesopotamian region.) Whatever the cause, it was no doubt a gracious provision by God in view of the need for people to spread out and bring more of the untamed world under their control (see 1:28). Such tasks were not easy when the human race was small in numbers and lacking in technical knowledge.

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/genesis-5.html. 2005.
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