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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 5

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-32


Adam and Seth.—The Sethites or Macrobii (the long-lived).—The living Worship and the Blessing of the Life-renewing in the Line of the Sons of God

Genesis 5:1-32 (compare 1 Chronicles 1:1-4)

1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him. 2Male and female created he them; and blessed them and called their name Adam [man] in the day when they were created. 3And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth [fixed, compensation]. 4And the days of Adam after Hebrews 5:0 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. 6And Seth lived a hundred and five years, and begat Enosh1 [man, weak man]. 7And Seth lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred and seven years and begat sons and daughters.

8 9And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. And 10Enosh lived ninety years and begat Cainan [gain, gainful, industrious]. And Enosh lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 11And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years; and he died. 12And Cainan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel2 [renown, praise of God]. 13And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters. 14And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years; and hedied. 15And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years and begat Jared [descent, one descending]. 16And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. 17And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years; and he died. 18And Jared lived a hundred and sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch3 [the devoted, mysterious]. 19And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 20And all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty and two years; and he died. 21And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah [Gesenius: man of the arrow; First: man of war; Delitzsch: man of growth]. 22And Enoch walked4 with God [lived in communion with God] after he begat Methuselah three hundred years and begat sons and daughters. 23And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty and five years. 24And Enoch walked with God and he was not 25[disappeared suddenly], for God took him. And Methuselah lived a hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech [the strong young man, or hero]. 26And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters. 27And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty and nine years; and he died. 28And Lamech lived a hundred eighty and two years and begat a Song of Solomon 2:0; Song of Solomon 2:09And he called his name Noah [rest, rest-bringer], saying, This same shall comfort us5 concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed. 30And Lamech lived after he begat Noah, five hundred ninety and five years and begat sons and daughters. 31And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years; and he died. 32And Noah was five hundred years old; and Noah begat Shem [name, preserver of the name] and Ham [heat, from חמם] and Japheth [wide-spreading, room-making, from פתה].


1. The line of Seth, as the line of the pious worshippers of God, is carried on to Noah, with whom the first humanity from the stem of Seth, now purified in the flood, passes over to a new age: so that the name Seth, as in verification of Eve’s maternal prophecy, becomes established in contrast with Abel the mere breath of life, and the line of Cain drowned in the flood. The question may be asked, Why is not the superscription placed before the 25th verse of the fourth chapter? The documentary hypothesis answers: it is because here again the Elohim document takes up the history. We let that question rest, though here verse 29th, with its name Jehovah, does not have the look of an interpolation. It must be remarked, nevertheless, that in the preceding section it was necessary for Seth to appear as the representative of Abel. But here again begins the history of Seth as the history of Adam himself; since only through Seth does Adam live on beyond the flood, and even to the world’s end. In respect to its inner nature, therefore, is the section Elohistic; that is, it presents the universal grounding of the whole human race, not merely that of the line of Shem or of the theocracy of Abraham. Knobel represents the section according to the documentary hypothesis: “The Elohist ranges the genealogical table of Adam immediately after the account of creation, Genesis 1:0 (?), and connects with it directly his history of the flood, Genesis 6:9, etc.; it forms, consequently, an essential part of his work, without which it would have had a hiatus (rather with it, we may add). From the same author who concerned himself with the connected genealogies and chronologies, as being predominantly Elohistic, whilst the Jehovist took little notice of them, originated also the other genealogical tables and chronological series that are introduced in their order throughout the Pentateuch.” The section before us, in its entire contents, evidently presupposes Genesis 2:3. There is special proof of this in verses 3, 24, and 29, as also in the constant refrain: and he died.

2.Genesis 5:1. The book of the generation of Adam.—The genealogies of Adam become permanent and continuous alone through Seth.

3.Genesis 5:2. In the likeness of God.—This is expressed here by ב, not by כ, as in Genesis 1:0. It means, when He created him He made him in the likeness, etc.; that is, the divine ideal form was the model of his making,—or of the finishing of his human form in distinction from its creation. The name man (Adam) is ascribed here in common to both man and woman. The creation in the divine image is repeated, because the line of God’s sons is grounded on its divine origin (see Luke 3:38).

4.Genesis 5:3. Seth.—For the significance of the name in relation to the names of the Cainitic line, see the preceding section. Of Seth it is said, He begat him in his own likeness, after his image. That is, as his image, Seth was similar to him, indeed, but not identically like; he was distinguished from him individually, he was like him in his Adamic nature. And this is said, doubtless, with a consciousness of Adam’s fallen state, although in the ground ideas of this fifth chapter the nature of Adam as made in the divine image, and its pious direction, are still made prominent. Even if the names further on denote, in the average probability, the first-born of the genealogies (although this does not always hold good, as is shown by the examples of Ishmael, Esau, Reuben, etc.), yet it does not follow that Seth also is to be regarded here as a first-born; just as little as the three sons of Noah, taken together, can be thus regarded. Seth has become the spiritual first-born of the Adamitic house; he is the continuance of the line of Adam in its pious direction, and in its historical duration.

5.Genesis 5:4. The ages of the Patriarchs who lived before the flood are individually stated in the following manner: 1. Adam 930 years, 2. Seth 912 years, 3. Enosh 905 years, 4. Cainan 910 years, 5. Mahalaleel 895 years, 6. Jared 962 years, 7. Enoch 365 years, then translated, 8. Methuselah 969 years, 9. Lamech 777 years, 10. Noah, before the flood, 600 years (Genesis 7:6), in the whole 950 years (Genesis 9:29). In relation to the dates, the following things are to be remarked. Adam is 130 years old at the begetting of Seth, whom Cain and Abel naturally preceded. Seth begets Enosh when 105 years old. Enosh is presented to us as a father at the age of 90 years, Cainan 70 years, Mahalaleel 65 years, Jared 162 years, Enoch 65 years, Methuselah 187 years, Lamech 182 years, Noah even 500 years. Since, moreover, there is mentioned in each case the begetting if other sons and daughters, it becomes very questionable whether we are to understand all these genealogical heads as being first-born. The numbers, as given, do, indeed, indicate late marriages having proportion to the length of life. That, however, no ascetic idea is necessarily bound up in this, is shown by the case of Enoch, who with Mahalaleel had a son the earliest of all the patriarchs. Even between he repeated mention, moreover, that he walked with God, it is said that he begat sons and daughters. The age 65, as a year for begetting, is also worthy of note, as showing to be impossible every attempt to reduce these patriarchal years to shorter sections of time. This numbering of their years is of richest significance. It expresses clearly the blessing of longevity as emphatically exhibited through the Sethic piety; it is the history of the devout Macrobii, or long-livers of the primitive time. In Enoch the line reaches the highest point of its life-renovation; since in him the peculiar death-form falls away; he departs without dying, and by a divine translation. In Methuselah this grand march of life reaches its extreme longevity in this world. The line then sinks down in Lamech, as is indicated by his sighing over the labor and pain that comes from the curse-ladened earth. The whole line, in its apparent monotony, is a most lively expression of a powerful strife of life with death, of the blessing with the curse. They advance far in years, these pious sons of God; the numbers reach a high figure, but ever again there comes that tragic word וַיָּמֹת: and he died. Once, and only once, is there reached the silver glance of the life-renewing, and of that life-transformation without death, which comes up to the original form. This is in the life of Enoch, the seventh patriarch. It must be observed, in accordance with what is implied in the following chapter, that the line of Seth, in its development, suffers a gradual disturbance, which does not permit it to reach the ideal aim,—a fact which seems to be indicated by this name Methuselah, and the sighs of Lamech. When in respect to this long life-endurance, we add the consideration of the enormous breaking up that was suddenly occasioned by the flood, it must not be overlooked that Noah, although already six hundred years old when the flood took place, survived its storms three hundred and fifty years.

Two main difficulties are objected to the foregoing statement: 1. the length of life; 2. the authenticity of the chronology. “The highest possible age,” says Valentine (“Compendium of Physiology,” 2. p. 894), “appears to be from about 150 to 160 years; and in fact, none of the highest ages which men are known to have reached attain the height of 200 years (Pritchard’s ‘Natural History of the Human Race’). It cannot be shown that men after the flood differed in any remarkable manner from those who lived before. In Genesis 11:10, moreover, the narrator represents some as attaining, even after the flood, to the age of 40 or 600 years.” Knobel. Special treatises on the preceding question are contained in the writing of De Lapasse: Essai sur la conservation de la vie, Paris, Masson, 1860. In general, there is no deciding this question by any appeal to strong constitutions, simple modes of life, uuweakened powers of life, &c. First of all, do both extremes of humanity need to be settled according to the Scriptures and the christological ideas; and, in fact, in correspondence with the middle point of humanity. The truth of Christ’s resurrection, not as a return out of death to the life of this world, but as a transition from the first form of human life into a second imperishable form, casts light as well upon the paradisaical beginning as upon the eschatological end of humanity. It testifies to an ideal capability for the preservation of life even to the point of a death-like, yet not deathly transformation into the incorruptible. To this testifies also, in symbolical form, the paradisaical tree of life, as well as, in its dogmatic acceptance, the words of Paul concerning the longing “to be clothed upon” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5) that lies in the depths of human nature (compare Lange’s Miscellaneous Writings, ii. p. 232). So also what he says of Christ as the life-giving spirit of man from heaven, and of the transformation that awaits those who live long at the world’s end (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:51). The christological idea that lies at the foundation is this: As the historical death, the death of corruption, in its gradual course first breaks through from the spiritual sphere of sin into the province of the soul, and from the province of the soul into the corporeity, so also does the healing of the new life make its passage; first in renewing the spirit-life, then the life of the soul, and finally becoming visible in the restoration of a new corporeal capacity for transformation at the world’s end. Thus the decreasing longevity of the primitive time furnishes the contrast to the increasing longevity at the end of the world (see also Isaiah 65:0). But it was not only through the original power of a corporeity not yet wholly shattered that the death of the Sethites was retarded; it was also kept back through the progress of life in the Jehovah-faith of the Sethites, as it culminated in Enoch, and had, therefore, already, as its consequence, a typically prophetic pre-representation of the transformation and the resurrection in his mysterious taking. The difficulty which is found in the supposition of such long life in the Sethites, has given rise to various hypotheses. Some have supposed that along with the patriarchs named their races and peoples are meant to be included; Rosenmüller, Friedreich, and others, think that from these orally transmitted genealogies, many names had fallen out; Hensler holds that the expression שָׁנָה (year) denotes among the patriarchs lesser spaces of time, namely, three months, till the time of Abraham, thence to the time of Joseph eight months, and afterwards, for the first time, twelve. Raske: from Adam to Noah the year was equal to one month. See against this, Knobel, p. 68 ff. To the first supposition is opposed the definite characterizing of single persons; to the second the fact that in the same manner the son always follows the father; to the third the constant signification of the year as tropical, periodical.6 “No shorter year than the period of a year’s time have the Hebrews ever had. Against any shortening of the שׁנה stands the fact that in that case some of the patriarchs must have begotten children at an age in which they were not capable.” Knobel. By him and many of the moderns it is explained as a mythical conception, with reference to the old representation that in the more happy primitive period, men lived longer, but were ever becoming weaker and of shorter life. “This representation (of the brevity of life) presents itself very clearly in the Old Testament. In the historical time a man among the Hebrews became 70 or 80 years old (Psalms 90:10); in the Mosaic and patriarchal time, when there meet us statements of 100, 120, 123, 133, 137, 147, 175, and 180 years, man reached an age between 100 and 200 years; for the time of Abraham, and thence up to Noah, the dates maintain themselves, with one exception, between 200 and 600 years (Genesis 11:10-32): whilst in the time from Noah to Adam (there too with one exception) they are between 700 and 1000 years. According to the Hebrew belief therefore, in respect to the duration of human life, it became worse with men in the course of the times. Thence the hope in a restoration of the old longevity in the Messianic time (Isaiah 65:20; Isaiah 25:8). So also the rest of antiquity assumed a greater length of life for the oldest time, and Josephus (Antiq. i. 3, 9) names Manetho, Berosus, Moschus, Hestiæus, Hieronymus, Hesiod, &c., as giving accounts similar to that of Genesis.” In the number ten of the patriarchs, there is, in truth, a symbolical significancy (the Chaldeans, too, according to Berosus, number ten antediluvian patriarchs), but a symbolical number is not on that account a mythical number, and under the mythical point of view Knobel does not know what to do with the unlike and uneven numbers.

Concerning the chronological treatises that relate to our section, namely the assumed rectification of the Bible chronology through the Ægyptian, compare Delitzsch, p. 220 ff. For the motives which lie at the ground of the chronological changes of our text in the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint, or their deviations (as well Genesis 11:0 as Genesis 5:0, compare Knobel, p. 70) the reader is referred to Keil, p. 76. According to our chronology, from the creation to the flood there were 1656 years,7 according to the Samaritan text 1307 years, and according to the Septuagint 2242 years. The time after the flood until Abraham was, according to the Hebrew text 365 years, according to the Samaritan 1015, according to the Septuagint 1245. “The translation of Enoch falls nearly in the middle point of years from Adam to the flood,—that is, in the year 987 after the creation of Adam. At that time Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalaleel, and Jared, were still living, as there was also living his son Methuselah, and his grandson Lamech, then 113 years old; Noah only was not yet born, and Adam of all the line was the only one dead.” Keil. We will remark in general, in relation to our treatment of the chronology in the Introduction, that the genealogical chronology throughout corresponds to the fundamental biblical ideas, or to that significance of personality which determines everything as actual fact. In their experience, however, of the way in which the blessing of piety advanced their length of life, the Macrobii must have found a special warning to number their days, and in the unsymbolical form of the numbers it was easier to admit misreckonings in single cases than any arbitrariness in respect to the whole. In consideration of the extraordinary impression which the year-period must have made upon the first men of our race, in consideration of its symbolical dying and living again with nature, as well in the change [in the length] of day and night, as in that of summer and winter, they could have had, in general, no occasion or inducement to learn the reckoning of numbers more vivid than that which was furnished by these annual vicissitudes.

6. Genesis 5:1. This is the book.—“סֵפֶר means any finished writing, whether it consists of only one pair of leaves, or even of a single one; as, for example, the book (or bill) of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:0.” Delitzsch.—The generations of Adam.—The nearest bound to this book of the generations of Adam, is the genealogical register of Noah. In a wider sense, then, does this register of Adam go on in the genealogical register of Noah (Genesis 10:0) and in the genealogical register of Shem (Genesis 10:0), even to Abraham. After that it goes on through the whole Old Testament, until it becomes the genealogical register of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:0).

7. Genesis 5:4. And Adam lived.—“The narrator reckons the years of each forefather unto the begetting of his first-born, who carries on the main line, then the remainder of his life, and after that he reckons both periods together, so as to give the whole length of his life and name.” Delitzsch.—Begat in his likeness.—Adam bore the image of God. Seth bore the image of Adam: 1. according to its disposition in respect to the image of God; 2. according to the measure of its deformity by sin; 3. according to the hereditary blessing of his piety. “In that primitive time the births did not rapidly follow each other—a fact which had not a physical, but only an ethical ground,” says Delitzsch. There is, however, a physical cause, since in exact correspondence with the increasing degeneracy and rankness of human life, is there, in a literal sense, the increase of a numerous and wretched offspring.

8. Genesis 5:5. And he died.—Baumgarten: “In its constant return does this expression וַיָּמֹת prove the dominion of death, from Adam onward, as an immutable law (Romans 5:14). Still, on this dark background of a conquering death shows still more clearly the power of life. For man dies when ne has already propagated anew the life, so that in the midst of the death of the individual members, the life of the race holds on, and the hope grows stronger and stronger in the seed that is to conquer the author of death.” The unceasing refrain, and he died, denotes here also the limit of the long and elevated line of life that seems to be ever mounting towards heaven, but ever breaks off in the end,—with the exception of Enoch. And so we get a clear view of the battle of life with death.

9. Genesis 5:22-27. And Enoch walked with God.—This expression, which occurs once more in respect to Noah, Genesis 6:9, is afterwards enlarged. It becomes (Genesis 17:1; Genesis 24:40), “to walk before the face of God,”—“to follow Jehovah,” Deuteronomy 13:5—and similarly, Malachi 2:6, it occurs in respect to the priest. It denotes the most intimate intercourse with God, or, so to speak, a permanent view of a present deity, a continual following after His guidance. The word occurs here twice. In its first usage it denotes the character of his life, and gives assurance of the perseverance and soundness of his piety; he walked with God three hundred years, he begat sons and daughters. In the second, it gives confirmation of the wonderful translation of Enoch. According to the Jewish tradition, Enoch had, in all probability, borne witness against the Cainitic antinomists of his day, and had announced to them the judgment which came with the flood. From this Jewish tradition the book of Enoch and the epistle of Jude took in common (Dillmann, Buch Henoch); for there is no necessity of referring the place in Jude to the apocryphal book, since the apostles, as is well known, have cited popular traditions in other places, although even Delitzsch seems to connect the epistle with apocryphal story. With this prediction, and in correspondence with fundamental biblical principles, does the epistle of Jude make him the type of the prophetic testimony against that anti-Christian Antinomianism of the New Testament day, which is comprehended in its unity as “the last time,” and also a typical prophet of the last day itself. The translation of Enoch has two sides. וְאֵינֶנּוּ means, in the first place: he was no longer there, he had disappeared (Genesis 42:13; Genesis 42:36). Thereby is it indicated that his people had missed him, as the sons of the prophets missed Elijah when he was taken away (2 Kings 2:16, etc.). Luther has pictured in a most vivid manner this missing of Enoch, as reflecting itself in the case of Jesus in His death, and on Easter morning. According to Luther, they had some thought that he had perished, had probably been slain by the Cainites, and then received a special revelation concerning his taking away.—God took him.—This word לקח is also used in the taking up of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-10; Psalms 73:24; Psalms 49:16). A death so early in a line of men for whom life was a blessing, could only be regarded, in this connection, as a punishment. It would seem to make Enoch of least worth among the patriarchs, whereas, on the contrary, he was the most eminent. It is clear, therefore, that there is narrated here a transition which did not go through the form of death. The Christian tradition (Hebrews 11:5), as well as the Jewish (Sir 44:15; Sir 49:16), hold fast the unmistakable sense of the text, in which here, in place of the ever-returning “and he died,” there comes in that other expression, “for God took him.” It is also confirmed by the analogous representations of the Bible (Elijah, Christ, the transformed, 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:51). But whither? and to what state was Enoch translated? Delitzsch: “To a closer nearness with God, with whom he had hitherto walked; not that he became a partaker of that glorification which awaits the justified in the resurrection; for in this glorification Christ is the first fruits.” On the contrary, Keil: “Not in the glorification is Christ the first fruits according to 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:23, but in the resurrection.” By a transformation, of by a clothing upon, were Enoch and Elijah translated into everlasting life with God. We must distinguish, however, between the transformation and the glorification, between the heavenly region of the pious, that is, Paradise, and the perfect heaven of Christ. “His 365th year of life corresponds probably to our 33d,” remark Delitzsch and Knobel: “Enoch lived as many years as the year has days.” In respect to the legendary parallels in the extra biblical antiquity, comp. Knobel, p. 72; in which it is clear that we must distinguish the biblical tradition from the kindred stories. According to Knobel the motive for the translation was probably to rescue Enoch from the age in which he lived,—with relation to Genesis 4:10. Beyond a doubt, however, the main reason was the fact that he had become personally ripe for transformation, and that through his faith there might be introduced into this world the faith in a new life in the world beyond (Hebrews 11:5-6). If we would seek farther, we must compare the translations that follow in sacred history. Elijah is translated because his consistent legalism must become a judgment of fire, and a Last Day for the apostate Israel; Christ is translated, because His staying longer in this world must have come to a sudden conflict of life and death with the old world,—that is, must have had for its consequence the Last Day; the believers at the end of the world are translated, because now the Last Day has actually appeared. Judging from these analogies, we may conjecture that the translation of Enoch denoted a decided turning-point in the life of the old world. At all events, he had not in vain announced the day of judgment before his departure. At this time, it is probable, there was the beginning of the corrupt alliances between the Sethites and the Cainites. It is the probable middle time between Adam and the flood. The Jewish and Arabian fables, according to which Enoch is said to have discovered the art of writing and book-making, together with arithmetic and astronomy, must rest, for the most part, on his name, חניך, from חנך (to initiate, educate), and upon the astronomical significance of the number 365.

10. Genesis 5:27. Methuselah.—The highest age, 969 years.

11.Genesis 5:28. Lamech.—“At so great an age did these pious forefathers, who had renounced the self-created worldly lust, confess their experience of the burden and painfulness of life, in all its gravity and in all its extent; and it is easily explained how it is that the history of the Sethites closes with language of such a different sound from that of the Cainites. Lamech the Cainite is full of an evil drunken confidence. Lamech the Sethite, on the contrary, is filled with the most extreme dejection in respect to the present, and has no other joy than in the promise of the future.” Delitzsch. The name נֹחַ, which he gives to his son, is put in relation to נחם, from which it does not follow that this relation is etymologically significant. The confident hope of the wearied is ever some bringer of rest. Without doubt does the life-labor and toil of the Sethites stand in relation to the pride of the Cainites, even as it forms a contrast to their confident and false security. It is this pride which has power to trouble their life more than the unfruitfulness of the earth. In respect to Lamech’s language in which he greets Noah as the bringer of rest, Luther remarks: Sicut Heva fallitur, ita quoque desiderio restitutionis mundi fallitur ctiam bonus Lamech. Still is he mistaken in supposing that Noah was to bring in the closing sabbath of humanity; that there came with him a great reckoning, and a preliminary new world, he correctly anticipated.

12.Genesis 5:32. And he begat Shem.—Ranke: “The naming of the three sons of Noah leads us to expect that whilst hitherto the line has moved on ever through only one member, in the farther course of time all three of Noah’s sons must simultaneously lay the foundations of a new beginning.” “The order of the ages of Noah’s sons is Shem, Japheth, Ham (see Genesis 10:21). In the enumeration, however, Japheth ever stands last, because his name of two syllables makes the best close in the collective arrangement.” Knobel. The series of the three sons, however, in regard to their age, makes a difficulty in relation to Genesis 10:21. (See Keil, p. 104.) According to the passage before us, Noah begat Shem first when he was 500 years old. According to Genesis 7:6, he was 600 years old when the flood came. According to Genesis 11:10, Shem was 100 years old two years after the flood. Either then must we here regard the 100 years of Shem as a round number, or the word גָּדוֹל, Genesis 10:21, must relate to Japheth, as Michaelis and others think. On the contrary, see the remarks of Knobel, p. 120, and of Keil, p. 104. Keil, however, would take הקטן as merely a comparative designation of Ham, Genesis 9:24 : the younger instead of the youngest; so that the series Shem, Ham, Japheth, would be the actual order of their ages. This consequence does not appear to be confirmed by the גָּדוֹל of Genesis 10:21, since הקטן expressly refers to Noah in connection with בְּנוֹ, a position that fails in respect to גָּדוֹל, in Genesis 10:21. Assuming it as not grounded on the analogue of the theocratic history, that the physical first-born must always be the spiritual first-born, it would remain doubtful whether, in the passage before us, Shem was not placed first on the ground of worth.

[Note on the Translation of Enoch, and the earliest ideas of Death among the Primitive Men.—יְאֵינֶנּוּ כִּי לָקַח אֹתוֹ אֱלֹהִים. A right understanding of this remarkable language respecting Enoch, depends upon our getting the right standpoint from which to determine the earliest notion that man must have had of death. This could hardly have been the modern idea, either in its materializing, or in its more spiritual, aspect. That is, it was not, on the one hand, a cessation of being, nor was it, on the other, any distinctly formed thought of a separation of two things, soul and body, one of which no longer pertained to the man, or the selfhood, and the other passed off to a wholly separate and immaterial existence. God had not defined to them the nature of this fearful doom, and experience showed them nothing but the fact of an awful outward change on the once moving and active personality. It had not ceased to be, though now it was motionless and ghastly. They could not regard it as a fallen tree, or a slain animal, not from any metaphysical or physiological distinction, but from the strong feeling of social personality which they had ever connected with the living man, and which they could not get rid of. This was the germ, the God-implanted germ, we may say, of the idea of a continuous being, or a future life, as we find it in the earliest parts and throughout the Old Testament. To this they held on even against appearances, against the sense we may say, or any reasoning from sense, even as it is yet found among the rudest and simplest nations,—the very antagonisms it has had to encounter from the outer phenomenal world only showing the strength and the indestructibility of the sentiment. This one personality had not wholly vanished, though what had once appeared as a human form they now saw undergoing a rapid and fearful transformation. Death presented itself in contrast with that moving outward thing they called life, but it was not necessarily a breach of all continuity, or an utter extinction of all selfhood, with its rights and claims, as in the case of Abel’s complaining blood. The self, the man was there, but he was dead, or in the state of being they called death. Or he was still somewhere near, in what connection with the body, or with themselves, they could not imagine. They gazed in astonishment at this wonderful phenomenon, but they did not reason about it, or draw nice distinctions. They had no data from which to draw them. It was the dread penalty of which they had heard from their progenitors, and that was all they knew about it. Of its extent, or its consequences, or of any recovery from it, they had little or no conception. Death was not to them, as it has come to be regarded in our thinking, a single terminating event, but a state, a state of being, very strange indeed, but still real and actual. They did not separate it into death (the act of dying) and something after death. All earliest language is grounded on the idea of such after state as a going on, or linked identity; but they did not distinguish between it and its incipiency. Hence, among all ancient people, the great care for funeral rites, not merely in memory of, but as something due to a still continued being, and as essential to its quietude. It was not the idea of resurrection, as some have thought, that made this so ancient and so universal, but the ineradicable feeling of a personality, or selfhood, as somehow inhering in the poor remains, whether embalmed with costliest spices, or buried in the bosom of their mother earth, or purified and so preserved by fire. There is a selfhood in the body; Paul affirms it strongly of the sleeping Christian remains; there is something sacred in the human dust; it is not like other matter, though sown in corruption; we may thank God that the feeling still lingers in our souls, in spite of that contempt for the body which is sometimes manifested by a reckless science on the one hand, or a hyper-spiritual philosophy on the other.

It is very important to bear in mind, that to the early view there could be no distinctions such as we now make. It was all death, whatever it might include, as opposed to acting, moving being; and when very early there arose the thought of a dwelling in the earth (as an underworld), of a Sheol or cavity, of a Hades or the Unseen—all arising from the act of burying or putting out of sight—this was not a state succeeding death, but the very world of the dead, the בֵּיתעוֹלָם, the House of Olam (Ecclesiastes 12:5), the House of Eternity, not as a figure for nonexistence, but as real continuous being, though in striking contrast with the busy, knowing (sense-knowing), remembering, loving, hating, upper life “beneath the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). Superstition held that there was some mode of intercourse with these שוכני עפר, or dwellers in Sheol. There is little said about them in the Hebrew Scriptures, for there was little known that could be said; but there is an undercurrent of thought and feeling throughout the Old Testament which shows that they are never forgotten. They were dead, but still in being; they had not perished (per-iit, inter-iit, gone through, fallen out), become extinct, ceased to be. Hence they called them the רְפָאִים, the weak, the weary, the inactive, as the Homeric and the ante-Homeric Greek called them οἱ κάμοντες, and ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα. In all this there was great logical inconsistency, bewilderment of conception, contradiction even of the sense, so far as the phenomenal body was concerned, but it was a holding fast of that idea of continuous being, in some way, which was from the beginning, and which the human mind never gave up until Christ came and poured light upon this dark Sheol, this gloomy Hades, or world of the unseen. The imagery everywhere was drawn, mainly from the last appearances in life, or from the associations of sepulchral acts, but the real underlying idea was never lost. Very early a better hope dawned upon the pious, or it came as a revelation from God, born in the travail of their earth-weary, rest-seeking souls, but it was mainly of a deliverance at some time from Sheol, or of blessedness therein as lying under the shadow of the divine protection. It was, however, still death, doom, μοῖρα, the great penalty, an idea expressed somehow in the most ancient tongues, Shemitic or Japhetic, with which we are acquainted. It was the great wrath for whose turning the pious dead are represented as waiting; as Job prays, “O that thou wouldst hide me in Sheol until thy wrath be past, עַד שׁוּב אַפֶּךָ (until thy wrath turn), that thou wouldst appoint me a time and then remember me” (Job 14:13).

From such a doom Enoch was spared. No grave received him. He disappeared from earth. He was not found, as the LXX. have rendered איננו, and as it is given in Hebrews 11:5; that is, his body was not found, though men, doubtless, made long search for him, as they did afterwards for the body of Elijah (2 Kings 2:16-17). Enoch may be said to have shared in the great penalty in so far that for 365 years he bore a dying and corruptible body, and yet it is testified of him that he did not see death, Hebrews 11:5, that is, he did not enter into Hades, which is the real death, although the change that his body must have undergone in the translation was greater than that which passes upon the dissolving human frame. See the clear remarks of Dr. Murphy on איננו, in his excellent Commentary on Genesis.

Dr. Lange has well distinguished between this Old Testament belief of a future life, or rather of continuous being, and the ζωὴ αἰώνιος, the eternal life, revealed by Christ. Great confusion arises from confounding the two, and the distinction becomes of great importance in refuting the reasoning of those who teach the annihilation of the wicked.

The word לקח here, though a common one, is to be noted as used in a strikingly similar connection in the account of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9, אֶלָּקַח), Psalms 49:15, “God shall redeem my soul from Sheol, for He shall take me,” יִקָּחֵנִי, and Psalms 73:24 : “Thou wilt guide me by thy counsel, and afterwards take me (to) glory.” It is worthy of note, too, how exactly in Psalms 73:24 the Hebrew אַחַר corresponds to the use of the cognate Arabic اض ة (Heb. אַהֲרִיתNum 23:10 et al.), the frequent Koranic and ante-Mohammedan word for the after or future life. In these two passages from the Psalms, לקח may not denote the hope of a translation, yet the similarity of context, which strongly seems to be suggested by the passage in Genesis, takes them clearly out of the Rationalist’s limitation to a mere worldly deliverance.—T. L.]


1. Concerning the line of Seth, see the Exegetical annotations, No. 1.
2. Concerning the meaning of the image of Adam, see the Exegetical annotations, No. 3; as also for the significance of the names that here occur, No. 4.
3. Concerning the Macrobii, or the long-lived of the primitive time, see Exegetical annotations, No. 5. It ought to be considered that not only had death, as yet, failed to make his full breach upon them, but that, on the other hand, through their inward intercourse with God, their life-power had been wonderfully advanced in the opposite direction of the transformation form. Concerning the chronology, see No. 5.
4. For the meaning of Enoch, see No. 7, Exegetical annotations. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, is a very ancient witness: 1. For the degrees of piety; 2. for the truth of the mystical or the mysterious core of religion, communion with God; 3. for that assurance of eternal life that wells out of a life of faith and peace in God. In this is he, in a special sense, a type of the life of Christ: 1. His divine human walk; 2. his glorification and translation to heaven. Concerning the language of Lamech, see No. 8.

5. For the meaning of Noah, see the extracts from Starke below. According to Hebrews 11:7, Enoch is the mediator of the idea of a revelation of deliverance, or of salvation from judgment.

6. A main point of view of the Holy Scriptures and of the religion of revelation, is the significance of the personal life. This presents itself in the genealogies as they stand in their simple grandeur even to this day. It is like the granite of the earth in a highland landscape.
7. Enoch, Elijah, Christ, three stages in the unfolding of the facts of the world beyond, of the higher life of the world beyond, of its region of glory, and of the wonderful transition to it, as well as of the belief in those facts. In Christ the perfection of what is here prefigured.

8. Noah and his house a figure of the pious of the last time (Matthew 24:34).


The race of Adam, according to the ground-features of its life: 1. Birth; 2. marriage and the family; 3. death.—The constant repetition, and he died, a powerful memento mori. [Through this constant refrain, and he died, the reading of this chapter is said to have awakened men to repentance.]—Adam, through Seth and Noah, the ancestor of the human race: 1. In the continuance of the divine vocation; 2. of sinfulness, pain, and labor upon the earth; 3. of strife with sin: Seth, Enoch, Lamech, Noah; 4. of the prospect of the future of the perfected Seth (meaning compensation and established), of the perfected Enoch (devoted), of the perfected Noah (rest-bringer).—The conflict of life with death in the line of the Sethites: 1. How it holds back death through the blessing of piety (the long-living); 2. how it ever opposes to death new generations (and he begat sons and daughters); 3. how it finds a way of life beyond death (Enoch).—Seth as the again-risen Abel.—The time of Enosh, that is, of the feeling of human weakness, as a time of the first glorifying of the divine power and covenant faithfulness.—The names of the Sethites (see above).—Enoch the mediator of the faith of a new life in the world beyond (Hebrews 11:5-6), on the ground of the experience of the divine complacency (justification in its first form), through faith, that is, in the unfolding of his communion with God, and in the bearing of his prophetic testimony against ungodliness (Jude).—Enoch’s walk with God and his blessing.—The long life of Enoch and the long life of Methuselah.—Enoch the wonderful height in the experience of the blessing, in the race of the blessing.—Enoch a turning-point in the primeval history, as Elijah in the history of Israel, and as the ascension to heaven of Christ in the history of the human race generally.—The history of Enoch the first germ of the doctrine of a heavenly inheritance.—Enoch as a type of Christ.—The Cainitic Lamech and the Sethitic Lamech.—Lamech’s word of confidence in respect to Noah, 1. a delusion, and yet, 2. no delusion.—The line of the Sethites and the line of the Cainites: 1. Worldliness; spirituality; 2. pride and confidence; sorrow and patience; 3. an end, with terror; a newer, fairer beginning of life.—Noah as a type of Christ.—Adam the ancestor of two lines: a pious and a godless.—Noah the ancestor of three lines: a line of faith and worship, a line of human culture, and a line of sensual barbarity.

Starke: It is this genealogical record that has been preserved by God’s wonderful care, and is to be found, 1 Chronicles 1:0, Matthew 1:0, Luke 3:0.—Cramer: There has always been a church of God, and will remain even to the last day (Matthew 16:18). The evangelical religion is the oldest and the truest of all.

Genesis 5:3. All men are by nature children of wrath, and stained with the hereditary sin (Ephesians 2:3).—Long life is also from God; well for him who seeks to apply it to his honor.—Osiander: We have lived long enough when we know how to learn Christ.

Genesis 5:5. It is an old covenant: thou, O man, must die (Sir 14:18).—Cainan. He had (like Enoch) seen all the patriarchs.—The example of Enoch is a glorious proof that the marriage state can and ought to be holily maintained.—Whether now children and babes enjoy any such intimate intercourse with God, there are still degrees herein, so that husbands and fathers in Christ have thereby a much closer communion with God. Jewish, as well as some old patristic and papistical interpreters say, that he (Enoch) was carried into the earthly paradise, where he will remain to the end of the world, when he will come back and be slain by Antichrist, and thereupon rise again and be taken up into heaven. We may readily see, however, what a mere fable this is. Rather has he been taken up into this heavenly paradise (Luke 23:43).—Aim of Enoch’s translation: 1. Thereby was the doctrine that the good man was rewarded in a future life established as against the prevalent security of that day; 2. thereby, in the seventh from Adam, was there given a pattern which even to the time of the seventh trumpet should serve as an example to believers whom the day of Christ might find alive; 3. thereby Enoch was set before us as a type of Christ in his ascension. (Then follows a comparison of the translation of Enoch with the ascension of Christ.)—Methuselah. No one of the patriarchs reached a thousand years, for that number is a type of the perfection to which no man in this life can attain.—He died in the year 1656, and, therefore, in the year in which the flood broke in upon the world.—Noah (Luke 3:36; 1 Peter 3:20; Hebrews 11:7). Noah is a glorious type of Christ: 1. In respect to his name: Noah signifies rest and peace, or consolation and comforting; so is Christ, too, our Prince of peace, who makes for us peace and tranquillity (Isaiah 9:6; Romans 5:1; Jeremiah 6:16). 2. According to his threefold office: Noah was a prophet (2 Peter 2:5), and announced many years beforehand the destruction of the first world and its sons, which was to befall them (Matthew 24:25). Noah was a priest, for he offered sacrifice; Christ has offered himself (Hebrews 7:27). Noah prayed for the wicked world (Ezekiel 14:14); so also is Christ our advocate (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 5:7). Noah blessed Shem and Japheth; so also Christ (Mark 10:16). Noah was a king, the head of his family and of the new world, the builder of an ark at God’s command: Christ was king and head of his threefold kingdom, the builder of the church (Psalms 2:6).—The sons of Noah. They are not born in the order in which they here stand, but Japheth was the first-born (Genesis 10:21), Shem the middle son (Genesis 11:10), and Ham the youngest (Genesis 9:24).

Schröder: Genealogies may be called the threads on which history, chronology, and everything else in the first book of Moses moves. The Adamitic genealogical table, Genesis 5:0, throws a bridge between the fall and the flood. In the plan of Genesis, the eye of Moses is firmly directed to Israel. The object of this constantly keeping the eye upon Israel, has for its ground the placing, in the most visible manner, before the eyes of the latest descendants, Jehovah’s covenant faithfulness in the outer as well as inner preservation and assistance of the woman’s seed. On this account the genealogies of the Old Testament, and of Genesis especially, form a part not to be overlooked in the great history of the divine assumptions of humanity before the incarnation of God in Christ.

Genesis 5:1-2. According to Luke 3:38, man stands in a genealogical relation to God; his descent loses itself in the divine hand of the Creator (Acts 17:28).

Genesis 5:3-5. The significance of the time depends upon the significance of the person who is born, lives, and dies in it. The meaning of the time is nothing else than that there appears in it the birth and life of the human personality. To the mere dead number the coming man first gives life and content, and so too he first makes history.—Abel is murdered, Cain is cursed; and now Seth enters, a first birth, as it were, into history.—Val. Herberger: Adam and Eve may have wept long for the death of the pious Abel, and the wickedness of that wretched son Cain; but now God makes them to rejoice again in a pious child whom he presents to their eyes. Such vicissitudes of joy and sorrow befall all pious people. Be not, therefore, proud when it goes with thee according to thy heart’s wish; be not cast down though it may rain and snow crosses. God will again rejoice thee with a cheerful sunshine in thy long, wearisome domestic trouble.—Whether the rest of the patriarchs who followed were all first-born sons, is made doubtful by the case of Seth.—“From Adam onward to the patriarch Jacob, hath the Holy Spirit signified to us in what year each named ancestor, who propagated that line out of which Christ was to spring, begat that son who in turn was to become a specially-named ancestor in the course of descent.” Roos.—Seth’s genealogical register is the line of “the sons of God,” that is, of the true church. “With reverence and awe do I draw nigh to thee, O holy people who dwell under his shadow and before his presence, O thou light of the world, thou salt of the earth! Thou wast a chosen race, a patriarchal priesthood, to make known the virtues of Him who called thee.” Herder.—Luther: Eve, too, it is probable, lived to the eight hundredth year, and so must have seen a numerous race. How much care must she have had, how much industry, and labor, in visiting, dressing, and teaching, her children and her children’s children! The first oral fountain of oral and written traditions that have come down to us, could in this way maintain itself through the possibility of a personal converse between Lamech and Shem, between Shem and Abraham. The original undying destiny of the human race comes powerfully before us in the numbers of this genealogical register. That sharp appendage, and he died, forms a standing refrain of sorrow to the joyful picture of life that precedes.—Roos: So should the thought arise in us: I too must die, and after a shorter pilgrimage than that of these fathers; I too must watch.

Genesis 5:6-20. Arabian stories concerning Seth and Jared, p. 111. Jared: an enigmatical name, out of which, however, as out of most of the Sethic names, there evidently enough breathes a tone of sorrow and of pain. Sharp contrast with the namings of the Cainites, which express might and pride.

Genesis 5:21-23. Whilst the Enoch of Genesis 4:17 bears upon himself the Cainitic consecration, and gives to the earthly his consecration (say rather receives it from the earthly), the Enoch of our chapter shows the consecration of God (Sir 44:15; Hebrews 11:5). The subjective side of patriarchalism is its faith, the objective the divine acceptance.—Luther: From this we take it that there was in Enoch a peculiar consolation of the Holy Spirit and an excellent and noble courage, so that with the highest confidence and boldness he bore himself against the church of Satan and the Cainites, in the presence of the other patriarchs. For to walk reverentially with God means not to roam in a desert, or to hide oneself in a corner, but to come forth according to his calling, and to bear himself bravely against the unrighteousness of Satan and the world. (In this, however, the question still remains, whether we are to think of Enoch as having the contemplative Johannean, or the zealous Petrine form; we may rather suppose the first than the second.)—Roos: We never find this mode of speech, to walk with God, after the giving of the law, but rather the terms perfect, upright. In the New Testament pious men are called holy (saints), and beloved of God. In this way there shines clearly before the eyes the difference of the divine economies, namely: before the law, and under the law, and under the grace of the New Testament. In respect to the language, to walk with God, it expresses the patriarchal piety in a very becoming and lovely manner. There were, at that day, no literally expressed prescriptions as to what ought to be done or left undone. God himself stood in place of all such prescriptions.—Hengstenberg: The main thing was that each should become a partaker of the life of God. When this took place, then had he eternal life, and the assurance of it in his consciousness. In all the Holy Scripture this term (translation) is used only of three persons: of Enoch in the old world, of Elijah in the old covenant, and of Christ in the new. The first is a “type of the second, and both are Old Testament figures” of the last.—Herder: The seventh from Adam cannot be without God in a world which scorns him; God forgot him not, but made him immortal and an everlasting monument of this divine truth.—Hengstenberg: Everything arbitrary must be far removed from a religion whose God is the unchangeable Jehovah; what God does in the case of one is, at the same time, a prediction of what he will do to all who occupy with him a like stand-point.—Baumgarten: When we confine our looks to the bare catalogue, we find, indeed, life followed close by death, but this opens up to us a series in which we see no close. But that this series has an actual conclusion, namely, the victory of life over death, is for the first time assured to us through the translation of Enoch.—Luther: So shines out, in the midst of this narration of the dead, like a fair and lovely star, the pleasing light of immortality. The old doctors of the church say: Abel confessed another life after death, for his blood cries out and is heard; Cain acknowledged another life before death, for he was afraid to die, and his soul foreboded that something more awaited him than this world’s unhappiness; Enoch confesses another life without death, for, out of this world’s misery, and without the pain of dying, he goes straight to everlasting life. In the Koran and among the Mohammedans Enoch bears the name of Edris. So also the heathen legends mention him under the names of Annak, Cannak, Nannak (for the further treatment of these stories, p. 119). Methuselah means either man of the arrow-shooting, because, by standing on his defence and using his skill in weapons, in these last times of the first world, he was able to resist the robberlike, murderous Cainites; or his name means man of the shoot or germ, that is, of a great posterity; one rich in children and in children’s children.—Val. Herberger: God can prolong our life, as in the case of Hezekiah. While Methuselah lived the great distress came not upon the world, for he could pray from the heart and keep back the wrath of God; but as soon as Methuselah’s white snow dissolves, and his gray hair descends into the grave, then grows the weather foul, the rain comes down, out swells the flood, and all the world must drown.—At the speech of Lamech, Genesis 4:1, it was the wife whose mother-feelings sang joyfully together; in the passage before us (of the Sethic Lamech) we perceive the loud pulse of a father’s heart.—The advancing corruption of the time, and of his cotemporaries, give no doubtful coloring to his soul’s longing; on this dark background first falls that hard fate of eating bread in the sweat of the brow (Genesis 3:17).—In such a consolation of a pious son did the old pious fathers find their rest.—Roos: From such a man must the patriarchs have been greatly comforted, and gained new courage. (Similar examples in the Old Testament, Moses, Samuel, Elias; in the New Testament time, John the Baptist, the Apostles; in modern times, Huss, Luther, and others.) It all presupposes Christ the middle point.—Theodoret names him (Noah) the other or second Adam.—Drechsler: Here, in the mention of Noah, there is an extension to the whole chapter in contrast to the previous concise declarations.—(Comparison of the three sons of Adam and the three sons of Noah.) Shem the first-born, the most like to his father, who carries farther on the golden thread; he is the representative of the divine principle in humanity, p. 125. The opposite views of Luther and Calvin respecting the declaration that Noah was five hundred years old. Luther: He lived so long unmarried, because, in that corrupt time, it was better to have no children than evil, degenerate ones; but then he may have become married from the admonition of the patriarchs, or the command of an angel. Calvin: It is not said that he had hitherto been unmarried, nor in what year he began to be a father, but, on the occasion of noting the point of time when the future flood is announced to him, Moses adds that at this time he had already become the father of three sons [this explanation, however, is not in harmony with the allegations of a middle time which he cites as analogous to those in our chapter].—Herder: Remarkable history of humanity; the form it ever presents. These, under the curse are singing their song of jubilee; those others, under the blessing are full of sighs. These are building, singing, inventing; those live, bring up children, and walk with God. The number of the one class is ever growing more numerous, the gathering of the other grows ever less and less. It ends with one race, with one man, and the seven souls that are with him. So will it also be, says Christ, at the end of the days. Be not disheartened, little flock.—Luther: This chapter presents to us a form and image of the whole world. As, therefore, there may be seen in our chapter a fair form and image of the early world, so also is it God’s overwhelming wrath, and a most fearful ruin, that we behold in the fact that the whole race of these ten patriarchs perished, with the exception of only eight that survived.—The same: We ought not to think that these are common names of mean and common men, for, in fact, they are great heroes.—The same: Our world of to-day, the third, and still a world of mercy, how full of blasphemy and cruelty!—It must be punished with a flood of fire; for so prophesy the colors in the rainbow (then follows an interpretation of the three chief colors).

Gerlach: God himself stands at the head of the genealogical table, not merely as creator, as he is of all other beings, but as the father of men, as appears Luke 3:38. Not without purpose is there mentioned the divine origin of the human race at the very apex of this series. It contains the patriarchs that remained true to the covenant of God, and who, on that very account, are called the Sons of God (Genesis 6:2).

Genesis 5:5. “Who was like his image.” This expression contains no allusion to the fall, but there is rather indicated a continuance of the divine image according to the original position of man. As Adam was created in the divine image, so could he also beget a son who should be like to his own image. That the predominance of sin is inherited along with it, is taken for granted through the whole history (therefore is it here also indicated, although the author rightly saw that here, in the representation of the higher Sethic line, and in accordance with its connections, there should be a special emphasis given to the continuance of a side of light in humanity).—Enoch: Most worthy of note as a very ancient witnessing to the earliest human race of a blessed eternal life.

Lisco: Enoch, that is, devoted. He is the seventh from Adam, wherein there may be some indication that after the six long world-times of sin and death, there should be introduced, in the seventh period of the world, through one, that is, Christ, a divine life, with freedom from death [“Calculus of the Biblical Chronology,” p. 23].

Calwer Handbuch: Seth. Eve looks upon him as a present from God; but thinks no more, as in the case of Cain, that she actually has the Lord. Still does her faith behold a new beginning for the promise, of the seed of the woman, bearing in itself the pledge of its sure ongoing, whilst she believingly receives this “other seed” from the hand of God. [Indication that in the birth of Cain she had ascribed to herself too great a share.]—Methuselah, the eighth from Adam, lives nearly one hundred years cotemporaneously with Adam, whilst Noah lives eighty-four years with Enoch, the grandson of Adam, and, in the other direction, was one hundred and twenty-eight years cotemporaneous with Terah the father of Abraham.—Abel died early a violent death; Adam was the first who died a natural death (?); fifty-seven years after him was Enosh translated. A threefold way. [Enoch. Under the name of Idris (learned man) he is said to have been the inventor of letters and writing, of arithmetic, and astronomy.]—Bunsen, on the word of Lamech, Genesis 5:29 : This indicates very hard times and great disturbing events of nature, in the last period of the old world. Men labor hard, but nothing thrives. They toil in vain; the crop is little, or it is wholly lost. Now there is a breathing again (according to the root-meaning of naham (נחם) and the Arabic usage) after the fruitless labor. [Here, in the first place, it is overlooked that the object of Lamech’s lamentation has an ethical background (a commencing corruption), and in the second place, that the destined limitation of that old period through a sudden and destroying flood excludes earlier catastrophes.]—From the name of the Cainite Mahujael, Genesis 4:18 : “Detruit de Dieu,” and with reference to a Lydian and Indian tradition, Von Rougemont concludes that: sa génération a été en majeure partie enlevée par une effroyable sécheresse, which lasted at least eighteen years.Histoire de la Terre, p. 98. [In reference, however, to this meaning of the name Mahujael, it is to be remarked that it would be contrary to the analogy of the Cainitic names].—Taube: What Enoch’s life and destiny proclaims to us: 1. That a godly life in faith pleases God; 2. that God in his grace rewards it with the gift of everlasting life.—The name of Noah: 1. A significant index to the state of soul of the Sethites and of all children of God; 2. a figure of Christ.—Hofmann (p. 40): Fathers ever hope for deliverance in their sons. [Then follows a reference to Seth, Enosh, Enoch, Noah.]


[1][Genesis 5:5.—אֱנוֹשׁ. In general little reliance can be placed upon the etymological significance of these early names as given by the lexicographers, whether we regard them as purely Hebrew, or as having been transferred from some older Shemitic tongue. In a few of them, however, there appear contrasts that can hardly be mistaken. Thus, for example, between Seth the established, the firm, and Enosh the weak, the frail (βροτός, mortalis, homo), the contrast is similar to that between Cain and Abel (gain, as the promised seed, and vanity or disappointment), as though the hopes of men, from generation to generation, were alternately rising and falling.—T. L.]

[2][Genesis 5:12.—מַהֲלַלְאֵל: Praise of God, or one who praises God. This is very plain, and seems to be followed by another contrast in the name יֶרֶד, a descending, whether it denotes degeneracy, despondency, or a plain, pious humility without the high rapture which seems to be indicated in that of the predecessor.—T. L.]

[3][Genesis 5:18.—חֲנוֹךְ: rendered devoted, initiated. This, however, seems to be a later sense of the root, although it is well applicable to the one to whom it is applied. From the Arabic there may be got the sense of instructed, learned, and from this came the notions of the Mohammedans and later Jews respecting Enoch’s great scientific attainments, as also, perhaps, the other name, Edris, by which he is mentioned in the Koran, though it would seem also as though they most unchronologically confounded him with Ezra.—T. L.]

[4][Genesis 5:22.—יּחְהַלֵּךְ. Compare the similar phrase Genesis 17:1; Genesis 24:40; Genesis 48:15, to walk before God. Here and in Genesis 6:9 to walk with God. In both cases it denotes concord, and the LXX. were justified in rendering it εὐηρέστησε “pleased God.”—T. L.]

[5][Genesis 5:29.—יְנַחֲמֵנוּ. The Jewish interpreters regard this as explanatory of the name Noah (rest), but not its etymological ground. Otherwise, says Rashi, he should have been called מְנַחֵם, Menahem. They also distinguish between etymology in the sound, and in the sense. They say (see Aben Ezra) that Noah invented instruments of agriculture (as the son of the Cainite Lamech invented weapons of war), and thus delivered their agriculture, in some measure, from the barrenness which had been brought upon it by the curse, and by bad tillage. This is grounded by them on the words of Lamech, and on what was said of Noah after the flood, that he was אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה, γεωργὸς, agricola, Genesis 9:20, a husbandman. יְנַחֲמֵנוּ, shall comfort, rather, shall revive, restore, make us breathe again, like the Greek ἀναψύχω. Compare Psalms 23:4 : “Thy rod and thy staff shall revive me.” It is the good shepherd restoring to life and vigor the fainting, dying sheep—to bring back the gasping breath. Hence the Syriac ܒܘܰܚܳܘܳܠܐ for the resurrection. It is not the sense of consolation, as some give it, but resuscitation, revivification.—T. L.]

[6] [Besides the reasons given by Lange against the idea of any lesser time being denoted by שָׁנָה, there are others arising from the etymology of the word. This makes it the most fixed and most distinct of all the measures of time. Not only in the Hebrew, but in the Greek, the radical idea of the word for year is repetition, or a coming over again in a second recurrence of the same astronomical series. Thus the primary sense of the verb שׁנה is to repeat, to do a second time; hence the word for the numeral two. In Greek there can be no doubt that ἔτος has the same idea, as we see it in Hom. Odyss. i. 16, ἔτος ἦλθε περιπλομένων ἐνιαυτῶν. Compare it with the particle ἔτι (Lat. et, iterum, iterare, Saxon yet, addition, repetition). So also in the word ἐνιαυτός (that which returns into itself), an etymology which, though condemned by some, is not to be rashly rejected. In harmony with this is the Latin annus, a ring, or circle. So the Gothic iar, jar, jer, the old Anglo-Saxon gear, German jahr, English year, seem all to carry the same thought, that which comes again,—being connected with the Greek ἔαρ (Latin ver), the spring, the repetition, the new life, and not with the indefinite Greek καιρός, as some lexicographers suppose. So marked a word carrying this distinct conception in all these languages, would be the last one to be used for any smaller, or less marked division, and this view is confirmed by the fact that neither in the Hebrew writings nor anywhere else do we ever find any such substitution. Years in the plural, שָׁנוֹת, seems sometimes to be used for larger designations, or for æonic time; as in such expressions as שְׁנוֹת יְמִין עֶלְיוֹן, “years of the right hand of the Most High,” Psalms 77:10, or “thy years, שְׁנוֹתֶיךָ, are for all generations,” Psalms 102:24; though even in these cases it may have its fixed astronomical measure, denoting God’s doings in time and human history.

We get a confirmation of these views by considering how the whole idea of time is divided for us into the astronomical and the æonic,—the former measured by the sun and other heavenly bodies, the latter above such measurement, entirely independent of it, having its division from inward evolutions, and thus presenting a higher and an independent chronology of its own. In astronomical time the day is the unit, complete in itself with its dual evolution, and having no smaller astronomical subdivisions, although it may be cut up into hours and watches by arbitrary numberings. In æonic time, the single αἰών or olam is the unit, and the greater measures are made by its reduplications and retriplications, its ages of ages (αἰῶνες τῶν αἰώνων) and worlds of worlds. We see from this why, of all astronomical measures, the day is used to represent the æonic unit, and to stand for an αἰὼν or an olam, as in the ἡμέρα αἰῶνος of 2 Peter 3:18. From its peculiar position as the unit in the one department, it becomes the most easy and natural term for this purpose in representing the higher chronology on the earthly scale. For the opposite reason, year and month are less fitted for such a parallelism; and hence we find the usage referred to so strongly verified in so many, perhaps in all, languages. A year is not only astronomical in itself, but internally divided by astronomical periods. Hence it is generally used for nothing longer or shorter than its own solar measurement. Everywhere, however, day is thus employed, not only in philosophical language where a magnus annus is artificially spoken of, but in common idioms, where we feel its natural propriety as used to denote any long internally completing, or self-evolving time, series, or cycle; as in that line of Virgil, Æn. vi. Genesis 745:

Donee longa dies perfecto temporis orbe,

or in that peculiar Latin phrase venire in diem, to be born, to come into the world, or in the still greater Scriptural phrases “before the day I am He,” Isaiah 43:13, or the ἡμέρα αἰῶνος already cited. We should feel it as a philological discord if year were thus used, whether in poetry, or in any other animated language. On the same ground it must appear as forced when any one would interpret שָׁנָה, ἔτος, ἐνιαυτός, jahr, year, of any shorter period. Besides, the Hebrews had two distinct names for months, neither of which is ever used in giving the lengths of lives, or in keeping the record of genealogies, although employed in the designation of festal times.—T. L.]

[7][In the excellent commentary on Genesis by Dr. James G. Murphy, of Belfast College (p. 196), there is a very clear and convincing comparison of the Hebrew text chronology with that of the Septuagint, the Samaritan, and Josephus. The internal evidence is shown to be decidedly in favor of the Hebrew from its proportional consistency. The numbers in the LXX. evidently follow a plan to which they have been conformed. This does not appear in the Hebrew, and it is greatly in favor of its being an authentic genealogical record. The numbers before the birth of a successor, which are chiefly important for the chronology, are enlarged in the LXX. by the addition of just one hundred years in each of six cases, making Adam 230 years old at the birth of Seth, Seth 205 at the birth of Enosh, and so on, whilst the sum-total of each life remains the same as in the Hebrew, with a slight exception of 25 years in the case of Lamech. The interest, here, is evident, to extend the total chronology without changing the other numbers of the macrobiology. It is not easy to imagine what motive could have led in the other direction, or to the shortening, if the original had been as given in the Septuagint; since all ancient nations have rather shown a disposition to lengthen their chronology. On physiological grounds, too, the Hebrew is to be preferred; since the length of the life does not at all require so late a manhood as those numbers would seem to intimate. There is no proof that these were all first-born sons. It was the line of the pious, of those that had the spiritual birth right. The unevenness of the Hebrew birth-figures, varying from 65 and 70 to 157, shows this, whilst the added 100 years, in each case, by the Septuagint, shows a design to bring them to some nearer proportional standard, grounded on some supposed physiological notion, and the unwarranted idea that each is a natural first-born. To all this must be added the fact that the Hebrew has the best claim to be regarded as the original text, from the well-known scrupulous, and even superstitious, care with which it has been textually preserved.—T. L.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/genesis-5.html. 1857-84.
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