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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Genesis 5

CHAP. V.

The genealogy, age, and death of the patriarchs descended from Adam by Seth to Noah. Enoch pleases God, and, after having begotten Methuselah, is taken up to heaven.

GENERAL REFLECTIONS. on Chap. IV. and V.

CHAP. V. The greatest part of the events happening between the fall of our first parents and the present period, had been (as it were) so many consequences of their sin, and of the sentence pronounced upon them. God seems to have shewn himself to mankind chiefly on the side of his justice. The faithful themselves could hardly avoid being overwhelmed at the sight of so many scourges, and could but darkly discover the promises of grace and immortality through the obscure veil of the prophecy, the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Accordingly religion furnished men but imperfectly, with one of the most powerful motives which it proposes to bring us to God, namely, that He is a rewarder of all them who diligently seek him. God was pleased therefore to give a shining proof of that truth, and, at the same time, to set before the whole church an anticipated image of the victories, which the Messiah was one day to obtain over the enemies of our salvation. And this was the translation of ENOCH.

He was a man of fame, and a prophet: but he had qualities more worthy of emulation than these: he was a man of extraordinary goodness and probity. He walked with God, Moses tells us; and St. Paul says of him, that he pleased God, an expression which is the most beautiful of all eulogies. His eminent piety was crowned with a privilege which God has seldom granted, with an exemption from the law, which condemns to death the whole posterity of Adam. In each of the three great periods of the church, there has been an instance of a man taken up to heaven in body and soul, in order to support the hopes possessed by all true believers, of arriving at the same happiness. Enoch was the first of those examples, before the law; Elijah under the law; and Jesus Christ, our great Leader, under the gospel-dispensation!

God has been pleased to communicate the light in each of these periods after such a manner, that it has appeared gradually, till it came to shine out in its utmost splendor. It was a favourable presage for the faithful of the first world to see a good man vanish away, and be lodged, after sojourning upon the earth, in some better place than a tomb. It was yet a stronger presumption in favour of those who lived in the second period, that the heavens should be opened for the reception of one of their prophets, who was carried up thither in a chariot of fire. But it is a demonstration to Christians, and, as it were, a taking possession of their expected happiness, to see the Author and Finisher of their faith rise triumphant over death and hell, and ascend into those mansions he had purchased for them!
Happy they who imitate righteous Enoch, walking with God, as he did, that, after this short life ended, they may follow their triumphant Redeemer, and enjoy those seats of blessedness which he is gone before to prepare for them! And to incite more and more in our hearts a holy ambition after that future glory, to raise our affections above this transitory scene, to cure us of the false love of life, and all its empty glories; let us contemplate in these patriarchs before us, who lived so many hundred years, in them let us contemplate the vanity of all worldly wishes and pursuits. That they lived, and that they died, is all which is recorded of them! and what can we expect, whose lives, compared to theirs, are indeed a very span! Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.

Affected by this information, let us endeavour to make our short lives as useful as we can, by all acts of beneficence and charity, by receiving and doing good: if we would avoid being bewitched by pleasure, let us begin to despise it when young: if we would provide against the miseries of age, let us, through divine grace, arm ourselves with an early piety: if we be fond of rank and precedence, let us consider how soon death will level us; and if we be anxious for fame hereafter, let us reflect that we shall be incapable of enjoying it; and that, in a very little time, few will or can know it. Intended as we are for another, even an endless life, let us shun the delusive allurements of this, and fix all our hopes of happiness, of time, and of pleasure there!

Verse 1

Genesis 5:1. The book of the generation See note on Genesis 2:4, Sepher ספר rendered book, signifies any particular relation, recital, or account; a register, catalogue, or epistle. Here, therefore, the book of the generations means, "an account, or recital, of the posterity of Adam." So Matthew 1:1. βιβλος γενεσεως, the book of the generation, implies, "an account of those from whom Christ, the second Adam, came." The succession is derived down only in a right line to Noah, because that alone concerned the sacred writer's purpose, which, as has been observed, and should be remembered, is to trace the original promise through its several stages.

Verse 2

Genesis 5:2. Called their name Adam i.e.. Man. "He called both male and female man," says Mr. Locke, "the common name of both sexes: so homo is used in the Latin."

Verse 3

Genesis 5:3. Lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son, &c.— As the whole beginning of this chapter is a recapitulation only to introduce an account of the descendants of Adam by Seth, we can conclude nothing respecting any other children of Adam, though there seems no reason to doubt that he had several, who are not mentioned: and probably the words, he begat sons and daughters, at the end of the fourth verse, may refer as well to the children born before as after the period there mentioned.

Verse 5

Genesis 5:5. And all the days—were nine hundred and thirty years Nothing is more remarkable than the longevity of those who lived before the flood: a matter which has exercised the thoughts and employed the pens of many: some wholly denying the fact, and insisting that not solar, but lunar years are meant; an absurdity which carries its own conviction, because thus the lives of this first generation would scarcely equal ours, while they must have themselves begotten children at the age of childhood. Others have been very solicitous to account for the fact itself; a matter, in my judgment, of little moment, and perhaps impossible to be attained satisfactorily. However, calm and settled seasons, strong original stamina, and temperate living, have with good shew of reason been urged. Perhaps we shall find nothing more rational on the subject than what Josephus offers: "They were beloved of God, and newly formed by that God himself: and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, they might well live so great a number of years." Josephus adds, that he has for witnesses to this truth all who have written antiquities, both among Greeks and Barbarians: who all agree in relating that the ancients lived a thousand, or near a thousand years.

And he died Thus our great progenitor left the world! after having seen his issue in the ninth generation (for he died in the 56th year of Lamech's life) and having felt the direful effects of his apostacy from God. For, besides the griefs he bore, says Calmet, for his personal transgression, he had the mortification to see an early rupture in his family, by the hatred and malice of Cain, which ended in the foul and unnatural murder of his brother. He was witness to the beginnings of that universal corruption which at last brought on the deluge: and when he beheld himself the source of those growing evils, whereof he saw no end, he might probably think more favourably of the sentence of his Creator dooming him to the dust; and however nature might shrink at the execution, reason, rectified by grace, would justify the wisdom and goodness of Providence, in putting a period to a calamitous life, which he had long since forfeited: a life which he would resign with more cheerfulness, while he viewed, with full faith and hope, that promise of a future Deliverer, which alone could sustain the souls of the faithful.

But before we leave the history of Adam, we must take a view of him as typical of the great Messiah. St. Luke informs us, ch. Genesis 24:27. that our Lord, "beginning at Moses, and all the Prophets, expounded in all the scriptures," to the two disciples going to Emmaus, "the things concerning himself." The scriptures are full of Christ: the eye therefore of our readers must be continually kept fixed upon him, who is the author and the great subject of all the oracles of God. Innumerable passages of scripture, especially through the writings of St. Paul, justify our considering Adam as typifying in various respects the great Saviour of the world, if we view him as the first man, the first father, the first lord, or the first husband.*

* See M'Ewen on the Types.

Adam was the first man in the world of nature, who being formed out of the dust of the ground, by the immediate hand of his Creator, was without father, and without mother, and in a sense peculiar to himself, is called the son of God. Luke 3:38. He was also a creature perfectly new, to whom there was nothing like, and nothing equal, among all the visible works of God; for his person consisting of a visible body, and an invisible soul, was made after the image and in the likeness of God, which chiefly consists in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Now, it certainly is not difficult to perceive that all these characters exactly agree to the second Man, who is the First-born among many brethren in the world of grace,—without father as man,—without mother as God. His body was formed (not indeed of the dust of the ground, but in a manner equally unexampled and miraculous) of the virgin's substance, by the immediate power of God; and so soon as a reasonable soul was united to it in the womb of the virgin, both were, at that very moment, assumed into the Divine Person of the Son; wherefore, in all propriety, that holy Thing which was born of her, was called the Son of God; Luk 1:35 or, to use the expression of an Old Testament Prophet, was "a new thing created in the earth." Jeremiah 31:22. In the man Christ Jesus is found more of the divine likeness than all the saints, than all the holy angels can dare to boast. "For which of them have been called at any time the Brightness of the Father's Glory, and the express Image of his Person? or to which of them has he said, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?" Hebrews 3:5. Though in shadowing forth the constitution of Immanuel's person, all similitudes must be infinitely defective; yet the union of Adam's soul and body is perhaps the best natural emblem of it we can expect to find. Nor does it seem unlawful for us to assist our conception of this high mystery by this natural union, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost himself, in the scriptures of the New Testament, seems to allude unto it when he calls his humanity the flesh, and his divinity the spirit. In the former he was manifested, in the latter he was justified. 1 Timothy 3:16. In the one he was put to death, and by the other he was quickened. If the constitution of the first Adam's person was an incomprehensible mystery in nature, the constitution of the second Adam's person is no less an incomprehensible mystery of grace.

As Adam was the first man that God created, so he was the first father and progenitor of all other men, who are every one born in his image as they come into the world of nature, and breathe the vital air. Just so, from Jesus Christ, the everlasting Father, all who come into the world of grace derive their spiritual being; his image they bear, 1Co 15:49 and from him "the whole family in heaven and earth is named:" though here also there is a considerable disparity betwixt the earthly man and the heavenly Adam. The first man is not the immediate, but the remote father of our flesh; for "one generation goes, and another comes:" but Jesus Christ is the immediate father of all his saints, who in every age receive from him the light of life, as the silver moon receives her light immediately from the sun, the glorious fountain of the day. "The first Adam," as Moses relates, "was made a living soul," 1Co 15:45 that he might convey a natural life to them who had not received it: but "the second Adam," as the apostle declares, "was made a quickening spirit," to impart a spiritual life to them who, having lost it, were dead in trespasses and sins: and at the resurrection of the just to quicken also their mortal bodies. For "as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Once more: Adam was the first lord and king of the world. "Being made a little lower than the angels, he was crowned with glory and honour. He had dominion over the works of God's hands; and all things were put under his feet: all sheep and oxen, the beasts of the field, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." Psalms 8:5-8. But, alas! the dominion of this lord of the inferior creation was short-lived; for "being in honour, he continued not." Psalms 49:12. Nevertheless, in the person of Jesus Christ, God-man, the primaeval sovereignty of the human nature is most amply restored; for he is made "Head over all things unto his body the church," both in the heights and depths. Ephesians 1:22. The jurisdiction of Adam, though wide, was not universal; but the kingdom of Jesus Christ ruleth over all. He can, if he please, extinguish the stars and the sun, which shine by his permission; and "of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end." Isaiah 9:7.

Let us, lastly, come to the marriage of our great progenitor. God saw it was not good for man to be alone: Gen 2:18 he casts him into a deep sleep, and, by his creative power, out of his side forms a woman. Having healed the breach, he presents the newly-formed creature to her husband, who, being awaked, knew what was done unto him, and with wonder acknowledged this last and best gift of heaven to be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife." Genesis 2:24. Now, may I be allowed to allegorize this real history? Does not the apostle seem to say, that this is spoken of Christ and the Church? Ephesians 5:32. Let us modestly pursue the allegory a little. The second Adam, that he might give life and being to his beloved spouse, the church, the mother of all that are truly living, was content to sleep the sleep of death. This sleep of death was not the effect of nature, for he died not of old age or sickness; but he voluntarily delivered up himself to be crucified and slain. His side was opened with a spear, and from the gaping wound came water and blood, "that he might, sanctify and cleanse, and present to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." Ephesians 5:26-27. By this sleep of death into which he was cast, he becomes at once her husband and her father; for she is a part of himself, of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Ephesians 5:30. When he awaked at his resurrection, his wounds were healed; he found himself a glorious conqueror; he saw of the travail of his soul, and was satisfied. He acknowledges the relation, and betroths her to himself for ever in loving-kindness, in mercies, and in faithfulness.

For ever blessed be the glorious name of God, that what the first Adam did not keep, the second hath amply restored to us: "For as in Adam sin hath reigned unto death, so grace hath reigned through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord:" Romans 5:21. "who is not only come, that we might have life, but that we might have it more abundantly." John 10:10.

Verse 24

Genesis 5:24. Enoch walked with God This is fully explained by what is said of Noah in the 9th verse of the next chapter. See also ch. Genesis 17:1. To walk with or before God, signifies "to live, as if always in his presence."

And he was not He ceased to appear among men: for God took him to heaven, as he afterwards did Elijah. See 2 Kings 2:3. So we read, Hebrews 11:5. By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death: and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation, he had this testimony that he pleased God. Enoch, it is plain, from Jud 1:14 was a prophet: and the heathens had some general traces of his history, under the name of Annacus, or Nannacus, who, they tell us, lived before Deucalion, and foretold the flood. Some have thought that there are traces of Enoch's prophetic spirit in the name of Methuselah, which he gave his son; for the first part of it, methu, says Bochart, evidently carries in it the name of death, being as much as he dies: and selah signifies the sending forth of water, as in Job 5:10. And therefore Methuselah imports as much as "when he is dead, shall ensue an emission or inundation of waters," to the destruction of the whole earth. Methuselah died in the very year of the deluge.

REFLECTIONS.—Observe, 1. How death passed upon all. Their lives were long indeed, but the burden of the tale is, and he died. Health, riches, wisdom, and, what is better, godliness, make no distinction here. 2. Their days are mentioned, to remind us that years and ages are but longer days; and when they are gone, will be like yesterday which is past. A sinner looks back with regret on these lives of ages, and wishes their return; a saint of God rejoices in his happier lot, that he is not left so long to groan in this tabernacle, being burdened.

From Adam to Enoch, nothing is said of the characters of those whose names are mentioned. The silence of the sacred writer bids us hope the best. But in Enoch God singles out one to be the imitation of future ages, as he was the glory of that in which he lived. Observe,
1. His conversation in the world. He walked with God.
(1.) His practice was agreeable to God's will; he maintained a happy communion with him: his soul was weaned from the vanities of the world, and fixed on God as his only portion. And indeed the life of every christian is walking with God. 1. As a reconciled sinner, through the blood of Christ. 2. As a restored soul, through the spirit of Christ. 3. As an obedient servant, according to the word of Christ. 4. As an observant worshipper in all ordinances, and an attentive improver of all providences. 5. As happy in the fellowship obtained with God, through his dear Song of Song of Solomon 6:0. As a constant expectant of God's appearing to take us to himself, that we may behold his glory.

(2.) His preaching. He not only himself lived for God, but he laboured for God, Jud 1:14 boldly rebuking sin, and encouraging the faithful in their adherence to God, from the prospect of the appearance of the Lord, to judge the ungodly, and to reward his saints.

(3.) His perseverance herein: to the end of his days. There seems no reason to apprehend he did not walk with God before; we are assured, however, after he begat Methuselah, he did three hundred years. Every true saint of God is known by his perseverance in the ways of God. It was a long while to live thus in a wicked world: but he walked by faith.
2. His translation from earth to heaven. It was his business and happiness to live for God: it was his reward to live with God. He was in the prime of life, when God took him; had not, according to general reckoning, lived out half his days: but surely he was a wonderful gainer by the exchange. He quitted a wicked world for a heavenly kingdom; a life of toil for a rest in glory; a scene of vanity for bliss eternal. May we not hence observe, that we ought not too much to lament for our dear friends that die in the Lord, lest our selfishness, rather than our affection, appear. Though the child be robbed from the tender parents, the pious husband from his weeping family, or the zealous minister from his desolate flock: the loss indeed is ours, the gain is theirs. They have lived enough, whom God takes to himself: the days which are cut off from the labours of time, shall be added to the rewards of eternity. Early deaths, and sudden deaths, are reckoned untimely; but who can think it untimely to go to the bosom of Jesus? Or who should grieve that:—
No painful agonies need to untie The soul that's ready to ascend on high, And mourns its exile from its native sky!
3. The manner of his translation. He was caught up, perhaps visibly, as Elijah afterwards, into heaven: his body changed in the twinkling of an eye from corruption to incorruption, from dishonour to glory; and his soul made meet for an inheritance among the saints in light. We may not hope for such a change, but we expect an equivalent; the arm of death, which snatches the believer from the earth, shall carry him to the place, whither Enoch is gone before.

4. The grand principle which influenced him to such a conduct, and brought him to such an end; faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah that was to come, the promised seed, Hebrews 11:5. For (1.) faith only can enable us to walk with God; (2.) and thus shall we please God; (3.) and God will testify his pleasure in such a walk by his witness in our hearts now, and by his approbation in the day of judgment. (4.) Eminent believers shall have singular honours, as one star differeth from another star in glory.

Verse 29

Genesis 5:29. Called his name Noah, saying, this same shall comfort, &c.— Noah (נה) the proper name is derived from the verb we render comfort, and consequently implies consolation: and the following words, concerning our work and toil of our hands, &c. seem to affix this consolation to corporal labour, respecting the productions of the earth. But we know so little of the state of the antediluvian earth, and the degree of toil consequent upon the original curse, that it is impossible to determine in the present case.

Verse 32

Genesis 5:32. Shem, Ham, and Japheth Japheth was the elder born, Ham the second, and Shem the youngest, as appears from chap. 10: and from 1 Chronicles 1 : &c. But it is easy to see the reason why Shem is placed first, to whom probably the right of primogeniture was transferred, and from whom came the Messiah. But it is not so easy to see the reason why Ham is mentioned before Japheth: probably it may be, because the posterity of Ham are more distinctly treated of in the following history, and came more immediately upon the stage of action, prior to the posterity of Japheth. Whatever other children Noah had, these three only were preferred with him.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 5". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/genesis-5.html. 1801-1803.