“This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.” When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth” (Genesis 5:1-3).
When you read the first five books of the Bible, you’ll find that they tell us that Moses was the person that God used to write the book of Genesis and the other books of the Law. One example of this occurs in the book of Exodus where we read that, “Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said… Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people” (Exodus 24:4,7).
However, it’s also true that Moses was born about 300 years after the last events in Genesis occurred. So how did Moses get the information that he wrote about in the book of Genesis?
Well, one educated guess is that Moses may have had access to ancient historical documents that he used in constructing the book of Genesis under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We can find some support for this theory by looking at the structure of certain portions of the book of Genesis. As we said earlier, there are ten sections within the book of Genesis that are each divided by the same language: “This is the book of the genealogy of…” or “This is the book of the generations of…”
Since the Hebrew word for “generation” refers to “a genealogical list of one’s descendants, one’s contemporaries or the course of history,” (1) it’s thought that Moses may have taken actual written documentation (perhaps going as far back as Adam) and used that information in putting together the book of Genesis. In this case, the phrase, “These are the generations of…” indicates the place where one written history ends and another begins. (2)
So Genesis 5:1 begins by saying, “This is the written account of Adam’s line…” (NIV), or “This is the book of the generations of Adam…” (RSV), or “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam…” (NKJV) depending on which translation you are reading. This word “book” or “written account” can also be understood as a reference to a legal document. (1) So if Moses did use actual, written historic documentation in writing Genesis, then Genesis chapter five, verse one would be the point where one ancient writer stopped writing and the next one began.
(1) The Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada.
(2) See Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record pg. 27
“He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man'” (Genesis 5:2).
So humanity was given the name “man” by God right from the very beginning. While some may see the term “man” as a sexist or gender-specific term, the reality is that the word “man” or “mankind” is simply used as a general reference for humanity in the Scriptures.
“When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3).
When we first talked about the creation of humanity in Genesis chapter one, you may remember that Genesis 1:27 said that, “…God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” But now in Genesis 5:3 we find that Adam, “…became the father of a son in his own likeness, in his own image” (GW). So is there any real meaning in these differences?
Well, you’ve probably heard the term, “like father, like son” right? That old saying tells us that children generally grow up to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Since Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created Adam in His own image, we can say that Adam was also like his Father in the sense that he had no faults, imperfections, or defects.
But once Adam disobeyed God’s warning in the Garden of Eden, he was no longer like his Father anymore. Adam’s decision to disregard God’s warning lead to his separation from God and that decision eventually affected his children as well. Unfortunately, Adam’s children would follow in Adam’s image and likeness in the sense that they received a heritage that included Adam’s separation from God.
You see, Adam could not pass along the example of a good relationship with God to his children because he had lost it through his own disobedience. After all, everybody knows that one person cannot give another person something that they don’t already have, right? Well, the same idea is true with Adam and his children. Since Adam no longer had a good relationship with God, his children grew up “like father” in this sense. Because Adam’s children had the example of their father’s disobedience, they simply followed in his own footsteps- even to this day.
However, the good news is that Seth and his descendants will eventually go on to become very different people than Cain and his descendants.
“After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4).
So Adam lived for an additional 800 years after Seth was born and while don’t know exactly how many children Adam fathered, we do know that someone can have an awful lot of children when he or she lives for as long as Adam did.
For instance, let’s say that someone becomes the parent of one child every 2.5 years. That would add up to 40 children every one hundred years. When you consider the fact that Adam lived for more than nine centuries, that total would eventually add up to over 350 children born throughout the course of Adam’s lifetime. That’s a lot of children.
But let’s say that each of these children also began having children of their own every 20 years or so. Then let’s say that this process repeated itself every 20 years. In that case, Adam could have seen the number of his descendants grow to a tremendous amount of people by the time that he finally passed away.
“Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died” (Genesis 5:5).
Adam’s obituary here in Genesis 5:5 reminds us that whenever someone disobeys God, there is always a price to pay. Remember that way back in Genesis 2:17 God told Adam, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
930 years later, Adam paid the price for what he did wrong- and the price was his life, just as God warned him. This price tag is something that God would later inspire the Apostle Paul to write about in the New Testament book of Romans where we’re told that “…the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).
It took a long time, but the effects of Adam’s sin eventually caught up with him. In a similar way, people today may knowingly do something wrong but when God doesn’t punish them right away, they may think, “It’s not a big deal, God doesn’t care- I’m getting away with it.” The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes talks about this kind of attitude when it says, “Because God does not punish sinners instantly, people feel it is safe to do wrong” (Ecclesiastes 8:11 TLB).
We should never forget that choices have consequences and just because God hasn’t acted in a situation doesn’t mean that He can’t or won’t act. For Adam, it took hundreds of years before he had to pay the consequences for his actions but he still had to pay, just as everyone eventually will.
“When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:6-7).
Genesis 5:6-7 begins a section that continues on to the end of chapter five and provides us with a record and family history of some of Adam’s descendants. A closer look at this section also tells us that…
- The time period covered by this chapter is about 1650 years.
- The average life span of the people mentioned in Genesis chapter five is 907 years (not including Enoch- we’ll talk about him next).
- The average age when these people had their first child was 155 years of age.
Now one obvious thing that stands out in this chapter is the fact that the life expectancies of these people were really, really long. While an average person might live for 70-80 years today, the people mentioned in Genesis chapter five regularly lived to be 800-900 years old before they died. In fact, nobody in Genesis chapter five lived for less for than 365 years and the person who lived for 365 years really didn’t die. So how were these great life expectancies possible?
Well, it’s clear that people lived for much longer life spans before the Great Flood that we’ll talk about later when we look at Genesis chapter six. It’s thought that one reason for this may lie in the possibility that the overall environment before the Flood was a lot more favorable for human life than the environment that we live in today. The result was that people aged less quickly and were able to live much longer lives. Another possibility is that these early human beings had far fewer genetic flaws that cause people to become sick than people do today,
In any event, it seems that the consequences of Adam’s sin had much less of a physical effect on people, at least in the beginning. The result was that people lived for life spans that went on for centuries.
Just imagine what it would be like if this situation existed in our world today. Imagine what it would be like to talk to someone who was around when the steam engine was invented? What would it be like to personally talk to someone like Christopher Columbus or Leonardo DaVinci or Thomas Edison? What would it be like to speak with someone who lived during the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution? Almost everyone mentioned in Genesis chapter five would have been around for those things if people lived for similar life-spans today.
One person whose time on earth much shorter than the other people mentioned in Genesis chapter five was a man named Enoch (pronounced “ee-nock”). You can read about his story beginning in Genesis chapter five, verse twenty-one (5:21)…
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:21-24).
As far as Biblical characters go, Enoch is really a man of mystery. Outside of one mention in the New Testament book of Hebrews, almost everything that we know about Enoch comes from what we read here in Genesis chapter five.
Now when it says that Enoch,“…was no more, because God took him away,” the wording used seems to indicate that God somehow just snatched Enoch right off the planet sometime after his 365th birthday. So why would God take Enoch away to be with Him like this?
Well, Hebrews 11:5 tells us that before he was taken away, Enoch was known as someone who was pleasing to God. Genesis 5:24 simply tells us that “…Enoch walked with God.” In other words, Enoch pleased God by moving steadily forward in his relationship with Him, just like you do when you walk with somebody. Enoch didn’t run ahead and he didn’t stop and start- he just walked with God.
This idea of “walking with God” is also mentioned in the Old Testament book of Micah where it says, “.. the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what He requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NLT). You see, if you want to walk with God, then you have to be where God is going- and the road that God is on includes things like justice, mercy, and humility. Like Enoch, you can also be someone who is pleasing to God by walking along the life-road of justice, mercy, and humility with Him.
Now there’s one more thing to consider before we leave this chapter. After looking at the ages of some of the people mentioned in this chapter, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the oldest person mentioned in the Bible is found right here in Genesis chapter five. That person’s name was Methuselah (pronounced “meth-thoo-sel-ah”) and he lived for 969 years. Methuselah’s father was Enoch, the man who walked with God, and the name that Enoch gave his son is very interesting. According to one scholar-type, Methuselah’s name means, “when he dies, judgment.” (1)
So what might that judgment refer to? Well, that answer comes in the next chapter.
(1) Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record pg. 155