The Expository Files

Adam's Family

Genesis 5

In chapter five of Genesis, we read of ten generations, beginning with Adam, and ending with the sons of Noah. In Genesis eleven, we also find ten generations, beginning with Shem and ending with Abraham. These generations are also found in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3). These genealogies say very little of these men except that they lived, fathered children, and died. Death had entered the world with the sin of Adam. Victory over death would come through the descendent of these men. In this article, we will consider some of the notable persons in the family of Adam.

Some suggest that these genealogies are not complete, but rather just list the more notable characters and then skips several generations (the Bible does sometimes do this (Matthew 1:1), but I can see no evidence of it in these Old Testament records. Maybe... maybe not.

Seth (Gen. 4:25,26; 5:6-8)
Seth was the son of Adam and Eve. Three of the second generation of mankind are named; Cain, Abel and Seth. Many fail to realize that Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters who are not mentioned by name in the Bible (Genesis 5:3,4). The children of these sons and daughters of Adam and Eve became the parents of the third generation.

Due to the long life spans of human beings before the flood, it was not uncommon to live hundreds of years, living to see one's great great great great great great great grand children. We find people having children on into the second century of life (it was nothing to have a child in one's 60's or 70's). After the flood, human longevity drops dramatically as the aging process is accelerated.

The population would grow quickly because of this, and herein is the key to the old question, "Where did Cain get his wife?" The answer, from a group of Adam's descendants who settled in the land of Nod, perhaps a century or two later (Genesis 4:16-17). The human population would have been quite numerous by then.

The name "Seth" means "set", or "appoint." Adam named him Seth because God had appointed seed from him instead of Abel, who was murdered by Cain (4:26). The implication is even more far reaching than this; for God had promised the coming of One who would defeat Satan (Genesis 3:15). It would be through Seth's descendants that this promise would be fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 3:38).

Seth named one of his sons Enosh, which means "frailty." (Genesis 5:6-8). Enosh is the son through whom the Messianic promise is fulfilled. Again, Seth had other sons and daughters, and along with his brothers and sisters, are multiplying themselves rapidly. The Bible says that in the days of Seth, "men began to call on the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26). It has been suggested that Seth named his son Enosh (frailty) because he recognized the frailty of man and their need for God. Therefore they began to call on the name of the Lord.

The word "LORD" is from the Hebrew "Yahweh" or "Jehovah". It describes the eternal, self-existing nature of God... the "I Am"; One without beginning or end. The phrase "Call upon His name" shows trust in His mercy and the realization that we need His care. It is a humbling of oneself before God in worship and obedience.

Interestingly enough, contrast this with the statement about Cain (4:16). Sethites "call upon the name of the Lord" while Cain (and his descendants) are described as going "out from the presence of the Lord."

Enoch (Gen. 5:21-24)
Enoch "walked with God." He had close communion with God and directed his life in accordance with God's will. The Scriptures also state that Enoch "was not, for God took him." This expression means that Enoch did not die like those who preceded him. Instead, God "translated" him.

This is the same expression used concerning Elijah who also did not die but was taken into heaven (2 Kings 2:3-5). Enoch "walked with God" meaning he lived by faith and was pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:5). Without faith one cannot be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). Enoch "sought for God" and was rewarded by God. In the New Testament, Jude called Enoch a prophet (Jude 14). This prophecy deals with the judgment of God upon the ungodly. Enoch's message to his generation was one of warning of God's judgment.

Methuselah (Gen. 5:25-27)
The only notable thing about Methuselah was that of all those mentioned in the Bible, he lived the longest, 969 years. Which would you rather do; live as long as Methuselah, or please God? Methuselah lived a long time, but was not pleasing to God (Genesis 6:5,8). The Bible states that only Noah was righteous during a time when Methuselah still lived. Interestingly, Methuselah died the year of the flood. We do not know if he died previous to the flood, or in it.

Noah (Gen. 5:29)
The name Noah means "rest." Lamech, Noah's father, gave him this name because, "This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed" This reminds us of the original cursing of the ground. Noah's parents look forward to Noah helping them toil out a living hoping it will ease their burden of survival.

But with Noah will come a different kind of rest; a rest of the earth itself from the sin which plagued it.

Things to Think About
The consequences of Adam's sin, physical death, continued through his offspring. Repeatedly the phrase is used in Genesis five; "and he died". The one exception is Enoch, as we already noted. For help, we turn to the One who blessed Enoch with life (John 11:23-26; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23).

Men should call on the name of the Lord. Today, since Jesus has now come, this entails obeying His gospel by faith (Romans 10:13). This involves baptism to have our sins washed away (Acts 22:16; 2:37,38).

Finally, one can "please God" by "walking with Him." Like Enoch, we need to "walk with God" by faith. It is the wise thing to do (Ephesians 5:15; 1 John 1:6-7). Remember, you and I are a part of Adam's family as well.

By Jon W. Quinn
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From Expository Files 9.8; August 2002