Like Father, Like Son

1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.

When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.

When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan. 10 Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters. 11 Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died.

12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel. 13 Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters. 14 Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.

15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared. 16 Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters. 17 Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died.

18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch. 19 Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died.

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech. 26 Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27 Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son 29 and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” 30 Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31 Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.

32 After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Genesis 5:1-32 ESV

Chapter four ended with the disclosure of two disparate branches of Adam’s family tree. One flows through the line of Cain, while the other will make its way through the lineage of Seth, the third son born to Adam and Eve. God had graciously replaced the son whom Cain had murdered.

She named him Seth, saying, “God has given me another child in place of Abel because Cain killed him.” – Genesis 4:25 NET

These two branches of Adam’s family tree had veered off in diametrically opposite directions. Six generations later, Lamech would demonstrate that Cain’s anger-management problem had been hereditary. He followed in his forefather’s footsteps, murdering a man for having wounded or “bruised” him. He claimed it was a case of self-defense, but boasted that he would do it again if anyone else threatened his life.

But through the line of Seth came a people who “began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26 ESV). Rather than boasting in their own self-sufficiency and autonomy, they “call out” to God. The Hebrew word קָרָא (qārā’) carries the idea of crying out in reverence and dependence. It is the same word used to describe how Abram worshiped God after having received the covenant promise.

From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. – Genesis 12:8 ESV

The author of the book of Genesis (most likely Moses) is attempting to help his contemporary readers (fellow Jews) understand how the world went from “very good” to extremely bad. And chapter five is intended to provide a condensed genealogical overview that helps to explain mankind’s meteoric fall from grace. The content of chapter five is bracketed by two verses that act as parenthesis for all that happens in between. The first is found at the end of chapter four.

At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. – Genesis 4:26 ESV

The second appears in the opening section of chapter six.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5 ESV

In the middle of these two verses, Moses provides a detailed but not exhaustive description of Adam’s family tree through the line of his son, Seth. The chapter begins with Adam and ends with the birth of Noah. For the Jews to whom Moses originally penned the words of this book, the appearance of Noah’s name would have been familiar. His name and exploits would have been passed down from generation to generation through their oral traditions. They were intimately acquainted with the story of Noah and the flood. What Moses wants them to understand is how the flood became a necessity, to begin with. How did things get so bad that God had to destroy the entire world?

But a close look at the genealogical listing will reveal another name that was meant to stand out. It pops up, almost unexpectedly, in the very middle of the chapter and at the midway point of the genealogy.

Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died.

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. – Genesis 5:19-24 ESV

Throughout the chapter, Moses has described the steady progression of mankind as father begets son, and son begets grandson. Man, made “in the likeness of God” (Genesis 5:1 ESV), continued to make more of his own kind, in keeping with the kingdom mandate. But there is a subtle, yet significant, change that takes place in verse 3 of chapter five. It states that Adam “fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image” (Genesis 5:3 ESV). Seth mirrored his father’s image. He bore his father’s likeness. Because of the fall, mankind’s ability to bear God’s image has been damaged. While originally created in pristine perfection, Adam and Eve chose to violate God’s command concerning the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. No longer content to reflect God’s image and serve as stewards over His creation, they chose to be “like God” and rule their own kingdom. And for their rebellion, God cast them out of the garden and away from His presence. The book of Genesis chronicles mankind’s steady and deliberate journey out of Eden and away from the glorious light of God’s glory.

And throughout chapter five, Moses clarifies what it means to be made in “the likeness” of man.

Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. – Genesis 5:5 ESV

Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. Genesis 5:8 ESV

Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. – Genesis 5:11 ESV

Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died. – Genesis 5:14 ESV

Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died. – Genesis 5:17 ESV

Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. – Genesis 5:20 ESV

Each generation suffered the results of the curse that God had placed on Adam.

“By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:19 ESV

Death had become inevitable and unavoidable. Sin had separated man from God’s presence and prevented him from accessing the tree of life. As the ages listed in the genealogy reflect, the average lifespans were incredibly long. But they all ended in death. No one was able to escape the condemnation that God had decreed for mankind’s rebellion against Him.

Yet there is an outlier in the list. One individual stands out among all the others. Moses states that “all the days of Enoch were 365 years” (Genesis 5:23 ESV). Enoch doesn’t even make it to middle age, and Moses explains why.

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. – Genesis 5:24 ESV

This verse was meant to stand out. After all the repeated occurrences of “and he died,” Moses states that Enoch “was not.” The Hebrew word is אִין (‘în), and it comes from a primitive root that means “to be nothing” or “to not exist.” In a sense, Moses is suggesting that Enoch just disappeared. He didn’t die, he just simply ceased to exist in his former condition. Why? Because God “took him.” He literally “snatched” or “fetched” Enoch away. God rewarded Enoch for his faithfulness by allowing him to forego the curse of death. Enoch was miraculously transported into God’s presence.

Twice in this passage, Moses points out that Enoch “walked with God.” The Hebrew word is הָלַךְ (hālaḵ), and it is often used metaphorically to refer to human behavior. It is the same word that God used when He called Abraham into a covenant relationship.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” – Genesis 17:1-2 ESV

God was calling Abraham to “conduct his life” as if God was watching. He was to live in such a way that his behavior reflected his awareness of God’s constant presence. And that is exactly how Enoch had lived his 365 years of life. He lived with a constant awareness of God’s nearness and confidence in God’s goodness.

“‘Walked with God’ is metaphorical and indicates that Enoch had a lifestyle characterized by his devotion to God. The sense of ‘walk’ (halak) in its verbal stem indicates a communion or intimacy with God.” – Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 111:26

Enoch is meant to be an anomaly, a glaring point of light in what will quickly become a darkening tale of human sin and degradation. And the chapter ends with another glimmer of hope. It’s revealed in the birth of a man named Noah. His entrance into the world is accompanied by a fatherly premonition that this young man will be unlike all the others. He will have a unique and God-ordained role to play in the ongoing saga of humanity’s destiny.

“Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” – Genesis 5:29 ESV

Moses provides no explanation for this blessing. He simply ends the chapter with a brief but encouraging note of hope. Something is about to transpire. After centuries of human procreation, resulting in a burgeoning population, the situation on earth is about to come to a head. The curse placed on Adam will reach a resounding crescendo. But there will also be an unexpected form of relief, provided for by the gracious hand of God.

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