Genesis 5:1-32, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man[a] when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. 4 The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. 5 Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.
6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. 7 Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. 8 Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.
9 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[b] 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,[c] 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[d] 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.”
After concluding Cain’s history, Moses devotes today’s passage to Seth’s descendants. Though this genealogy may seem far removed from us in the twenty-first century, it was very important for the first audience of this book — the nascent nation of Israel — to understand where they came from. Furthermore, this chapter (and 6:1–8) introduces Noah, the brightest light in the primeval darkness.
Chapter 5 begins with a brief recapitulation of mankind’s origin (vv. 1–5). Reminding us of our status as God’s image-bearer is important since the deaths recorded in this chapter reveal that man was not then, and is not now, enjoying Eden’s blessing. Nevertheless, humanity retains the imago Dei while exiled from paradise.
The great life spans recorded in this chapter are of special significance. During the primeval period, human beings lived much longer than they do now. It is not exactly clear why this was so, but in any case, none of these men achieved one thousand years of earthly existence. Moses is thus emphasizing the mortality introduced by the fall in contrast to the eternity our sovereign Lord experiences. For Him a thousand years are but a day (Ps. 90:1–4).
Seth’s family stands in stark contrast to Cain’s in terms of its faithfulness. He too had a descendant named Enoch, but this Enoch knew it was more important to walk with God than to establish a legacy of his own in this world with a city named after himself (Gen. 5:24; 4:17). The Lord rewarded Enoch and immediately translated him into heaven, just as He later honored the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 2:1–12a). Enoch’s story is one of the few direct allusions to eternal life with God in the Old Testament, given, as Calvin says, “to elevate the minds of his [the Lord’s] saints with certain faith before their death…that a better life was elsewhere laid up for them.”
In Seth’s line there is also a Lamech (Gen. 5:28–31), but he is far more pious than the Lamech among Cain’s relatives (4:23–24). His devotion is evident in his hope for Noah to provide relief from the curse (5:28–29). As we will soon see, this happens after a fashion, but not in the way Lamech necessarily expected.
Today’s passage illustrates the principle that “whenever a good man dies, God takes him, takes him from here, and receives him to himself” (Matthew Henry). Even though most of the Lord’s people will have to experience physical death, those who by faith have laid hold of Christ’s righteousness will receive the same eternal reward as Enoch (John 3:16). Take some time today to meditate on your reward and ask the Lord to help you serve Him in gratitude for it.
The Line of Seth, Copyright (2022), Ligonier Ministries.