Generations: Adam to Noah.#The second of the five Priestly formulas in Part I (“This is the record of the descendants
”; see 2:4a; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10) introduces the second of the three linear genealogies in Gn 1–11 (4:17–24 and 11:10–26). In each, a list of individuals (six in 4:17–24, ten in 5:1–32, or nine in 11:10–26) ends in three people who initiate action. Linear genealogies (father to son) in ancient societies had a communicative function, grounding the authority or claim of the last-named individual in the first-named. Here, the genealogy has a literary function as well, advancing the story by showing the expansion of the human race after Adam, as well as the transmission to his descendant Noah of the divine image given to Adam. Correcting the impression one might get from the genealogy in 4:17–24, this genealogy traces the line through Seth rather than through Cain. Most of the names in the series are the same as the names in Cain’s line in 4:17–19 (Enosh, Enoch, Lamech) or spelled with variant spellings (Mahalalel, Jared, Methuselah). The genealogy itself and its placement before the flood shows the influence of ancient Mesopotamian literature, which contains lists of cities and kings before and after the flood. Before the flood, the ages of the kings ranged from 18,600 to 36,000 years, but after it were reduced to between 140 and 1,200 years. The biblical numbers are much smaller. There are some differences in the numbers in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. 1#Gn 1:27; Wis 2:23; Sir 17:1; Jas 3:9. This is the record of the descendants of Adam. When God created human beings, he made them in the likeness of God; 2he created them male and female. When they were created, he blessed them and named them humankind.
3#1 Chr 1:1–4; Lk 3:36–38. Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when he begot a son in his likeness, after his image; and he named him Seth.#Gn 4:25. 4Adam lived eight hundred years after he begot Seth, and he had other sons and daughters. 5The whole lifetime of Adam was nine hundred and thirty years; then he died.
6When Seth was one hundred and five years old, he begot Enosh. 7Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he begot Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. 8The whole lifetime of Seth was nine hundred and twelve years; then he died.
9When Enosh was ninety years old, he begot Kenan. 10Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he begot Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. 11The whole lifetime of Enosh was nine hundred and five years; then he died.
12When Kenan was seventy years old, he begot Mahalalel. 13Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he begot Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. 14The whole lifetime of Kenan was nine hundred and ten years; then he died.
15When Mahalalel was sixty-five years old, he begot Jared. 16Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he begot Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. 17The whole lifetime of Mahalalel was eight hundred and ninety-five years; then he died.
18When Jared was one hundred and sixty-two years old, he begot Enoch. 19Jared lived eight hundred years after he begot Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 20The whole lifetime of Jared was nine hundred and sixty-two years; then he died.
21When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he begot Methuselah. 22Enoch walked with God after he begot Methuselah for three hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. 23The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years. 24Enoch walked with God,#Enoch is in the important seventh position in the ten-member genealogy. In place of the usual formula “then he died,” the change to “Enoch walked with God” implies that he did not die, but like Elijah (2 Kgs 2:11–12) was taken alive to God’s abode. This mysterious narrative spurred much speculation and writing (beginning as early as the third century B.C.) about Enoch the sage who knew the secrets of heaven and who could communicate them to human beings (see Sir 44:16; 49:14; Heb 11:5; Jude 14–15 and the apocryphal work 1 Enoch). and he was no longer here, for God took him.#Wis 4:10–11; Sir 44:16; 49:14; Heb 11:5.
25When Methuselah was one hundred and eighty-seven years old, he begot Lamech. 26Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he begot Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. 27The whole lifetime of Methuselah was nine hundred and sixty-nine years; then he died.
28When Lamech was one hundred and eighty-two years old, he begot a son 29#Gn 3:17–19. and named him Noah, saying, “This one shall bring us relief from our work and the toil of our hands, out of the very ground that the Lord has put under a curse.”#The sound of the Hebrew word noah, “Noah,” is echoed in the word yenahamenu, “he will bring us relief”; the latter refers both to the curse put on the soil because of human disobedience (3:17–19) and to Noah’s success in agriculture, especially in raising grapes for wine (9:20–21). 30Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he begot Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. 31The whole lifetime of Lamech was seven hundred and seventy-seven years; then he died.
32When Noah was five hundred years old, he begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.#Shem, Ham, and Japheth: like the genealogies in 4:17–24 and 11:10–26, the genealogy ends in three individuals who engage in important activity. Their descendants will be detailed in chap. 10, where it will be seen that the lineage is political-geographical as well as “ethnic.” #Gn 6:10; 10:1.