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Generations of Adam

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Biblical longevity
Name Age LXX
Methuselah 969 969
Jared 962 962
Noah 950 950
Adam 930 930
Seth 912 912
Kenan 910 910
Enos 905 905
Mahalalel 895 895
Lamech 777 753
Shem 600 600
Eber 464 404
Cainan 460
Arpachshad 438 465
Salah 433 466
Enoch 365 365
Peleg 239 339
Reu 239 339
Serug 230 330
Job 210? 210?
Terah 205 205
Isaac 180 180
Abraham 175 175
Nahor 148 304
Jacob 147 147
Esau 147? 147?
Ishmael 137 137
Levi 137 137
Amram 137 137
Kohath 133 133
Laban 130+ 130+
Deborah 130+ 130+
Sarah 127 127
Miriam 125+ 125+
Aaron 123 123
Rebecca 120+ 120+
Moses 120 120
Joseph 110 110
Joshua 110 110

"Generations of Adam" is a concept in Genesis 5:1 in the Hebrew Bible. It is typically taken as name of Adam's line of descent going through Seth. Another view equates the generations of Adam with material about a second line of descent starting with Cain in Genesis 4, while Genesis 5 is taken as the "generations of Noah".

Seth and Cain

Both the Cainite and the Sethite lines begin with Adam and end with the name Lamech. The Lamech descended from Cain is described as the father of Yaval and Yuval (from his first wife Ada) and Tuval Kayin and Na'ama (from his second wife, Tzelah). The Lamech at descended from Seth is described as the father of Noah.

Sethite Cainite
Seth Cain
Enos Enoch
Cainan Irad
Mahalaleel Mehujael
Jared Methusael
Enoch Lamech
Methuselah Tubal-Cain
Lamech --
Noah --

The Sethite line also gives ages at fatherhood and at death. In the Masoretic text, ages at death range from 365 (Enoch) to 969 (Methuselah), placing the text in the category of longevity narratives. The Septuagint and Samaritan Pentateuch differ somewhat in the ages given; in the Septuagint, the age at fatherhood is often 100 years later than that in the Masoretic text, extending the genealogy by several centuries.

The second-century BC Book of Jubilees, regarded as non-canonical except by Coptic Christianity, gives the wives' names for the Sethite line:

Husband Wife
Seth Azura
Enos Noam
Cainan Mualaleth
Mahalaleel Dinah
Jared Baraka
Enoch Edna
Methuselah Edna
Lamech Betenos
Noah Emzara

Interpretations

The word "generations", toldoth, appears 11 times in Genesis, providing a natural division of the book into nine to twelve narratives. Though the term is often taken as referring forward in the text, so that the "generations of Adam" refers to material in Genesis 5:2-6:8, Henry M. Morris proposed a detailed system in which the term is a delimiter that generally refers backward, where the "book of generations of Adam" is literally the prior text, Genesis 2:4b-4:26, handed down from the patriarchs to Moses. With the generations of Ishmael and Esau being exceptions as interpolations in material attributed to their brothers Isaac and Jacob respectively, this assigns each division to an author appropriate to it.[1]

Because Methuselah has the oldest age appearing in the bible, the name "Methuselah" has become a general reference to longevity.

The enigmatic description given to Enoch is that he "walked with God, and was not", suggesting bodily translation to heaven and leading to speculation and lore such as the second-century BC Book of Enoch, which is canonical in Coptic Christianity.

NameEtymological translation[2]
Adam"Man", masculine of adamah, "earth", "ground".
Seth"Appointed one" (Genesis 4:25), from shith.
Enos"Mortal frailty", from anash, "sick", "frail", "mournful", "melancholy", "wicked". By analogy to anashim (cf. ben Yehuda, Aramaic Enosh in Daniel), may denote "peoples", alluding to the spreading forth of the population in his day.
Cainan"Smith"; or "habitation", "possession", "lot", from primitive root qen, "birdsnest".
Mahalaleel"God be praised", from primitive root "shining forth" and El, "God".
Jared"Descent", from primitive verb "come down", "prostrate", perhaps alluding to the Watchers that wrongfully descended from heaven among men in his day and led them astray in the Book of Enoch.
Enoch"Dedication", "discipling", "teaching", from primitive root "train up".
Methuselah"When he dies, judgment", from muth, "death", and shelach, "send forth", "rest"; or "man of the dart", "spear", "sword", from math, "man", and shelach, "sword"; or "man sent forth"; or "from him sent forth", from me-otho, "from him".
Lamech"Conqueror", from melekh, "king"; "captive", "slave", "pauper", by relationship to same root.
Noah"Rest", "comfort", from primitive root nuch, "rest".

Comparisons

Seth to Cain

Form critics consider the two lines as corruptions of one tradition. Both the similarities and the differences between lines are significant and do not admit simple explanation:

Sethite lineCainite line
SethYahweh
Enos (mortal)Adam (mankind)
CainanCain
MehalaleelEnoch (or Mehujael?)
JaredIrad
EnochMehujael (or Enoch?)
Methuselah"Methuselah" (per Septuagint)
LamechLamech

Seth to Sumer

Both the Sethite line and the antediluvian Sumerian king list have ten names prior to a flood and speak of exceptional longevity that significantly diminishes after the flood. However, tentative homologies between the names on the two lists, besides possibly Adapa and Adam, are matters of dispute.

References

  1. Morris, Henry M. (1976). The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. pp. 26-32. 
  2. Morris, Henry M. (1976). The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. pp. 152, 155. 
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Generations of Adam. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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