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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 5

 

 

Verses 1-32


The Descendants of Adam to Noah

The purpose of the historian in giving the names and ages of the antediluvian Patriarchs was, no doubt, to show the glorious ancestry of the chosen race, and to account for the period between the Creation and the Flood. This, according to the Hebrews, was 1656 years. (See on Genesis 10:32.) Various attempts have been made to explain the great ages attributed to these Patriarchs, but they are purely conjectural, and the view now generally held is that the Hebrews, like all other ancient nations, had a tradition that the forefathers of the race were vastly longer lived than their descendants. The golden age of the Hebrew lay in the past; and he attributed in preeminent degree to his ancestors in these far-off days the blessing he valued most of all—length of days upon the earth.

The similarity of the lists of names in Genesis 4, 5 has been discussed in a note on Genesis 4:17. Genesis 5 continues the narrative of the Priestly document which we met with in Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4 a, as appears from (a) the recurrence of Genesis 1:27-28 in Genesis 5:1-2, (b) the phrase 'the generations of' characteristic of P (see on Genesis 2:4), (c) the divine name God, and (d) the formal statistical style of the chapter.

1. The generations of Adam] i.e. the genealogy of Adam's descendants, cp. Genesis 2:4 and note.

2. Called their name Adam] This shows that the word 'Adam' was originally applied to the race, and was not a proper name. In the previous v. it is so used for the first time in the Priestly narrative.

3. His own likeness] as he himself was created in the likeness of God.

21-24. Enoch] the one figure which breaks the formality of this chapter His conduct is mentioned in a way which implies that the majority of men lived differently. In all his actions he recognised the duty which he owed to God; from none of his thoughts was God absent; he lived in communion with Him. The meaning of the expression He was not; for God took him, is, no doubt, correctly given by the writer of Hebrews 11, as that Enoch never died, but was translated to heaven, like Elijah, as a reward for the holiness of his life. In Jewish tradition Enoch's walking with God was taken to mean initiation into the mysteries of the universe, and the secrets of the past and future. A whole circle of apocalyptic literature was ascribed to him in the post-exilic days, which is embodied in the so-called book of Enoch. This book is quoted in Judges 1:14 as the work of 'Enoch the seventh from Adam.'

23. The days of Enoch] It is noteworthy that the life of Enoch is the shortest mentioned in this c.

29. Noah] here connected with nahem, 'to comfort.' The name is really derived from nuah, 'to rest.' The comfort may refer to the invention of wine, which is attributed to Noah in Genesis 9:20-27, a passage perhaps from the same source as the present one.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 5:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/genesis-5.html. 1909.

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