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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 5

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 5:1. The book of the generations of Adam — That is, a list or catalogue of his posterity, not of all, but only of the holy seed, from whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came; of the names, ages, and deaths of those that were the successors of the first Adam in preserving the promise, and the ancestors of the second, at whose coming the promise was accomplished.


Verse 2

Genesis 5:2. He called their name Adam — He gave this name both to the man and the woman. Being at first one by nature, and afterward one by marriage, it was fit they should both have the same name in token of their union.


Verse 3

Genesis 5:3. Seth was born in the one hundred and thirtieth year of Adam’s life, and probably the murder of Abel was not long before. Many other sons and daughters were born to Adam besides Cain and Abel, before this; but no notice is taken of them, because an honourable mention must be made of his name only, in whose loins Christ and the church were: but that which is most observable here concerning Seth, is, that Adam begat him in his own likeness, after his image. Adam was made in the image of God; but when he was fallen and corrupted, he begat a son in his own image, sinful and defiled, frail and mortal, and miserable like himself; not only a man like himself, consisting of body and soul; but a sinner like himself, guilty and obnoxious, degenerate and corrupt. This was Adam’s own likeness, the reverse of that divine likeness in which he was made, and which, having lost it himself, he could not convey to his seed.


Verse 5

Genesis 5:5. All the days of Adam were nine hundred and thirty years — The long lives of men in ancient times, here recorded, are also mentioned by heathen authors. And it was wisely so ordered, both for the greater increase of mankind, and the more speedy replenishing of the earth in the first ages of the world, and for the more effectual preservation and propagation of true religion and other useful knowledge, which, before the invention of letters, could only be conveyed by the channel of tradition.


Verses 6-19

Genesis 5:6-19. We have here all that the Holy Ghost thought fit to leave upon record concerning five of the patriarchs before the flood, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, and Jared. There is nothing noticed concerning any of those particularly, though we have reason to think they were men of eminence, both for prudence and piety; but, in general, their generations are largely and expressly recorded. We are told how long they lived that lived in God’s fear, and when they died, that died in his favour; but as for others it is no matter: the “memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot.” That which is especially observable is, that they all lived very long; not one of them died till he had seen the revolution of almost eight hundred years, and some of them much longer; a great while for an immortal soul to be imprisoned in a house of clay. The present life surely was not to them such a burden as commonly it is now, else they would have been weary of it; nor was the future life so clearly revealed then as it is now under the gospel, else they would have been impatient to remove to it. Some natural causes may be assigned for their long life in those first ages. It is very probable that the earth was more fruitful, the products of it more strengthening, and the air more healthful, before the flood, than they were after. Though man was driven out of paradise, yet the earth itself was then paradisiacal; a garden in comparison with its present state. Their living so long, however, must chiefly be resolved into the power and providence of God. All the patriarchs here, except Noah, were born before Adam died, so that from him they might receive a full account of the creation, paradise, the fall, the promise, and those divine precepts which concerned religious worship and a religious life; and if any mistake arose, they might have recourse to him while he lived, as to an oracle, for the rectifying of it, and after his death to Methuselah, and others that had conversed with him; so great was the care of Almighty God to preserve in his church the knowledge of his will, and the purity of his worship.


Verse 22

Genesis 5:22. Enoch walked with God — A Scriptural phrase for eminent piety. He set God always before him, and acted as one that considered he was always under his eye. He lived a life of communion and intercourse with God in his ordinances and providences. He made God’s will his rule, and God’s glory his end, in all his actions. He made it his constant care to please God in every thing, and to offend him in nothing, and was a worker together with him. Reader, go thou, and do likewise. He walked with God after he begat Methuselah — Which seems to intimate that he did not begin to be eminent for piety till about that time. And he begat sons and daughters — A state of matrimony, and the cares and duties incumbent on the master of a family, are not inconsistent with the strictest holiness, or with the office of a prophet, or preacher of righteousness. For, according to 1:14-15, such was Enoch.


Verse 24

Genesis 5:24. He was not — Any longer on earth or among men; for God took him — Out of this sinful and miserable world to himself. He was translated, as it is explained, Hebrews 11:5, that he should not see death, and was not found by his friends who sought him, as the sons of the prophets sought Elijah, 2 Kings 2:17, because God had translated him, had taken him body and soul to himself, as he afterward took that prophet. He was changed, as those saints shall be that are found alive at Christ’s second coming. But why did God take him so soon? Surely because the world, which was now grown corrupt, was unworthy of him, and because his work was done, and done the sooner, by his attending to it, and prosecuting it so diligently. But it is probable, also, that by his translation, as well as by that of Elijah, God intended to give mankind, generally become infidels with regard to a future state, a demonstration of the reality of such a state, and of the felicity of it, with respect to the righteous. For if there were no witness of his translation, as there was of that of Elijah, the circumstance that his body was not found, added to his eminent piety, might convince, at least such as were considerate, that he was taken to a better world.

Genesis 5:25-27. Methuselah signifies, He dies, there is a sending forth, namely, of the deluge, which came the very year that Methuselah died. If his name was so intended, it was a fair warning to a careless world long before the judgment came. However, this is observable, that the longest liver that ever was, carried death in his name, that he might keep in mind its coming surely, though it came slowly. He lived nine hundred sixty and nine years — The longest that ever any man lived on earth, and yet he died — The longest liver must die at last. Neither youth nor age will discharge from that war, for that is the end of all men: none can challenge life by long prescription, nor make that a plea against the arrests of death. It is commonly supposed, that Methuselah died a little before the flood; the Jewish writers say, seven days before, referring to Genesis 7:10, and that he was taken away from the evil to come.


Verse 29

Genesis 5:29. He called his name Noah — Which signifies rest; saying — No doubt by a spirit of prophecy; This same shall comfort us concerning our toil, &c. — That is, the hard labour and manifold troubles to which they were sentenced. This he did, 1st, By the invention of instruments of husbandry, whereby tillage was made more easy: 2d, By removing a part of the curse inflicted on the earth: and especially, 3d, By preserving a remnant of mankind from that deluge which Enoch had foretold, and which he foresaw would come, and by repeopling the empty earth with a new generation of men.


Verse 32

Genesis 5:32. And Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth — It should seem that Japheth was the eldest, (Genesis 10:21,) but Shem is put first, because on him the covenant was entailed, as appears by Genesis 9:26, where God is called the Lord God of Shem. To him, it is probable, the birthright was given, and from him it is certain both Christ the head, and the church the body, were to descend; therefore he is called Shem, which signifies a name, because in his posterity the name of God should always remain, till He should come out of his loins, whose name is above every name; so that in putting Shem first, Christ was in effect put first, who in all things must have the pre-eminence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 5:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/genesis-5.html. 1857.

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