The genealogy of Seth, the other son of Adam

The Priestly tradition (P) in chapter 5 tried to tie up things nicely with a long genealogy of about 1,000 years from Adam to Noah.  Adam died at age 937.  Seth was born when Adam was 130 and died at age 912.  Enosh, his son, was born when Seth was 105 and died at age 905.  Kenan was born when Enosh was 90, and died at age 910.  Mahalalel was born when Kenan was 70, and died at age 895.  Jared was born when Mahalalel was 65, and died at age 762.  Enoch was born when Jared was 162, but lived to age 365, a big drop off in age here.  Methuselah was born when Enoch was 65.  Enoch was Cain’s son in chapter 4 above.  All of these people are only mentioned six or seven times in the biblical literature, here and in chapter 1 of 1 Chronicles.  Only Enoch, Lamech, and Noah were mentioned more often. Maybe we have a tie in with Cain’s genealogy.  However, this Enoch has this strange remark that God took him, not that he died.  He was considered the seventh generation, the lucky number.  In fact, there were three books of Enoch, from around 200 BCE and later, that some considered canonical.  Methuselah lived to age 969.  Lamech was born when Methuselah was 187.  This name is close to Cain’s great-great grandson.  The other anomaly is that he is the oldest when he bears his first child, 187, and lives the longest, 969, even more than Adam.  Thus, it became a saying that an old man was as “old as Methuselah.”  Lamech lived to age 777, a lucky number.  Noah was born when Lamech was 182.  Once again there was a tie in with the family of Cain with the same name.  Is this the same Lamech who was descended from Cain?  However, Noah was somehow special, since he was 500 when he had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Obviously, Noah had a long puberty.  Instead of one son, all three were mentioned.  Noah was the tenth in this line from Adam.  The Babylonians also had ten heroes before their flood experience.  Most of them seemed to reach puberty and bear children around 100.  There were about ten generations, so if the first born had children, this genealogy took about 1067 years to go from Adam to Noah.  Most of them would have known each other since they lived such long ages. This is how a literal interpretation could lead to Dispensationalism, like that of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882).  His basic idea was that the earth is six thousand years old, which then led to the confusion with Darwinism.  Many of the ages given in this Priestly text are extremely long, but could have been considered modest in comparison to the ages given in other works like the Sumerian King List.  The ages include patterns surrounding the numbers five and seven, for instance the 365-year life of Enoch was the number of full calendar days in a solar year, and the 777-year life of Lamech, emphasized the lucky number seven.  Overall, the ages displayed clear mathematical patterns, leading some people to conclude that number symbolism was used to construct them.  Nevertheless, since this genealogy provided the age of each patriarch at the birth of his named descendant, it also appeared to present a gapless chronology from Adam to Noah, even if the named descendant was not always a first-generation son.  Some of the names in this genealogy were variants of those in the genealogy of Cain, though their order differed, with the names of Enoch and Mahalalel/Mehujael switching places in the two pedigrees.  Thus, there seemed to be different versions of the same underlying tradition.  This has led to speculation that a single original genealogical descent had diverged during independent transmission, only to be brought back together and put to different uses when the Book of Genesis was compiled from its Jahwist and Priestly sources.  What do you know about genealogies?

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