The ancient pre-historic patriarchs (Lk 3:37-3:37)

“The son of Methuselah,

The son of Enoch,

The son of Jared,

The son of Mahalaleel,

The son of Cainan.”

 

τοῦ Μαθουσαλὰ τοῦ Ἐνὼχ τοῦ Ἰάρετ τοῦ Μαλελεὴλ τοῦ Καϊνὰμ

 

These names are listed in 1 Chronicles 1:2-1:3, and Genesis, chapter 5.  This group from Adam to Noah is sometimes referred to as the patriarchs before the flood, or what some might call pre-historic times, since there is very little evidence of their actual existence.  Luke said Lamech was the son of Methuselah (τοῦ Μαθουσαλὰ), the son of Enoch (τοῦ Ἐνὼχ), the son of Jared (τοῦ Ἰάρετ), the son of Mahalaleel (τοῦ Μαλελεὴλ), the son of Cainan (τοῦ Καϊνὰμ).  Methuselah was the father of Lamech.  He supposedly lived to the age of 969, longer than Adam.  Thus, it became a saying that an old man was as “old as Methuselah.”  His father was Enoch, who lived to be only 365 years old, a big drop off in age here.  However, Enoch walked with God, so that there was this strange remark that God took him, not that he died.  He was considered the seventh generation, the lucky number.  In fact, there is a Book of Enoch, from around 200 BCE, that some considered canonical.  Jared was the father of Enoch.  Mahalalel was the father of Jared.  Kenan or Cainan was the father of Mahalalel.

Enoch (Sir 49:14-49:14)

“Few have ever been created

On earth

Like Enoch.

He was taken up

From the earth.”

Sirach ends his tribute to the honorable famous holy men by repeating what he had said about Enoch, in chapter 44, 5 chapters earlier, the first famous holy man mentioned. Enoch was the lucky 7th among the 12 patriarchs before the flood, the great grandfather of Noah. What made Enoch unique among these early patriarchs was that he does not seem to die, as he was taken up from the earth. There were also 3 apocryphal books about Enoch written from the 3rd century BCE to after the time of Jesus Christ. Thus his fascinating popularity was enormous. In fact, there are even a few mentions of Enoch in the New Testament writings.

The taking up of Elijah (Sir 48:9-48:11)

“You who were taken up

By a whirlwind of fire.

You were taken up

In a chariot

With horses of fire.

At the appointed time,

It is written,

That you are destined

To calm the wrath of God

Before it breaks out in fury.

You are destined

To turn the hearts of parents

To their children.

You are destined

To restore the tribes of Jacob.

Blessed are those

Who saw you.

Happy are those

Who were adorned

With your love.

We also shall surely live.”

The story of the taking up of Elijah is recorded 2 Kings, chapter 2, in the so-called Elisha cycle. Elijah, like Enoch, was taken up to heaven without dying, being the only 2 in all these biblical stories. Not even Moses, Aaron, David, or any other of the patriarchs, prophets, or kings had this privilege. Thus near the Jordan River, the chariots of fire came and took Elijah away in a whirlwind of fire. Elisha took Elijah’s place, as he was able to part the waters of the Jordan River. Other prophets went looking for Elijah, but to no avail. However, it is not clear where the idea of the second coming of Elijah comes from at some appointed hour. For many Christians, Jesus was the Messiah of the Second Coming. However, some believe it was John the Baptist, or as the Mormons believe with Joseph Smith in 1836. At the appointed hour, Elijah will calm the wrath of God, turn parents to their children, and restore the tribes of Jacob. Happy and blessed are those who saw and loved Elijah for they will live on.

Enoch (Sir 44:16-44:16)

“Enoch pleased the Lord.

He was taken up.

He is an example

Of repentance

To all generations.”

It is interesting that the first famous holy man mentioned is Enoch. He first appeared in chapter 5 of Genesis. He was among the 12 patriarchs before the flood. In fact, he was the lucky 7th one. Enoch was the son of Jared and the great grandfather of Noah, via Methuselah and Lamech. Although he was a descendant via Seth, son of Adam and Eve, he has the same name as Cain’s son in chapter 4 of Genesis. However, what made Enoch unique among these early patriarchs was that he does not seem to die. Instead God “took him up” when he was merely 365 years old. Perhaps there is some symbolism here. There were 3 apocryphal Books of Enoch written from the 3rd century BCE to after the time of Jesus Christ. In fact, there are a few mentions of Enoch in the New Testament writings. Thus Sirach would not have been out of place talking about him as he was one of the first people not to die, but go to heaven or “be taken up.” Thus there was a certain fascination about Enoch. He certainly pleased the Lord. Somehow, he was an example of repentance. He had some kind of special relationship with God. Interesting enough, Enoch has had a role in the Dead Sea Qumran community, Rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity, and Islamic thought, as well as the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons.

The direct descendents of Adam (1 Chr 1:1-1:3)

“Adam, Seth, Enosh. Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared. Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech.”

This biblical author wants to put a historical spin on the various stories in the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomy history in Samuel and Kings. The first grouping is from Adam to Noah. This group of people is sometimes referred to as the patriarchs before the flood, or what some might call pre-historic times since there is very little evidence of their actual existence. This list is taken from Genesis, chapter 5. Perhaps this document might have been a contemporary document in the 5th century BCE with the priestly edition of the Pentateuch. The first grouping is the so-called first man Adam, who lived to be 937 years old, his son, and grandson. His son, besides Cain and Abel who are not even mentioned here, was Seth who lived to be 912 years old. Seth’s son was Enosh who lived to be 905 years old. Obviously there were other brothers and sisters but they are not mentioned. The next 3 were the direct descendents of Enosh. Kenan lived to be 910 year old. Kenan’s son Mahalalel lived to be 895 years old. Jared, his son, lived to be 712 years old. Notice that they are not living as long. The next 3 names pose some problems. Obviously these 3 are in chapter 5 of Genesis. However, the same names appear earlier in chapter 4 of Genesis. Enoch is a curious character as the son of Jared since he only lived to be 365 years old and apparently God took him instead of having him die. Also a man named Enoch was Cain’s first son as well as the name of a territory. Methuselah lived the longest to 965 years old, but Methushael was the name of the grandson of Enoch and the father of Lamech, the same name as in chapter 4. Lamech in chapter 4 is said to have been very vengeful as the son of Cain. In chapter 5, he lives to be 777 years old, being very lucky. He will be the father of Noah. Thus this first list of genealogies poses many questions.

The patriarchs before the flood (Gen 5:1-5:32)

“This is the list of the descendents of Adam. When God created humankind, he made him in the likeness of God.  Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them humankind when they were created.”

The priestly tradition tries to tie up things nicely with a long genealogy of about 1,000 years from Adam to Noah.   This genealogy repeats the theme of Genesis, chapter 1.  God created humans in the image of God, male and female.

“When Adam had lived one hundred thirty years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years. He had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years.  Then he died.”

The offspring of Seth and not Cain were to lead to Noah. Most of these patriarchs began having children in old age and continued on. This is the list of the first born males, but in each case they all “had other sons and daughters,” even Adam. Adam died at age 937. Seth, who was born when Adam was 130, counts and Cain and Abel do not, although Cain was the oldest.

“When Seth had lived one hundred five years, he became the father of Enosh.  Seth lived after the birth of Enosh eight hundred seven years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Seth were nine hundred twelve years. Then he died.”

Seth died at age 912. Enosh was born when Seth was 105. The only explanation of why these people lived hundreds of years is that they were using a different calendar, if any at all.

When Enosh had lived ninety years, he became the father of Kenan.  Enosh lived after the birth of Kenan eight hundred fifteen years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enosh were nine hundred five years. Then he died.”

 Enosh died at age 905. Kenan was born when Enosh was 90.

“When Kenan had lived seventy years, he became the father of Mahalalel.  Kenan lived after the birth of Mahalalel eight hundred forty years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Kenan were nine hundred ten years. Then he died.”

Kenan died at age 910. Mahalalel was born when Kenan was 70.

 “When Mahalalel had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Jared.  Mahalalel lived after the birth of Jared eight hundred thirty years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred ninety-five years.  Then he died.”

Mahalalel died at age 895.   Jared was born when Mahalalel was 65.

 “When Jared had lived one hundred sixty-two years he became the father of Enoch.  Jared lived after the birth of Enoch eight hundred years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty-two years. Then he died.”

Jared died at age 762.  Enoch was born when Jared was 162.

“When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah.  Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty-five years.  Enoch walked with God.  Then he was no more because God took him.”

This Enoch 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 four above.  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 is a Book of Enoch, from around 200 BCE, that some considered canonical.

 “When Methuselah had lived one hundred eighty-seven years, he became the father of Lamech.  Methuselah lived after the birth of Lamech seven hundred eighty-two years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty-nine years. Then he died.”

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, 937, even more than Adam. Thus it became a saying that an old man was as ‘old as Methuselah.’

 “When Lamech had lived one hundred eighty-two years, he became the father of a son. He named him Noah, saying, ‘Out of the ground that Yahweh has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands.’  Lamech lived after the birth of Noah five hundred ninety-five years, and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy-seven years.  Then he died.”

Lamech lived to age 777 (lucky numbers).  Noah was born when Lamech was 182.  Once again there is a tie in with Cain with the same name.  Is this the same Lamech who was descended from Cain?  However, Noah is somehow special.

 “After Noah was five hundred years old, Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

Noah was 500 when he had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Obviously Noah had a long puberty.  Instead of one son, all three are mentioned. Noah was the 10th 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 are about 10 generations, so if the first born had children, this genealogy took about 1067 years to go from Adam to Noah.  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.

The descendants of Cain (Gen 4:17-4:24)

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.  He built a city, and named it Enoch after his son, Enoch.” 

All of a sudden, the wandering Cain has a wife, who is nameless.  Where did she come from?  Where did he get a wife?   She is either his mother Eve, or his unnamed sister from Adam and Eve, or his niece from Abel, but there is no mention of Abel’s descendants.  Cain could have had sex with some animals as part of some evolutionary movement.  Okay, it’s a story.  Let’s leave it at that and stop trying to be literal.  Obviously other females were involved, but where did they come from?  The first city is named Enoch after his son, probably in the land of Nod.

 “To Enoch was born Irad.  Irad was the father of Mehujael.  Mehujael was the father of Methushael.  Methushael was the father of Lamech.” 

Anyway, we are into genealogy, and there is a lot of this in Genesis.  The first born males are usually listed.  Although there are more people called Enoch in biblical literature, this is the only mention of his three descendents, Irad, Mehujael, and Methushael.  After six generations, the story gets a little more complicated.  There must have been a lot of incest or family sex, since there is never any mention of other families.

 “Lamech took two wives.  The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.  Adah bore Jabal.  He was the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.  His brother’s name was Jubal.  He was ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah bore Tubalcain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.”

 Lamech gets special attention since he had two wives, Adah and Zillah.  See, the Mormons have a point. Adah had two sons, Jabal, who represents the wandering style of living in tents with livestock, and Jubal the musician.  Neither of these names ever appears again. Now Zillah had a son and daughter.  The son Tubalcain worked with metals, while his sister was called Naamah, the first named female after Eve.

“Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah hear my voice.  You wives of Lamech, listen to what I say.  I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech is seventy-sevenfold.’”

Lamech killed a man who wounded him saying and chanting that as the descendant of Cain, he would have vengeance “seventy-sevenfold,” not just seven times.  Violence was a way of life.