Genesis 5:1−6:8

December 2nd, 2014| Topic: aBeLOG, Genesis | 2

Genesis 5:1−6:8

Loss of godliness is an ever-present danger that has consequences, yet for those who “walk with God” there is the reward of intimacy with him.

So far in Genesis, sin has been on the increase. That momentum does not abate here; indeed, this passage culminates in God’s intent to destroy all mankind, except for Noah and his family—the consequence of human wickedness.

The ten paragraphs dealing with ten patriarchs in 5:1–32 follow a formulaic structure providing the years of life of each, their fathering of children, their years of life after fathering children, and the total years of that father. There are, however, four deviations from this form, alterations of the pattern that are, therefore, theologically significant—the listings of Adam, Enoch, Lamech, and Noah. Each of these variations has an intentionality to it; I’ll deal with Enoch below (for the others, check out my Genesis commentary).

The striking feature of this genealogy is the recurrent observation “and he died” (8 times), an abrupt conclusion of the lives of these folks. Whereas others had died violent deaths earlier, only in Genesis 5 do we see that someone “dies.” The entire thrust of the lives of these patriarchs is clearly moving towards death: death had been promised for sin, and death does occur. The grim chorus of every age remains the same—death! This refrain in Genesis 5 seems rather redundant, especially given that in each case there is a statement of the total number of the individual’s years anyway. Indeed, even the total number of years is superfluous, since both their age at the birth of their children and their subsequent years are provided. But there is a purpose to this superfluity—it is a resounding testimony to the inevitability of the fallen human life: death has the last word (until Christ). Thus the genealogy here is a theological commentary. People are born, they marry, and they become parents, etc., but in the end they die!

But Enoch … he was different. This patriarch (5:21–24) is described, not as having “lived,” but as having “walked with God” (5:22, 24). And he does not die, but “he was not, for God took him” (5:24). To walk with God indicates a special intimacy with deity and is a mark of Enoch’s great spirituality. The form of the verb underscores its repetitiveness; Enoch’s walking with God was habitual and continuous. It would seem that he had maintained this submission to the will of God and intimacy with the person of God for all his 365 years. “Walking with God” is likely the contrary to falling into sin, and being taken by God the contrary of dying. This was what was intended by God for all mankind—to dwell in his presence, with him. And for the one who walked with God, God makes an exception: he does not die. Here is foreshadowed, perhaps, the power of divine grace over sin and its deleterious effects: righteous ones (in Christ) will live.

But for the rest of humanity, the depravity of sin takes over. Yahweh saw the great wickedness of men (6:5) and the corruption of all flesh on the earth (6:12). Moral pandemonium! After the fall, Eve (3:16) and Adam (3:17) were designated to “bear pain”; now it is the Creator who has to (6:6), and his anguish is great, as he determines to blot out all living beings from the face of the land (6:7–8)—in essence, a reversal of creation. God sees (6:5); God feels (6:6); God acts (6:7). The consequences of sin are grave, indeed.

[For more detail on this passage see the appropriate section of Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers.]


  1. rodney December 17, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Pufftzt <<– the sound of my mind just being blown. Thanks for the insight! :))


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