Sunday, May 30, 2004

Genesis 5

Genesis 5 deals with the family of Adam. Basically, it just lists who begot whom, how old they were at the time of begetting, and how long they lived.

This is the first chapter that I just couldn't stand to read. It is boring. Why does God care whether I know this? It's just an opportunity for someone to mess up a genealogy later in Bible study. And if this genealogy is so important, why don't we have chapters following the geneology all the way to today?

Aside from the boredom, I have really only one major issue with this chapter: the old age these guys achieved. I don't think I believe it. Adam, as you may recall, should have dropped dead the day he touched the fruit of the tree of knowledge. (Genesis 2:17) However, in chapter five, we learn that Adam lived 930 years (Genesis 5:5). Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Jared and Methusaleh lived over 900 years as well.

Adam has already been dispatched from the garden, so he was living in the same imperfect world that houses us today. Except his tree of knowledge didn't give him knowledge of such life-extending scientific discoveries as penicillin and other modern medicines. We know, from historical records, that during the time Adam was living out these 900 years, nearby cultures, such as the Egyptians, had flourishing societies, sophisticated argriculture and ranching, and rudimentary knowledge of medicine. And they were considered old men if they reached 40 years. Infant mortality was high, and parasites and infection meant that a drink of stale water, a simple hand wound or a throat infection could kill a healthy man in a few days. There is no apparent reason why they would have lived such long splendid lives. 900 years without war, famine, disease, injury? Not on this planet.

I've heard only two explanations for this: (1) it is literally true, for reasons we can never know until we die and all will be revealed to us ; and (2) a "year" meant a shorter period of time back then. A lunar cycle was suggested by some as being called a "year." This would put Adam's death at a more believable 77 years. The problem with this analysis is that these guys were 90 years old or younger when they started having kids. If a "year" was really a "month", than Enosh, the 90-year-old father of Cainan, was only seven when his wife conceived. Which means this is as far-fetched as explanation number one.

Yesterday, I went over the explanation that Cain's wife must have been a sister. Well, Genesis 5:4 seems to confirm my initial view. "4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters." This is the first mention of daughters of Adam. No mention of daughters before Seth was born to replace Abel. Yet, daughters were clearly important enough to mention.

On a petty note -- and this was from an email that an atheist sent -- verse two says "Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." God called the women "Adam", too? Said atheist also says this passage says man and woman were made at the same time. I don't think the language is that clear. But that problem was really flushed out in my discussion of chapters one and two anyhow.

And I was initially confused about Lamech being Noah's father. But then I went back and noticed that Cain's descendant Lamech was the son of Methushael (4:18). Noah's father Lamech, descendent of Seth, was the son of similarly named Methuselah (5:25).

Now that Noah has been begotten, I know I am about to embark on the most fundamentally unbelievable literal story of the Bible. So I'm going to work on it over the long weekend. As I do so, I will also ponder this: can I be a Christian if I think the Jews were wrong in believing that Genesis was the divine and inerrant Word of God?

18 Comments:

Blogger Rong said...

Thomas - just wanted to let you know that there are people reading your posts and praying for you. From your posts it's apparent that you belong to a church, is there anyone there that you can turn to with your questions? I would commend you to find a someone to help you in your quest for the truth and not just rely on the comments of the peanut gallery. I fear that like Jobs friends the blogging community no matter how righteous our intention can wind up doing you more harm than good.

June 1, 2004 at 4:16 PM  
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November 26, 2005 at 1:42 AM  
Anonymous D Day said...

Greetings - As I was looking through Bible sites today, I came across your Bible Blog. You have a pretty good Blog here. I am surprised at the number of Blogs there are about Genealogies in the Bible. I have a website http://www.BibleFamilyTree.com that also has some information about Genealogies in the Bible...
that you might want to check out as well.

Be Blessed.

Genealogies in the Bible

January 17, 2006 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous D. Day said...

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Genealogies in the Bible

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas - We live in a world of more than 6.6 billion individuals. I say individuals because it likely that every person on this earth believes that their siutation is unique and special and that their choices are right choices. The only thing that we know in this world for certain is that we have free will. Most people seek an answer to existence and most don't feel that there is a divine reason. But let me tell you that if you have read the Bible from cover to cover before and compare its end times prophecy to the war in Iraq, you can clearly see that the Bible rings true. People need to stop dwelling on the past, and instead learn from history not to repeat the same mistakes. Life is short, and whatever your beliefs you need to hope they're right. No human being has really done much for me besides my family, but my relationship with God has brought me through all the hard times. I know exactly where I wouldn't be without him. A good book to read is Beth Moore's 'Get Out of that Pit."

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Anonymous Some Guy who likes Philosophy AND Science said...

Hey,

if you are serious about someone saving you, I think I have some insights that would benefit you. I would be willing to start up an email conversation if you like.

Email me at my spam mail account and I will contact you from my real account. (Which I obviously never post openly on the internet.)

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We can talk about how one interprets a text as old as a Bible which was written down before the scientific method (aka natural philosophy) was invented. We can also discuss how it would have been interpreted in historic times.

We can also talk about how one comes to have belief, which I do not think comes about through rational argumentation. I have a bullet-proof rational argument for the existence of God (disjunctive syllogism with a solid disjunct) BUT, as I said, that's not the avenue to belief.

We can talk about how you really get to belief if you want. Up to you.

Cheers.

October 26, 2010 at 2:18 PM  

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