From Adam to Seth. — V.1. This is the book of the generations of Adam. This chapter presents a short summary of the history of the believing Adamites in the form of a genealogical table, with a few explanatory notes. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; v.2. male and female created he them, and called their name Adam in the day when they were created. The author here goes back to the history of the creation, chap. 1, 27. 28. God created man male and female, and gave him the blessed knowledge of Himself, as well as perfect righteousness and holiness, besides other external advantages which are often included in this image. And even at that time God called man by that name; Adam bore the name “man” and Eve that of “woman,” or “maness.” V.3. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth. Since Adam had lost the perfect image of God in the Fall, it was no longer possible for him to transmit the image of God to his offspring. Seth was born in the image of Adam, and therefore subject to sin and death. Since the Fall all men are conceived and born in sin, and all of them are subject to death and damnation, Rom. 5, 12. Only through the merits of the one Man, who was in Himself sinless, though burdened with the guilt of all men, are we delivered from the inevitable doom of damnation. V.4. And the days of Adam, after he had begotten Seth, were eight hundred years; and he begat sons and daughters; v.5. and all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. That the patriarchs before the Flood lived to such a ripe old age was probably due to the fact that their bodies were not yet so filled with the many tendencies toward sickness which are now so prevalent; they were physically in much better condition than the people of the present time. Then also, as Luther remarks, God had special thoughts of kindness toward the world in having so many pious, wise, and holy men in the world at one time. V.6. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos. V.7. And Seth lived, after he begat Enos, eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. V.8. And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. In spite of the remarkably great age which these men reached, the ever-recurring refrain “and he died” reminds us of the fact that death had now entered the world, and that it is man’s inevitable lot to become a prey of the king of terrors so far as the body is concerned, Rom. 5, 14.
From Enos to Jared. — V.9. And Enos lived ninety years and begat Cainan. V.10. And Enos lived after he begat Cainan, eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters. V.11. And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years; and he died. Although there is some distant resemblance between some of the names in this list and those of the Cainites, the meaning which is attached to this fact by enemies of Scriptures as though the two accounts had originally been the same is absolutely without foundation. The children of God and the children of the world at that time were strictly separate. V.12. And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel. V.13. And Cainan lived, after he begat Mahalaleel, eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters. V.14. And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died. V.15. And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared. V.16. And Mahalaleel lived, after he begat Jared, eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. V.17. And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years; and he died. V.18. And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch. V.19. And Jared lived, after he begat Enoch, eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. V.20. And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years; and he died. The ever recurring circle of birth and death is here brought out with great impressiveness, bidding us so to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
From Enoch to Shem, Ham, and Japheth. — V.21. And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah. V.22. And Enoch walked with God, after he begat Methuselah, three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. V.23. And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years. V.24. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him. Here we have the short account of Enoch and the praise in which the New Testament joins, Heb. 11, 5. 6. He walked with God: he was in the most intimate intercourse, in the most confidential relation with God. He clung to the invisible God and walked before Him at all times as though He were present and saw every act, heard every word. To such a degree of perfection did he attain in the course of the three centuries after the birth of Methuselah that God chose to take him from this world with its manifold misery. Without seeing death, he was translated into heaven, according to both body and soul. Although a ripe old age, also in our days, may be considered a gift of God, and is to be accepted with all thanksgiving, yet it is also a great kindness on the parts of God if He takes some of His children home in the bloom of their youth or in the fullness of their strength and usefulness. He always knows the best time. V.25. And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech. V.26. And Methuselah lived, after he begat Lamech, seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters. V.27. And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years; and he died. Methuselah thus enjoys the distinction of having reached the greatest age recorded for any human being. V.28. And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son. V.29. And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed. It is seen here that even the patriarchs felt the misery of this earthly life in all its burdensomeness. But incidentally Lamech, in explaining the name Noah which he gave to his son, showed that the Messianic hope was alive in him and in his family. Like Eve, he thought that this son of his was the promised Savior, he that would bring rest. Thus the faith and the hope of the fathers before the Flood were directed toward Christ, and herein they agree with the believers of all times. V.30. And Lamech lived, after he begat Noah, five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters. v.31. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years; and he died. V.32. And Noah was five hundred years old; and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth. With Noah the genealogical table closes; he was the last patriarch before the Flood. His three sons are mentioned because each of them became the ancestor of a separate branch of the human family after the Flood.
The following list will aid in giving a correct idea of the time of the patriarchs before the Flood.