Reading a Genealogy!

To wrap up our meeting in Sunday School last week, our class took a quick look at Genesis 5 to better understand the purpose of the author including a genealogy.

Why Read a Genealogy?

  1. The genealogy is inserted to help the reader track the line from Adam and Eve to the next potential candidate to be the promised seed from Genesis 3:15.

  2. The genealogy is used as a bridge for the narrative that allows the story to progress in a linear fashion.

  3. The author uses repetition to fastforward the reader through several generations, and making any differences in the repetitious parts really stand out.

Recap of the Creation of Man

The author of the Pentateuch reminds the reader of what was learned about man in Genesis 1 in regard to Adam: "On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and female. When they were created, He blessed them and called them man." - Genesis 5:1-2

We see the genealogy begin with:

Adam was 130 years old when he fathered a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Adam lived 800 years after the birth of Seth, and he fathered other sons and daughters. So Adam's life lasted 930 years; then he died. - Genesis 5:6-8

The author found it imperative to remind the reader again that Adam was made in the likeness of God, and his children were made in his likeness. After Adam, this pattern repeats itself many times throughout the genealogy.

Copy, Paste, Repeat

Areas repeated down the line:

  • {Insert name here} was {X number} years old when he fathered {insert child's name here}.

  • {Insert name here} lived {X number} years after the birth of {insert child's name here} and he fathered other sons and daughters.

  • So {insert name here}'s life lasted {X number} years; then he died.

Seeing this pattern repeated many times over often tires the reader and creates a challenge for the reader to maintain focus. Some may even drift off to begin looking at the number of years in their lives to track who was alive to live with who. Though this is interesting, we must not get distracted from the idea that the author is using this pattern of repetition to draw our attention to the moments when the pattern is not repetited exactly. We have already mentioned the first moment the pattern is not repeated in Adam creating in his image. The other two times the author breaks from this repetition are when he mentions Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24, and With Lamech's son Noah as mentioned in Genesis 5:28-32.

Will Noah bring relief from the curse?

For the sake of time, we will only look at Genesis 5:28-32.

Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. And he named him Noah, saying, "This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the LORD has cursed." Lamech lived 595 years after Noah's birth, and he fathered other sons and daughters. So Lamech's life lasted 777 years; then he died.

Noah was 500 years old, and he fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

We see that this person Noah, is given prominence in this genealogy. We even learn why he was given his name, Noah. Noah's name in Hebrew means "rest/relief." Here we learn in Genesis 5:29 that Lamech named his son Noah (rest/relief) because "This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the LORD has cursed."

As Genesis 5 wraps up, we see that we are done fast forwarding through the generations between Seth and Noah and the author is ready to zoom in and allow the reader to follow the life of Noah and his three sons to learn whether Noah will be the promised seed from Genesis 3:15 that was promised to bring relief/rest to man because of the curse of sin.

Will Noah be the promised seed from Genesis 3:15??

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