This is the first of the Genesis Timeline and Genealogies series. Read the second here.
How many of you, when you read Genesis 5, are just itching to draw a timeline? I love Bible genealogies, and so when I read the numbers in Genesis 5, the data are calling out to me to analyze them. The antediluvian timeline really is fascinating, and there are a lot of lessons to be gleaned from it.
The Patriarchs’ Lives
When I was younger, I’d read the chapter and because of the way it’s written, I got the impression that these people lived back-to-back, i.e., one dies before the another starts his life. For example:
“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died. And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan.” Gen 5:3-9
Because it would describe a complete life of a person first before going to the next, the overlap is not as highlighted. But in fact, the overlap is quite remarkable, because the reality is that Adam didn’t die in verse 5; he was still alive when Lamech was born in verse 25! These overlaps paint a different picture of life back then, and here’s my version of the antediluvian timeline.
This means that Genesis 5 can also be written in the following way:
Adam lived 130 years and begat Seth.
When Adam was 235, Seth begat Enos.
When Adam was 325, Enos begat Cainan.
When Adam was 395, Cainan begat Mahalaleel.
When Adam was 460, Mahalaleel begat Jared.
When Adam was 622, Jared begat Enoch.
When Adam was 687, Enoch begat Methuselah.
When Adam was 874, Methuselah begat Lamech.
When Lamech was 56, Adam died.
All the days that Adam lived were 930 years.
That’s 9 generations living at one point for 56 years!!
Here are some points of observations from the timeline:
- Of the 10 antediluvian patriarchs, Methuselah lived the longest. He died the same year as the Flood.
- Methuselah was also the first patriarch to see a son died. All the other patriarchs died before their sons.
- Methuselah’s son, Lamech, died 5 years before the Flood (i.e., he did not die because of the Flood. God showed kindness to him and laid him to rest).
- Lamech was the most short-lived patriarch out of the 10. He died at 777. Interesting number.
- Lamech was also the only patriarch to be recorded to prophesy in Genesis 5 when he named his son, Noah. “And he called his name Noah [which means rest or comfort], saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” Gen 5:29. It sounds like he was weary of some toil – perhaps preaching to the people around him about righteousness and God.
- All 10 patriarchs saw the deprivation of mankind in their lifetime.
- Methuselah saw all the patriarchs from Adam (except Enoch and Noah) died.
- Enoch was taken up to heaven at year count 987.
- Seth was still alive when Enoch was taken up to heaven – he was 857 years old.
- This means that everyone from Seth to Lamech was around when Enoch was taken up to heaven.
- This also means that only Adam had died when this happened, meaning that everyone only saw one death, and the next big thing was Enoch’s translation. What encouragement! Adam had to leave Eden, but just 57 years after he died, someone in the 7th generation made it back to heaven. It’s a message of hope to humanity.
- Noah was born 14 years after Enoch’s translation.
- The chapter before records the genealogy of Cain. It does not, however, contain markings of time (i.e., no age, no date of birth). The way that we can tell time is through the lineage of the righteous.
If you have any additional observations, feel free to comment!
P.S. If you want the Excel file I used to create the image, let me know and I can email it to you.