The meaning of Antediluvian Patriarchs in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
1. The Ten Antediluvian Patriarchs:
Ten patriarchs who lived before the Flood are listed in the genealogical table of Gen. 5, together with a statement of the age of each at the birth of his son, the number of years that remained to him till death, and the sum of both periods or the entire length of his life. The first half of the list, from Adam to Mahalalel inclusive, together with Enoch and Noah is the same in the three texts, except that the Septuagint has 100 years more in the first column in each case save that of Noah, and 100 years less in the second column.
See CHRONOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
2. Divergences between the Three Texts:
Divergence exists in the case of Jared, Methuselah and Lamech only. Even here the longevity of Jared and Methuselah is given similarly in the Hebrew and the Septuagint; and probably represents the reading of the source, especially since the different data in the Samaritan text bear evidence of adjustment to a theory. The customary excess of 100 years in the Septuagint over the other texts for the age of the patriarch at the birth of the son, and the variously divergent data for the total age of Jared, Methuselah and Lamech are, therefore, the matters that await explanation.
The general superiority of the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch as a whole to the Samaritan text and the Septuagint is no longer questioned by Biblical scholars. But whether the superiority obtains in this particular passage has given rise to long and earnest discussion. Keil and Delitzsch in their commentaries on Genesis, Preuss (Zeitrechnung der Septuaginta, 1859, 30ff), Noldeke (Untersuchung zur Kritik des Altes Testament, 1869, 112), and Eduard Konig (ZKW, 1883, 281 ff.), hold to the originality of the Hebrew data. Bertheau (Jahrbucher fur deutsche Theologie, XXIII, 657 ff.) and Dillmann ascribe prior authority to the Samaritan numbers in Gen. 5, but to the Hebrew numbers in Gen. 11. Klostermann argues for the originality of the Septuagint (Pentateuch, Neue Folge, 1907, 37-39).
3. Divergences not Accidental:
It is agreed by all that the divergences between the texts are mainly due, not to accidental corruption, but to systematic alteration. Accordingly, two tasks devolve upon the investigator, namely (1) the removal of accidental corruptions from the numerical data in the several texts and (2) the discovery of a principle that underlies and explains the peculiarities in each one or in two of the three sets of data.
4. Different Explanations:
On the interpretation that the names denote individuals and that no links have been omitted in the genealogy, readers of the Septuagint noticed that according to its data Methuselah survived the flood, and in order to avoid this incongruity a scribe changed the 167 years, ascribed to his age at the birth of his son, to 187 years. This reading was early in existence, and was followed by Josephus. Holding the same theory regarding the genealogy, the Samaritans noticed that by their data three men, Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech, survived the Flood. To correct the apparent mistake, without tampering with the age of these three men at parenthood, their longevity was reduced sufficiently to enable them to die in the year of the Deluge. If the Hebrew text in its present form is not original, and is to be emended from the Samaritan and Septuagint, the same difficulty inhered in it. To overcome this difficulty, perhaps, 100 years were borrowed from the years that elapsed between parenthood and death and were added to the age of the three men at the time of begetting a son. This relieved the matter as far as Jared was concerned and perhaps in the case of Lamech also, and the borrowing of an additional 20 years set Methuselah right also. If the original number for Lamech was 53 in the Hebrew, as in the Samaritan, then it was necessary to increase the time between Methuselah's birth and the Flood not 20, but 49 years. These 49 years could not be added directly to either Methuselah's or Lamech's age at begetting a son without making this age exceed 200 years, and thus be out of proportion; and accordingly the 49 years were distributed.
The difference of a century in the age assigned to the patriarchs at the son's birth which distinguishes the data of the Hebrew in most cases from the Septuagint, and likewise from the Samaritan in several instances, in Gen. 5 and regularly until Nahor in Gen. 11:10-26, is commonly explained in the following manner or in a similar way: namely, when any of these long-lived patriarchs was found recorded as having begotten a son at a more youthful age than 150 years, the translators of the Septuagint added 100 years; on the other hand the Samaritan struck off 100 years when necessary in order that no one save Noah might be recorded as reaching 150 years of age before entering upon parenthood, and added 100 years when the record made a patriarch become father of a son before attaining even 50 years. A different explanation is, however, attempted, and the reason for the constant variant is sought in the purpose to construct an artificial chronology; for on interpreting the names as denoting individual persons and the genealogy as proceeding from father to son without break, a method employed as early as the 1st century of the Christian era (Ant., I, iii, 3), the time that elapsed between the creation of man and the Deluge was 1,656 years according to the Hebrew text, 1,307 according to the Samaritan text, and 2,242 according to the Septuagint; and numerous attempts have been made to bring one or other of these totals into arithmetical relation with some conceivable larger chronological scheme. A conspectus of these studies is furnished by Delitzsch (Neuer Commentar uber die Genesis, 136-39), Dillmann (Genesis, 6te Aufl, 111-13), and most recently by Skinner (Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis, 135, 136, 234). The different explanations that are offered naturally vary in plausibility; but all possess the common fault of lacking cogency at critical points and somewhere doing violence to the data.
5. The Relation of the Cainite and Sethite Genealogies:
In Gen. 4 there are two distinct genealogies, one proceeding through Cain and the other through Seth. Since Hupfeld, the representative critics who partition Genesis have generally reached the conclusion that both of these genealogies were found in the primary document of J or in an ancient recension of it (Wellhausen, Composition des Hexateuchs 3, 8-14; Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar, etc., 126; Kautzsch und Socin; Dillmann, Genesis 6, 104, 116; Budde, Urgeschichte, 182, 527-31; Driver, Introduction 10, 14, 21; Strack, Genesis 2, 23; Gunkel, Genesis, 49; Skinner, Genesis, 2, 14, 99 (4); Stade on the other hand regards Genesis 4:25-26; Genesis 5:29 as the compilation of a redactor, ZATW, XIV, 281). In Gen. 5 there is also a genealogy through Seth to Noah.
6. Resemblances and Differences in the Two Lists:
By removing Genesis 4:25 and 26 from their present position and placing them before Genesis 4:1 or, as Guthe does, before Genesis 4:17; and by exscinding the word "Eve" from Genesis 4:1 and understanding "the man" (ha-'adham) to be Enosh; and by exscinding from Genesis 4:25 the words "again," "another," and "instead of Abel, for Cain slew him"; and by introducing the words "and Lamech begat" before "a son" in Genesis 5:28-29 and inserting this material in between Genesis 4:18 and Genesis 4:19 or after Genesis 4:24 : then the two genealogies of chapter 4 are reduced to one and, so far as the names are concerned, have become almost identical with the Sethite genealogy contained in Gen. 5. In fact the resemblances between the six names in Genesis 4:17-18 with six in chapter 5 have from the first been the basis of every attempt to identify the two genealogies (Buttmann, Mythologus, 170-72). The procedure is violent (see strictures, Skinner, Genesis, 99). It is a serious objection also that the work of reconstruction has been conducted without thought of the possible bearing of the tribal theory of the genealogies on this problem.
It is important to note that the number of links in the two genealogies may indicate that Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain, who mark stages of developing culture, lived several generations before Noah. It was ancient Semitic belief that civilization was far advanced before the Flood, and was continued in its various forms by the survivors (Berosus; and inscription 13, col. i. 18 in Lehmann's Shamash-shumukin). However, for the sake of comparison, the six links in the genealogical chain of the Cainites are placed side by side with those of the Sethites so as the better to reveal the resemblances and differences
Of these names two, Enoch and Lamech, occur in each genealogy, though Enoch does not occupy the same place in both lists. Kenan is readily derived from the same root as Kain. Instead of 'Irad the original Hebrew text may have been 'Idad, as was read by the Septuagint, Codex Alexandrinus and Lucian. But, accepting 'Irad as original, 'Irad and Jared may conceivably have been distorted in the oral tradition; yet as they stand they are radically different, and one might as well compare Prussia and Russia, Swede and Swiss, Austria and Australia. Methushael is written in the Septuagint exactly as is Methuselah; but both names are fully established by textual evidence and are fine Semitic names. Methushael particularly is of good Babylonian form, meaning "man of God"; archaic in Hebrew or smacking of the northern dialect, but quite intelligible to the Israelite.
7. The Need of Caution:
The resemblance between the six consecutive names in the two lists is indeed striking, but the differences are also great; and the wisdom of caution in pronouncing judgment is suggested and emphasized by a comparison of two lists from the later history of the people of Israel. The twelve kings of Judah compared with their nineteen contemporaries in northern Israel show almost as many resemblances as the ten Cainites to the twelve Sethites, Adam as the common ancestor not being reckoned. The two series begin with Rehoboam and Jeroboam, names as similar externally as 'Irad and Jared. Ahaziah of Israel was almost contemporary with Ahaziah of Judah; Jehoram was on the throne of Judah while Jehoram ruled over Israel, the reign of Jehoash of Judah overlapped that of Jehoash of Israel, and Jehoahaz of Israel preceded about half a century Ahaz, or, as his name appears In Assyrian inscriptions, Jehoahaz of Judah. If there can be two contemporary dynasties with these coincidences, surely there could be two antediluvian races with an equal similarity in the names. Then, too, the material differences between the Cainite and Sethite lines are great. Cain is the son of Adam; whereas Kenan is the third remove, being descended through Seth and Enosh. The two Enochs seem to have nothing in common save the name (Genesis 4:17-18; Genesis 5:22-23). The character of the two Lamechs is quite different, as appears from their speeches (Genesis 4:19, Genesis 4:23; Genesis 5:28-29). The line of Cain terminated in Lamech and his four children, of whom the three sons became of note in the annals of civilization; whereas the line of Seth continued through Noah, the hero of the Flood, and his three sons who were known only as the ancestors of peoples. Moreover, even excluding the section of Genesis assigned to the Priestly Code (P), the two lines were distinguished from each other, and most of the characteristic differences between them were clearly set forth, in the most ancient form of the Hebrew tradition, as it is actually known (Green, Unity of Genesis, 43-49; Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar, etc., 126, 127, 132, 140; Strack, Genesis 2, 22, 23, section III).
The order of narration in the Book of Genesis is also significant. It indicates the writer's perception of a profound difference between the two races. The narrative regarding Cain and his descendants is completed, according to invariable custom in the Book of Genesis, before the line of Seth, in which eventually Abraham appeared, is taken up and its history recorded (Green, Unity of Genesis, 49; Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar, etc., 126). Thus at each stage of the history the story of the branch line is told before the fortunes are recited of the direct line of promise.
8. The Register of Gen. 5 and Berosus' List of Antediluvian Kings:
Berosus, a priest of Marduk's temple at Babylon about 300 BC, in the second book of his history tells of the ten kings of the Chaldeans who reigned before the Deluge. He says that
The first king was ALOROS of (the city) Babylon, a Chaldean. (He gave out a report about himself that God had appointed him to be shepherd of the people.) He reigned ten sars. (A sar is thirty-six hundred years.)
And afterward ALAPAROS (his son reigned three sars).
And (after him) AMELON (a Chaldean), who was of (the city of) Pautibibla (reigned thirteen sars).
Then AMMENON the Chaldean (of Pautibibla reigned twelve sars).
Then MEGALAROS of the city of Pautibibla, and he reigned eighteen sars.
And after him DAONOS the shepherd of Pautibibla reigned ten sars.
Then EUEDORACHOS of Pautibibla reigned eighteen sars.
Then AMEMPSINOS, a Chaldean of Laraucha, reigned; and he, the eighth, was king ten sars. Next OTIARTES a Chaldean of Laraucha, reigned; and he (the ninth) was king eight sars.
And (last of all), upon the death of Otiartes, his son Xisouthros reigned eighteen sars. In his time the great deluge occurred. Thus, when summed up, the kings are ten; and the sars are one hundred and twenty (or four hundred and thirty-two thousand years, reaching to the Flood1).
(NOTE: 1Syncellus quoting Alexander Polyhistor. 2Syncellus quoting Apollodorus. 3Syncellus quoting Abydenus. 4Syncellus quoting Abydenus concerning the deluge. 5Eusebius, Armenian Chronicle, quoting Alexander Polyhistor. 6Eusebius, Armenian Chronicle, quoting Abydenus. The royal names have been transmitted with substantial uniformity, except the third, fifth, seventh and ninth. Amelon (2) is given as Amillaros (3) and Almelon (5, 6); Megalaros (2, 3) appears also as Amegalarus (5, 6); Euedorachos (2) as Eudoreschos (3), Edoranchus (5), and Edoreschus (6); and Ardates (1) as Otiartes (2, 5). For texts and readings see Richter, Berosi Chaldaeorum Historiae, 52-56; Migne, Patrologia Graeca, XIX, "Eusebii Chronicorum," Lib. I, cap. i et vi, pp. 106, 121; Schoene, Eusebii Chronicorum, Lib. I, pp. 7, 31.)
The original Babylonian form of seven of these ten names has been determined with a fair degree of certainty. Alaparos is in all probability a misreading by a copyist of the Greek Adaparos (Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff.; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff.), and accordingly represents Adapa, followed perhaps by another element beginning with the letter "r"; Amelon and Ammenon are equivalent to the Babylonian nouns amelu (Delitzsch Wo lag das Paradies? S 149; Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff.; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff.), man, and ummanu (Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff.; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff.), workman; Euedorachos is Enmeduranki (pronounced Evveduranki) (Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff.); Amempsinos is probably Amelu-Sin (Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? 149; Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff.; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff.), servant of the moon-god; Otiartes, a misreading of the Greek Opartes, is Ubara-Tutu (Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradues? 149; Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff.; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff.), meaning servant of Marduk; and Xisouthros is Chasis-atra (Haupt, KAT2, 503; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff.), equivalent to Atra-chasis, an epithet given to the hero of the Flood.
Several of these names are well known in Babylonian literature: Adapa was a human being, a wise man, a wizard, who failed to obtain immortality. He was an attendant at the temple of Ea in the town of Eridu, prepared bread and water for the sanctuary and provided it with fish. Perhaps it was his connection with the temple that led to his being called son of Ea, and described as created or built by Ea (Schrader, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek, VI, 91-101). Similarly King Esarhaddon calls himself the faithful son, child of Beltis; and Ashurbanipal claims to have been created or built by the gods Ashur and Sin in the womb of his mother (compare Adam, the son of God, Luke 3:38). Enmeduranki, whose name has been interpreted as possibly meaning chief priest of Duranki, the meeting place of sky and earth, was a king of Sippar, a city whose patron deity was the sun-god Shamash. He was a notable wise man who, it seems, was reputed to have been taken by the gods Shamash and Ramman into their fellowship and made acquainted with the secrets of heaven and earth (KAT3, 530 f.). As among the Hebrews the priests were descended from Aaron, so among the Babylonians Enmeduranki was regarded as the ancestor of the wizards and sooth-sayers or the founder of their guild. Amel-Sin is elsewhere mentioned as the wise one of Ur (KAT3, 537). In the Babylonian account of the Flood the hero is addressed as son of Ubara-Tutu. It is worth mention that legends grew up about the hero of the Flood, as they have about other historical personages since; and he even appears like some ancient kings, with the determinative for god before his name. Adapa also, who was classed with the wizards, early came to have a place in story.
The first name in the list of Berosus is Aloros. Professor Hommel would understand the original Babylonian form to have been Aruru, a goddess. The identification is precarious, to say the least; and evidently it was not the conception of the Babylonian priest, for it makes his line of kings begin with a goddess. He should have called Aloros a queen. Professor Hommel regards Adapa also as a deity, contrary to the statements of the tale itself; thus holding that the second Babylonian king like the first was a Divine being. On such an interpretation the Babylonian and Hebrew lists are not identical, for the Hebrew genealogy commences in Adam, human being. With the third name, however, certain remarkable correspondences begin to appear. The third Babylonian king is Amelu, man, and the third patriarch is Enosh, also meaning man; the fourth king is Ummanu, artificer, and the fourth patriarch is Kenan, a name derived from a root meaning to form or fabricate. The seventh king is Enmeduranki, who apparently was reputed to have been summoned by the gods Shamash and Ramman into their fellowship and made acquainted with the secrets of heaven and earth; and the seventh patriarch was Enoch who walked with God (like Noah, Genesis 6:9; see KAT3, 540). The tenth king, like the tenth patriarch, was the hero of the Flood. These facts are capable of two interpretations: either the two catalogues are fundamentally different, having been constructed for different purposes, yet as they deal with prominent persons belonging to the same period of history and to the same country, cross each other at various points and culminate in the same individual (as do the genealogies of Mat. 1 and Luke 3); or else when the unexplained names of both lists shall have been finally interpreted, the two catalogues will be found to represent the same tradition.
Differences between the catalogues exist, which in some instances may be more apparent than real. (1) In the Babylonian hat the descent of the government from father to son is asserted in two instances only, namely, from the first king to the second and from the ninth to the tenth. The Hebrew asserts kinship, however remote, between the successive links. Yet the two records are quite compatible with each other in this respect on theory (see below) that the Hebrew genealogy was shortened by omissions in order to name but ten generations. (2) Each of the ten patriarchs is assigned a long life; each of the ten kings has a greatly longer reign. The contrast is twofold: between the number of years in corresponding cases, and between length of life and length of reign. But instead of this difference indicating non-identity of the two lines, it may be found, when the Semitic tradition is fully known, to afford the explanation for the duration of life which is assigned to the patriarchs. (3) There is no arithmetical ratio between the years connected with the corresponding names of the two lists. And the symmetry of the numbers in the Bah transmission is open to the suspicion of being artificial. The number of kings is ten; the sum of their united reigns is one hundred and twenty sars, a multiple of ten and of the basal number of the Babylonian duodecimal system. There are three reigns of ten sars each, and three successive reigns which taken together, 3 plus 13 plus 12, make ten and eighteen sars. Taking the reigns in the order in which they occur, we have as their duration the series 10, 18 plus 10, 18, 10, 18, 10, 8, and 18 (Davis, Genesis and Semitic Tradition, 96-100; Strack, Genesis 2, 24).
11. The Interpretation of the Genealogy in Gen. 5:
Three explanations of the genealogy in Gen. 5 may be mentioned. (1) An interpretation, current at the time of Josephus (Ant., I, iii, 4) and adopted by Archbishop Usher in 1650 in his attempt to fix the dates of the events recorded in the Scriptures, assumes an unbroken descent from father to son, during ten generations, from Adam to Noah. On this theory the time from the creation of man to the Flood is measured by the sum of the years assigned to the patriarchs at the birth of the son and successor, together with Noah's age when he entered the Ark; so that all the years from the creation of Adam to the Flood were 1,656 years. The extraordinary longevity of these patriarchs is accounted for by the known physical effects of sin. Sin works disease and death. Man was not as yet far removed from his state of sinlessness. The physical balance between man sinless and man the sinner had not been attained (compare Delitzsch, Genesis 3, 139; see Ant, I, iii, 9). But after all are we really justified in supposing that the Hebrew author of these genealogies designed to construct a chronology of the period? He never puts them to such a use himself. He nowhere sums these numbers. No chronological statement is deduced from them. There is no computation anywhere in Scripture of the time that elapsed from the Creation or from the Deluge, as there is from the descent into Egypt to the Exodus (Exodus 12:40), or from the Exodus to the building of the temple (I Kings 6:1; Green, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1890, 296). (2) A second method of interpretation assumes that links of the genealogy have been intentionally omitted in order that exactly ten may be named. It is based on the phenomena presented by other Hebrew genealogical registers. Matthew, for example, has outlined the lineage of Christ from Abraham. The history naturally divides into three sections, and to give the tabulation symmetry Matthew names twice seven generations in each division, in one instance omitting three famous kings of Judah and saying "Joram begat Uzziah." As Joram is said to have begotten Uzziah, his grandson's grandson, so Enoch may be said to have begotten Methuselah, although the latter may have been Enoch's great-grandson or remoter descendant. The book of Genesis is divided by its author into ten sections, each introduced by the same formula (Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9, etc.). In the period from the creation of man to the birth of Abraham the crisis of the history was the Flood. Twice ten generations are named in the symmetrical register, ten before the Flood, Adam to Noah, and ten after the Flood, Shem to Abraham; and the latter period in its turn is divided into two equal parts, and five generations are named for the time to, and five for the time after, the birth of Peleg, in whose days 'the earth was divided' (Gen. 11:10-26; Genesis 10:25; compare perhaps Genesis 11:1-9). On this conception of the tables, which is fully justified, there is no basis in the genealogy from Adam to Noah for the calculation of chronology. The table was constructed for a different purpose, and the years are noted for another reason than chronology (Green, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1890, 285-303; Warfield, Princeton Theological Review, 1911, 2-11; compare Dillmann, Genesis 6, 106 "dritte Absicht"). The longevity is explained as it is on Usher's interpretation of the data (see above). (3) A third method of interpretation understands the patriarchal name to denote the individual and his family spoken of collectively. The person and tribe form one conception. This method also agrees with the phenomena presented by Hebrew genealogical registers. Thus, Keturah bears to Abraham Jokshan, and Jokshan begat Sheba and Dedan, tribes and the countries they inhabited (Genesis 25:1-5). Mizraim, as Egypt was called by the Hebrews, begat the Lydians and other ancient peoples (Genesis 10:13); and Canaan begat the town of Sidon and such famous tribes as the Jebusite and the Amorite (Genesis 10:15-18). Similarly, countries like Media, Ionia (Javan), Tubal and Meshech, and peoples named by Gentileadjectives in the plural number, like Kittim and Dodanim, are hated as sons of Japheth; and Ethiopia, Egypt, Punt and Canaan, and districts in Arabia like Sheba and Havilah are recorded as descendants of Ham (Genesis 10:2-7). Moreover, outside of genealogies, in common parlance Israel denotes a man and the tribe that sprang from him; David, the king of that name and the dynasty he founded (I Kings 12:16; compare Jeremiah 30:9); Nebaioth, a people and its prince (Genesis 25:13, Genesis 25:16; Genesis 28:9). Sometimes the family takes its name from its progenitor or later leading member; sometimes the name of the tribe or of the country it inhabits is given to its chief representative, as today men are constantly addressed by their family name, and nobles are called by the name of their duchy or county. It is quite in accordance with usage, therefore, that Noah, for example, should denote the hero of the Flood and the family to which he belonged. The longevity is the period during which the family had prominence and leadership; the age at the son's birth is the date in the family history at which a new family originated that ultimately succeeded to the dominant position. If no links have been omitted in constructing the register, the period from the creation of man to the Flood is measured by the sum of the ages of Adam and his successors to Noah and 600 years of the life of Noah, amounting to 8,225 years. Thus, the family of Seth originated when Adam was 130 years old (Genesis 5:3). Adam and his direct line were at the head of affairs for 930 years (5), when they were superseded by the family of Seth. In Seth, 105 years after it attained headship, the family of Enosh took Its rise (6). Seth, after being at the head of affairs for 912 years (8) was succeeded by the family of Enosh, in the year of the world 1842. And so on.
John D. Davis
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