Generations of Adam

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The generations of Adam are the first ten major generations listed in Genesis 5 . This chapter of Genesis is significant for two reasons. While the first reason often becomes a target for skeptics of the Bible, the second suffers from lack of appreciation, mainly because few people bother to learn (or to teach properly) the true meanings of proper names, especially names of Biblical personages. In point of fact, Genesis chapter 5 not only sets forth a chronology of the First Age of Man,[1] but also sets forth a direct comment on the human condition and a prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

The Synoptic Table

Name Born Age of parenthood Life span Died Name means Authority
Adam 4 Eitanim 1 AM
28 October 4004 BC
130 yr 930 yr 930 AM (3074 BC) (summer) man Genesis 5:3-5
Seth 130 AM (3874 BC) (summer) 105 yr 912 yr 1042 AM (2962 BC) (summer) placed, appointed Genesis 5:6-8
Enos 235 AM (3769 BC) (summer) 90 yr 905 yr 1140 AM (2864 BC) (summer) mortal man, sick, frail, miserable Genesis 5:9-11
Cainan 325 AM (3679 BC) (summer) 70 yr 910 yr 1235 AM (2769 BC) (summer) sorrow, dirge, elegy Genesis 5:12-14
Mahalaleel 395 AM (3609 BC) (summer) 65 yr 895 yr 1290 AM (2714 BC) (summer) Blessed God Genesis 5:15-17
Jared 460 AM (3544 BC) (summer) 162 yr 962 yr 1422 AM (2582 BC) (summer) shall come down Genesis 5:18-20
Enoch 622 AM (3382 BC) (summer) 65 yr 365 yr 987 AM (3017 BC) (summer)[2] teaching, commencement Genesis 5:21-24
Methuselah 687 AM (3317 BC) (summer) 187 yr 969 yr 1656 AM (2349 BC) (fall) his death shall bring Genesis 5:25-27
Lamech 874 AM (3130 BC) (summer) 182 yr 777 yr 1651 AM (2353 BC) (summer) lament, despairing Genesis 5:28-31
Noah 1056 AM (2948 BC) (summer) 500 yr 950 yr 2006 AM (1998 BC) (summer) rest Genesis 5:32

The Chronology

Genesis 5 follows a virtually unbroken pattern: "When Person A had lived X number of years, he begat Person B. And after he begat Person B he lived Y number of years and begat sons and daughters. Altogether the years of Person A were X + Y number of years, and then he died."

From the death years quoted above, one can readily see that Methuselah died in the very year of the Great Flood. The meaning of his name, "his death shall bring," suggests that he died shortly before, or on the day that, Noah received his orders to enter the Ark.[3]

More to the point, this genealogical record combines with:

  1. Further genealogies up to and through the line of Abraham,
  2. The length of the Sojourn in Egypt,
  3. The time span given from the Exodus of Israel to the groundbreaking of the Temple of Jerusalem,
  4. The interlocking histories of the Divided Kingdoms Northern and Southern, and
  5. Recorded history from Nebuchadnezzar II to the present day, to give an accurate derivative age of the earth.

Skeptics frequently attack these numbers, and especially the life spans, as physically impossible. In so doing, however, they make the same mistake that the uniformitarians make: they assume without warrant that present-day conditions applied six thousand years ago. Multiple flood models suggest that conditions on the antediluvian earth were vastly different from modern conditions. (The canopy theory, for example, calls for a water-vapor canopy that covered the earth and might have shielded it from ionizing radiation.) In any case, the Bible records show that mankind's life span dropped by more than ninety percent in roughly the same number of generations that had passed before the Great Flood.[4]

Meaning of the Names

Bible characters, by and large, did not receive their names entirely by accident, or because the person's parents thought those names would sound attractive. The Bible is replete with demonstrations that Bible characters received their names to serve a symbolic purpose, and often God Himself dictated that purpose.

The names of the ten members of the Generations of Adam illustrate this point. Most laypeople do not appreciate this fact, unless they own Bibles having good marginalia, and have the presence of mind to consult them. In this case, the names of the ten listed patriarchs, when one translates them properly and sets them down in birth order, make a paragraph that could read: "Man is appointed mortal, frail, and unto sorrow. The Blessed God shall come down to teach. His death shall bring to the despairing rest."[3]

Jesus Christ, of course, is the Blessed God. Moreover, He did come down to teach. And upon His death—as He Himself assured His disciples—the Holy Spirit came to man to bring him comfort.


  1. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 1-39
  2. Note: Enoch did not die; he was translated, the first man to experience such a thing. Genesis 5:24
  3. 3.0 3.1 Missler, Chuck. "Meaning of the Names in Genesis 5." Koinonia House Online. Accessed December 25, 2007.
  4. Genesis 11