What does Genesis 5:21 mean?
ESV: When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.
NIV: When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.
NASB: Now Enoch lived sixty-five years, and fathered Methuselah.
CSB: Enoch was 65 years old when he fathered Methuselah.
NLT: When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah.
KJV: And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
Aside from Adam, Seth, and Noah, two of the most famous names in this chapter of genealogy are Enoch and Methuselah. Enoch fathered Methuselah at the age of just 65, a relatively young age for this passage. Methuselah's name has a dual meaning: it can be interpreted as "man of the dart," or as "his death brings judgment." According to this chapter, Methuselah will die in the same year as the flood.
Both men represent an interesting extreme within this chapter.
Enoch's lifespan is the shortest recorded for these patriarchs. At "only" 365 years, he was on earth less than half as long as others in his family. However, Enoch's is the only story which does not end with the repeated phrase, "and he died." Rather, verse 24 simply says that God "took" Enoch. While we're not entirely sure what it means, the contrast to every other man listed in this genealogy is striking. Most likely, this was an event similar to what happens to Elijah at the end of his ministry: taken bodily by God prior to a natural death (2 Kings 2:9–12).
Methuselah, on the other hand, is credited with the longest lifespan of any person in the Bible: 969 years! Methuselah will also be the first of the patriarchs listed here to live until the year of the great flood.
Each generation continues to pass on to the following one the image of God, as well as their own human likeness, as Adam did with Seth and his other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:3). In addition, this line of Seth seems to be passing on a commitment to walking with and worshiping God. This is important in the context of the upcoming flood. The only people saved from that catastrophe were those of this very line.
Genesis 5:1-32 is a bridge of genealogy connecting the time of Adam and his son Seth to the time of Noah. This brings the Bible's historical record to the era of the flood. It provides a small, but helpful set of details: early humans lived a long time, had many children, and all died as a result of ubiquitous human sin. Enoch is the exception that proves the rule, commended for walking with God and seemingly taken away before his physical death. Despite the presence of early God-worshippers such as Adam and Seth, man will quickly descend into extraordinary wickedness, as seen in chapter 6. The coming of Noah at the end of this chapter prepares us for God's response to the sins of humankind.
Chapter 5 uses a simple genealogy of Adam's descendants through Seth to link the earliest humans with the time of Noah and the flood. In the generations after the garden, human beings live extraordinarily long lives, have great numbers of children, and continue to be in relationship with God though separated from Him physically and spiritually. The description of Enoch being ''taken'' by God is the exception that proves the rule: No matter how long a person lives, sin always leads to death.
Genesis 4 ends with the birth of Seth's son Enosh, and a statement that people had begun to call on the Lord's name. Chapter 5 details the generations from Adam through Seth to Noah, connecting the time of Adam and Seth with the time of Noah and his sons as described in chapter 6. This sets the stage for God's judgment of mankind's pervasive sin in the flood.
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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