HOW HUMANITY BEGAN ON THE GLORIOUS STAGE OF THE WORLD
From high and cold Mount Hermon in the north near Lebanon, to Eilat near Egypt and eastern Africa in the hot Negev desert in the south, from the flooding Nile River running south to north starting in Uganda and from the blue Mediterranean Sea with its lapping waves on the west, to the Jordan river flowing north to south through the sea of Galilee, on down to the deep-drop Dead Sea on the east, and beyond toward the sunrise through modern Arabia which contains the ancient lands of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that flowed out of mystical Gan Eden and which bounded the ancient empires of Assyria, Babylon and Persia, the land of the Bible is the navel of the world, and it contains within its tiny space all the major topographical features of the earth.
This is the stage for our recounting of the People and Stories of the Torah—the Torah, the heart of the Bible that pumps the blood of covenant into its life-giving streams of Tanakh and Gospel bringing saving redemption and peaceful discipleship through Messiah to all nations of humanity.
Here play out the stories that begin with Adam and Eve, our original parents. Their story is also the story of the deceiving Serpent, that cursed root of wickedness in the history of mankind. Here plays out the strife of Cain and Abel, brothers who became unintended adversaries. Cain slew his brother over a religious jealousy. Next comes the curious story of the wife of Cain who bore to him Enoch after whom he named a city. His wife must have been one of the unnamed daughters of Adam and Eve. This first Enoch begat Irad from whom came three sons and a violent grandson named Lamech, the first of two men named Lamech in the early biblical record.
Then there is the story of Seth who took the place of Abel in the lives of Adam and Eve. He begat Enosh along with more sons and daughters for the propagation of mankind. Enosh then begat Kenan and more sons and daughters, starting the multiplying population of earth where they lived.
After Seth, Adam begat sons and daughters who married among themselves before there was contamination from consanguinity among humans.
The story of Lamech son of Cain and his two named wives—Adah and Zillah—unfolds and reveals the roots of civilization in what secular historians refer to as the Stone Age, which they date at approximately five to ten thousand years before the birth of Jesus. This aligns with the compressed genealogical tables of the Bible that place the start of human history at approximately four thousand years before Messiah. This four-thousand-year estimation fits into a mystical aspect of biblical interpretation in which a thousand years equates to a metaphoric day and significantly reveals an eventual pattern of world redemption through three pairs of thousand-year “days.” Those periods are from Adam to Abraham, from Abraham to Messiah, and from Messiah to the mystical Millennium. After that comes the prophetic Seventh “Day” of the Millennium and then, after the First and Second Resurrections and the Final Judgment, the Creation of a New Heaven and a New Earth in which dwells righteousness and in which there is no more curse and no more death. More about that later.
From Kenan came Mahalalel and more sons and daughters, continuing the growth of human population as cousins married cousins until soon consanguineous marriage abated once the spread among cousins became greater than two generations; this became a rapid and exponential increase of humanity because people at that time lived very long lives before the catastrophic disruption of Earth’s ecology by the Great Flood.
Then Mahalalel begat Jared, whose name means “descent,” along with more sons and daughters. Jared then begat the second Enoch (not from the line of Cain). Jared continued to beget sons and daughters until he died at the age of nine hundred and sixty-two years.
Enoch, the son of Jared, begat Methusaleh (Hebrew, “ME’TU’SHA’LACH”)—whose name essentially means “when he dies, I will send (it)”—a prophecy having in view the coming of the Great Flood. When Methuselah died, the Flood came.
Enoch begat more sons and daughters before he died at age three hundred sixty-five years (the number of days in a solar year, thus marking his life span as symbolic of a single human cycle from a time of winter to a time of spring to a time of summer to a time of autumn, four seasons of life—a waxing and a waning—an abbreviated individual existence on earth while the Earth is bearing the curse of the fall of Man).
Enoch was the first man who “walked with God, and God took him” away into the heavenly realm of God without experiencing death. Elijah was the second such man. And our Lord Jesus was the eventual Son of Man / Son of God who passed through the grave and rose out from it and then ascended into the Transcendent Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father as Great High Priest over all Mankind and as Lord over all Creation. From there he now reigns through the Holy Spirit. And from there we expect his speedy return.
Methuselah became the oldest man to ever live. He begat Lamech and more sons and daughters. His life reached nine hundred and sixty-nine years, just thirty-one years short of a single “thousand-year day”; thus, God’s word to Adam and Eve, “in the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die,*” came to pass: no human has ever lived to one thousand years of age. But God demonstrated his great love and patience for mankind by extending the life span of the man whose name meant that “when he dies, I will send it.” God put off judgment as long as possible within the confines of the thousand years allotted to sinful man to come to redemption or perish. Soon, humanity would be so wicked that only Noah and his immediate family would be spared the death of the Great Flood.
[*Genesis 2:17, the curse for eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge, good and evil]
Lamech, the son of Methuselah, begat Noah, whose names means “Comfort” or “Rest.” The inverse of his name in Hebrew means “Grace.” Thus, he was the man through whom the grace of God brought comfort to the world after the judgment on the wicked and violent society that was wiped out in the Great Flood. Lamech said of Noah’s name, “He will bring us rest—comfort—from our work and toil on the Earth that has been cursed” because of the sin in the Garden. Lamech also begat sons and daughters. And Noah lived five hundred years, begetting his three sons Shem, Ham and Japeth, through whom the present population of Earth has been renewed.
The story continues with the expansion of humanity. Then came the mysterious “Nephilim”—fallen “sons of God”—who perverted humanity. Theirs is an enigmatic story reserved for another time. But it seems to be a story that may explain much of the mythology of ancient man because of their strange progeny. On the other hand, it may simply indicate that the lines of human descent had become so twisted that they resulted somehow in giants being born into the world.
APPLICATION: As you read this parashah (this “division”) of the Torah from Genesis 1:1 through 6:8, take lessons for life today. That period ended in a population that was so wicked that God “repented” for having made man on the earth. Yet, “Noah” (whose name spelled backwards means “grace”—just to remind you) “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” and God set forward a plan to heal the effects of the global destruction of the Great Flood upon the first evil descendants from Adam and Eve. Please remember that our Lord Jesus has said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.^” As humanity reproduces the wickedness of that time, it alerts us to the great likelihood that the Lord Jesus is about to return to once again set the world right.
[^Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26]