Genesis 5: Lessons from the Ten Righteous Descendants of Adam

Introduction: Many find genealogies in the Bible to be boring. Thus, many skip the genealogies of Adam in Genesis Chapter 5. Bible critics also point to this chapter to scoff at the patriarchs’ long life spans. Other critics are troubled by the fact that parts of Genesis five repeat verses from either the creation account or the end of chapter four. Some critics claim that these seemingly redundant passages are proof of different authors. Yet, these criticisms are all misplaced. Sometimes, the Bible’s most interesting messages are hidden in plain sight. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Prov. 25:2). “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Dt. 29:29). From the righteous descendants of Adam who are listed in Genesis chapter 5, God reveals Christ’s plan for redemption, His path for walking with Him on Earth and in heaven and the warning of judgment for those who fail to repent and turn to Him.

First, from the meaning behind each name in the ten generations from Adam to Noah, God reveals the need for mankind’s redemption and His promise that Christ’s death would bring rest from the struggle for salvation. Second, from the second account of Adam being made in God’s likeness, He reveals that each person has a second chance to be remade into His holiness through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Third, the righteousness of the first ten patriarchs symbolizes the righteousness that comes from living according to the Ten Commandments out of love and not obligation. Fourth, from the judgment that came near the end of the tenth patriarch, Noah, He reveals both the judgment that comes under His Ten Commandments and your need for salvation. Fifth, from the two Lamechs that appear in both the wicked and righteous genealogies in Genesis chapters four and five, He reveals that mankind also has a dual nature. Your flesh is always at war with the Spirit. Lamech’s name meant either destroyer or despairing. You must destroy the desires of the flesh and submit to the Spirit. If not, your flesh will cause you despair. Sixth, God prophesied that Methuselah’s death would bring the Flood. By allowing him to live 969 years (the longest of any person in the Bible), God showed His mercy and grace by delaying judgment as long as possible to give mankind many opportunities to repent. Finally, from Enoch’s rapture and his ability to avoid death, He reveals that Christ’s righteousness can also allow you to avoid eternal death and dwell with Him in heaven.

1. God Planned For Jesus’ Redemption From the Very Beginning. Gen. 5:1-32.

(1) Adam. In Hebrew, the name Adam “׳āḏām” “: אָדָם‎” means “man.” When used collectively, his name means “mankind.” At age 130, he had Seth. Adam lived a total of 930 years: “1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:1-5). By Jewish tradition, Adam could not live past 1,000 years (a day to God (Ps. 90:4)) because of his sins.

(2) Seth. In Hebrew, the name Seth “שֵׁת,” means “appointed”. At age 105, he had Enosh. He lived 912 years: “Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:6-8).

(3) Enosh. In Hebrew, the name Enosh “אֱנוֹשׁ” means “mortal” or “mortal man.” At age 90, he fathered Kenan. He lived a total of 905 years: “Enosh lived ninety years, and became the father of Kenan. 10 Then Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. 11 So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:9-11).

(4) Kenan. In Hebrew, the name Kenan “קֵינָן” means “sorrow”. At age 70, he fathered Mahalalel. Kenan lived a total of 910 years: “12 Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel. 13 Then Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. 14 So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:12-14).

(5) Mahalalel. In Hebrew, the name Mahalalel “מהללאל” means “the blessed God.” At age 65, he fathered Jared. He lived a total of 895 years before he died: “15 Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Jared. 16 Then Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he became the father of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. 17 So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:15-17).

(6) Jared. In Hebrew, the name Jared comes from the verb “ירד” (yarad), a verb meaning to go down, descend, decline. Here, it means either “shall come down” or “he who descended”. At age 162, he fathered Enoch. He lived a total of 962 years before he died: “18 Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch. 19 Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:18-20).

(7) Enoch. In Hebrew, the name Enoch “חנוך” means “teaching”. At age 65, he had Methuselah. He lived 365 years. Yet, he never died. Instead, the seventh righteous descendant through Adam was raptured into heaven without dying: “21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. 22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Gen. 5:21-24).

(8) Methuselah. In Hebrew, the name Methuselah “מְתוּשָׁלַח” means “his death shall bring judgment” or “man of the dart/spear”. At age 187, he fathered Lamech. He died when he was 969 years old: “25 Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech. 26 Then Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. 27 So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:25-27).

Anonymous (Methuselah)— 12th century England Canterbury Cathedral stained glass window1

(9) Lamech. The word Lamech למך (lmk) is not a Hebrew word used today. Thus, the meaning of his name is subject to dispute. Today, the English words “lament” and “lamentation” have their origin in his name. His name most likely means “despairing” or “destroyer”. Although Cain had a wicked descendant named Lamech (Gen. 4:20-24), this is a different individual because he is listed amongst the righteous descendants. At age 182, he fathered Noah. He died at age 777: “28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. 29 Now he called his name Noah, saying, ‘This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.’ 30 Then Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. 31 So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:25-27).

(10) Noah. In Hebrew, the name Noah “נעה” means “rest” or “comfort”. At age 500, he fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth. His sons are discussed in the next chapter. Noah’s death is not listed in this chapter because he and his sons would live through the Flood with their wives: “32 Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” (Gen. 5:32).

As shown above, each Hebrew name has a special meaning. When combining the names of the first ten generations from Adam to Noah, God reveals the plan for mankind’s salvation. The following table shows the meaning of the names of the first 10 generations from Adam to Noah:


Placing these words in a single sentence, the Father Almighty revealed the following prediction:

Man [is] appointed mortal sorrow, [but] the Blessed God shall come down teaching [that] His death shall bring [the] despairing rest (or comfort).

Whom did God predict would die when He referenced “His death”? Jesus Christ! Thus, God foretold His plan of redemption through Adam’s genealogy. Jesus later revealed that the Scriptures all testify about Him. This chapter provides Jesus’ Word to be true: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” (Jo. 5:39).

Some people claim that the book of Genesis is just a collection of stories or myths that mankind made up. It would be hard, however, to imagine a group of Jewish rabbis, centuries ago, conspiring to hide the message of Christ who was not yet living on Earth in their venerated Torah.

Chuck Missler is widely credited for having revealed this hidden message of Jesus in the Genesis genealogy. He points out that the genealogies prove that God exists outside of time. He had planned mankind’s plan for redemption through Christ before Adam ever sinned:

The implications of this discovery are more widespread than is evident at first glance. It demonstrates that in the earliest chapters of the book of Genesis, God had already laid out His plan of redemption for the predicament of mankind. It is a love story, written in blood on a wooden cross which was erected in Judea almost 2,000 years ago.

The Bible is an integrated message system, the product of supernatural engineering. Every number, every place name, every detail, every jot and tittle is there for our learning, our discovery, and our amazement. Truly, our God is an awesome God.2

2. The Promise of Your New Beginning through the Second Adam, Jesus. Gen. 5:1-2.

  • The retelling of Adam’s creation in God’s likeness. In addition to containing the hidden story of Christ’s future redemption, Genesis chapter 5 also contains a hidden message regarding your opportunity for spiritual rebirth in God’s image through Christ: “1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.” (Gen. 5:1-2). To many Bible skeptics, this retelling of Adam’s creation in God’s image must be evidence of different authors and different creation accounts that were later merged together. But these skeptics are mistaken. Everything in the Bible has meaning. The second account of Adam’s creation in God’s likeness symbolizes God’s plan to restore mankind to its intended righteousness through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. The first Adam brought about sin and mankind’s death, represented by the lineage in Genesis chapter four: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Ro. 5:12-13). Centuries later, Christ became the second Adam. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” (Ro. 5:14). He redeemed humanity to restore its lost spiritual inheritance of eternal life: “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45; Rev. 1:5). Adam’s second lineage in Genesis chapter five represents the redemption from being born again into God’s image through Christ.

  • Your new beginning in Christ. When you repent and accept Christ, you become a “new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17). You also become part of His “royal priesthood.” (1 Pet. 2:9). Through Christ, your old self and your old covetous desires will burn away: “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that your body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin . . .” (Ro. 6:6). There will, however, be times when some aspects of the old coveting flesh return to tempt us (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9). With your second chance through Christ, are you living a holy life?

3 The Example of Righteousness Symbolized by the Ten First Patriarchs.

  • The ten righteous descendants through Adam. There is also symbolism in the fact that exactly ten righteous generations existed from Adam to Noah. In the Bible, the number ten symbolizes the righteousness of the Ten Commandments. Although many in the modern Church teach that Christ freed you from an alleged “burden” to follow these Commandments, this teaching is misguided. He merely freed you from the judgment from breaking these Commandments. The Ten Commandments are not a route to salvation. If that were the case, Christ’s death was not necessary: “if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Gal. 2:21). Today, Christians are no longer “under the Law” in the sense that they must comply with it to be saved (Gal. 5:18; Ro. 7:6; 8:3). By “fulfilling” the Law, Christ freed you from the impossible task of trying to obtain salvation through the Law (Matt. 5:17). Yet, Jesus also says that, if you love Him, you will keep His commandments: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). Living a righteous life under the Ten Commandments also places you under God’s protection, just like the first ten righteous patriarchs. They all lived long blessed lives. A life lived within the Ten Commandments will protect you from the sorrows of sin. Although they are a standard of morality that mankind will never consistently reach, they are God’s standard of morality that each person should aspire to live by. The way God protected the Ten Commandments within the Tabernacle symbolizes how He will protect you when you live according to His standard. The Ten Commandments were protected inside the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:16; Heb. 9:4). The tabernacle was in turn protected with ten curtains (Ex. 26:1; 36:8). It was also held up by boards that were to be exactly ten cubits in length (Ex. 26:16; 36:21). There were also exactly ten pillars with ten sockets (Ex. 27:12; 38:12). These served as a barrier between man’s sin and God’s holy shekinah glory. Without these barriers of protection, the people would die. The Ten Commandments therefore provide protection from your sinful heart by guiding your choices as a free individual. You are given free will and liberty to live your life as you choose. Yet, only when you live within the guideposts of God’s protection will you enjoy the completeness of God’s blessings and His protection from the evil one. Stepping outside the protection of the Ten Commandments is like moving from the safe zone in a war area to an active area of combat. You might get lucky and escape the “fiery darts” of the evil one (Eph. 6:16). Yet, chances are that you won’t. The ten righteous patriarchs also escaped the sorrows of sin. Are the Ten Commandments your standard?

  • The guideposts of protection for society. The Ten Commandments are also important for the protections of a society. They govern your vertical relationship with God and your horizontal relationships with each other. The first five Commandments govern your relationship and worship of God as a society. The last five, with the Fifth Commandment falling into both categories, govern your relationships with each other. They protect the bonds between generations (the Fifth Commandment); the greatest injury to a person, murder (the Sixth Commandment); and the greatest injury to the bonds within a family, adultery (the Seventh Commandment). The remaining Commandments are also crucial to the protection of a legal system that promotes and protects commerce, (the prohibition against bearing false witness), the protection against theft and the protection against a host of self-destructive behaviors that flow from coveting. The Church needs to be the salt and light that encourages society to live by His standard. Does your church teach the importance of the Ten Commandments to its members and others?

  • God’s revelation of faith. The Ten Commandments also reveal your need for faith in God as you are tested within your willingness to comply with them. Abraham had ten trials of faith. These include: (1) his willingness to leave his old life in Haran behind, (2) his flight to Egypt from the famine, (3) the Egyptian king’s seizure of Sarah, (4) his willingness to fight for Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, (5) his taking in Hagar, (6) his circumcision, (7) the second seizure of Sarah at Gerar, (8) the expulsion of Ishmael, (9) the expulsion of Hagar, and (10) the offering of Isaac. Ten also reveals faith in other portions of the Bible. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, has exactly ten parts. Are you looking to God in faith to overcome your trials and live according to His standard?

4. The Judgement Symbolized by the Ten Patriarchs, Representing the Ten Commandments.

  • God’s revelation of the need for salvation through Christ. The number ten also symbolized God’s complete revelation of the need for salvation through Christ. After the first ten righteous patriarchs, God brought judgment through the Flood. God later brought exactly ten plagues on Egypt. The ten plagues symbolized God’s judgment. The Egyptians symbolized the flesh and your old life in bondage to sin. Like the Egyptians, you also have been judged under God’s Law. “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law.’” (Gal. 3:10). God looked down from heaven and found none who were eternally righteous by the Law: “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is righteous.” (Ps. 143:2). “[A]s it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one;”’ (Ro. 3:10). “[B]ecause by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Ro. 3:20; 4:15). “[N]evertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” (Gal. 2:16). Even Moses, the giver of the Law, could not comply with the Law to enter the Promised Land. The people needed someone to atone for their sins. Exactly ten times in the Book of John, He revealed Himself as God. Do you openly acknowledge your sins and thank your Savior?

  • Only faith in Jesus can free you from the eternal consequences of breaking the Law. By faith in His atoning death, you are no longer judged under the Law as a condition for your salvation: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16; 10:9; 11:25; 14:6). “Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Gal. 3:11; 5:18; Ro. 7:6; 8:3). If you are grateful for your unearned salvation, what are you doing to show your gratitude? “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Ro. 12:1).

5. The Dual Nature of Mankind to be Conquered, Symbolized by the Two Lamechs.

  • Your dual nature between the flesh and the Spirit. The two Lamechs symbolized mankind’s dual nature, between the flesh and the Spirit. The bad Lamech warned of his vengeance 77 fold (Gen. 4:24). The good Lamech lived 777 years, a symbol of holy completeness (Gen. 5:31). Like the two Lamechs, your flesh is at war with the Spirit and constantly seeks to control you: “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit . . .” (Gal. 5:17). To fight the flesh, you must become a slave to a lifestyle that is wholesome and fulfilling in Christ: “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Ro. 6:18). To do this you must renew your mind every day to dwell on what is good (Ro. 12:2). As you renew your mind, covet the things of God: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1-2; Matt. 6:6; Matt 6:19-24; 13:44-46; 1 Cor. 12:31; Phil 3:7-14). Do you deny your flesh and seek after the things of the Spirit and God’s Kingdom?

  • Satan seeks to place you into bondage to sin. Satan’s ultimate goal is to place you into bondage and cause you to turn away from God (e.g., 1 Kings 11:3-4). He seeks to make you a slave to your flesh (Is. 5:11). Ultimately, this can become a form of idolatry (Col. 3:5). If you give in to coveting, the devil will enslave you (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). Jesus also explains that “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21; Lk. 12:34). In the end, you must pick which master you will serve: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24). The choice you have is symbolized by the two names for Lamech, “destroyer” and “despairing”. Either you destroy the desires of your flesh or your flesh will cause you to despair. Which master are you serving, the flesh or the Spirit?

6. God’s Mercy and Grace in Prolonging Judgement Upon the World. Gen. 5:27.

  • God’s delayed judgment through Methuselah’s long life. God prophesied that Methuselah’s death would bring the Flood. Yet, He allowed Methuselah to live 969 years: “27 So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:27). Methuselah lived longer than any of the other first ten patriarchs. His long life was part of God’s mercy and grace. He delayed His judgment for centuries to allow mankind many opportunities to repent. God could have allowed mankind to live long lives in the past by fiat. His Word created the heavens and the Earth (Ps. 33:9; Heb. 11:3). He could have also used natural processes to shorten our lives. Hugh Ross points out that the Earth was most likely bombarded with radiation from a supernova that exploded “in the recent past (less than 10,000 years ago) relatively near (closer than 3,000 light-years away) to our solar system.” Ross concludes: “It seems possible that before Noah’s time, the deadly cosmic rays that so significantly impact human longevity had not yet arrived from their supernova source.”3

  • God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. God’s goal with any sinner is to rehabilitate, not to punish: “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6). “The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.” (Ps. 145:8). He wants to forgive mankind when they repent. He forgave the people of Nineveh after they took Jonah’s warning seriously and repented. Jesus is looking for believers to warn others about their need to repent. Will you give His message?

7. God’s Promise of Eternal Life, Symbolized through Enoch’s Rapture.

  • Enoch’s life without death. Unlike the other patriarchs, Enoch never died. Instead, after he lived 365 years, God raptured him to heaven: “23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Gen. 5:21-24). God reveals that Enoch lived by faith and was taken because of His faith: “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took Him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:5-6). His 365-year-life exactly matched the days in a calendar year. This also symbolized a complete life. Like Enoch, faith allows you to also walk with Christ and escape eternal death.

Enoch’s rapture4

  • Walk with God. The great men of the Bible “walked with God.” (Gen. 5:22, 24; 6:9; 17:1; 24:40; 48:15). This included seven things. First, this includes walking by faith in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:7). Second, it includes walking in His light (1 Jo. 1:7). Third, it includes reading the Word to allow His Spirit to guide you (Ps. 119:105). Fourth, it also includes walking in agreement with God’s Word and His Spirit without rebellion (Amos 3:3). Sixth, it includes constant prayer (1 Thess. 5:17). Finally, it includes love towards God and others, the greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:37-38). Are you walking with God in all seven areas?

  • Exhort others to live according to God's standard of righteousness and faith in Christ. God also reveals that Enoch was both a prophet and a preacher to those who were lost: “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’ These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (Jude 1:14-16); The Jews also believe that he was a preacher and attribute three non-canonized books to him. Like Enoch, will you preach to the ungodly to repent and return to Christ’s holiness through faith?

  • The foreshadow of the Rapture. Like Enoch, Elijah was also “taken” by God (2 Kg. 2:3, 10-11). They are most likely the “two witnesses” in the end times who will preach repentance before Jesus’ Second Coming (Rev. 11:1-14). Each person is appointed one death (Heb. 9:27). At that time, they will die as martyrs. Their initial taking foreshadows the future Rapture of the Church (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16-17). No one knows the exact day or hour of Christ’s return (Matt. 24:36, Mk. 13:32). Those who are not ready will be left behind (Matt. 24:41). Are you living each day being ready for His return?


  2. Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis (rtb press 2014) p. 127-8; Anatoly D. Erlykin and A. W. Wolfendale, “Can One See Gamma Rays from the Single Source Responsible for the Knee?” Proceedings of the 28th International Cosmic Ray Conference, July 31-August 7, 2003, Trukuba, Japan, eds. T. Kajita et. al. (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics 2003): 2349; A.D. Erlykin and A.W. Wolfendale, “Cosmic Rays and the Monogem Supernova Remnant,” Astroparticle Physics 22 (October 2004): 47-63.↩︎