Genesis 5:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.
Many archaeologists and anthropologists date modern man back to at least 10,000 years ago. How are we to reconcile this when Bible Chronology takes us back to just a little over 6,000 years?
It seems that some scholars who call themselves conservative or fundamentalist, who are supposed to believe that the original texts that contribute to our modern Bibles are “God-breathed” and fully inerrant, are not so conservative at times. As a result, it appears that some of these scholars tend to give secular history an advantage over biblical history. The Bible scholar, and especially the secular scholar, tend to view Bible chronology as inferior to that of pagan nations. It is true; one would like to harmonize the biblical account with secular history. However, there is no demonstration that secular chronology is exact or reliable, leaving us a standard by which to judge.
However, no serious Bible student should ever doubt Bible chronology merely because certain secular records disagree with it. Quite the reverse, for the careful Bible student, it is only when secular chronology lines up with the biblical chronology that we are to draw confidence in secular dating. Why? There is extensive evidence of certain sloppiness and impreciseness or even intentional falsification on the part of the pagan historians and their chronologies.
There is no doubt that there are some gaps in the genealogies within Genesis. Looking at the Gospel of Matthew, we find a gap of three generations. Matthew 1:8 reads, “Joram the father of Uzziah” also called Azariah, while First Chronicles 3:11-14 reads,
1 Chronicles 3:10-14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
10 The son of Solomon was Rehoboam, Abijah his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, 11 Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, 12 Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son, 13 Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, 14 Amon his son, Josiah his son.
|Uzziah||Azariah also call Uzziah|
As you can see, Matthew leaves out three generations: Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. Why would Matthew omit these persons from the genealogy list? Joram was married to the wicked Athaliah of the house of Ahab, who was the daughter of Jezebel, in so doing; this brought a God condemned strain into the lineage of the Judean kings. (1 Ki 21:20-26; 2 Ki 8:25-27) Matthew only mentions Joram, omitting the fruits of this alliance to the fourth generation. In addition, we have at least one omission from the genealogy of Genesis. Below you will note that Luke has Cainan between Shelah and Arphaxad, while Genesis omits Cainan.
35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
Genesis 10:22-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber.
Again, Cainan is listed in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus Christ as the son of Arpachshad, while his name is missing from Genesis. (Lu 3:36; Gen. 10:22-24) If one were to look at our present copies of the Greek Septuagint, one would find that the name Cainan appears in the genealogical lists, such as the Alexandrine Manuscript of the fifth century C.E. – Genesis 10:24; 11:12, 13; 1 Chronicles 1:18 but not 1 Chronicles 1:24.
However, the same search in the Hebrew manuscripts, as well as the Samaritan texts or the Targums or versions, would find “Cainan” missing. In addition, P75, which dates to about 175 – 200 C.E., and Bezae Codices of the fifth and sixth centuries C.E. omit “son of Cainan,” in harmony with Gen 10:24; Gen. 11:12, 15; 1 Chron. 1:18. In these latter texts, it is Shelah, not Cainan, who is the son of Arpachshad.
Moreover, “Cainan” was likely missing from the earlier copies of the Septuagint, because the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, who generally follows the Septuagint, list Shelah next as the son of Arpachshad. Some of the early Church Fathers Irenaeus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Jerome rejected the second “Cainan” in copies of Luke’s account as an interpolation. Many scholars take the second “Cainan” in Luke to be a copyist’s error. Dr. Stephen J. Bramer discusses this question in his Holman Old Testament Commentary of Genesis, where he writes,
Gaps are usually assumed in biblical genealogies. This is based on at least four factors: First, the Hebrew word for “the father of” is comprehensive and can mean a more generic “ancestor.” Second, evidence from Seth not being the firstborn of Adam (Gen. 4:25) as well as the arrangement of Noah’s three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) in Genesis 5:32 suggest to some interpreters that this is not a complete or chronological listing. Third, the genealogies of Genesis 11 and Matthew 1 are not complete (when compared to the genealogies in 1 Chr. 1–4). So some interpreters assume the genealogy in Genesis 5 must not be complete either. Fourth, the correspondences between Cain’s genealogy of Genesis 4 and Seth’s of Genesis 5 (specifically the obvious contrast between ungodly Lamech who is seventh and godly Enoch who is also seventh) is suggestive to some of a selective listing.
In addition, the long ages given are sometimes seen as having some conventional literary function (for example, Enoch’s 365 years refers to the 365 days in a year and so represents a full life for Enoch) rather than serving as literal numbers.
Before one too readily accepts the common notion that there are gaps in the genealogies and therefore the ages are useless to indicate the length of time back to Adam, consider the following:
- The position of a child in the family does not change the age of the father when this particular son is born (i.e., it does not matter whether Seth was the third-born or hundredth-born; Adam was still 130 years of age when Seth was born).
- The number of siblings in the family does not change the age of the father when he gave birth to a particular son or when he died.
- The relationship between the people does not change the age. If Lamech was the grandson rather than the son of Methuselah, the Scripture still states that Methuselah was 187 years old when he became the father (or grandfather, or great-grandfather) of Lamech.
Notice too, the following indications that there cannot be gaps (generations that have been left out) in the following relationships in the genealogy from Adam to Enoch:
- Adam as the first man (Gen. 5:1–2; cp. Gen. 2–4; 1 Cor. 15:45; 1 Tim. 2:13)
- Seth as an immediate descendant from Adam (Gen. 5:3–4; cp. Gen. 4:25)
- Enosh as an immediate descendant of Seth (Gen. 5:6; cp Gen. 4:26)
- Enoch as the seventh from Adam (Gen. 5:18; cp. Jude 14)
The genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:1–3 does not give any additional names for this period of history.
The numbers must be given for a reason. Later genealogies, essentially from after the time of Abraham, do not contain ages for the people in the genealogies. After Abraham we are able to date the biblical history and correlate it with secular history. It is true that when the Bible refers back to pre-Abrahamic events or people, it never adds up these numbers. But this does not mean that they can’t be added up. Perhaps they were not added up for the very reason that people could if they desired to do so.
Secular historians, archaeologists, and chronologists’ view of Biblical chronology has so regularly been portrayed by critics as inferior to that of the pagan nations. However, the Bible is filled with history, notably so among ancient writings. What is known from the secular sources of the ancient nations has been carefully and painstakingly pieced together from pieces of information gathered from monuments and tablets or from the later writings of the so-called classical historiographers of the Greek and Roman time period.
By contrast, the Bible gives an extraordinarily coherent and detailed history extending through some four thousand years. Detailed records were clearly or obviously available to Bible chroniclers, such as the writers of First and Second Kings and of First and Second Chronicles. Especially distinguishing the Biblical record apart from the contemporaneous writings of the pagan nations is the sense of time. This is not only of the past and the present but also of the future that flows through its pages. In looking at the secular, there is, however, much evidence of obvious carelessness and inaccuracy or even of intentional falsification on the part of the pagan historians and chronologers.
R. K. Harrison,
Comparing the Massoretic text with the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch leaves little doubt that the Hebrew text is the original, constituting the foundation upon which the other versions have built. Presumably in an attempt to introduce some sort of chronological balance into the lives of the earlier patriarchs, the LXX added 100 years to the respective ages of these individuals at the time when their successors were born. For the latter part of their lives, the LXX subtracted proportionate periods so as to bring the total life-span of each patriarch into general accord with the figures furnished by the Massoretic text. The Samaritan Pentateuch, on the other hand, tended to shorten the lives of the antediluvian figures and lengthen those of the post-diluvians. According to the chronology of the LXX, Methuselah survived the Flood by some 14 years, whereas the Massoretic text dated his demise in the year in which the Flood occurred (Gen. 7:23). The Samaritan Pentateuch appears to have indicated the commencement of a new era in human affairs with the activities of Noah and his sons by implying that Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech all died in the year of the Flood, presumably as a result of the cataclysm. The low figures furnished by the Massoretic text for the chronology between Arpachshad and Nahor would seem to account for the rather unusual fact that all the patriarchs from Noah to Terah were alive when Abraham was born. The texts of the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch, on the other hand, record that all the ancestors of Abraham had died well in advance of his journey to Canaan at the age of 75.
Both the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch avoid the sharp decline in the ages of the post-diluvians at the birth of their successors by adopting the device of adding a century to most of the figures contained in the Massoretic text. By this means their records achieve something like parity with the dates assigned in the Hebrew Scriptures for the antediluvian patriarchs generally. Table 1 will assist in illustrating some of the matters raised in the foregoing discussion.
EARLY PATRIARCHAL GENEALOGIES
|Name||Age at birth of successor||Balance of life||Total years|
|MT LXX Sam. P.||MT LXX Sam. P.||MT LXX Sam. P.|
Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures says: “The internal evidence is shown to be decidedly in favor of the Hebrew from its proportional consistency. The numbers in the LXX evidently follow a plan to which they have been conformed. This does not appear in the Hebrew, and it is greatly in favor of its being an authentic genealogical record. . . . On physiological grounds, too, the Hebrew is to be preferred; since the length of the life does not at all require so late a manhood as those numbers [in the Septuagint] would seem to intimate. . . . the added 100 years, in each case, by the Septuagint, shows a design to bring them to some nearer proportional standard, grounded on some supposed physiological notion. . . . To all this must be added the fact that the Hebrew has the best claim to be regarded as the original text, from the well-known scrupulous, and even superstitious, care with which it has been textually preserved.”—Translated and edited by P. Schaff, 1976.
The numbers shown below for the pre-Flood period are those found in the Masoretic text. Our modern translations of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures are based on these numbers. They differ from those found in the Greek Septuagint, but the evidence for accuracy undoubtedly leans toward the Masoretic text.
From the Creation of Adam to the Flood. The 1,656 years of this period are set out in Genesis 5:1-29; 7:6.
From Adam’s creation to the birth of Seth
Then to the birth of Enosh
To the birth of Kenan
To the birth of Mahalalel
To the birth of Jared
To the birth of Enoch
To the birth of Methuselah
To the birth of Lamech
To the birth of Noah
To the Flood
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 R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), 149–150.
 John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Genesis (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 272.
 Jewish Antiquities, I, 146 [vi, 4]
 Kenneth O. Gangel and Stephen J. Bramer, Genesis, ed. Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary (B&H Publishing Group, 2002), 66–67.
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