Before Genesis 2:4, the Bible describes events man has never witnessed – the creation of Heaven and Earth. These accounts were most likely revealed to either Adam or Moses. Everything since Genesis 2:4 is Adam’s account, his book. Genesis 5:1 signifies the end of Adam’s account – “This is the book of the generations of Adam…” – that was passed down and given to Moses, its editor.
Super Old People
This genealogy is similar to one you may find on ancestry.com, but the people lived substantially longer than we do today. Imagine living over 900 years… what would you do? Talk about wisdom gained and lessons learned. People lived longer before the flood, since the gene pool had not yet been deeply effected by deterioration after the fall of man. Additionally, the environment was different, with water vapors surrounding the globe. After the global flood with Noah, the environment changed drastically, resulting in a substantial drop in lifespans.
Other historical evidence around this period include The Sumerian King’s List, an ancient manuscript that records the reigns of the kings of Sumer, mentioning a large flood. The kings before the flood had significantly longer reigns than those afterwards.
“It is highly unlikely that the biblical account was derived from the Sumerian in view of the differences of the two accounts, and the obvious superiority of the Genesis record both in numerical precision, realism, completion, and moral and spiritual qualities.” Raul Lopez, “The Antediluvian Patriarchs and the Sumerian King List,” CEN Technical Journal 12, no. 3 (1998): p. 347–357.
Simply put, humans used to be able to live forever, so living almost 1,000 years during the first ~5,000 years of this Earth is not that long in comparison.
Side Note: It is important to realize that during these times the purpose of keeping these records was to show chronology. Many genealogies in the Ancient Near East estimated numbers; exact numbers did not serve the genealogies’ purpose. Their focus was on family roots. Other records kept during this time stray a bit in numerical similarities but have much of the same patterns and events (pointing to the biblical manuscripts being used as a guide).
Since people lived so long, they had many children and were able to see many of them grow up and have more children. Some analyses suggest Adam could have seen more than 1 million of his own descendants, and that by the time of the flood there were 7 billion people on this Earth. To put these numbers into perspective, there are 7.5 billion people on our planet today.
All About Image
Adam bore a son “in his own likeness, after his own image” (Genesis 5:3). Adam’s son Seth was fallen as well, like Adam, like all of us. This fallenness is continually passed down through reproduction.
The Best Walk
Enoch fathered a son named Methusaleh, meaning “when it is dead, it shall come.” After his son’s Enoch walked with God, meaning he walked by faith, in the light (1 John 1:5-7). Through Methusaleh, Enoch saw God’s judgement coming. He was pleasing to God and was a prophet who could see the second coming of Jesus (Hebrews 11:5 and Judges 14). Basically, a really good, cool guy who was needed as temptations grew after the fall of man. His son, Methusaleh, was kept alive longer than anyone on record in order to give people time to repent before the flood.
Trivia: Who was the one other person in the Bible who did not die?
Answer to Trivia: Elijah