1. The Ten Antediluvian Patriarchs:
Ten patriarchs who lived before the Flood are listed in the genealogical table of
2. Divergences between the Three Texts:
Divergence exists in the case of Jared, Methuselah and Lamech only. Even here the longevity of Jared and Methuselah is given similarly in the Hebrew and the Septuagint; and probably represents the reading of the source, especially since the different data in the Samaritan text bear evidence of adjustment to a theory. The customary excess of 100 years in the Septuagint over the other texts for the age of the patriarch at the birth of the son, and the variously divergent data for the total age of Jared, Methuselah and Lamech are, therefore, the matters that await explanation.
The general superiority of the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch as a whole to the Samaritan text and the Septuagint is no longer questioned by Biblical scholars. But whether the superiority obtains in this particular passage has given rise to long and earnest discussion. Keil and Delitzsch in their commentaries on Genesis, Preuss (Zeitrechnung der Septuaginta, 1859, 30ff), Noldeke (Untersuchung zur Kritik des Altes Testament, 1869, 112), and Eduard Konig (ZKW, 1883, 281 ff), hold to the originality of the Hebrew data. Bertheau (Jahrbucher fur deutsche Theologie, XXIII, 657 ff) and Dillmann ascribe prior authority to the Samaritan numbers in
3. Divergences not Accidental:
It is agreed by all that the divergences between the texts are mainly due, not to accidental corruption, but to systematic alteration. Accordingly, two tasks devolve upon the investigator, namely
(1) the removal of accidental corruptions from the numerical data in the several texts and
(2) the discovery of a principle that underlies and explains the peculiarities in each one or in two of the three sets of data.
4. Different Explanations:
On the interpretation that the names denote individuals and that no links have been omitted in the genealogy, readers of the Septuagint noticed that according to its data Methuselah survived the flood, and in order to avoid this incongruity a scribe changed the 167 years, ascribed to his age at the birth of his son, to 187 years. This reading was early in existence, and was followed by Josephus. Holding the same theory regarding the genealogy, the Samaritans noticed that by their data three men, Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech, survived the Flood. To correct the apparent mistake, without tampering with the age of these three men at parenthood, their longevity was reduced sufficiently to enable them to die in the year of the Deluge.
If the Hebrew text in its present form is not original, and is to be emended from the Samaritan and Septuagint, the same difficulty inhered in it. To overcome this difficulty, perhaps, 100 years were borrowed from the years that elapsed between parenthood and death and were added to the age of the three men at the time of begetting a son. This relieved the matter as far as Jared was concerned and perhaps in the case of Lamech also, and the borrowing of an additional 20 years set Methuselah right also. If the original number for Lamech was 53 in the Hebrew, as in the Samaritan, then it was necessary to increase the time between Methuselah’s birth and the Flood not 20, but 49 years. These 49 years could not be added directly to either Methuselah’s or Lamech’s age at begetting a son without making this age exceed 200 years, and thus be out of proportion; and accordingly the 49 years were distributed.
The difference of a century in the age assigned to the patriarchs at the son’s birth which distinguishes the data of the Hebrew in most cases from the Septuagint, and likewise from the Samaritan in several instances, in
5. The Relation of the Cainite and Sethite Genealogies:
6. Resemblances and Differences in the Two Lists:
It is important to note that the number of links in the two genealogies may indicate that Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal- Cain, who mark stages of developing culture, lived several generations before Noah. It was ancient Semitic belief that civilization was far advanced before the Flood, and was continued in its various forms by the survivors (Berosus; and inscription 13, col. i. 18 in Lehmann’s Shamash-shumukin). However, for the sake of comparison, the six links in the genealogical chain of the Cainites are placed side by side with those of the Sethites so as the better to reveal the resemblances and differences
Of these names two, Enoch and Lamech, occur in each genealogy, though Enoch does not occupy the same place in both lists. Kenan is readily derived from the same root as Kain. Instead of `Irad the original Hebrew text may have been `Idad, as was read by the Septuagint, Codex Alexandrinus and Lucian. But, accepting `Irad as original, `Irad and Jared may conceivably have been distorted in the oral tradition; yet as they stand they are radically different, and one might as well compare Prussia and Russia, Swede and Swiss, Austria and Australia. Methushael is written in the Septuagint exactly as is Methuselah; but both names are fully established by textual evidence and are fine Semitic names. Methushael particularly is of good Babylonian form, meaning "man of God"; archaic in Hebrew or smacking of the northern dialect, but quite intelligible to the Israelite.
7. The Need of Caution:
The resemblance between the six consecutive names in the two lists is indeed striking, but the differences are also great; and the wisdom of caution in pronouncing judgment is suggested and emphasized by a comparison of two lists from the later history of the people of Israel. The twelve kings of Judah compared with their nineteen contemporaries in northern Israel show almost as many resemblances as the ten Cainites to the twelve Sethites, Adam as the common ancestor not being reckoned. The two series begin with Rehoboam and Jeroboam, names as similar externally as `Irad and Jared. Ahaziah of Israel was almost contemporary with Ahaziah of Judah; Jehoram was on the throne of Judah while Jehoram ruled over Israel, the reign of Jehoash of Judah overlapped that of Jehoash of Israel, and Jehoahaz of Israel preceded about half a century Ahaz, or, as his name appears In Assyrian inscriptions, Jehoahaz of Judah. If there can be two contemporary dynasties with these coincidences, surely there could be two antediluvian races with an equal similarity in the names. Then, too, the material differences between the Cainite and Sethite lines are great. Cain is the son of Adam; whereas Kenan is the third remove, being descended through Seth and Enosh. The two Enochs seem to have nothing in common save the name (
The order of narration in the Book of Genesis is also significant. It indicates the writer’s perception of a profound difference between the two races. The narrative regarding Cain and his descendants is completed, according to invariable custom in the Book of Genesis, before the line of Seth, in which eventually Abraham appeared, is taken up and its history recorded (Green, Unity of Genesis, 49; Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar, etc., 126). Thus at each stage of the history the story of the branch line is told before the fortunes are recited of the direct line of promise.
8. The Register of
Berosus, a priest of Marduk’s temple at Babylon about 300 BC, in the second book of his history tells of the ten kings of the Chaldeans who reigned before the Deluge. He says that the first king was ALOROS of (the city) Babylon, a Chaldean. (He gave out a report about himself that God had appointed him to be shepherd of the people.) He reigned ten sars. (A sar is thirty-six hundred years.)
And afterward ALAPAROS (his son reigned three sars).
And (after him) AMELON (a Chaldean), who was of (the city of) Pautibibla (reigned thirteen sars).
Then AMMENON the Chaldean (of Pautibibla reigned twelve sars).
Then MEGALAROS of the city of Pautibibla, and he reigned eighteen sars.
And after him DAONOS the shepherd of Pautibibla reigned ten sars.
Then EUEDORACHOS of Pautibibla reigned eighteen sars.
Then AMEMPSINOS, a Chaldean of Laraucha, reigned; and he, the eighth, was king ten sars.
Next OTIARTES a Chaldean of Laraucha, reigned; and he (the ninth) was king eight sars.
And (last of all), upon the death of Otiartes, his son Xisouthros reigned eighteen sars. In his time the great deluge occurred. Thus, when summed up, the kings are ten; and the sars are one hundred and twenty (or four hundred and thirty-two thousand years, reaching to the Flood1).
(NOTE: 1Syncellus quoting Alexander Polyhistor. 2Syncellus quoting Apollodorus. 3Syncellus quoting Abydenus. 4Syncellus quoting Abydenus concerning the deluge. 5Eusebius, Armenian Chronicle, quoting Alexander Polyhistor. 6Eusebius, Armenian Chronicle, quoting Abydenus. The royal names have been transmitted with substantial uniformity, except the third, fifth, seventh and ninth. Amelon (2) is given as Amillaros (3) and Almelon (5, 6); Megalaros (2, 3) appears also as Amegalarus (5, 6); Euedorachos (2) as Eudoreschos (3), Edoranchus (5), and Edoreschus (6); and Ardates (1) as Otiartes (2, 5). For texts and readings see Richter, Berosi Chaldaeorum Historiae, 52-56; Migne, Patrologia Graeca, XIX, "Eusebii Chronicorum," Lib. I, cap. i et vi, pp. 106, 121; Schoene, Eusebii Chronicorum, Lib. I, pp. 7, 31.)
The original Babylonian form of seven of these ten names has been determined with a fair degree of certainty. Alaparos is in all probability a misreading by a copyist of the Greek Adaparos (Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff), and accordingly represents Adapa, followed perhaps by another element beginning with the letter "r"; Amelon and Ammenon are equivalent to the Babylonian nouns amelu (Delitzsch Wo lag das Paradies? S 149; Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff), man, and ummanu (Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff), workman; Euedorachos is Enmeduranki (pronounced Evveduranki) (Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff); Amempsinos is probably Amelu-Sin (Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? 149; Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff), servant of the moon-god; Otiartes, a misreading of the Greek Opartes, is Ubara-Tutu (Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradues? 149; Hommel, PSBA, XV, 243 ff; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff), meaning servant of Marduk; and Xisouthros is Chasis-atra (Haupt, KAT2, 503; Zimmern, KAT3, 530 ff), equivalent to Atra-chasis, an epithet given to the hero of the Flood.
Several of these names are well known in Babylonian literature: Adapa was a human being, a wise man, a wizard, who failed to obtain immortality. He was an attendant at the temple of Ea in the town of Eridu, prepared bread and water for the sanctuary and provided it with fish. Perhaps it was his connection with the temple that led to his being called son of Ea, and described as created or built by Ea (Schrader, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek, VI, 91-101). Similarly King Esarhaddon calls himself the faithful son, child of Beltis; and Ashurbanipal claims to have been created or built by the gods Ashur and Sin in the womb of his mother (compare Adam, the son of God,
The first name in the list of Berosus is Aloros. Professor Hommel would understand the original Babylonian form to have been Aruru, a goddess. The identification is precarious, to say the least; and evidently it was not the conception of the Babylonian priest, for it makes his line of kings begin with a goddess. He should have called Aloros a queen. Professor Hommel regards Adapa also as a deity, contrary to the statements of the tale itself; thus holding that the second Babylonian king like the first was a Divine being. On such an interpretation the Babylonian and Hebrew lists are not identical, for the Hebrew genealogy commences in Adam, human being. With the third name, however, certain remarkable correspondences begin to appear. The third Babylonian king is Amelu, man, and the third patriarch is Enosh, also meaning man; the fourth king is Ummanu, artificer, and the fourth patriarch is Kenan, a name derived from a root meaning to form or fabricate. The seventh king is Enmeduranki, who apparently was reputed to have been summoned by the gods Shamash and Ramman into their fellowship and made acquainted with the secrets of heaven and earth; and the seventh patriarch was Enoch who walked with God (like Noah,
Differences between the catalogues exist, which in some instances may be more apparent than real.
(1) In the Babylonian hat the descent of the government from father to son is asserted in two instances only, namely, from the first king to the second and from the ninth to the tenth. The Hebrew asserts kinship, however remote, between the successive links. Yet the two records are quite compatible with each other in this respect on theory (see below) that the Hebrew genealogy was shortened by omissions in order to name but ten generations.
(2) Each of the ten patriarchs is assigned a long life; each of the ten kings has a greatly longer reign. The contrast is twofold: between the number of years in corresponding cases, and between length of life and length of reign. But instead of this difference indicating non-identity of the two lines, it may be found, when the Semitic tradition is fully known, to afford the explanation for the duration of life which is assigned to the patriarchs.
(3) There is no arithmetical ratio between the years connected with the corresponding names of the two lists. And the symmetry of the numbers in the Bah transmission is open to the suspicion of being artificial. The number of kings is ten; the sum of their united reigns is one hundred and twenty sars, a multiple of ten and of the basal number of the Babylonian duodecimal system. There are three reigns of ten sars each, and three successive reigns which taken together, 3 plus 13 plus 12, make ten and eighteen sars. Taking the reigns in the order in which they occur, we have as their duration the series 10, 18 plus 10, 18, 10, 18, 10, 8, and 18 (Davis, Genesis and Semitic Tradition, 96-100; Strack, Genesis 2, 24).
11. The Interpretation of the Genealogy in
Three explanations of the genealogy in
(1) An interpretation, current at the time of Josephus (Ant., I, iii, 4) and adopted by Archbishop Usher in 1650 in his attempt to fix the dates of the events recorded in the Scriptures, assumes an unbroken descent from father to son, during ten generations, from Adam to Noah. On this theory the time from the creation of man to the Flood is measured by the sum of the years assigned to the patriarchs at the birth of the son and successor, together with Noah’s age when he entered the Ark; so that all the years from the creation of Adam to the Flood were 1,656 years.
The extraordinary longevity of these patriarchs is accounted for by the known physical effects of sin. Sin works disease and death. Man was not as yet far removed from his state of sinlessness. The physical balance between man sinless and man the sinner had not been attained (compare Delitzsch, Genesis 3, 139; see Ant, I, iii, 9). But after all are we really justified in supposing that the Hebrew author of these genealogies designed to construct a chronology of the period? He never puts them to such a use himself. He nowhere sums these numbers. No chronological statement is deduced from them. There is no computation anywhere in Scripture of the time that elapsed from the Creation or from the Deluge, as there is from the descent into Egypt to the Exodus (
(2) A second method of interpretation assumes that links of the genealogy have been intentionally omitted in order that exactly ten may be named. It is based on the phenomena presented by other Hebrew genealogical registers. Matthew, for example, has outlined the lineage of Christ from Abraham.
The history naturally divides into three sections, and to give the tabulation symmetry Matthew names twice seven generations in each division, in one instance omitting three famous kings of Judah and saying "Joram begat Uzziah." As Joram is said to have begotten Uzziah, his grandson’s grandson, so Enoch may be said to have begotten Methuselah, although the latter may have been Enoch’s great-grandson or remoter descendant.
The book of Genesis is divided by its author into ten sections, each introduced by the same formula (
On this conception of the tables, which is fully justified, there is no basis in the genealogy from Adam to Noah for the calculation of chronology. The table was constructed for a different purpose, and the years are noted for another reason than chronology (Green, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1890, 285-303; Warfield, Princeton Theological Review, 1911, 2-11; compare Dillmann, Genesis 6, 106 "dritte Absicht"). The longevity is explained as it is on Usher’s interpretation of the data (see above).
Sometimes the family takes its name from its progenitor or later leading member; sometimes the name of the tribe or of the country it inhabits is given to its chief representative, as today men are constantly addressed by their family name, and nobles are called by the name of their duchy or county. It is quite in accordance with usage, therefore, that Noah, for example, should denote the hero of the Flood and the family to which he belonged. The longevity is the period during which the family had prominence and leadership; the age at the son’s birth is the date in the family history at which a new family originated that ultimately succeeded to the dominant position. If no links have been omitted in constructing the register, the period from the creation of man to the Flood is measured by the sum of the ages of Adam and his successors to Noah and 600 years of the life of Noah, amounting to 8,225 years. Thus, the family of Seth originated when Adam was 130 years old (
(5), when they were superseded by the family of Seth. In Seth, 105 years after it attained headship, the family of Enosh took Its rise
(6). Seth, after being at the head of affairs for 912 years
(8) was succeeded by the family of Enosh, in the year of the world 1842. And so on.
John D. Davis