Genesis 5:1 begins with “the book of the genealogy of Adam.”
Tốl℮dấh- generation, family, descent. Appears in 2:4, 6:9, 10:1,11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, and 36:9 in Genesis. This term functions as a grouping device, introducing a historical record of families.
The genealogies in Genesis differ from those in Matthew and Luke because they give specific ages of the father before a noted birth and after the birth until the father’s death.
For instance: Genesis 5:3- And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, and after his image, and named him Seth. 4 After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years, and he had sons and daughters.
Seth is the highlighted son, since the text mentions other sons and daughters, but it does not name them or speak of their lives. Adam was 130 when Seth was born and he lived 800 more years. Thus, Adam lived for 930 years.
Because of the Bible’s own numbering, we must understand these numbers to be important. Furthermore, if the Bible is inerrant, then we must believe that these numbers are correct. This is something that few Christians, Reformed Evangelicals included, have been willing to do. This is because the genealogies of Genesis 5 provide a specific number of years from the creation of the world up to the Flood, and the “problem” is that the time is supposedly too short. Genesis 5 has ceased to be believable after the development of certain archaeological and geological finds, and thus an alternate history of the world has been composed differing from what is found in Genesis.
If one were inclined to trust the Biblical record, even in spite of the risk of ridicule, the results would be this:
0- Adam created
130- Seth born
235- Enosh born
325- Cainan born
396- Mahalalel born
460- Jared born
622- Enoch born
1536- Beginning of the 120 year grace period (Gen. 6:3)
1656- The Flood and death of Methuselah. (Methuselah’s dates do not demand that he live through the flood. This is an argument sometimes used against the dates of Genesis.)
1657- End of Flood
This dating would place the age of the earth at well under 10,000 years. Ussher dated it at 6,000 years, and Bede, living about 1,000 years before Ussher, had produced a similar theory. It is easy to see why so many are uncomfortable with this, and if one is going to insist that “gaps” are present, it would seem that the case would be easier in the earlier portions of the Bible. This is really only feasible if we agree that the earlier books are less reliable than the later books, because Genesis is actually more specific than most genealogies in the Bible.
Ages of the Patriarchs
1. Adam- 930 – Seth is born in Adam’s 130th year.
2. Seth- 912 – Enosh is born in Seth’s 105th year.
3. Enosh 905- Cainan is born in Enosh’s 90th year.
4. Cainan- 910- Mahalel is born in Cainan’s 70th year.
5. Mahalalel- 895- Jared is born in Mahalel’s 65th year.
6. Jared- 962- Enoch is born in Jared’s 162nd year.
7. Enoch- 365- Methuselah is born in Enoch’s 65th year.
8. Methuselah- 969- Lamech is born in Methuselah’s 187th year.
9. Lamech- 777- Noah is born in Lamech’s 182nd year.
10. Noah- 950 – The Flood comes in Noah’s 600th year.
Noah lives 500 years and begets three sons. The flood comes at the 600th year of Noah’s life (7:11). The rain lasts for 40 days (7:12). The waters stay for 150 days (7:24). The waters begin to decrease and the tops of mountains become visible on the first day of the tenth month (8:5). 52 days of waiting (8:6, 10, 12). The flood waters dry up at Noah’s 601st year (8:13). Noah lives 350 years after the flood and dies at 950 (9:28-29).
We should remember that keeping family records, including the dates of births and deaths, would have been especially important to a people looking for a promised “seed.” The dates of Genesis are very specific at times, and there is no textual support for claiming that the Bible is uninterested in the accuracy of its dating.