Genesis 5

Do you recognize the return to the last editorial voice? We last heard the Priestly source in the first creation story, then quiet through the older stories which speak of Jahweh God in earthier terms.   

We deride the recitals of ‘begatitudes’, the string of men with the age they were at the birth of their key firstborn son, and their age at death.  The pattern varies, generally shortening lifespans, with younger fathers. What does it mean? 

The toledot are more than an simplified geneology.  ‘Etiological’ legends tell the origins of place-names, ethnicities, or other shared identity markers.  Toledot may be like preachers’ notes from a time when we knew all the stories. 

Take the whole day to hear the echoes and wonder – from the original human, through Seth’s lineage, to Noah and his 3 sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  What does it mean, imageo dei, to be the spitting image of divinity and of dad? 

Is Enosh entirely different than Enoch, the urban one, in the previous story?  Why does Lamech move from early to late in the antediluvian period, and name his son Enoch, a note of reconciliation with the earlier source. 

Lamech’s father Methusaleh births latest, and lives longest, a marker of stature.  Enoch does not clearly die, occultation leading to lots of messianic speculation in the centuries before and after Jesus – a bit like Elijah, taken up, not buried.  

Kenan sounds a lot like Canaan to me – especially in ancient Hebrew written in consonants only and given vowels and sounds by scholars’ hypotheses.  That’s a start to your imagining of what this code might once have meant, and still does. 

The conclusion of the chapter is its rationale:  how does Noah, the last of the ante-deluvians, fit between the first creation myths and human prehistory?  The cursed ground and human burdens of labour might find relief, in this name. 

Some scholars see verse 29, with its rationale for Noah’s name, and link to the other Jahweh God stories, as the ‘J’ voice inserted in an otherwise ‘P’ chapter.  It’s tough to reconcile the two sets of creation and antediluvian myths, eh? 

With the completion of this bridge by the editorial voice, we are ready to enjoy the legend, saga, epic tale of Noah.  I find the rest of chapters 6 to 8 a parody of heroic myths like Gilgamesh, Enuma Elish, Egyptian or Mesopotamian floods.