Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment “And Then He Died” -- By: Henry B. Smith Jr.
Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment
“And Then He Died”
In my spare time, I have been closely researching the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. My main focus has been on two matters: first, whether these texts yield an actual chronology of each period; and second, how to understand the divergent numbers found in the three main textual witnesses, the Masoretic, the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch texts. As a result of this research, I would like to share some additional observations from these texts that go beyond my main purpose and focus.
The ages given for these men of old are extraordinary, upwards of 969 years of age. Although living for 900-plus years seems rather incredible to us today, there is no reason to reject the authenticity of these numbers as historical and accurate. They present a view of human history that is utterly antithetical to the evolutionary story presented by the scientific community. According to the Bible, man is not evolving, he is devolving.
These men lived in an age that is only accessible to us through Scripture. In addition to the compelling force of the Flood narrative itself, Peter informs us that the worldwide judgment that came at the Flood will likewise come at the end of this age in the form of fire, and a new heavens and new earth will be consummated into an age of perfect righteousness (2 Pt 3:3–13). The world before the Flood developed its own civilization, and its own idolatrous order of rebellion, sin and violence. It was a period of monstrous evil. Suddenly, and without warning (Mt 24:39), that entire world was obliterated by Yahweh’s cataclysmic and universal judgment, a type of judgment only to be exceeded in its absoluteness by the great and terrible Day of the Lord. Only the eight in the ark were saved.
Had Adam passed the test and caused the expulsion of Satan from the garden, he would have been glorified for his faithfulness, and he and his posterity would have lived forever in perfect communion with Yahweh, avoiding death and the judgment to come. Thus, when we contrast the ages of these men with eternal life, nine centuries is but a thimble of water in all the oceans of the Earth. Despite their incredible lifespans, each patriarch’s biography (except Enoch) ends with the same, somber refrain: “And then he died.”
In his excursus on Adam’s sin and Christ as the antidote, Paul probably had these men in mind when he wrote, “Death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses...” (Rom 5:14). This reign of death is tragic, even for those who liv...
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