Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

Genesis 5:21-29: “Could Noah have been the Messiah?” – Messiahship of Yeshua

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he begot Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years; and he begot sons and daughters. All the days of Enoch came to 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him. When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he begot Lamech. After the birth of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Methuselah came to 969 years; then he died. When Lamech had lived 182 years, he begot a son. And he named him Noah, saying, ‘This one will provide us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the very soil which the LORD placed under a curse’” (NJPS).

Genesis 5:21-29

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he begot Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years; and he begot sons and daughters. All the days of Enoch came to 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him. When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he begot Lamech. After the birth of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Methuselah came to 969 years; then he died. When Lamech had lived 182 years, he begot a son. And he named him Noah, saying, ‘This one will provide us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the very soil which the LORD placed under a curse’” (NJPS).

reproduced from the forthcoming Salvation on the Line, Volume III

posted 03 October, 2019


“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he begot Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years; and he begot sons and daughters. All the days of Enoch came to 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him. When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he begot Lamech. After the birth of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Methuselah came to 969 years; then he died. When Lamech had lived 182 years, he begot a son. And he named him Noah, saying, ‘This one will provide us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the very soil which the Lord placed under a curse’” (NJPS).

Many readers of Genesis 5:21-29 would simply read the information on the pre-Flood figures listed, acknowledging that they lived much longer than people today, and then move on, treating this passage as some kind of background data leading up to the Flood. Some, however, see a thread of distinctive Messianic expectation being carried on here. In his publication Ha-Mashiach, Fructenbaum appeals to the example of righteous Enoch, “and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24, NASU), and how Jude 14-15 later details, “And about these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with myriads of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him’” (PME). Fructenbaum then notes the name of Enoch’s descendant Methuselah, and how Metushelach “means ‘When he dies it will come.’” Fructenbaum then extrapolates,

“Since there is no neuter in Hebrew, it actually reads ‘When he dies, he will come.’ This prophecy refers to the coming of the Flood. Simple arithmetic with the years shows that the Flood came in the year 1656 A.H.—the same year that Methuselah died.”[1]

In his book Ha-Mashiach, Fructenbaum does provide a chart of the ten figures listed in Genesis 5, and using the numbers of the Hebrew Masoretic text, provides a chronology from the creation of Adam to the Flood at 1656 A.H. (Anno Homini). Many conservative Biblical scholars would not make such an extrapolation, considering the Genesis 5 (and also Genesis 11) genealogies to be telescoped, with the formula of A begot B actually being A begot the line resulting in B, with direct parentage being absent in various places. Furthermore, many conservative Biblical scholars recognize how the numbers of the pre-Flood figures are not uniform across the Hebrew Masoretic Text, Greek Septuagint, and also Samaritan Pentateuch. While the Masoretic Text says that Enoch was 65 when bearing Methuselah, the Septuagint actually says that he was 165: “And Henoch lived one hundred sixty-five years and became the father of Mathousala” (NETS). Noting this sort of difference in numbers, leads many contemporary examiners to conclude that the numbers of the pre-Flood figures are not listed to provide a reader with a chronology of years from Adam to Noah.[2]

Why is it important to note this? Fructenbaum states that “Lamech understood the name of his father {Methuselah} to be prophetic, but mistook it as referring to the birth of his son Noah.”[3] But this makes the assumption that “Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years [LXX: one hundred sixty seven years, NETS; SP; seven and sixty years], and begot Lamech” (Genesis 5:25, NKJV) is a direct parentage, rather than Methuselah parenting the line of that resulted in Lamech. It would seem likely though, based on what is stated, that Lamech did directly parent Noah, as he is attested with naming him: “Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years [LXX: one hundred eight-eight years; SP: three and fifty years], and had a son. And he called his name Noah…” (Genesis 5:28-29a, NKJV).

Regardless of how old anyone was, if there was some expectation carried orally from the time of Adam and Eve to Lamech fathering Noah, then is it entirely inappropriate to at least suggest, as Fructenbaum does, “Lamech clearly hoped that Noah, meaning ‘rest,’ will be the longed-for Messiah”?[4] As the ATS renders Genesis 5:29, “This one will bring us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands, from the ground which HASHEM had cursed” Clearly for Lamech, the birth of Noah “shall bring us relief” (RSV) or “console us” (Alter) in some way. Whether Noah was perceived as being the Deliverer to bring final resolution to all the difficulties that had originated by the expulsion from Eden, in retrospect was certainly not the case. What can be recognized is that Noah was an important figure to for Bible readers to pay attention to, as the Flood did stop the gross sin that engulfed the world (Genesis 6:5). And the judgment of the Flood does provide a template for further judgments issued by God upon a sinful world.[5]

Various conservative scholars would not take issue with Fructenbaum suggesting that Noah had various anticipated Messianic qualities, but rather his employment of the Genesis 5 genealogies in his reasonings. Fructenbaum actually concludes, “It is clear from the ages and years in Genesis 5 that Lamech was 56 years old when Adam died. Lamech would therefore have been given a clear firsthand account of all that happened in the Garden of Eden and all the words that God had spoken.”[6] It is one thing for Lamech to hear about what happened in the Garden of Eden, and how presumably some seed would arrive one day fixing the problems (Genesis 3:15); it is another thing for Lamech to hear about this directly from Adam himself. But, even if one is reliant on the genealogical numbers of the Masoretic Text alone, and does not assume the presence of any telescoping—it is a stretch in and of itself to conclude that Lamech had any contact with Adam!


NOTES

[1] Fructenbaum, 7.

[2] For a further review, consult “Chronology from Adam to Abraham,” in R.K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), pp 147-152.

[3] Fructenbaum, 7.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Consult the author’s article “Encountering Mythology: A Case Study From the Flood Narratives,” appearing in Confronting Critical Issues.

[6] Fructenbaum, 7.