Genealogies tend to get ignored quite often when it comes to serious study. What can possibly be learned from a list of names who begat more names?? The first genealogy is found in Genesis 5. It is the descendants of Adam to Noah. There are ten generations listed in this chapter, and interestingly, Adam lived during 9 of them. Lamech(v.28) was born 874 years after Adam was created, and Adam died 56 years later.
Each entry gives the age of each man when his heir was born, how many years he lived, and ends with “and he died.” That is except one: Enoch (v.21). Enoch was unique in that after his son was born, he walked with God (v.22), and then God took him (v.23). It is interesting that the text says it was AFTER his son was born that he walked with God. Equally interesting is the name of his son.
Names meant more in the early world than they do now, and many scholars have enjoyed a full array of gymnastics when it comes to the names of the men listed. But it is precisely the meaning of a name that makes this part of the genealogy so fascinating. Enoch named his son Methuselah, and that name was a prophetic name!
To understand it better, remember there are no vowels in Hebrew, only pointings which were added much later for ease of reading. So, in Hebrew Methuselah’s name would look like MTHSLH. There is no disagreement that the last part of his name is SeLah, but there is a couple of possibilities for the first half, whether it should be spelled, “MeTHuSeLaH” or “MuTHuSeLaH.”
The common spelling of his name means “man of dart” or “man of the spear”. However, the alternate spelling “Muthuselah” means “When he dies, judgement” or “when he is dead, it will be sent.” Based on the timing of his death, this is the preferred spelling.
He is famous for being the person to live the longest. He lived 969 years. However, his life has much more significance than that! He was 187 years old when his son, Lamech was born. Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born, and Noah was 600 years old when the flood took place. Doing the math, 187+182+600 add up to 969. Methuselah died the same year as the earth was flooded!
Well, big deal. So what? Muthuselah died the same year as the flood. A lot of other people did too.
Consider this: It is usually only during the days of Noah that God’s long suffering or patience is highlighted. But, it is more likely that God’s patience reaches even further back – almost 1000 years! Enoch’s relationship with Yahweh and the name of his son suggests that Yahweh revealed to Enoch the judgment which was to come.
So, for the next 969 years the people were made aware of a coming judgment. It is reasonable to believe that Enoch was a preacher of righteousness, and it is written that Noah was (2 Peter 2:5). As these men (and probably others) preached repentance and sought to turn men back to God, He continued to demonstrate his kindness and patience toward a sinful humanity. Second Peter 3:9 says,
“The Lord is not slow about his promises, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
Muthuselah’s long life (the longest ever recorded) is a testimony of God’s long suffering and patience!