A fascinating observation about the patriarchal lists of early Genesis
Can you imagine Lamech, the father of Noah,1 talking to Adam and saying, ‘Tell me again what it was like to talk with God in the Garden of Eden, before you ate the forbidden fruit’? A fictitious conversation? Yes, but it could have taken place, because, according to the genealogies recorded in Genesis, Adam did not die until Lamech was 56 years old.2 See table.
What about Abraham saying to Shem, ‘Tell me again how you and your brothers, Ham and Japheth, and your father, Noah, built the Ark, and what it was like to live on it for a year during the Flood, with all the animals God sent you.’ A fictitious conversation, yes, but another which could have taken place, because, according to the genealogies recorded in Genesis, Shem was alive in Abraham’s day!3,4
The Bible is meticulous in recording the ages of the patriarchs from Adam to Abraham. It states how old each was when his first child, or the child in the Messianic/covenant line, was born, how long each lived after that, and/or how old each was when he died.5,6 Hence, by simple arithmetic, the Year of the World (in Latin Anno Mundi, so usually abbreviated to ‘AM’) that each patriarch was born, lived and died can be easily and accurately reckoned, and any possibility of a ‘gap’ is thereby eliminated from these Genesis lists.
Thus Adam, who was created on the sixth day of the first year, and died AM 930, could have talked with his descendants all the way down to Noah’s father, Lamech, who was born AM 874. And Noah’s son, Shem, born AM 1558 and died AM 2158, could have talked with his descendants all the way down to and including Abraham (born AM 2008).3
Similarly, the date of the Flood after Creation can also be accurately stated. Genesis 7:6 says: ‘And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water was upon the earth.’ From the table we see that Noah was born AM 1056, and so the Flood occurred 600 years later, i.e. AM 1656, which was 352 years before Abraham was born.
Notice that Shem (died AM 2158) and Eber (died AM 2187) both outlived all their descendants down to Abraham. In the patriarchal society that then was, it is no wonder that the Israelites were also known as ‘Semites’ (after Shem) or ‘Hebrews’ (after Eber)….
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