When we hear the term ‘gospel’ or ‘good news,’ we assume that it first appears in the New Testament section of the Bible. Well, the answer may surprise you.
An Integrated Message
The Bible is a message system: it is not simply 66 books penned by around 40 authors over thousands of years. The Bible is an integrated whole bearing evidence of supernatural precision engineering in every detail. The Jewish rabbis have an old-fashioned way of expressing this idea. They say that they will not fully understand the Scriptures until the Messiah comes. When He comes, He will not only interpret the passages, but also interpret the very words, the very letters, and even the spaces between the letters. This seems to be sensible in light of Jesus’ saying in Matt. 5:17-18 – “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” A jot and tittle are the Hebrew equivalents of our dotting an i and the crossing of a t.
An amazing example of this can be seen in Genesis chapter 5, where the genealogy of Adam through Noah is mentioned. Since we normally don’t give much attention to passages involving genealogies, numbers, dates, etc., we often tend to skim over this passage quickly as it is simply a genealogy from Adam to Noah. But God always rewards the diligent student, who rightly divides the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Let us examine this chapter more closely and see what their names mean.
Meanings of the Names
The genealogical names of the first ten patriarchs are seen in Gen. 5:1-29. The ten Hebrew names are proper names. They are not translated, but can be transliterated to approximate the way they were pronounced. For this, a study of the original roots of those names can yield some intriguing results.
The first name, Adam, means “man” coming from the root ’dm. As the first man, that meaning is straightforward.
The son of Adam was named Seth, which means “appointed,” coming from the root shith. When he was born, Eve said, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed” (Gen. 4:25). The same root is seen in Gen. 30:40.
The son of Seth was called Enosh, which means “mortal,” “frail,” or “weak,” coming from the root anash. The same root is seen in Job 34:6; Micah 1:9.
The son of Enosh was named Cainan, which can mean “a sad poem,” “a dirge,” or “lamentation.” It comes from the root qyn and this same root is seen in 2 Chron. 35:25; Jer. 7:29.
The son of Cainan was named Mahalalel, which is a compound word comprising of two elements. The first part of the name comes from the root halal, which means “to praise.” The second part of the name is El, the abbreviation for Elohim God. The name can mean “praise of God,” or “the blessed God.”
The son of Mahalalel was named Jared, which comes from the root verb yarad, meaning “to come or go down,” “to descend.”
The son of Jared was named Enoch, which comes from the root hnk. The verbal form means “to train up,” “dedicate,” “teach.”
The son of Enoch was named Methuselah, which comes from two roots. The first part’s cognate root verb mut means “to die,” “to kill,” “death.” The second part comes from the verb shalach, meaning “to send,” “to send forth.” So Methuselah can mean “his death shall send forth,” or “his death shall bring.”
The Flood of Noah was preached for four generations and it did not come as a surprise. When Enoch was 65 years old, “he walked with God.” Apparently Enoch could have received the prophecy of the Great Flood in that as long as his son was alive, the judgement by flood would be withheld; but as soon as he died, the flood would be sent forth. Enoch named his son as Methuselah to reflect this prophecy. Indeed in the year that Methuselah died, the flood came. Methuselah was 187 years old when he had Lamech, and lived 782 years more. Lamech had Noah when he was 182 years old (Gen. 5:25-28). The Flood came in Noah’s 600th year (Gen. 7:6, 11). Methuselah was 969 years old (187+182+600) when he died (Gen. 5:27). Methuselah’s life was a symbol of God’s mercy in delaying the impending judgement by the Flood.
The son of Methuselah was named Lamech, coming from the root lmk, meaning “to make low,” “depressed,” “humiliated.” Lamech can mean “despairing” also.
The son of Lamech was named Noah, coming from the root verb nuah, meaning “rest,” “comfort.”
The Combined List of the Names
Let’s put all the names together in their respective order.
Cainan Lamentation or Sorrow
Mahalalel The Blessed God
Jared Shall come down
Methuselah His death shall bring
Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.
Do you now see the Gospel message within the genealogy in Genesis? It is hard to imagine that a group of Jewish rabbis deliberately planned to hide the “Christian gospel” in a genealogy within their revered Torah. This shows that Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and in the first chapters of the Book of Genesis itself, God had already designed His plan of redemption for humanity. It is the beginning of a love story culminated by the writing in blood on a wooden cross erected in Judea almost 2,000 years ago.