Genesis 5:6 When Seth had lived a hundred and five years, he became the father of Enosh. 7 Seth lived after the birth of Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and had other sons and daughters. 8 Thus all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. 9 When Enosh had lived ninety years, he became the father of Kenan. 10 Enosh lived after the birth of Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and had other sons and daughters. 11 Thus all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died. 12 When Kenan had lived seventy years, he became the father of Ma-hal’alel. 13 Kenan lived after the birth of Ma-hal’alel eight hundred and forty years, and had other sons and daughters. 14 Thus all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died. 15 When Ma-hal’alel had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Jared. 16 Ma-hal’alel lived after the birth of Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and had other sons and daughters. 17 Thus all the days of Ma-hal’alel were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died. 18 When Jared had lived a hundred and sixty-two years he became the father of Enoch. 19 Jared lived after the birth of Enoch eight hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. 20 Thus all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died.
All of the men listed in this section live unbelievably long lives. And that is the sum total that we can say about them. No words of theirs are recorded, no deeds, no discoveries, no inventions, no achievements, no contributions to life. Men who supposedly lived 800-950 years left nothing behind but a name and a son. We don’t know where they lived, what occupied their time, what they believed. We have no knowledge of their relationship to God. An amazing piece of trivia is that despite the longevity of their lives, the first man mentioned to have gray hair is going to be Jacob in Genesis 42:38 – of course he had 12 sons which might explain the allochromasia of his hair!
“Enoch” This is the second man in Genesis named Enoch. Cain also had a son whom he named Enoch (4:17). In fact the genealogy of Cain listed in Genesis 4 is going to be paralleled by a list of similar names and descendents in Genesis 5 following Seth’s lineage. Some biblical scholars suspect the lists were perhaps derived from a single lineage which through time got remembered as two distinct lineages – one of them the godly descendents of Seth and the other of the ungodly descendents of Cain. One idea this might suggest to us is that in every human there is both the potential for good and for evil. Humans like to categorize “other” peoples, races and nations as good or evil, but the truth is that in each of us possesses the ability to do great good and also to do great evil. When we understand that truth, we begin to be more realistic and less arrogant about our selves. We also learn to be less judgmental and have a more balanced view of others. St. Paul wrote about this very real struggle within himself: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. …. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. … Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:15-25). He understood that each of us, himself included, is capable of doing good or evil. It is a war that rages within us as to whether we will choose the good or the evil. And as was seen in Cain, it is a battle whose outcome is not predetermined but which requires true spiritual struggle, asceticism, to overcome one’s own self-centered selfishness in order to freely love God and neighbor.