Genesis 5. Lamech bore Noah at 182 (Year 966) and lived to 777 (Year 1561.) Lamech called his son Noah meaning: ‘This one shall sigh for the work and toil of our hands because of the soil which Yahweh has bitterly cursed.’
Unusually, the mountain cabin in which I stopped one night had no other occupants. The barbeque needed wood so, after signing in and putting my bags on a bunk bed, I strode off to fetch some suitable sticks for the fire.
I hadn’t gone very far into the bush when I first heard and then saw the shape of a deer. Treading very carefully, I approached, then paused. A small deer was eating. Another faint sound occurred over to my right. I saw the deer lift its head suddenly at that sound and then turn to run. Simultaneously I heard a swish and an arrow struck the deer’s head and it crashed mortally to the ground.
I froze. Hunting was not permitted in this area of forest but then I didn’t think deer were here either. Had I strayed across a perimeter into a hunting zone? I thought not.
A man stepped out from behind some trees and examined the youthful deer. He whipped out a knife and began skinning and removing the best meaty chunks, which he then wrapped in some kind of oily hide, tied it all with flax and threw it over his back. He was about to leave when he paused, looked about him and listened carefully. I held my breath.
Suddenly the man turned and stared right at my eyes. Thrusting my head back to get out of sight was the wrong thing to have done because my head hit a branch and gave away my position. The man threw his burden to the forest floor, darted over to me in several great strides and held his knife to my throat. I gasped and feared for my life.
“Shem?” he said to me. My name wasn’t Shem. Was he speaking another language? The only language I knew that used ‘shem’ with this inflexion was Hebrew. Translated: “Name?”
“Matteh mattah?” I had guessed correctly for now he was asking me my clan. He wasn’t a Maori nor was I, so I guessed it wasn’t a Maori tribe he was expecting to hear. Though my Hebrew is rudimentary, I could tell his Hebrew was very old Hebrew. His clothing was outlandishly archaic and his knife hand-made. Having met Enoch and Methuselah in recent weeks, I guessed my opponent was going to be Lamech. I wondered what year I had landed in this time.
“Enoch halak ‘eth Elohim,” I replied in modern Hebrew. (“Enoch walked with God.”) Amazingly he understood and the knife was sheathed. No enemy would have stated that fact. I added, “Shem Lamech?”
Lamech bowed and clasped my hand warmly. He indicated for me to follow him and re-scooping up the deer onto his back, we trudged through the forest until we reached his campsite. I was introduced to an extended family inside his expansive tent. Food was offered to me which I graciously accepted and a bed for the night.
The following morning I woke and Lamech took me for a long walk. He said he wanted to introduce me to his great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. I counted as he reeled off the greats and was stunned when I realised he had counted back to Adam.
The forest cleared and I discovered we were on a small hillock overlooking a lush landscape of vegetable gardens and fruit trees, a profound contrast to the unruly forest behind us. Near the centre of the well-ordered plantation was a sizeable stone structure of sorts. To this we headed but didn’t reach.
Among a grove of olive trees, I spotted an old man inspecting the olives. Lamech saw him too so we turned and approached the man, and Lamech greeted him warmly. “Adam ben Elohim.” (Adam son of God.) We were introduced.
Adam stared at my features and seemed uncomfortable with what he saw. He commented on my state of dress (as I was wearing blue jeans) and asked how I had made them. He realised at once that my dialect was vastly different to his and it surprised him. Adam spoke privately to Lamech and then withdrew for Lamech and me to talk.
“Is there a problem?” I asked.
“Adam ben Elohim knows everyone but he doesn’t know you. He doesn’t know your father nor understand why you look so unlike us both in feature and dress, and yet you speak some kind of Hebrew. Who are you? Are you a descendant of his firstborn son Cain?”
I knew I was not and replied to that effect.
“So who are you descended from?” Lamech asked.
“From your son,” I replied.
“But I don’t have a son!” Lamech said surprised indeed.
“From your future son,” I replied mysteriously.
“Are you a prophet?” he asked.
I shook my head. “I am not. May I ask how old Adam ben Elohim is?”
“He is 930 years old,” Lamech replied.
I gasped. Lamech saw the strange look on my face and was about to question it when I further asked, “When Enoch passed beyond 33 years ago in the year 897, how did you feel?”
Lamech looked at me for a long time before he replied. “Our world changed. Enoch’s close walk with Yahweh day by day kept the sons of God focussed. No-one has taken his place. We long for a man to take his place as a righteous son of God and leader. Chaos and violence grow by the day.”
“Your firstborn son, Lamech, will be that man.”
“I dearly hope this is so but who will teach and train such a son in the depth of holiness such a son would need?” Lamech asked.
“Yahweh himself,” I replied. “His breath will be placed inside your son’s breath. The divine breath that brooded over creation.”
“Have you seen our future?” Lamech asked me.
“Is it grand?”
I shook my head slowly. “It is utterly tragic.”
Lamech shook his head despondently and sighed a great sigh. “I know. I feel it in my bones. We have wandered so far from Yahweh’s presence. Enoch tried so hard to bring us there. And yet you say my son will be a true son of God. Does he go the way of Enoch and leave us at a young age?”
I smiled. Lamech liked my smiles. It gave him hope. “He lives to a grand old age. But he will usher in a new age, the old not renewed.”
Lamech thought about my last statement and suddenly gasped as the import hit him. “You mean…?” I said nothing and cast my eyes to the heavens. He followed my gaze and then quickly turned again and asked, “But Adam ben Elohim?” Again I said nothing, gazing only at the heavens. Lamech breathed deeply and put his hand to his mouth. “How soon?”
“Prepare imminently, my re’eh (friend). The hour is late.”
“Please walk in the orchard and I’ll join you later.” Lamech hurried off to see Adam.
The orchard was a veritable variety of fulsome fruit trees. I could have spent hours there bathing in the exquisitely exotic array of fruits. My meander took me deep into the plantation and by and by, I arrived at a magnificent row of redwoods. Their appearance was dramatic and I simply stopped in my steps and admired them - strong, tall, wide-girthed.
Having enjoyed exploring several redwood forests back home, I approached the two central and tallest ones to go between them. At that very moment the brightest light in my life appeared to my left and right, and the deepest sensation I have ever felt went to the core of my very being and spoke into it. The voice said, “Enoch walks herein with me. You may join him but you cannot return, neither to Lamech nor home. If you sense I need you to remain, please turn and go back. Otherwise, enter.”
How I longed to enter what could only have been Paradise. The place that Adam had been banned from. The place that angels guarded the entrance to. The place where Jesus and the man crucified alongside him stayed.
But I sensed the need of Yahweh for me to remain on the outside. Entering Paradise must not be by my choice but by Yahweh’s and now was not the time. I thanked him inwardly and turned back into the plantation. The light disappeared but I was left with a profound peace.
Arriving back where I had talked with Lamech, he was waiting there, his face very low. Adam ben Elohim had passed from this life in my absence. As I placed my right hand on his shoulder, Lamech felt an incredible peace flood his inner soul and spirit. “Let this peace stay with you to the end, Lamech. Pass it to your son and he will pass it to his firstborn. And Yahweh will pass it on until one day in several thousand years, it reaches me.”
Lamech looked at me and smiled. Peace and hope had been rekindled. It was time for me to leave.
“Enjoy the deer, Lamech. I can find my own way back.”
He gave me a great hug, handed me some deer and without a further word between us, I walked from the plantation and into the forest. Not far in, I picked up some sticks and the mountain cabin shortly appeared before me.
The barbequed deer was superb and I thanked Yahweh for another amazing day.