“Enoch lived 65 years and fathered Methuselah. And Enoch walked with God 300 years after he fathered Methuselah. And he fathered sons and daughters… And Methuselah lived 187 years and fathered Lamech. And after he fathered Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years. And he fathered sons and daughters. And all the days of Methuselah were 969 years. And he died.” (Genesis 5:21-27)
Methuselah was 369 years old when Noah was born. Methuselah was 869 years old when Noah’s 3 sons were born. (Gen 5:28-32) Methuselah died the year of the Flood – this can be worked out from all the years stated in scripture since Adam. Since the Lord had decreed all to be evil except Noah and his immediate family, and since the building of the ark would have taken at least a year (if not many years), it may be deduced from scripture that Methusaleh had become corrupt too since he died the year of the flood.
Several weeks after meeting Enoch, I was out walking beside a river in a region I knew reasonably well. Up ahead was a bridge and as I passed over it, a fog covered it and me. Arriving at the other side, I walked very slowly as the fog was so dense. I stopped when I heard hammering in the far distance. Shortly after the fog lifted, I found myself on a slightly elevated rise above a vast flat fertile landscape.
Looking back to the river, I was astounded how wide it had become. So wide I could barely see the other side. No bridge could have spanned such an expanse of water and mine had surely disappeared. I looked north and south, for the river fell very slightly to the south, but without greater height I could not tell what lay beyond. The horizon in all directions lay unencumbered by structures or mountains.
I was certainly not where I had begun my walk. It appears I had been transported once again to some distant land but without landmarks, far harder to ascertain my whereabouts. On the other hand, such lack of geographical strata alongside a very wide river, quickly narrowed it down to several wide river basins. Perhaps the Mississippi. Not the Nile for the surrounding land here was too green. Not the Amazon for the trees here were not tall at all. Not the Yukon for the temperature here was too warm. Perhaps the Yangzi, the Ganges or the Euphrates.
I walked on westwards, looking up and about to find more clues. The hammering had ceased but I walked on in the general direction from which I had heard it.
The land was phenomenally flat with the slightest of rises, no more than about 5 metres in height every so often. These elevated ‘hills’ were dotted all over the vast plain. I hoped it didn’t rain. I knew enough about flood plains to know that a river as wide as the one I had just walked away from could rise in seconds and cover miles of such low land in no time flat. And if there was such a flood, I would scurry to one of these 5 metre hills and hope the flood didn’t rise that high.
Beyond one such rise, I was astounded to see a tent town encamped before me. I say town because the number of tents were far greater than a village. The fact that I had accidentally stumbled upon it proved how safe such a habitation was, for without height there was no visible way to have found the place, except by plane. I had been scanning the sky for planes or signs of planes but had seen nothing.
The tent town was far from quiet. In fact it was raucous. Sheep and goats bellowing, men yelling at men, women at women, children fighting. I decided to give the town a miss so backed away and sauntered off in a more southerly direction. I now knew I was in Iraq alongside the Euphrates for the people were in Middle Eastern dress.
The ground began to rise slightly but still less than 5 metres in height and the vegetation scarcer. Again I heard the hammering so turned to the south-east.
Up ahead was a solitary tent, guarded by a bearded man with a large scythe. He spotted me before I saw him and several wolf whistles later I was promptly surrounded by other bearded men. These men escorted me, if escort is the right word. Roughly bundled might be closer to it. Anyway they brought me to the front of the tent. In the process I heard some words.
We all waited and finally yet another bearded man came out of the tent. All the men bowed low to him. Except me. Was he a king? A chief? The men tried to get me to bow too but I stubbornly simply stood there. The man gazed at me with deep dark eyes, like he was looking right though me. The peace I had felt with Enoch on my previous amazing walk, I did not feel here at all. If anything, the very opposite.
But I had to try. “Shalom!” I announced. The man was taken aback and the other men who were now standing looked at the man. The man grinned, then he laughed and the other men laughed too. They understood, as I had guessed they would, for I was not facing Arabic speakers but very early pre-Babylonians who spoke Hebrew. And this drew me to a further deduction which I was about to test out. Was this a link with my prior walk encounter?
The man tired of the mirth and with a wave of his hand, indicated for them to kill me. The men laughed with glee and swung their scythes towards me. I yelled out, “Enoch!” The man swung round and ordered the death sentence to halt. At least I gather that’s what he must have said.
He walked up to me, his bearded face right in mine. “Enoch?” So he knew Enoch. Thank goodness for that. And thankfully I knew Enoch’s family line, having memorized as a child the blood line of Jesus back to Adam. “Enoch fathered Methuselah in his 65th year.” Was this Methuselah or some other descendant? No time like the present to find out.
The man gasped, opened his hand to his men in surprise and duly welcomed me into his tent. I indicated to the man by gestures, as his wife served me nuts, grapes and figs, that I could not speak his language. He knew already from my accent that I was a foreigner but showered me with hospitality all the same, and gestured apologies for his rudeness outside. I gathered there were many wild men about.
Methesulah asked me about my family so I drew our family tree in the sand on the floor of the tent not covered by carpets . He thought that was a brilliant thing to do so set about drawing his family tree. He had to keep drawing back more carpet to fit in all the names. I knew he had a family but hadn’t appreciated how extensive it was. Among his descendants were his son Lamech, his grandson Noah and his great grandsons Ham, Japheth and Shem.
Then I suddenly remembered something. Years before I had studied the years Adam had lived and all his offspring up to Noah. I had discovered that Adam was still alive at the time of Lamech but died before Noah was born.
“Adam?” I said. At once, Methuselah took off his head scarf and bowed to the floor as did the others in the room. Then seated himself upright again and the others resumed their duties. I gestured asking where Adam was? Methuselah understood and indicated for me to follow him.
It wasn’t a short trip. It took 4 hours to reach the spot. During the journey I heard the hammering which we seemed to have skirted round and now lay on the other side of. Up ahead was a clump of rocks, the first rocks I had seen today. As we got closer, the rocks grew in size until I saw that they reached about 3 metres in height. One rock looked remarkably like a stone door. Approaching this rock, Methuselah turned to me and indicated Adam was inside, at which point the whole party again withdrew their scarves and bowed low to the ground.
I gathered Adam was buried there. There were no markings or writing of any kind to indicate such. I asked if I could go inside. No, that was impossible. We then withdrew and began walking away. Hearing the faintest jingling in my ears, I turned back momentarily towards the stone door and was astounded to see two angelic beings standing there. But no sooner seen than they disappeared from sight. I looked back several times after that but no more was to be seen of them.
On the way back to his tent, I heard the hammering again and gestured towards it asking Methuselah. He laughed. “Noah!” he said with a snort. Wow, Noah was so close by!
I then asked Methuselah how old he was? Using tens and hundreds in the sand, he indicated he was 969 years old. ‘Oh no!’ I thought to myself. ‘The year of the Flood!’ I asked if I could see Noah. He didn’t seem to care so gave me some food and showed me how to get back to his tent for the night. I thanked him.
I walked over numerous small rises, unable to believe that I might actually be about to meet the awesome Noah, righteous man of God. But then I heard a terrible thing. The sound of a large door slamming shut. Not a house door. More like a castle double-gate. And the hammering ceased. I stopped. There was an eerie silence. The kind of silence and stillness that occurs before a terrible earthquake. I hurried on but as I did so, it began to rain.
Rain? But it had been cloudless an hour ago and it didn’t look like it had rained here for years. Large drops. I needed to make a choice. Run on towards Noah or scoot back to Methuselah’s home who was probably closer and shelter there. Much as I wanted to meet Noah, it would have to wait another day. The drops were increasing in regularity and strength. Uncommonly so.
I ran like the wind. Methuselah had camels. If their tent was too low lying, we could try reaching higher ground to the west. I arrived back at much the same time as them, as they had stopped at an oasis to stock up with water. They were surprised to see me. The rain was lashing down now as we hurried inside the spacious tent. I indicated for us to use the camels to get as far as possible away from the Euphrates river. I gestured mountains but of these Methuselah knew nothing.
Methuselah looked at me without speaking or gesturing, and shook his head. He pulled the carpets back and we looked again at his large family line and then he walked around scrubbing it all out with his feet. The only names he left intact were Noah, his wife and their 3 sons.
He then drew a large circle and indicated this was their land from horizon to horizon. The sky above was their tent and he indicated that Yahweh came from there. In the centre of the circle he wrote Noah and drew an ark. He then poured water around the whole land except where the ark was. He accepted that death was coming to them all.
I gestured with my hands – why?
He sighed a great sigh and explained through gestures that rebellion against Yahweh had become manifest and he was as guilty as the rest. Pride had been his downfall. Living 969 years, he had become a celebrity and lived a life of luxury. That is, until the civil wars had begun, and violence and poverty became widespread. Then he spent most of his time guarding his treasures and disposing of those who got in his way. No-one had believed Noah’s claim that Yahweh had spoken to him.
I heard swirling water outside and saw it creeping into the tent at the door. Methuselah and the others removed their head scarves, folded them up and bowed to the ground awaiting their sure fate.
I raced to the door and ran out into the rain, finding myself trudging through ankle high water. The fine day had darkened considerably with black clouds above unleashing torrents of rain. I ran on wildly until suddenly I remembered Enoch.
Enoch never ran. He simply walked, knowing God was with him. So I did likewise. And not far into my walk in the drenching rain, I saw a ray of light break through the clouds and it lit up, not far from me, the ark!
The ark was not hurrying either nor swaying for God was with them. It simply rested upon the rising flood. I was surprised that it wasn’t moving in any direction. As if it was built to be floated in the one spot and then to rest again in the same spot.
The water was up to my knees and I saw no point walking anymore. Instead I grabbed a large branch near me on the surface of the rising flood and sat astride it. Unusually, this branch didn’t move either apart from getting higher.
And so it was that I watched all the flood vegetation go under water until nothing living could be seen. And then the spotlight through the clouds faded and I sat in a watery darkness.
When the darkness faded and light appeared, I found myself on a branch floating down the river in the land where I had begun. The ark and Noah long gone in another age with Methuselah beneath the flood.
And I wondered how Noah had managed to remain faithful in an age of such violence when the long-living Methuselah had not. And I was glad Enoch had been spared that tragedy.
Gen 5:1-31 Biblical Summary (Years from birth of Adam in brackets.)
Adam bore Seth at 130 (Year 130) and lived to 930 (Year 930.) Adam 130 at birth of Seth.
Seth bore Enos at 105 (Year 235) and lived to 912 (Year 1042.) Adam 235 at birth of Enos.
Enos bore Cainan at 95 (Year 330) and lived to 905 (Year 1140.) Adam 330 at birth of Cainan.
Cainan bore Mahaleel at 75 (Year 405) and lived to 910 (Year 1240.) Adam 405 at birth of Mahaleel.
Mahalaleel bore Jared at 65 (Year 470) and lived to 895 (Year 1300.) Adam 470 at birth of Jared.
Jared bore Enoch at 62 (Year 532) and lived to 962 (Year 1432.) Adam 532 at birth of Enoch.
Enoch bore Methuselah at 65 (Year 597) and lived to 365 (Year 897.) Adam 597 at birth of Methuselah.
Methuselah bore Lamech at 187 (Year 784) and lived to 969 (Year 1566.) Adam 784 at birth of Lamech.
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.’
Noah bore Shem, Ham and Japheth at 500 (Year 1466) and lived to 950 (Year 1916.)
Noah was 600 (Year 1566) when the Flood came. God said to Noah: “The end of all flesh had come before me, for the land is filled with violence through them and behold I will destroy them with the land.” (Gen 6:13).
Abraham was born in Year 1856, 390 years after Shem’s birth. (Gen 11:10-26.) Noah was still alive.
Deductive Summary from scripture.
Adam and Lamech overlapped 146 years. Adam saw 9 generations but missed the 10th (Noah.)
Adam, Lamech, Noah and Abraham had the same language. Hebrew. (Gen 11:1 “The whole land had one language.”) Noah and Abraham overlapped 60 years.
Adam had been dead only 36 years before the birth of Noah (Year 966.) Enoch had been dead 69 years. All the others were still alive at Noah’s birth.
Seth was 836 (Year 966) when Noah was born so he had 76 years with Noah.
Lamech knew his grandfather Enoch (who walked with God) for 113 years.
Lamech had 95 years with his 3 grandsons to Noah.
Lamech died 5 years before his father Methuselah (which was 5 years before the flood.) Year: 1561.
Lamech died 5 years before the Flood when God destroyed the people and land because of violence.
Methuselah died the year of the Flood. Year 1566.
Noah lived concurrently with Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Methuselah, Lamech and even overlapped 60 years with Abraham.