“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Gen 2:4 ESV).
Genesis’s first two sections, “these are the generations” (toledoths), recount the ongoing conflict between Adam’s believing and unbelieving offspring. Both lines claim ownership of the earth. Both the first section (Gen 2:4-4:26) and second section (Gen 5:1-6:8) cover the time period from the creation down to the Flood. The Flood in the third section adjudicates those rival claims.
Though it is easy for the reader to immediately focus on Adam’s creation and fall in chapters 2 and 3, Genesis 2:4 is not a second creation account, but rather indicates the defining event for the large period of time from the creation and fall down to the Flood. “In the day” denotes the event that characterizes the whole age. Moses uses the same language to designate the sacrifices the Aaronic priests will offer during their service, “in the day when he is anointed” (Lev 6:20, KJV). Or Micah 7:15 says, “As in the days when you went out from the land of Egypt, I will show you miracles.” This “in the days” encompasses the wilderness wanderings and entrance into the promised land. The modern reader may hear an older person say “in my day.” Or someone may say, “back in the day.” Genesis 2:4 characterizes the first section as “in the day” of the creation, and the fall.
The first section narrates the attempted coup d’état. Satan came as the usurping serpent (Gen 3:1; Rev 20:2) and overthrew the woman who then led to the fall of Adam. The vassal king became the enemy of the King of heaven. The devil’s program to establish his own kingdom continued through Adam’s unbelieving offspring. Cain killed his brother, Abel, when the latter offered an acceptable offering by faith (Gen 4:8ff; Heb 11:4; see Matt 23:35). In response to Cain’s protests that he would be subject to anarchy, God declared that whoever killed Cain would so be subject to divine judgment (Gen 4:15). This creation of the state through this oracular mark (verbal not visible; Gen 4:15) provided an institution to protect families and individuals in this period outside the garden of Eden before the final judgment. Within this protected arena, believers and unbelievers could have families, work, and conduct the activities of life. It was not the kingdom of God, but it wasn’t hell.
Cain immediately turned God’s provision into the basis of Cain’s dynasty. Cain had a son which he named Enoch. Cain built a city and named the city after his son, Enoch (meaning “dedicated”; Gen 4:17). Soon his descendants would not just name the state for man, but would use the power of the state to glorify man. Lamech redefined “family” and became a bigamist (Gen 4:19). Moses’s note that Lamech’s son was “Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron” (Gen 4:22) is not an incidental side comment. Bronze and iron would provide advanced weapons for his dynasty. Lamech claimed his kingly rule was greater than God. He blasphemed,
“For I have killed a man for wounding me;
And a boy for striking me;
24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold,
Then Lamech seventy-seven-fold” (Gen 4:23-24).
Lamech claimed that his own vengeance was ten times what God would avenge!
At the end of the first section, Moses inserts a brief note about Adam’s believing line as a contrast to unbelieving man making a name for himself. Adam and Eve named their son “Seth” (Sheth) because “God has appointed (shith) me another offspring in the place of Abel…” (Gen 4:25). They were not building a dynasty for their own name. Rather they praised God’s name in naming their son. The believing line called “upon the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26) as they worshipped. God was their King.
The second section (Gen 5:1-6:8) presents the believing offspring of Adam. Like the first section, it starts with creation and proceeds to the Flood. Moses writes, “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Gen 5:1). As Adam is the image of God, so his offspring, Seth, is in his likeness (Gen 5:1-3). Redeemed by God, here the focus is not on Adam’s fall. Adam is the image of the King of heaven. So too is the believing line. These are the sons of God.
They didn’t look like the sons of God. They still died (Gen 5:5-31). But they looked in faith for the promises of God. One of the descendants was named Enoch (different than Cain’s son). This Enoch “walked with God” (Gen 5:22) for he was a prophet who God took into the heaven’s court and gave special revelation (Jude 14, 15). As a prophet, he became a picture of the believer’s hope when he did not die. God took him straight to heaven (Gen 5:24). But this believing community was persecuted and martyred by Cain’s dynasty. By the time of Noah, the believing line was all but extinct.
As the unbelievers multiplied, their despotic rulers martyred the believers and built cities out of their blood. They claimed to be the “sons of the gods” (Gen 6:2 trans). An example of this is seen in the fifth and subsequent dynasties in Egypt where the pharaoh was considered the “son of Ra.” These “sons of the gods” took the beautiful women into their harems (Gen 6:2). These tyrannical kings ruled in wickedness (Gen 6:5). This was the day of the Nephilim (Num 13:33; Gen 10:8ff), the mighty men of old, the men of renown (Gen 6:4 literally “men of the name”). But they were only men. In 120 years, the flood would come and they would be swept away (Gen 6:3). They would be blotted out from creation (Gen 6:7). But there would be one man and his family that would live, Noah.
Meredith G. Kline, "The Oracular Origin of the State"
Meredith G. Kline, "Divine Kingship and Gen. 6:1-4"
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