Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Genesis Kings and the Fall

Alice C. Linsley

The men listed in Genesis 4-6 (Cain to Noah) were rulers over territories. They had a complex and unique marriage and ascendency pattern, involving two wives.  The first wife of the ruler-to-be was a half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham) and this marriage took place at a young age.  The firstborn son of this union ascended to the throne of his biological father (as did Isaac). The second wife was either a patrilineal cousin or a niece (as was Keturah to Abraham) and was married close to the time of ascent. This is why Abraham expressed urgency concerning Isaac's marriage to Rebecca. The firstborn son of the second wife ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather (as did Joktan, Keturah's son).  By the time of Cain, the marriage and ascendeny pattern was well established, suggesting that this had been the pattern for more than a few generations of rulers.  The "begats" speak of archaic rulers and establish a pattern whereby Abraham's descendants would recognize the Jesus as the promised Son of God.

Analysis of the king lists in Genesis 4 and 5 reveals that this was the pattern for Abraham's royal ancestors and I believe that this is an authentic pattern. Further, this pattern is older than the Genesis 1-3 narratives and is useful in understanding those narratives.  For one thing, we can't use the regnal years to determine the age of the earth, as was tried by Bishop Ussher. By his calculations, the earth is only 6000 years old.  What are we to make of the mining operations in the Lebombo Mountains 60,000 years ago?

The span between the rulers in Genesis 4 and 5 and Noah may be 950 years, but all these men were rulers over territories that were well established and which had neolithic technologies.  In other words, these rulers lived long after the first created humans. Clearly, there is a much greater span between Adam and Cain. Adam represents either the historical or ahistorical first man created by God, fully human and in the divine image. As such, he would have lived around 3.4 million years ago, since the oldest human fossils are at least that old.

Must Adam have been historical to believe that the Fall happened? We only have to look around for evidence that we live as sinners in a sinful world. In the Eastern Church, the Fall doesn't mean that each of us inherited Adam's guilt. The prophets teach that each of us will receive that which our own lives deserve. Instead, the Fall means that we all are subject to death since by Adam's sin, death entered the world.

Related reading:  The Marriage and Ascendency Pattern of Abraham's People; Cain's Father; Getting the Facts About Human Origins

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