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  • Dr. David Neiman

Genesis, Chapter 5 – The Israelite View

Now as we examine the biblical list in Genesis 5, which closely follows the Babylonian king list, we find a rejection of the former view. The biblical author will not accept the Babylonian concept, shared by all the other nations of the ancient Near East, of humanity descending from the gods, but simply eliminates the first two names of the Babylonian list and substitutes two others which are more in keeping with the Israelite view; namely, the first is Adam, meaning "Human," the second name is Seth, which may mean something other than divine or semidivine, and the third is Enosh, which means the same as Adam; namely "Man."

Thus the biblical compiler of the list of the ante-diluvian patriarchs retains the Babylonian list beginning with the third name and continues to the end, having revised the first two names in order to remain faithful to the Israelite concept of human origins. The biblical concept denies a divine parentage of humanity, but adheres to the account of human origins as stated in Genesis 1:26, 27, and Genesis 2:7. All living creatures are made by the Creator out of the material of the earth.26

As we continue with our examination of Genesis 5 and its relationship to the Babylonian King List, we come to the fourth name in the list, which is Ummanu in Babylonian and Kénan in Genesis 5. The name Ummanu in Babylonian means "craftsman, artisan." (It is cognate to Hebrew uman, retaining the same meaning in later Hebrew.)26 The Hebrew parallel is Kénan, cognate to and identical with Kayin of chapter 4. Tubal-Kayin, sixth generation descendant of Kayin is described as the skilled craftsman who is expert in making instruments of iron and bronze.27 Thus, one can conclude that the fourth name in the Babylonian list and the corresponding name in the list of Genesis 5 are the same, if not identical. They both mean "craftsman."

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