Names That Tell a Story

“This is the book of the genealogy of Adam…and Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son.”— Genesis 5:1-3 The genealogies of the Bible have a reputation for being boring, the section where your eyes glaze over and you move on.

But God doesn’t waste a word. If you think about these people as real people with family histories fraught with romance, danger, problems and joys, ordinary events, and sweeping events that changed the course of history, you will find the genealogies fascinating.

Take the first several generations from Adam to Noah – before there was Abraham, before there was a nation of Israel, when civilizations were just beginning to be established, the world was already polarizing for and against the Lord. Look at the meanings of the names of the first fathers:

Hebrew           English

Adam             Man

Seth             Appointed

Enosh           Mortal

Kenan           Sorrow

Mahalalel      The Blessed God

Jared           Shall come down

Enoch           Teaching

Methuselah   His death shall bring

Lamech          The Despairing

Noah             Rest, or comfort.

Now put it together: Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.1

That is only the beginning. The message of God’s love and His plan for our redemption is breathed into the life of the universe and all of creation.

In the earliest chapters of Genesis God had already laid out His plan of redemption for the predicament of mankind. The names tell a love story, fulfilled when Jesus shed His blood and gave His life on a wooden cross over 2,000 years ago.


  1. Missler, Chuck, “The Gospel in Genesis,” Personal Update, Koinonia House, 1996.