Genesis 6:3—Does this contradict what Moses said in Psalm 90 about human longevity?

Problem: This text seems to indicate that human longevity after the flood will not exceed “one hundred and twenty years.” Yet in Psalm 90 Moses took it to be as 70 or 80 years at best (v. 10).

Solution: First of all, it is not certain that Genesis 6:3 is referring to human longevity. It may be speaking about how many years remained before the flood would come.

Second, even if it does envision how long humans would live, it does not contradict the later reference to 70 or 80 years for two reasons: for one, it refers to an earlier period when people still lived longer (Moses himself lived to 120, Deut. 34:7); further, the 70 or 80 was probably not intended as an absolute upper limit, but merely as an average for people who died of old age.

Genesis 6:2—Were the “Sons of God” angels who married women?

Problem: The phrase “sons of God” is used exclusively in the OT to refer to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). However, the NT informs us that angels “neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matt. 22:30). Furthermore, if angels married, their children would be half human and half angel. But, angels cannot be redeemed (Heb. 2:14–16; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

Solution: There are several possible interpretations other than insisting that angels cohabited with humans.

Some Bible scholars believe “sons of God” refers to the godly line of Seth (from whom the redeemer was to come—Gen. 4:26), who intermingled with the godless line of Cain. They point out that (a) this fits the immediate context, (b) it avoids the problems with the angels view, and (c) it accords with the fact that humans are also referred to in the OT as God’s “sons” (Isa. 43:6).

Other scholars believe that “sons of God” refers to great men of old, men of renown. They point to the fact that the text refers to “giants” and “mighty men” (v. 4). This also avoids the problems of angels (spirits) cohabiting with humans.

Still others combine these views and speculate that the “sons of God” were angels who “did not keep their proper domain” (Jude 6) and possessed real human beings, moving them to interbreed with “the daughters of men,” thus producing a superior breed whose offspring were the “giants” and “men of renown.” This view seems to explain all the data without the insuperable problems of angels, who are bodiless (Heb. 1:14) and sexless spirits (Matt. 22:30), cohabiting with humans.

Genesis 5:5—How could people live over 900 years?

Problem: Adam “lived nine hundred and thirty years” (Gen. 5:5), Methuselah lived “nine hundred and sixty-nine years” (Gen. 5:27), and the average age of those who lived out their normal life span was over 900 years of age. Yet even the Bible recognizes that most people live only 70 or 80 years before natural death occurs (Ps. 90:10).

Solution: First of all, the reference in Psalm 90 is to Moses’ time (1400s b.c.) and later, when longevity had decreased to 70 or 80 years for most, though Moses himself lived 120 years (Deut. 34:7).

Continue reading Genesis 5:5—How could people live over 900 years?

Genesis 5:1—How can we reconcile this chronology (which adds up to c. 4,000 years b.c.) when anthropology has shown humankind is much older?

Problem: If the ages are added in Genesis 5 and 10 with the rest of the OT dates, it comes out to 4,000 plus years b.c. But, archaeologists and anthropologists date modern man many thousands of years before that (at least 10,000 years ago).

Solution: There is good evidence to support the belief that humankind is more than 6,000 years old. But there are also good reasons to believe there are some gaps in the Genesis genealogies. First, we know there is a gap in the genealogy in the Book of Matthew. Matthew’s genealogy says “Joram begot Uzziah” (Matt. 1:8). But when compared to 1 Chronicles 3:11–14, we see that Matthew leaves out three generations—Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah as follows:
Continue reading Genesis 5:1—How can we reconcile this chronology (which adds up to c. 4,000 years b.c.) when anthropology has shown humankind is much older?

Genesis 4:26—Did worship of God begin here or earlier?

Problem: According to this verse, people did not begin “to call on the name of the Lord” until the days of Enosh, the third son of Adam and Eve. Yet their first son, Abel, brought an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord before this time (Gen. 4:3–4).

Solution: The meaning of “call upon the name of the Lord” (in Gen. 4:26) is not clear. And what is not clear cannot be taken to contradict what is clear, namely, that Abel worshiped God before Enosh did. It is possible that calling on the Lord implied a regular, more solemn, and/or public worship of the Lord, or prayer (cf. Rom. 10:13) that was not practiced earlier. At any rate, there is no contradiction here, since it does not say that Abel or anyone else “called on the Lord” before this time—whatever it may mean.


Genesis 4:17—How could Cain marry a relative without committing incest?

Problem: If Cain married his sister, this is incest, which the Bible condemns (Lev. 18:6). Furthermore, incestuous marriages often produce genetically defective children.

Solution: First, there were no genetic imperfections at the beginning of the human race. God created a genetically perfect Adam (Gen. 1:27). Genetic defects resulted from the Fall and only occurred gradually over long periods of time. Further, there was no command in Cain’s day not to marry a close relative. This command (Lev. 18) came thousands of years later in Moses’ day (c. 1500 b.c.). Finally, since the human race began with a single pair (Adam and Eve), Cain had no one else to marry except a close female relative (sister or niece).

Genesis 4:17—Where did Cain get his wife?

Problem: There were no women for Cain to marry. There was only Adam, Eve (4:1), and his dead brother Abel (4:8). Yet the Bible says Cain married and had children.

Solution: Cain married his sister (or possibly a niece). The Bible says Adam “begot sons and daughters’’ (Gen. 5:4). In fact, since Adam lived 930 years (Gen. 5:5), he had plenty of time for plenty of children! Cain could have married one of his many sisters, or even a niece, if he married after his brothers or sisters had grown daughters. In that case, of course, one of his brothers would have married a sister.

Genesis 4:12–13—Why wasn’t Cain given capital punishment for the murder he committed?

Problem: In the OT, murderers were given capital punishment for their crime (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:12). Yet Cain was not only set free after murdering his brother, but he was protected from any avenger (Gen. 4:15).

Solution: There are several reasons why Cain was not executed for his capital crime. First, God had not yet established capital punishment as an instrument of human government (cf. Rom. 13:1–4). Only after violence filled the earth in the days before the flood did God say, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6).

Further, who would have killed Cain? Cain had just killed Abel. At this early stage only Adam and Eve were left. Surely, God would not have called upon the parents to kill their only remaining son. In view of this, God, who alone is sovereign over life and death (Deut. 32:39), personally commuted Cain’s death penalty. However, in so doing, God implied the gravity of Cain’s sin and implied he was worthy of death by declaring that “the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me [for vengeance] from the ground” (v. 10). Nonetheless, even Cain seemed to recognize that he was worthy of death, and he asked God for protection (v. 14). Finally, God’s promise to protect Cain from vengeance implies capital punishment would be taken on any who took Cain’s life (cf. v. 15). So, Cain’s case is the exception that proves the rule, and by no means does it argue against capital punishment as established by God (see comments on John 8:3–11).

John 14:6