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The line of descendants from Seth to Noah is often called righteous, in comparison to Cain's descendants who are called evil. This comes up when discussing Methuselah who although he died in the year of the flood supposedly can't have died in the flood because he was righteous, and as an explanation of what it means when the 'sons of God' took the 'daughters of men' in Genesis 6.

But Genesis 6:9 says Noah was the only blameless person alive!

Is there any evidence in the Bible to say that the rest of his ancestors were righteous rather than just being sinful like everyone else? (Excluding Enoch of course.)

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The only clue I know of is: Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD. I know that doesn't answer your question but it may give someone a starting place to eek out an answer. –  BYE Mar 25 '14 at 23:27
Can you give an example of when Seth's line is called righteous? –  Mr. Bultitude Feb 18 at 21:05
Here's just a few: 1 2 3 –  curiousdannii Feb 18 at 21:33

7 Answers 7

In Noah's day, the whole world was found to be wicked at such an extreme level that God decided to destroy everything. However, it was Noah who was found to be a righteous man, blameless among the people of his day.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:5-9 ESV

Noah's grandfather was Methuselah, whose name means "his death shall bring judgment". According to the time of his death, he died the year of the flood--supposedly not from drowning but from natural causes. His death brought judgment.

Noah's great grandfather--and Methuselah's father--was Enoch, who is noted as having "walked with God". His walk with God was apparently so close that God took Him straight to heaven.

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24 ESV

So, we know that Enoch was a very righteous man. We also know that Noah was a very righteous man. Thus, it seems that this was a righteous lineage, where the righteous fathers passed on to their children a deep reverence for God.

The evidence is not overwhelming, to be sure. In fact, it's largely circumstantial. Still, the conclusion is reasonable.

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What evidence is there that Methuselah died from natural causes rather than the flood? And even if he did, is there any reason to think he was righteous? Remember that when God said Noah was the only blameless person that his father and grandfather were probably still alive... Noah was and Enoch was, but I think the idea the whole line was is misleading. –  curiousdannii May 19 '14 at 20:52
@curiousdannii As I stated, the evidence is circumstantial. It assumes Enoch raised Methuselah to be a godly man and that carried on to Lamech and then Noah. All we know is that Methuselah died the year of the flood, so, yes, he could have been unrighteous. The question, however, asks why Seth's line is considered the righteous line. Having both Enoch and Noah as descendants is probably why. Methuselah and Lamech were possibly righteous men as well. –  Narnian May 19 '14 at 21:56

The word righteous is used 238 times in the Bible, but never to describe the line of Seth. The word evil is used 613 times in the Bible but never to describe the line of Cain, only to describe Cain's works.

1st John 3:12 KJV Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

Apparently someone has taken:

Genesis 4:26 KJV And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

to mean that the line of Seth was righteous, an conversely that the line of Cain was evil, but that is not said anywhere else in the Bible, according to research I have conducted since you posted the question.

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That's what I thought. –  curiousdannii Mar 26 '14 at 20:26

Is there any evidence in the Bible to say that the rest of Seth's ancestors were righteous rather than just being sinful like everyone else?

Potential Answer: Embedded at the end of both the genealogies are poetic references to what appear to be a pre-Noahetic bronze age. One ancestor Lamech from the Cain side brags to his wives that he can use this new found technology that his son has developed to fashion weapons and kill young men; the other Lamech on the Seth side looks as though he is thankful that this new technology can be used to fashion tools to farm with:

Cain Side:

Gen 4: 22 Zillah... also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron... Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice, You wives of Lamech,Give heed to my speech, For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me; 24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

Seth Side:

Gen 5:28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. 29 Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.”

The embedded poem and phrase in the genealogies underscores the differences between them, one side using this power for food, the other to kill. One remains somewhat God centric in thought abet negatively the other indicative of self centric hard hearted boasting over death.

What could have triggered the flood was the intermarrying between these two morally divergent genealogical lines.

Son's of God taking the daughter's of men There is a defense for the "sons of God" being Cain side human rulers of the time, they intermarried with the Seth side and so destroyed that side's morality, plunging all humanity into a degraded state that precipitated the great flood. See Bruce Waltke's Commentary on Genesis for more information on this.

Methuselah As far as Noah's ancestor is concerned, maybe not affected by the intermarriage morally. His death possibly prophetically releases the flood. (going from memory) I think inbedded in his name is the idea that judgement will not come as long as he was living; he lived longer than any other pre -flood individual, suggesting a similar mercy at work today i.e. patience of God at work postponing a second judgement.

shorthand answer: The moral diversity of the lines of Cain and Seth seems present imbedded within the genealogies themselves, the extinguishing of righteousness is a result of later intermarriage culminating in judgement right after Methuselah dies, thus keeping congruent the fraze "Noah the only righteous man."

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I don't think you've made a strong enough case. Lamech's speech may indicate that he believed God exists, but it isn't proof that he had a faith in God. Furthermore, although it isn't perfectly clear, I think Genesis 6 indicates that when Noah began to build the ark, perhaps 120 years before the flood, that at that time he was the only righteous man. At that time both Methuselah and Lamech are alive. –  curiousdannii Oct 30 '14 at 9:26
Thanks for the feedback. Maybe we're getting too caught up with the phrase in 6:9 "Noah...the only blameless person living on earth at the time" NLT as the phrase has been translated "blameless in his generation" or "blameless among his contemporaries," more than not. Of Course its the ambiguity in the Hebrew that is stimulating all of these different renderings, and maybe the answer thus lies in not forcing the hebrew to read a certain way. –  R Engelhard Oct 30 '14 at 18:24
As to the Seth line Lamech sentence, your right it doesn't shine forth in righteousness. I'm thinking it plays the role of a stark contrast between the other Cain line Lamech. The text adequately portrays the need for judgement on the Cain side, so beckons the question "what about the Seth side?" Especially when two guys with the same name both with commentary embedded at the end of their perspective genealogies draws the eye toward comparison. –  R Engelhard Oct 30 '14 at 18:41
All in all, I think the 2 Lamechs plus Enoch, that you already alluded to points toward Seth's line being the better "more righteous" genealogical line. We all know no one is righteous, and so the statement only makes sense in a comparative sense. –  R Engelhard Oct 30 '14 at 18:53
I think I will ask on Biblical Hermeneutics how 6:9 should be translated. –  curiousdannii Oct 30 '14 at 21:21

This is related to alternate interpretation of Genesis 6:4

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

The traditional interpretation until relative modernity was that which is found in the apocryphal book of Enoch, which church fathers like Tertullian used in explaining this passage. That explanation is that "sons of God" means "angels" and "daughters of men" means "human women." So angels came down and slept with women.

Entering into modernity, this explanation was seen as unacceptable, and so an alternative was needed. Hence the "sons of God" now becomes the line of Seth, and the "daughters of men" becomes the line of Cain. And viola, the "mythological" interpretation is gotten rid of.

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So the idea that Noah's line were all righteous only came when the idea that the sons of God were angels was rejected? Do you have any references for that? –  curiousdannii Mar 26 '14 at 3:40
The idea of treating Seth's line as all righteous comes from this so far as I can tell. I couldn't prove it in a court of law exactly when the idea arose. But I can say I haven't seen the interpretation that Seth's line was all righteous in any of the pre-Augustine church fathers nor Augustine himself. –  david brainerd Mar 26 '14 at 3:44
It could well be! I would have thought it came first and lead to the other interpretation of Gen 6, but maybe you're right and it was the other way round. Maybe some other people can add some extra historical information. –  curiousdannii Mar 26 '14 at 3:46

In reference to your initial question danii...yes it is quite possible that the righteous became unrighteous towards the time of the flood. If any of seths descendants..including the righteous forefathers of noah were still alive at the time of the flood then they wouldve been wiped out too. Because the bible does not mention it...does not mean that these men remained perfect. Remember also that most people consider Solomon son of Daivid as being righteous throughout his life...and he was blessed by God with both riches and wisdom....yet the bible says that towards his later life he turned away from God and started worshipping idols and hethen Gods...he had 1000 women wives and concubines combined...and the bible says that he loved foreign woman and they turned him away from God. So wow...heaven may be without the famous King Solomon (this is just an example) yet we may never know...on his deathbed Solomon may have turned back to God almighty and repented...but because it is not recorded it does not mean it didnt happen. Yes its quite possible that all of seths descendants turned evil except for noah..for every1 was destroyed...and its also possible that some of cains descendants were righteous while they lived... But at the time of the flood..every1 was seen as unrighteous to God except for Noah. I hope this helped a bit..and that i havent totally strayed from your question... Solomons story is found in samuel, and kings and in chronicles again.

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I don't think you've really answered the question... yes I agree that the people other than Noah weren't righteous, so why do so many people say they are? Also you have a lot of typos. Please edit it to improve the spelling and grammar. –  curiousdannii May 19 '14 at 1:52
Welcome to the site! This next is just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?, and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton May 19 '14 at 4:53

The line of Seth is referred to as righteous because it is the beginning of the lineage of Jesus Christ. Luke 3:23-38. As we know Cain was of " the wicked one". Remember, Seth is Abel's replacement. Genesis 5:25

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Adam and Eve named him Seth when he was born, but we're not told whether he lived up to his name. Just because they hoped he would live like Able did doesn't mean he did, nor does it mean his descendants all did too. –  curiousdannii May 7 '14 at 5:12
All through the lineage of Jesus Christ are the ungodly. Genesis clearly depicts Cain as "of the wicked one" 1 John 3;12. Jude 11-19, speaks of the ungodly prophesied by Enoch. Decendants of Seth, more than likely, were among the prophecy. –  V. Rollins May 7 '14 at 13:21

Sons of God used in Gen 6 is the same Sons of God today. Proof of that is located in the NT where Jesus quotes David. Galatians 3:26 Galatians 4:6 Psalm 82:6 John 10:34

The difference today is, they were waiting for what happened at Pentecost. today, we're waiting for satan to be completely cast out of this world, which is a battle going on right now (John 12:31)

So to understand Gen 6, you have to understand the difference between the giants, descendants of giants, nephilim, and the nephilim that are on the earth after the flood. You also have to understand that the angels that left their place in heaven (Jude 1:6, 2 Peter 2:4) are not Sons of God.

in my experience the only way you'll get answers to the above is to ask God.

I suppose its possible one of the strains of nephilim was the Neanderthal race, which is known to have inter married with homosapiens long time ago.

As this relates to today, it was the same in the Pre-flood era as it is now. You don't have the authority to take a wife, unless she is a believing wife according to Paul(NT). Daughters of men have not been born of God. not today, not before the flood, not after the flood.

second Edit. there truly are few righteous men in the Bible. surprisingly, Lot was one of them ( 2 Peter 2:7) Sodom wouldn't have been destroyed for 10 Righteous, yet Jesus says it will be better for sodom on the day of judgment than for some towns today (Matthew 10:15) concerning Righteousness.. read Acts 17:30, and the last verse in Matthew chapter 5

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Can you explain more what you mean that they were waiting for Pentecost, and give the bible verse you refer to in your first paragraph. –  curiousdannii May 20 '14 at 4:01
This might have the start of a good answer somewhere, but as written, this isn't helpful. How about instead of "go look it up" you provide the book, chapter and verse so we don't have to guess which verses you're talking about. I recommend checking out the help page and How we are different than other sites?, and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton May 20 '14 at 4:14
Nearly the entirety of the old testament points to Christ and today we argue about a rapture. Peter declares part of Joel fulfilled at Pentecost, even Abraham figured out that God would provide a sacrifice for sin. It is interesting to note that there was a resurrection of the righteous near the time of the death of Christ but i really can't find where that was foretold in the OT. the OT saints had nothing revealed to them in scripture that wasn't fulfilled at Pentecost. if I'm not mistaken that is. –  eldon May 20 '14 at 4:58
for more information, I have reason to believe Isaiah 24 hasn't been fulfilled yet, and there are a host of other scriptures that talk about the end of the world, which Jesus addressed in person. the rest of the revelation was given to the disciples. today we're waiting for events to happen that did not concern OT saints. and what happens after the 1000 years is likewise, not given to man publically at this time, but we find individuals do indeed get revelation of that which cannot be uttered on earth, such as Paul's friend who was taken to the third heaven –  eldon May 20 '14 at 5:09
Eldon, Paul was talking in third person when he said he knew a guy who was taken to paradise. He was responding humbly and for the visions he saw their was sent a messenger of Sat an from God to be a thorn in his flesh to keep him from being prideful. i feel this messenger nagged at Paul and annoyed him through speach. –  user15216 Sep 21 '14 at 1:53

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