The first book= of the Bible, which is Genesis, begins with a
history of the Creation. The words “In the beginning,” with which
it opens, give us no chronological data by which we are able to form
any estimate of the time. Seven divisions, called “days,” have special
appointments assigned to each in that which is usually called “the work
of creation,” including the appointment of a day of rest.
Before the beginning of the days there existed a state of chaos, the
earth being “without form and void” and darkness being upon the face of
The first act was the calling into being LIGHT The appointment of Day
and Night closed the work of the first day.
The separation of the waters beneath “the firmament,” or expanse, from
those above “the firmament” constituted the work of the second day.
The formation of dry land, called earth, and the appearance of
vegetable growth, called grass, herbs, and trees, occurred on the third
On the fourth day lights appeared in “the firmament,” or expanse, and
on the fifth day the first animal life moved in the waters and birds in
the air, the latter called “winged fowl.” On the sixth day the earth
brought forth living creatures, “cattle, creeping things, and beasts;”
and finally man was created, made after God’s image, with dominion over
all that had been here created.
The seventh day was set apart as a day of rest, a day of which it is
said, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” Gen. 2:3.
=2. After the creation of man= he was placed in a garden which the Lord
God planted “eastward in Eden.” The locality of Eden is unsettled, but
the opinion of many scholars is that it is not far off from the head of
the Persian Gulf. The garden is described as “eastward in Eden,” and it
is supposed to have been in the eastern part of a district called Eden.
Prof. Sayce derives Eden from an ancient word meaning “the desert.”
If this be correct, the garden of Eden was more remarkable for its
contrast with the great Syrian desert in its immediate vicinity. The
rivers mentioned by name are Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. The
Euphrates at the present day joins the ancient Hiddekel, which is now
called the _Tigris_, at a point one hundred miles northwest from the
Persian Gulf, and the stream formed by the union of the two rivers is
called the _Shat el-Arab_. The Pison and Gihon have not been
It should be remembered that the geographical condition of this
region is very unlike that which existed at the time we are considering.
Dr. Delitzsch calculates that a delta of between forty and fifty miles
in length has been formed since the sixth century B. C. Prof. Sayce
says that in the time of Alexander, B. C. 323, the Tigris and Euphrates
flowed, by different mouths, into the sea (gulf), as did also the
Eulæus, or modern _Karun_, in the Assyrian epoch.
The increment of land about the delta has been found to be a mile in
thirty years, which is about double the increase of any other delta,
owing to the nature of the soil over which the rivers pass. Under
these changes it is probable that any but very large streams might
=3. The Euphrates= passes along a course of more than 1,780 miles
from the head-waters of the _Mourad Chai_ and for about 700 miles it
passes through a nearly level country on the east of the great Syrian
desert. It varies in depth from eight to twenty feet to its junction
with the Tigris; after its union with the Tigris its depth increases.
It is navigable for about 700 miles or more from the Persian Gulf.
The Tigris is shorter, being about 1,150 miles in length, and navigable
for rafts for 300 miles. Some of the extreme head-sources of this river
approach those of the Euphrates within the distance of two or three
miles. The name Hiddekel is the same word as _Hidiglat_, which is its
name in the Assyrian inscriptions, as _Purat_ is the ancient Assyrian
for Perath in Hebrew.
The land of Havilah, which was encompassed entirely by the river Pison,
is unknown, but the “Ethiopia” encompassed by the river Gihon is in
the Hebrew called Cush, and recent discoveries have proved that in very
early times Cushite people inhabited a part of the region near the head
of the Persian Gulf.
There is little doubt that the land so called was a part of the plain
of Babylonia where the cities of Nimrod were planted, Gen. 10:10,
Nimrod being a son of Cush.
These discoveries show that, in after ages, the Cushites left Babylonia
and emigrated southward along the Persian Gulf into Arabia, of which
they occupied a very large part, and from its southern part crossed
over to Africa to the country which in after times was called by the
Greek geographers Ethiopia.
Dr. F. Delitzsch supposes that Havilah was the district lying west of
the Euphrates and reaching to the Persian Gulf, and that the Cush of
the text was the land adjoining on the east, having the present _Shat
el-Nil_ for its border line. The long stream west of the Euphrates,
which was known to the Greeks as Pallacopas, Dr. Delitzsch considers as
the Pison, and the _Shat el-Nil_ as the Gihon (see the map). The Garden
of Eden he places at that part where the Euphrates and Tigris approach
each other very nearly, being at that place only twenty-five miles
=4. In the Garden of Eden= the Lord God put the first pair. Of the man
it is said that he was placed in the garden “to dress it and to keep
it;” and of the woman, that she should be “a help meet for him.” How
long this state of things continued is not related, but, through the
serpent, temptation entered into the mind of Eve, and she gave of the
forbidden fruit unto her husband and they did eat, “and their eyes
were opened,” apparently to the sense of guilt in violating the command
which forbade them to “eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil.” The curse then followed, and they were driven out from the
garden, to which they were never to return.
=5. After the expulsion= Cain and Abel were born, and the first murder
took place in the killing of Abel by Cain, the latter being punished
by being driven out “from the presence of the Lord.” Cain went eastward
and dwelt in the land of Nod, and his first-born son, Enoch, built the
first city, which was named after him, Enoch. Neither the land of Nod
nor the city Enoch has been certainly located.
=6.= We now have an account of the =descendants of Adam=, with the
statement of their several ages. Upon this statement of ages a
chronology has been based, usually called the Biblical Chronology.
It is derived from that account which is recorded in the Hebrew, the
language in which the history was originally written. But there is
another account which was given in the earliest extant translation
of the Hebrew history, and this is called the Septuagint Greek, made
about 286 B. C.; and the chronology of this old translation differs
materially from the Hebrew original. There is yet another authority,
the Samaritan Pentateuch, the manuscript of which is kept at Shechem,
in Palestine, and is the oldest known manuscript of the Bible in the
world, having been written before the Captivity and in the old Hebrew
These are the only three records of any importance, and the variations
in these records are seen in the following table:
│ Lived before │ After birth │ Total.
│ birth of sons. │ of sons. │
│ HEB.│ SAM.│ SEP.│ HEB.│ SAM.│ SEP.│ HEB.│ SAM.│ SEP.
Adam │ 130 │ │ 230 │ 800 │ │ 700 │ 930 │ │
Seth │ 105 │ │ 205 │ 807 │ │ 707 │ 912 │ │
Enos │ 90 │ │ 190 │ 815 │ │ 715 │ 905 │ │
Cainan │ 70 │ │ 170 │ 840 │ │ 740 │ 910 │ │
Mahalaleel │ 65 │ │ 165 │ 830 │ │ 730 │ 895 │ │
Jared │ 162 │ 62 │ 162 │ 800 │ 785 │ 800 │ 962 │ 847 │ 962
Enoch │ 65 │ 65 │ 165 │ 300 │ 300 │ 200 │ 365 │ │
Methuselah │ 187 │ 67 │ 187 │ 782 │ 653 │ 782 │ 969 │ 720 │ 969
Another │ │ │ 167 │ │ │ │ │ │
translation │ │ │ 165 │ │ │ │ │ │
of Septuagint │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │
Lamech │ 182 │ 53 │ 188 │ 595 │ 600 │ 565 │ 777 │ 653 │ 753
Noah │ 500 │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │
It will be seen by the above table that the Hebrew text affords data
which give us 1,656 years from the creation of Adam to the Flood, for
we must add 100 to Noah’s age of 500, since the Flood began when Noah
was 600 years old (Gen. 7:6). The Samaritan text takes away 100 years
from the life of Jared, 120 from that of Methuselah, and 129 from that
of Lamech, as compared with the Hebrew text, making the Flood occur
1,307 after Adam’s creation, while the Septuagint adds 100 to the lives
of each of the first five and to that of Enoch, and six to that of
Lamech, making the Flood begin 2,262 years after the creation of Adam,
according to one reading of the Septuagint, or 2,242 according to
So that the aggregates of time from the Creation to the Flood,
as deduced from the Hebrew, the Samaritan, and the Septuagint,
severally are 1,656, 1,307, and 2,262. The Samaritan is the oldest
manuscript, but it cannot be made certain that the dates as given
in that manuscript have suffered no alteration; and hence the Hebrew
account has been followed in our entire English version, the chronology
of which was arranged by Archbishop Ussher (usually written Usher),
A. D. 1580, but it “is of no inspired authority and of great
=7.= The subject of =Biblical Chronology=, as derived from data
recorded in the Scripture, is necessarily unsettled; and this is
so partly because the sacred writers speak of descendants of a
given progenitor as his sons, in accordance with Eastern custom,
and partly perhaps from the use of letters, for figures, in the
early manuscripts, which have suffered changes in subsequent
transcriptions. But although these variations occur, discoveries
connected with the remains of other nations than the Jewish, and
connected with other histories than the Jewish, are beginning to throw
light upon the Scripture history and chronology.
These collateral histories allude to persons and events of Jewish
history and afford such data that in many instances we can determine
from them the actual year of Scripture events. This aid is particularly
important as derived from both Assyrian and Egyptian discoveries, and
this we shall have reason hereafter to show.
=1. In the earliest periods= of human history names, either for persons,
places, or things, had meanings which were in some sense applicable to
the person, place, or thing named. This was specially true in Hebrew
history, and of this we have already had illustrations; for when Eve
was brought to Adam “he called her name _woman_, because she was taken
out of man,” but afterwards, because Eve in the Hebrew meant life, he
“called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”
Adam’s name denoted his relation to the ground (Hebrew, _Adamah_),
from the dust of which he was taken; and as Eve’s body was derived from
that of Adam, the name of the two was _Adam_ (Gen. 5:2), which was the
name given by God “in the day when they were created,” and this name
was exclusively the description of the first man and the first woman.
In Gen. 2:23 we have the generic name given to the race in the Hebrew
terms “_Ish_” and “_Ishah_” for “man” and “woman,” given by Adam to
himself and to the woman: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my
flesh: she shall be called woman (Ishah), because she was taken out of
=2. The root=, or primitive meaning, of Ish is uncertain, but from
its subsequent use we may infer that it denoted a characteristic
of humanity higher than that expressed by the word Adam, and may
have occurred to the father of men while naming the animals as an
appellative distinguishing his own from the inferior order of the
It is remarkable that the ancient Assyrian name for the first man is
Admu or Adamu, the Assyrian form of the Hebrew Adam.
=3. In the Hebrew history=, therefore, names are not to be regarded as
mere sounds or combinations of sounds, attached at random to certain
objects or persons, so as to become the audible signs by which we
distinguish them from each other, but very frequently proper names
had a deeper meaning and were more closely connected in men’s thoughts
with character and condition than among any other ancient nation with
the history and literature of which we are acquainted. Thus it is
that, as Archbishop Trench says, words are often the repositories of