Meaning Names Genesis 5 – I didn’t believe it at first

When we were in the process of choosing names for our daughters, we checked out baby name books, we made a list, and reviewed it, and added some names, and crossed some out. We said them out loud, and we wrote them down. Out of curiosity, we even checked out the meaning of names we liked. We finally decide on a first name and then a second name that my wife and I were both happy with. Likely a similar process as to what many parents to be go through when they are expecting the birth of a child.
Parents have many reasons for choosing the names they do for their children. Sometimes a name runs in family and for reasons of tradition or prestige a name is passed on. Sometimes parents choose a popular name, or the name of a popular person. Other parents pick “different” names so that their child is “one of a kind”. Others yet, choose a name because it has a special meaning or choose a name because they like the way it sounds.

Whatever the reasons behind their choice, the world is filled with an abundance of interesting names. The names found in the Bible are no exception and it is filled with lists of some pretty interesting names, and sometimes some strange meaning names. Genesis 5, has one of those lists where every name has a meaning.

Bible Names have Meaning

Sometimes the Scripture let’s us know why a certain name was given to an individual, but for the most part we are not told why but certainly are left wondering how? How is it, that a name given at the time of birth (or even before), could turn out to have significance in relation to that persons surroundings, or the epoch in which they lived, or the circumstances of their life, or the purpose of their mission?

In the book of Genesis, God changed the names of Abram and Sara to Abraham and Sarai. Paul the Apostle in the book of Acts was first known as Saul, and the name of Onesimus leads to a play on words in the book of Filemon. Some interesting twists and turns can be discovered in the meaning of these names.

The study of names in the Bible is a branch in and of itself, and provides hours of investigation that lead you to some quite remarkable discoveries. Such is the study of the meaning of names in Genesis chapter 5.

Ten Important Names in Genesis 5

Use a Bible dictionary to find the meaning (or definition) of each of these names. Please STOP here.

  • I really encourage you to download and print the Genesis chapter 5 reading sheet and the Genesis 5 PDF worksheet. Take a few minutes to read through chapter and try to find the definitions of the names on your own before continuing.
  • Adam
  • Seth
  • Cainan
  • Enos
  • Mahalaleel
  • Jared
  • Enoch
  • Methuselah
  • Lamech
  • Noah

Let’s not Change the Order – The Ten Meanings

Adam = man

  • Adam was literally created by the Creator in Genesis 2:7. The passage in Genesis refers to him as “the man” until verse 19 when he is named as Adam. The significance of his name is man or mankind. The “red” that is sometimes associated with him could refer to the dirt from which he was formed or from the “rosiness” of his complexion when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” Genesis 2:7 (ESV).

Seth = appointed

  • Seth was a substitute. After Cain murdered his brother Abel, Seth was born to “replace” Abel. Eve literally gives us the meaning when she says in Genesis 4:25 “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” (ESV)

Enos = mortal

  • The name Enos relates to man. But the meaning speaks of the frailty of man, with the sense of something incurable. It is a sad reflection of the mortality of man.

Cainan = habitation

  • Cainan who is also known as Kenan, has the meaning of a nest. Properly it is the act of constructing or building the nest with the purpose of using it as a place in which to dwell, or a habitation.

Mahalaleel = blessed Lord

  • Names in the Bible with ‘el’ often indicate a reference to the Lord (the Almighty) and the name of Mahalalel is such a case. The part of the name Mahalal means praise or boast. As such, when combining the two parts, we get the idea of the praise of the Lord, or praising the Lord. This can be summarized as, blessed of the Lord or the blessed Lord.

Jared = come down

  • The literal meaning of Jared is descendant, as in a genealogy. The significance is that which is descending, or going downward.

Enoch = teaching

  • The name of Enoch means dedicated or initiated. It has the sense of discipline, as in that of training within a narrow boundary. To read a more detailed explanation of his name here.

Methuselah = his death shall bring

  • The implications of the meaning of Methuselah is very interesting. It holds the significance of a dart (or in modern times a missile). The sense is not so much that of the object itself, but of the effect of the object when it hits its target. In another sense, when it (dart or missile) arrives, it brings destruction. In reference to Methuselah, it has the idea of something coming when he arrived at manhood or when he reached his end. Hence, his death shall bring, or when he dies it will come. You can read a more detailed explanation of his name here.

Lamech = powerful

  • The meaning of Lamech is somewhat obscure but the significance can be found to refer to something powerful.

Noah = comfort

  • The Scriptures help with the meaning of the name Noah as Lamech describes the significance of his name in Genesis 5:29 “And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” Noah is associated with comfort or relief.

Adjusting the grammar – Making a Sentence

If you take the list of the ten names in Genesis 5 in the order given and write them as a sentence:

Adam Seth Cainan Enos Mahalaleel Jared Enoch Methuselah Lamech Noah

it doesn’t make much sense. In the translations we read, we often lose the meaning of the names.

If we write in order the underlying significance of those names, an interesting thought is conveyed.

Man appointed mortal habitation blessed God come down teaching his death shall bring powerful comfort.

Now that sentence might be a little hard to read so we’ll introduce a couple of words and some punctuation to obtain a grammatical correct sentence.

Man (is) appointed (a) mortal habitation(,) (but the) blessed God (shall) come down, teaching (that) his death shall bring(,) powerful comfort.

Can you believe it? The Creator left a clue as to the Gospel in the genealogy found in Genesis 5.

Man is appointed a mortal habitation, but the blessed God shall come down, teaching that his death shall bring, powerful comfort. Almost reads like the Old Testament version of Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The lost condition of man and the coming salvation provided by God himself announced from the very beginning of Scripture.

Action Point:

8 thoughts on “Meaning Names Genesis 5 – I didn’t believe it at first”

  1. I had never looked up the meanings of names in that part of the Bible. My own name is taken from the Book of Genesis, of course, and means the beginning. I find Methuselah to be the most interesting, especially considering that he lived longer than anyone else on the list, I believe. Names are fascinating and you’ve done a great job of laying out the meanings here.

    1. You are right, Methuselah lived to 969 years, more than anyone else mentioned in the Scriptures. When you consider that his name means “when he dies, it shall come” and the fact that the year he died, the flood came… it shows the patience and mercy of God.
      Thanks for sharing, Genesis… a wonderful name reminding us of the Creator and His handiwork.

  2. Hi Mitchguy,

    I’m glad finding a baby name was not that complicated for you. It was a contentious one for us, especially as my spouse’s parents wanted our son to be name after his dad. Fortunately, my father-in-law’s first name was a bible name that meant ‘Yahweh is gracious’ in Hebrew. 

    Your analysis of the ten names in Genesis is amazing. As far as I know, the messages about the Messiah coming to save mankind have always been clear so that we (sinners) should know that God has not abandoned us despite our sinful ways. 

    1. I’m glad that the name for your son turned out to have a wonderful meaning and trust that he will get to appreciate the graciousness of Yahweh in his life.

      The biggest complication we had finding baby names came when we announced to our family the name of our third daughter. I think most of them were left with their mouths wide open in shock, asking if it was even a name. Turns out that it is a name (even though we adapted it from another name). Later, when looking online, we found one other person located in Hawaii that has the same name. A unique name for a unique girl is what we say.

      God has certainly made His message of salvation for sinners clear many times and in many ways. And if we think of names and their meanings, the name of Jesus means savior. Clearer it could not be.

  3. This is indeed an awesome revelation,  I have never seen thIs before and it is really a message to take across.  Names are an important aspect of human life,  in fact,  in some cultures name determine if the child will be successful or not.  So parents tend to be more meticulous in choosing names for their children,  even bible names. 

    thank you for this post. 

    1. That is an interesting observation you make about cultures in our times. Names are often thought of as more than just a name they are thought of as a life or of a calling.

      As I read your post, I got to thinking of my own name which is Michel (French roots). The meaning of my name is “Who is like God”. I am developing a website encouraging people to find out about God, the Creator. I am sure that my parents never thought of that meaning when they named me all those years ago. Yet here I am, and my name has a significance with what I am doing (as a missionary and online).

      Thank you for that thought. You have my mind working on a new topic…

  4. Hello,

    Very interesting and thought provoking website. By no means am I a religious individual (in terms of a denomination). I explain myself to be spiritual. My beliefs are of many, and one thing I find fascinating is the many interpretations of the Bible. The different interpretations from the different denominations, I am confused by it all to be honest. A saving grace is I believe in God, and I like to think I have a personal relationship with God. The Bible is a very interesting book, the stories are fascinating and I can tell from many of the stories how relevant they can be to how successful or not one could be through, trials, tribulations and triumphs. A life’s guide of sorts or a resource to utilize for answers to life’s challenges. I find myself always asking, “what does it all mean?”  Our names, Bible names and their meanings. There appears to be a Bible reference to every aspect of life. The list of Bible names and their meanings, I got the sense that names not only represented names they would answer to but also represented their individual responsibilities. Who they were to become and what they were to do in life, preset if you will. I appreciate the educational reference to your site.

    I’d like to utilize this site as a one stop shop for everything “Bible Study”. I believe I have a lot to learn, and I also believe your platform is easy to use in terms of literature and if I have questions.

    I had no idea of the meaning behind the Biblical names, I was however aware the names were Biblical.

    Thank you for the knowledge,

    Dwilli

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and I am so glad that you believe in God. He wants you to believe in Him, and He wants you to believe Him. Please continue to ask “what does it all mean?”. If the website can be of help to you as you try to figure it out, that would be great. If I can help you in any way or if you have any questions, please let me know.

      The Scriptures are very relevant to our lives and the more I read and study it, the more I realize how accurate it is in all aspects of our lives.

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