“After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died. After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.” – Genesis 5:30-32
Lamech had other sons and daughters, but at the youthful age of 182, he had Noah. We cannot assume that Noah was one of the eldest sons (and probably shouldn’t), even though Noah himself didn’t have his three boys until after he was 500 years old. Noah was certainly not an only child, and likely had a plethora of siblings, not to mention an army of nieces, nephews with their children and grandchildren.
But it’s certainly very possible & plausible — while there is no mention of it — that Noah himself had other sons and daughters before the three boys mentioned. These children and their descendants would be extraneous to the story (as they would have all perished in the flood too). Except when women play a significant role in the story, they are not mentioned by name. In most Jewish storytelling, women are typically omitted in the counting and if included at all, are done so in a very footnoted way.
And in the same way, Noah may not have been the first boy, or even the first child. The story is about Noah, not his kin necessarily, and so the non-essential details are omitted as well.
And grandpa Lamech was only able to enjoy his grandchildren for a measly 95 years, then he died. Five years later, the flood came:
“Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth… In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month — on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” — Genesis 7:6, 11-12
But the sad part is that, of all Noah’s [possibly immediate and] extended family (which after 500 years was probably in the tens of thousands), God found no righteous except for Noah. Of all of Lamech’s children and grandchildren, no others found favor with God. In fact, all of Noah’s neighbors were his family. Everybody he knew were related to him in a close way. Especially his father, counted among the wicked.
We can reasonably deduce that it took Noah between 50-75 years to build the Ark just prior to the flood. But if his father died just five (5) years before then, I have a question:
- Why did God allow Lamech to stick around so long? Why not just let him perish in the flood along with the rest of his family?
To the first one, I’m hopeful that Lamech came to know God through his son’s faith and testimony of life. While his entire extended family was lost and dedicated to destruction, Noah and his family were to be saved. Perhaps witnessing his son’s relentless dedication to God’s command in building this ark, while all their known world stood and watched — or worse, mocked — Lamech had the opportunity to learn more about God through this situation, and over time became convinced that his life should change as well.
While hopeful, if this were the case it would seem more likely that this testimony would be included in the text, which it’s not. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t more to the story. There’s a 777 year long story about Lamech, of which we hear nothing. Interesting life-span, by the way. Maybe that’s my answer.
However it actually played out, God demonstrates his love for Noah by showing his entire immediate family favor by giving them all salvation through the baptism of the floodwaters. There is nothing in the text to imply that his sons were yet faithful, or by extension, their wives. But Noah’s faith was enough. His faith became a lifeboat for all of them.
After the flood, of course, they were on their own. They’d been given a new life, but were they really changed? Did they live out their lives in gratitude for their salvation? Did they live like the flood was just something they survived instead of living like they were reborn?