Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (July-Sept. 1991) 288-97
Copyright © 1991 by
Enoch, a Man Who Walked
Timothy J. Cole
The account of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, is placed in the
third section of Genesis1 and is announced by the major structural
word of the book tOdl;OT, generally expressed as "these are the gener-
ations of. . . ." However, as Woudstra has demonstrated,2 the tOdl;OT
structure announces the historical development from the ancestor
mentioned and should be understood as, "this is what became of
(person's name)," or "this is what happened to the line of (person's
name)." Genesis 5:1 would then read, "This is the book of what be-
came of the family tree of Adam."
What did become of Adam's family tree? Whatever happened
to the human race? Did God's promise of death (-17) come true?
Whatever became of the curse ()? Would man, due to his rebel-
lion, die after all? Before 5:1 no one had died (though Abel was
murdered by his brother and Lamech killed a man for wounding him
and a boy for striking him, ).
The theme of chapter 5 is the end of life. "No reader of Genesis
5 . . . fails to be impressed by the recurrent phrase 'And he died;'
which baldly and emphatically concludes the entry for each of
these antediluvians. The whole movement of the regular form of
these notices is toward death."3 In other words the answer to the
1 The first section is 1:1-2:3 and the second is 2:4-4:26.
2 M. H. Woudstra, "The Toledot of the Book of Genesis and Their Redemptive-His-
torical Significance," Concordia Theological Journal 5 (1970): 185.
3 David J. A. Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch (Sheffield:
sity Press, 1978), p. 66.
Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 289
questions, Whatever happened to Adam's family tree? or Whatever
happened to the human race? is that they all died. Did God's prom-
ise of death ("in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die,"
) ever come true? Yes, Adam's line died successively. Whatever
became of the curse? "The answer is that, in spite of human
achievements (the achievements of chapter 4), the curse of death
reigned as king from Adam's time on through the generations."4
The account of Enoch, then, the one who walked with God, is
placed in the midst of the reign of death. This theme of death har-
monizes well with the author's overall theme in Genesis 1-11, the
spread of sin and the spread of grace.5 "Thus Genesis chapter 5 de-
scribes something like a transitional period, during which death
caused by sin only slowly broke the powerful physical resistance of
primitive human nature."6 In other words in spite of human progress,
civilization, and prosperity, in spite of mankind's aspirations, he
died.7 So the setting of Enoch's walk with God is the spread of sin,
ending with death.
The two chief components of narrative are characters (people)
and events.8 Events make up the plot, and the characters are the ac-
tors who carry out the plot. The plot of Genesis 5, a plot whose struc-
ture is carried along with the monotonous phrase "and he died" (re-
peated eight times) and whose actors are Adam's family tree (10
men), is a masterful backdrop against which is recorded this re-
markable sentence, "Enoch walked with God." In a plot where a fu-
neral bell continually tolls out its mournful drone there is a disjunc-
tive ray of hope, another example of the spread-of-sin, spread-of-
grace theme. The plot unfolds in the following way.
The prologue (5:1-2) of this "Genealogy of Death" recalls the
creation of Adam. Moses wrote that man, created male and female,
made in God's likeness, was blessed by God and named "Man" (this
naming here mentioned for the first time in Genesis). Adam also be-
came the father of a son in his own likeness (mentioned for the first
time in Genesis), a son made according to Adam's image, a son whom
Adam named Seth (v. 3).
4 Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), p.
5 Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, pp. 64-73.
6 Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary, rev. ed., trans. John H. Marks (Phila-
7 Allen P. Ross, "The Exegetical Exposition of the Pentateuch: Genesis" (class notes
Exegesis in the Pentateuch,
8 Shimon Bar-Efrat, "Some Observations on the Analysis of Structure in Biblical
Narrative," Vetus Testamentum 30 (1980): 155-73.
290 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991
The effect of the prologue, as Sailhamer points out, is to cast
God in the role of a father.9 He made a son in His own likeness. He
named His son. He blessed His son. He is like the Genesis patri-
archs who also did the same for their children. This same pattern is
duplicated by Adam. One important point emerges in the genealogi-
callist in chapter 5: God is shown to be the Father of all mankind.
The plot continues with a lengthy genealogical list (vv. 3-32)
and concludes in 9:28-29 (with the account of the Flood spliced into
the record of man from Adam to Noah). The list in Genesis 5 follows
Component 1: Person A lived X years and then became the fa-
ther of B.
Component 2: Person A lived Y years after he fathered B, fa-
thering other sons and daughters.
Component 3: Person A's entire life lasted X and Y years; then
The same pattern is followed again in -26, beginning with
Shem (Noah's son). However, in the record of Enoch, the third com-
ponent is missing. No mention is made of death. But with the other
patriarchs in chapter 5 death is emphasized. Why, for instance,
add "and he died" when that fact is understood? If a person's entire
life consists of X number of years, it is assumed (logically) that he
died. Yet the writer underscores each man's death by repeating the
words "and he died." The purpose is to highlight by contrast the
account of Enoch. Enoch, seventh in the line from Adam, breaks the
structural pattern--he did not live (Component 1), he walked with
God; he did not die (Component 3), he walked with God and God
took him. The reversal is stark and bursting with theological truth.
Obviously the author crafted the genealogy in this way to make it a
theological commentary.10 Theological truth about life and death
(under the curse) is being taught by means of this recurring literary
pattern and the subsequent break from it. The pattern expresses the
author's value system.11
The prologue (vv. 1-2) followed by the monotonous genealogical
list of death (vv. 3-32) juxtaposes two opposing themes. The sons and
daughters of God the Creator, children made in His own likeness,
children designed to be blessed, as a father blesses the children he
loves and cares for, fall prey instead to a curse. Those who were once
9 John Sailhamer, Genesis, 2 vols., The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 2:70.
10 Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical
University Press, 1985), p. 120.
11 Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981), p. 95.
Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 291
blessed are now cursed. Those made in His likeness, those made to
live are now destined to die, returning to dust, thereby also falling
prey to the serpent who will eat dust (). All the children of God
the Father die.
The spread-of-sin motif is evident. But where is the accompa-
nying spread-of-grace motif? Where is the sense of hope in the
midst of all this death?
The Account of Enoch, Seventh from Adam
The account of Enoch (-24) marks an exception to the pattern
in Genesis 5. In contrast to the smooth, repetitious sequence of the
rest of the genealogy, there is an abrupt disjuncture at . Instead
of "And Enoch lived" (which would be the regular pattern up to this
point), Moses wrote, "Enoch walked with God three hundred years."
Also in verse 24 the author dropped the regular phrase "and he
died," replacing it with, "And Enoch walked with God; and he was
not, for God took him."
The effect of this abrupt change at verses 22 and 24 is to place
Enoch's life outside the regular sequence of the chapter. "A study of
the author's style in Genesis shows that when he wants to begin a
specific topic much narrower than the preceding subject matter, he
uses such a technique of disjuncture."12 The change in structure re-
veals an exception to the accounts of the others. In contrast to the
formulae of the others, who lived and died, Enoch walked with God.
He did not simply "live"; he walked with God. This suggests that
walking with God was a step above mere living.13 Furthermore
Enoch did not die; he walked with God (stated for the second time),
and God took him.
The hithpael stem of the verb j`lahA (waw plus Hithpael pret-
erite) recalls the Lord God walking in the garden (Hithpael partici-
ple, 3:8)14 and in some way corresponds to it.15 Whenever the author
of Genesis (and of the Pentateuch) used the Hithpael stem of j`lahA,
one of the subjects of the narratives is God. (The only exception is Ex-
odus 21:19.) Like Enoch, Noah also walked with God (Gen. 6:9).
When Abram arrived in the land, the author picked up the thought
12 John Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes: Genesis 1:1-2:4a," Trinity Journal n.s. 5
13 Ross, Creation and Blessing, p. 175.
14 Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (
Books Publishers, 1987), p. 127.
15 A. Dillmann, Genesis, trans.
William B. Stevenson, 2 vols. (
292 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991
of walking once again: "Arise, walk about the land" (); "Walk
before Me" (17:1; cf. 24:40; 48:15). Walking with God involves the
idea of continuity or habitual manner of life, and all these examples
employ the Hithpael stem (cf. Deut. ).
The mention of the longevity of Enoch's walk-300 years-adds
to the force of the verb. So the expression "walked with God" was
the author's summary of Enoch's life. Bullinger notes that "walk" is
"used of one's continued course of action and life: i.e., the habitual
habit and manner of life."16 Today one might say that walking with
God was Enoch's lifestyle.
Why did Moses state twice that Enoch walked with God? Why
underline the death of the preceding and succeeding patriarchs?
Sailhamer cogently answers these questions:
Why does the author want to point to Enoch so specifically as an excep-
tion? It is not merely because he did not die. That in itself is reason
enough to merit special attention, but it does not sufficiently explain
the purpose of the author in this case. The author's purpose can be
better seen in the way he has emphasized, through repetition, that
Enoch "walked with God" (vv. 22, 24). The phrase "walked with God". . .
clearly means something to the author, for he uses the same expres-
sion to describe Noah as "a righteous man, blameless among the peo-
ple of his time" (6:9), and Abraham and Isaac as faithful servants of
God (17:1; 24:40; 48:15). Its use here shows that the author views it as the
reason why Enoch did not die. Enoch is pictured as one who did not
suffer the fate of Adam ("you will die") because, unlike the others, he
"walked with God."17
Here then is a glimpse of grace in the midst of the spread of sin
(death being a result of sin). Here the funeral bell stops tolling. One
man walked with God and God took him.18 He escaped the clutches
of death. Clearly the pathway to life, the road one is to travel to
escape the sting of death, is the one of the pilgrim, in which a person
walks with God.
At this point Moses did not explain what it means to walk with
God. He cited no method or formula. Though he held Enoch up as a
model for others to follow, he communicated no descriptive explana-
tion of this "walk." Moses held that explanation until later in the
narrative. He uncovered an inherent relationship between the past
and the future, using the lives of God's people. "That which hap-
16 E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech
Used in the Bible (
woode, 1898; reprint,
Speiser, "The Durative Hithpael: A Tan-Form," Journal of the American Oriental
Society 75 (1955): 118-21,
17 Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 74.
18 The same terminology, "God took him," is used of Elijah's transport to glory in
which he escaped death (2 Kings 2:1, 5, 9-10).
Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 293
pened to God's people in the past portends events that still lie in the
future. Or, to say it another way, the past is seen as a lesson of the
future."19 Enoch's walk, then, though yet unexplained theologi-
cally, is a lesson the author will present at a later time, a lesson
(from the past) designed to be learned by future generations of God's
people, for they too will live under the curse.
Walking with God, then, incorporates several theological
ideas. First, the one who walks with God is a creature made in God's
likeness and linked to the Creator in a Father-son relationship. Sec-
ond, walking with God occurred during the reign of death, thereby
making the walk an exception to the normal pattern of living and
dying. Thus simply living and dying is portrayed as below the norm
in quality. And conversely, walking with God is a step above mere
living. It is the way to overcome the curse. Third, the walk is de-
scriptive of a lifestyle, a pattern of life with continuity and dura-
tion. Fourth, this walk or way of life is designed to be a lesson for
God's people in the future.
In writing of Enoch's life Moses' aim was to communicate hope.
Death is not the final answer; for Enoch God overruled death. The
black cloud of death, hovering over the human race, a cloud
promised by God Himself, a dark cloud expressing the essence of the
curse, is split wide open with the brilliant rays of Enoch's life.
There is rescue from death. There is rescue from the effects of the
curse. There is hope. There is a road back into the garden; there is a
method of bypassing the guardian cherubim and flaming sword-
there is access to the tree of life. One can indeed live forever. It is
possible after all once again to fellowship with and worship the
Lord God in the garden. How? By walking with God; thus the lesson
of Enoch (placed in the genealogy of death) is this: Life comes
through walking with God.
A Pastoral Response
Etched in their own history was the tragic account of an entire gener-
ation lost (to death) in the wilderness (cf. the Book of Numbers; 1
Cor. 10:1-13), a generation that overlooked or ignored the lesson that
life with God (eternal life) comes by walking with God.
Enoch's life is also a model for the people of God's New
Covenant to follow in their earthly pilgrimage.20 The finality of
19 John H. Sailhamer, "The Canonical Approach to the OT: Its Effect on Under-
standing Prophecy," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30 (September
20 Ross, Creation and Blessing, p. 174.
294 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991
death caused by sin, and so powerfully demonstrated in the geneal-
ogy of Genesis, is in fact not so final. Man was not born to die; he was
born to live and that life comes by walking with God. The tentacles
of the curse, reaching over the entire scope of Genesis 1-11 (except for
1:1-2:3) and causing unrelieved gloom21 are thwarted at the seventh
from Adam. Walking with God is the key to the chains of the curse.
Furthermore walking with God is a step above mere living; it is also
the answer to man's deepest need and greatest fear (death).
The New Testament gives a theological commentary on Enoch's
WALKING WITH GOD INVOLVES FAITH IN HIM
The writer of Hebrews bolstered the hearts of his readers by
communicating the concept that faith is the key to perseverance in
the furnace of suffering (Heb. -39). After giving a brief defini-
tion of faith (11:1), he cited an impressive list of people who gained
God's approval (v. 2) and won spiritual victories by means of faith.
Faith enables believers to understand creation (v. 3, referring to Gen.
1-2). Abel gained a righteous standing with God by means of faith
(Heb. 11:4, referring to Gen. 4). And next is Enoch, who by faith "was
taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found be-
cause God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his
being taken up he was pleasing to God" (Heb. 11:5). The next verse
(tucked between references to Enoch and Noah, both of whom are
said in Genesis to have walked with God) is critically placed and
theologically significant: "And without faith it is impossible to
please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and
that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (v. 6).
Hebrews 11:5-6 is a divinely inspired commentary on Genesis
5:22-24. The analysis of Enoch's walk with God focuses on his faith
in God. Faith then was the theological description of his walk and
the instrumental cause of his pleasing God. Two features of Enoch's
faith are stressed: his faith in the reality of God ("for he who comes
to God must believe that He is," v. 6), and his faith in the respon-
siveness of God ("and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him,"
v. 6). Walking with God requires faith in Him, faith in the reality
of His existence, and faith in the reality of His responsiveness (to
one's faith). Walking with God inspires believers to look to God's
future rewards based on their present faith and life.
The writer of Hebrews did not say that Enoch thought about God
or speculated about Him. He did not read about God or talk about
God and thereby gain His favor. Rather, Enoch believed God and
thereby pleased God.
21 Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, p. 66.
Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 295
It seems then that the intent of the author of Genesis (using
Enoch's life) was to anticipate the account of Abraham, the man of
faith, the paragon of righteousness, the one who displayed faithful
obedience to the will of God. He is the author's profound illustration
of the meaning of faith. So Enoch was used to prepare the reader by
encouraging him to ask, What does it mean to walk with God?
WALKING WITH GOD PLEASES HIM
In Genesis 5 the Septuagint translates the words "Enoch walked
with God" as "Enoch pleased God." The same is true of Noah. The
Hebrew reads, "Noah walked with God," but the Septuagint has,
"Noah pleased God" (6:9). The account of Abraham has the same in-
terpretation in the Septuagint (17:1; 24:40; 48:15). Bruce suggests
these changes were made "from a desire, no doubt, to make the lan-
guage less anthropomorphic."22 The writer of Hebrews (with the
Septuagint as his foundation) went along with this interpretation of
"walking with God" as "pleasing God" (linked inextricably to the
concept of faith as the instrumental cause of pleasing Him). This
suggests an important lesson from Enoch's life: walking with God in-
volves living by faith and brings God's favor. He is pleased with be-
lievers when they believe Him, when they live by faith. "To please
the Lord and to walk with Him are inseparable factors."23
WALKING WITH GOD IS NOT LEGALISTIC ADHERENCE TO THE LAW
A profound lesson in regard to legalism and faith can be mined
from the account of Enoch. Sailhamer speaks to this point.
It is important to see that for the author of the Pentateuch "walking with
God" could not have meant a mere "keeping" of a set of laws. Rather it
is just with those men who could not have had a set of "laws" that the
author associates the theme of "walking with God." By choosing such
men to exemplify "walking with God," the author shows his desire to
teach a better way to live than merely a legalistic adherence to the law.
. . . For him the way to life was exemplified best in men like Enoch
("Enoch walked with God," ), Noah ("he walked with God," 6:9), and
Abraham ("Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righ-
teousness," 15:6). It is to these Patriarchs who lived long before the giv-
ing of the law at Sinai that the author of Genesis turns for a model of
faith and trust in God.24
In pastoral ministry the message of living each day by faith--
regardless of the circumstances--must continually be communicated
to God's people. Faith is the modus operandi of both salvation and
22 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (
23 F. S. Parnham, "Walking with God," Evangelical Quarterly 46 (1974): 118.
24 Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 74.
296 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991
sanctification and therefore it must become the flour (the essential
ingredient) in all the meals prepared for and served to God's flock.
If faith is the steam in the boiler which moves the locomotive down
the track, then Christian leaders must continually and faithfully
stoke the fires of faith in the hearts of their people.
Worship services should be designed to contribute to that faith-
building process. Hymns and Bible expositions must certainly feed
the faith of the sheep. Meetings for intercessory prayer should also
help build faith in the One to whom believers pray. Rather than
allow people to leave prayer meetings with despairing hearts--see-
ing the size of the difficulties and the nature of the problems--it be-
hooves leaders to focus their people's hearts on the name of the Lord
("May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high. . . and
in the name of our God we will set up our banners. . . we will boast in
the name of the Lord, our God," Ps. 20:1, 5, 7). To focus on the name of
the Lord (the sum total of His attributes) helps build people's confi-
dence and trust in Him (cf. Matt. -22).
Pastors and other Christian leaders are to build people's faith
in the Triune God of Scripture. To build people's faith is to help
them walk with God. To help them walk with God brings God's fa-
vor. He is pleased with them. And by nurturing their walk of faith,
their pilgrimage of trust, they will walk right into eternity to con-
tinue that unabated walk with God-forever. Spurgeon's comments
on Enoch are appropriate here:
What a splendid walk! A walk of three hundred years! One might de-
sire a change of company if he walked with anybody else, but to walk
with God for three centuries was so sweet that the patriarch kept on
with his walk until he walked beyond time and space, and walked into
paradise, where he is still marching on in the same divine society. He
had heaven on earth, and it was therefore not so [unusual] that he
glided away from earth to heaven so easily.25
WALKING WITH GOD OVERCOMES DEATH AND BRINGS LIFE
The reason God overruled death for Enoch was that he walked
with God. Walking with God is the way to life, the way to victory
over the curse for today and tomorrow. Enoch's life depicts the fact
that the reign of death will come to an end and the faithful will
reign in life through Jesus Christ (Rom. -21).
Walking with God involves having faith in Him, and that
faith pleases God. And, walking with God is the way to eternal
H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the Old
Morgan & Scott, 1934), .
Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 297
life, the way back into the presence of God, to worship Him and en-
joy fellowship with Him forever.
Dods's commentary on Enoch's walk with God provides a fitting
conclusion to this discussion.
"Enoch walked with God and he was not; for God took him." The phrase
is full of meaning. Enoch walked with God because he was His friend
and liked His company, because he was going in the same direction as
God, and had no desire for anything but what lay in God's path. We
walk with God when He is in all our thoughts; not because we con-
sciously think of Him at all times, but because He is naturally sug-
gested to us by all we think of; as when any person or plan or idea has
become important to us, no matter what we think of, our thought is al-
ways found recurring to this favourite object, so with the godly man ev-
erything has a connection with God and must be ruled by that connec-
tion. When some change in his circumstances is thought of, he has
first of all to determine how the proposed change will affect his connec-
tion with God-will his conscience be equally clear, will he be able to
live on the same friendly terms with God, and so forth. When he falls
into sin he cannot rest till he has resumed his place at God's side and
walks with Him again. This is the general nature of walking with God; it
is a persistent endeavour to hold all our life open to God's inspection
and in conformity to His will; a readiness to give up what we find does
cause any misunderstanding between us and God; a feeling of loneli-
ness if we have not some satisfaction in our efforts at holding fellowship
with God, a cold and desolate feeling when we are conscious of doing
something that displeases Him. This walking with God necessarily tells
on the whole life and character. As you instinctively avoid subjects
which you know will jar upon the feelings of your friend, as you natu-
rally endeavour to suit yourself to your company, so when the con-
sciousness of God's presence begins to have some weight with you, you
are found instinctively endeavouring to please Him, repressing the
thoughts you know He disapproves, and endeavouring to educate such
dispositions as reflect His own nature.26
To walk with God is to open to Him all one's purposes and hopes,
to seek His judgment on one's scheme of life and idea of happiness, to
be on thoroughly friendly terms with God.
26 Marcus Dods, The Book of
Genesis, The Expositor's Bible (
strong & Son, 1893), pp. 51-52.
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