The Early Patriarchs

To us who live in the world today it is hard for us to understand the beginning of the created world and just how different it really was from what we see every day. 

So did the early patriarchs have the Law of Moses written on their hearts?

Did they know all that would later be written on stone tablets and in the books of the Law?

Here is an interesting fact that many may not realize or have thought about.

Adam lived 930 years. (Genesis 5:5)  Adam lived in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15), walked with God in the cool of the evening (Genesis 3:8), sinned (Genesis 3:6), caused the first death of an animal by his sin (Genesis 3:21), was the cause of the earth being cursed (Genesis 3:17-19) and saw the fruit of sin in the first human death, his son Abel (Genesis 4:8).  Adam could know his descendants up until Lamech, Noah’s father!

When Adam was 130 years old he fathered a son named Seth. (Genesis 5:4)  Seth lived 912 years. (Genesis 5:8)  Seth lived long enough to have known Adam, Methuselah, Enoch and Lamech.  Seth never met Abel, but possibly Cain, because he was born after Abel’s death but I’m sure he heard much about him and the sin of his death at the hands of his own brother. (Genesis 4:25)

Enoch walked with God 365 years and then he was not because God took him. (Genesis 5:23-24)  Can you imagine the talk this caused?  But before Enoch was taken away Enoch preached about the coming of Christ. (Jude 14, 15)

The rest is done by adding up years.  (But note there is some slight discrepancy between different lists.)

Seth died just a few years before Noah.  Noah could have known all since Seth, except Enoch, who was taken away before Noah was born.  Methuselah would have been able to spend much time with Noah.  Most say that Methuselah died just before the flood.  Some even say Methuselah’s name means “when he dies it shall be sent”.

Noah’s son Shem would have been able to know Methuselah all the way through to Abraham’s son Issac.  Now we don’t know if they did or not and the Tower of Babel caused the languages to be confused.  But the Tower of Babel was in Shinar the area that Ham’s descendants populated, not particularly Shem’s.

Abraham could have known Noah and Shem. Abraham also would have known Jacob and Esau.

Abraham’s question in Genesis 18:23 has a different significance when we know how he could have heard about the Flood directly from Noah or at least his descendants.  The flood was just approximately 300 years before Abraham, not long with those kind of lifespans.  That last wrath of God wiped out all but eight people!  There are many more time lines, but this is the easiest I found to read that is online.

When we look at how these men overlapped and how they knew the history of their forefathers, is it any wonder how they knew so much?

However the early Patriarchs did not have the Law of Moses written on their hearts.  That is because the Law of Moses is not an everlasting Law for all people. 

  • God created every animal and called them good, not unclean. (Genesis 1:31) Every green herb was given for meat, not animals. (Genesis 1:29-30The only limitation to the green herbs was not of the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:16-17).  However, Adam and Eve sinned and all creation fell with them. (Romans 5:12)   Upon sinning in the Garden, the Lord made Adam and Eve coats of skin.  The first sacrifice for sin, yet we are not told what kind of animal or even told anything about clean and unclean.   Then Cain and Abel offer sacrifices, we are not told why, but assume it was instructed from the first sacrifice. But this was in a time when God walked with man and talked directly with man. (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 4:6, Genesis 5:22) We are not told what God spoke to them about beyond recorded Scripture.  Noah was told to gather seven of every clean animal. (Genesis 7:2,3) But obviously this had nothing to do with consumption but rather sacrifices. (Genesis 8:20)  It is not until Genesis 9:3 that man is told they may eat meat, so the clean and unclean was obviously for just sacrificing to the Lord for sins. But notice it says “Every moving thing that liveth … .” No clean / unclean mentioned.  It is not until the Law of Moses that we hear anything about the eating of clean and unclean animals.

  • No early patriarch was circumcised until God told Abraham to circumcise himself and his household. (Genesis 17:11, 12)  Adam through Terah were not circumcised, including Shem which lived after the time of Abraham’s circumcision.

  • Abraham married his sister against the Law of Moses in Lev 18:9; 20:17; Deut 27:22.  Of course, we know that many of the early patriarchs married siblings or at least close relatives.

  • Notice the Genealogy of Abraham’s family.  They were living close and they married closer than “kissing cousins.”  Genesis 11:27-29  Abraham married his sister, Nahor married his brother’s daughter, his niece, then Isaac marries a second cousin Rebekah.  But see that was not sin.  The Law of Moses was not on their hearts but written on tablets over 400 years later.  Otherwise, Adam’s descendants would have major problems.

  • Jacob married his sister-in-law against the Law of Moses in Lev 18:18.

  • Jacob set up a pillar or stone (Genesis 28:18) contrary to Ex 34:13; Lev 26:1; Deut 12:3; particularly Deut. 16:21-22.  {Note: The word translated as pillar is also translated as image in many places – Matstsebah.}

  • The birthright was in existence because we see Jacob and Esau fighting over it (Genesis 25:31,33; Genesis 27:36).  The birthright was mentioned in the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 21:15-17, yet this was in relation to the son of an unloved wife being denied and favored over the son of a loved wife.  However, even God Himself did not follow the firstborn tradition.  See in Genesis 17:20-21, God choose Isaac over Ishmael even though Isaac was not the firstborn and Abraham gave all he had to Isaac (Genesis 25:5).   Then God choose Jacob over Esau, the firstborn. (Genesis 25:23)  Jacob chooses the sons of Joseph over his first born Reuben (Genesis 49:3-4, 1 Chronicles 5:1-2), and also chooses Ephraim over Manasseh. (Genesis 48:14, 17-20)  God chose the Levites over the firstborn sons of the Israelites. (Numbers 3:41)  The kingship also typically passed down to the first born (2 Chr. 21:3); however, David gave the throne to Solomon and not Adonijah as instructed by the Lord. (1 Kings 2:15)

So we have a hard time saying that the Law of Moses was on the hearts of all men since it appears they didn’t know them.


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