Gen 4:17-25 Nearly a thousand years of ancestral history passes by as the Biblical narrative moves on to Enoch (Hebrew, meaning ‘founder’), a descendent of Cain who founds the first city in Mesopotamia in c.4250BC, located at the mouth of the River Euphrates in Shinar (historical Sumer in modern-day southern Iraq) (see 4 on Map 35).
Cities in Mesopotamia
The first city known by archaeologists to exist in Mesopotamia was Eridu. According to the Biblical account, the first Mesopotamian city was built by Cain’s descendents. The city may therefore have been called Eridu after Enoch’s son Irad (see Genesis 4:18) (see 4 on Map 35). In Sumerian, it was known as ‘Nun-ki’ meaning ‘the mighty city’ (a name later transferred to the ‘mighty city’ of Babylon). It was built on an island of slightly higher land situated among the low-lying marshlands at the mouth of the River Euphrates near Basra in modern-day Iraq.
Here, archaeologists have discovered remains of houses built using the ubiquitous reeds found all over this swampy delta. They have also uncovered fragments of bitumen-covered reed boats used by these early people (similar to those still used by the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq).
Over the years, the sandy island was slowly extended by building out over mats of berdi reeds laid at the water’s edge, and the surrounding swamplands were gradually drained. In time, the city grew to house a holy shrine and a controversial temple – the first Tower of Babylon (see Genesis 11:1-9).
Remains of Eridu, Iraq (Ltybcc1, Wikimedia Commons)
Gen 4:25 - 5:32 Adam and Eve have another son called Seth, and the Bible sketches out their family history. Genesis Chapter 5 states that many of the family lived for hundreds of years. Adam, for example, "lived a total of 930 years” Genesis 5:5), while Seth lived for “912 years” (Genesis 5:8). Methuselah – the oldest member of the family recorded here – lived for “969 years” (Genesis 5:27). While some believe these figures are literally the age of real individuals, many believe they represent much longer periods of ancestral dynasties within the family line.