We frequently use the familiar term, "gospel," or "good news." Where is the first place it appears in the Bible? The answer may surprise you.
An Integrated Message
The great discovery is that the Bible is a "message system"; not simply 66 books penned by 40 authors over thousands of years, but an integrated whole that evidences supernatural engineering in every detail.
The Jewish rabbis have a quaint way of expressing this very idea; they say that they will not understand the Scriptures until the Messiah comes. But when He comes, He will not only interpret each of the passages for us, He will interpret the very words; He will even interpret the very letters themselves; in fact, He will even interpret the spaces between the letters!
When I first heard this, I simply dismissed this as a colorful exaggeration. Then I reread Matthew
5:17 and 18
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you,
Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass
from the law, till all be fulfilled."
(A jot and a tittle are the Hebrew equivalent of our dotting an "i" and the crossing of a "t.")
A remarkable example of this can be glimpsed in Genesis chapter 5, where we have the genealogy
of Adam through Noah. This is one of those chapters which we often tend to skim over quickly
as we pass through. But God always rewards the diligent student. Let's examine this chapter
In our Bible, we read the Hebrew names. What do these names mean in English?
A Study of Original Roots
The meaning of proper names can be difficult in some cases since a direct translation is often not
readily available. A study of the original roots, however, can yield some fascinating insights.
(A caveat: many study aids can prove rather superficial, however; and any inferences are certainly
not free of controversy.)
Let's take one of them as an example.
The Flood Judgement
Methuselah comes from Muth, a root that means "death"; and from shalak,
which means "to bring." The name Methuselah means, "his death shall bring."
Methuselah's father was given a prophecy of the coming Great Flood, and was apparently told
that as long as his son was alive, the judgement of the flood would be withheld. (Can you imagine
raising a kid like that? Every time the boy caught a cold, they must have panicked!) The year
that Methuselah died, the flood came. It is interesting that Methuselah's life, in effect, was a
symbol of God's grace in forestalling the coming judgement of the flood. It is, therefore, fitting
that his lifetime is the oldest in the Bible, speaking of the extensiveness of God's grace.
The Other Names
If there is such significance in Methuselah's name, let's examine the other names to see what may
lie behind them.
- Adam's name means "man." As the first Man, that seems straightforward enough.
- Adam's son was named Seth, which means "appointed." Eve said, "For God hath appointed
me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew."
- Seth's son was called Enosh, which means "mortal," "frail," or "miserable." It is from the
root anash, to be incurable, used of a wound, grief, woe, sickness, or wickedness. It was in the
days of Enosh that men began to defile the name of the Living God.
- Enosh's son was named Kenan, which can mean "sorrow," or "wandering nomad." (The
precise denotation is somewhat elusive; some study aids even assume that Kenan is synonymous
- Balaam, looking down from the heights of Moab, puns upon the name of the Kenites
when he prophecizes their destruction.
We have no real idea as to why these names were chosen for the children. Often they may have
referred to circumstances at birth, etc.
- Kenan's son was Mahalalel, which means "the Blessed God." Often Hebrew names include
El, one of the many names of God, as Daniel, "God is my Judge," etc.
- Mahalalel's son was named Jared, from a verb yaradh, meaning "shall come down." (Some
authorities also tie this to the "Sons of God" corrupting the daughters of men, resulting in the
Nephilim of Genesis 6.)
- Jared's son was Enoch, which means "teaching." He was the first of four generations of
preachers. In fact, the earliest recorded prophecy was by Enoch, and which, amazingly enough,
dealt with the Second Coming of Christ, (although it is quoted in the Book of Jude in the New
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,
Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to
convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly
committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against
- Enoch was the father of Methuselah, who we have already mentioned. Enoch walked with
God after he begat Methuselah.
Apparently, Enoch received the prophecy of the Great Flood, and was told that as long as his
son was alive, the flood would be withheld. The year that Methuselah died, the flood came.
Enoch, of course, never died; he was translated.
(If you'll excuse the expression, "raptured.") That's how Methuselah can be the oldest man in
the Bible, yet he died "before" his father!
- Methuselah's son was named Lamech, which means "despairing." This same root also seems
to lie behind our English word lamentation. (While a similar root can mean "strength." this name
is linked, through traditional Jewish sources, with the Lamech in Cain's line, who inadvertently
killed his son Tubal-Cain in a hunting incident.
- Lamech, of course, is the father of Noah, which is linked with nacham, "to bring relief" or
"comfort." This is highlighted in Genesis 5:29.
The Composite List
Now let's put it all together:
- Hebrew = English
- Adam = Man
- Seth = Appointed
- Enosh = Mortal
- Kenan = Sorrow
- Mahalalel = The Blessed God
- Jared = Shall come down
- Enoch = Teaching
- Methuselah = His death shall bring
- Lamech = The Despairing
- Noah = Comfort (or Rest)
That's rather remarkable:
Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that)
His death shall bring (the) despairing rest."
Here is the "gospel" hidden within a geneaology in Genesis! (It is hard to imagine Jewish rabbis
"conspiring" to place the "Christian Gospel" right here in their venerated Torah!)
The Bible is an integrated message system, the product of supernatural engineering. Every
number, every place name, every detail every jot and tittle is there for our learning, our
discovery, and our amazement. Truly, our God is an awesome God.
Look behind every detail; there's a discovery to be made! God always rewards the diligent
student. What other "messages" lay hidden behind the names in the Bible? The names of each of
the sons of Jacob have meanings. The resulting Twelve Tribes are listed in different orders
throughout the Bible. Do they spell out messages, too? Check it out.
Notes: (click on note number to return to text)
 See Pink, Jones, and Stedman in bibliography.
 Genesis 4:25.
 Genesis 4:26 is often mistranslated. Onkelos, et. al. read,
"then men began to profane the name of the Lord."
 Numbers 24:21, 23.
 Genesis 5:21, 24.
 Genesis 5:24.
 Genesis 4:19-25; rabbinical sources, re Kaplan, et.
Jones, Alfred, Dictionary of Old Testament
Proper Names, Kregel Publications, Grand
Rapids MI, 1990.
Kaplan, Rabbi Aryeh, The Living Torah,
Maznaim Publishing Corporation,
Pink, Arthur W., Gleanings in Genesis,
Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL, 1922.
Rosenbaum, M., and Silbermann, A.,
Pentateuch with Onkelos's Translation
(into Aramaic) and Rashi's Commentary,
Silbermann Family Publishers, Jerusalem,