Antediluvians

Antediluvians people who lived before the Deluge (q.v.), which occurred A.M. 1657. SEE AGE. All our authentic information respecting this long and interesting period is contained in forty-nine verses of Genesis (4:16; 6:8), more than half of which are occupied with a list of names and ages, invaluable for chronology, but conveying no particulars regarding the primeval state of man. The information thus afforded, although so limited in extent, is, however, eminently suggestive (see Clarkson, Antediluvian Researches, Lond. 1836; Boucher d. Perthes, L'Homme Antedilucien, Par. 1860; Stein, De moribus ante diluvium, Wittenb. 1783; Burton, World before the Flood, Lond. 1844; Redslob, De Antediluvianis, Hamb. 1847; Willesch, De philosophia antediluvianorum, Leipz. 1717; Jour. Sac. Lit. July, 1862, p. 376 sq.). Some additional information, though less direct, may be safely deduced from the history of Noah and the first men after the Deluge; for it is very evident that society did not begin afresh after that event, but that, through Noah and his sons, the new families of men were in a condition to inherit, and did inherit, such sciences and arts as existed before the Flood. This enables us to understand how settled and civilized communities were established, and large and magnificent works undertaken within a few centuries after the Deluge.

The scriptural notices show, SEE ADAM, that the father of men was something more than "the noble savage," or rather the grown-up infant, which some have represented him. He was an instructed man; and the immediate descendants of a man so instructed could not be an ignorant or uncultivated people. It is not necessary, indeed, to suppose that they possessed at first more cultivation than they required; and for a good while they did not stand in need of that which results from or is connected with the settlement of men in organized communities. They probably had this before the Deluge, and at first were possessed of whatever knowledge or civilization their agricultural and pastoral pursuits required. Such were their pursuits from the first; for it is remarkable that of the strictly savage or hunting condition of life there is not the slightest trace before the Deluge. After that event, Nimrod, although a hunter (Ge 10:9), was not a savage, and did not belong to hunting tribes of men. In fact, barbarism is not discoverable before the confusion of tongues, and was, in all likelihood, a degeneracy from a state of cultivation, eventually produced in particular communities by that great social convulsion. At least, that a degree of cultivation was the primitive condition of man, from which savage life in particular quarters was a degeneracy, and that he has not, as too generally has been supposed, worked himself up from an original savage state to his present position, has been powerfully argued by Dr. Philip Lindsley (Am. Bib. Repos. 4, 277-298; 6:127), and is strongly corroborated by the conclusions of modern ethnographical research; from which we learn that, while it is easy for men to degenerate into savages, no example has been found of savages rising into civilization but by an impulse from without administered by a more civilized people; and that, even with such impulse, the vis inertiae of established habits is with difficulty overcome. The aboriginal traditions of all civilized nations describe them as receiving their civilization from without — generally through the instrumentality of foreign colonists: and history affords no example of a case parallel to that which must have occurred if the primitive races of men, being originally savage, had civilized themselves.

All that was peculiar in the circumstances of the antediluvian period was eminently favorable to civilization. The longevity of the earlier seventeen or twenty centuries of human existence is a theme containing many problems. It may be here referred to for the purpose of indicating the advantages which must necessarily have therefrom accrued to the mechanical arts. In pottery, mining, metallurgy, clothmaking, the applications of heat and mixtures, etc., it is universally known that there is a tact of manipulation which no instruction can teach, which the possessor cannot even describe, yet which renders him powerful and unfailing, within his narrow range, to a degree almost incredible; and when he has reached his limit of life he is confident that, had he another sixty or seventy years to draw upon, he could carry his art to a perfection hitherto unknown. Something like this must have been acquired by the antediluvians; and the paucity of objects within their grasp would increase the precision and success within the range. SEE LONGEVITY.

Bible concordance for ANTEDILUVIANS.

By reason of their length of life the antediluvians had also more encouragement in protracted undertakings, and stronger inducements to the erection of superior, more costly, more durable, and more capacious edifices and monuments, public and private, than exist at present. They might reasonably calculate on reaping the benefit of their labor and expenditure. The earth itself was probably more equally fertile, and its climate more uniformly healthful and more auspicious to longevity, and consequently to every kind of mental and corporeal exertion and enterprise, than has been the case since the great convulsion which took place at the Deluge.

But probably the greatest advantage enjoyed by the antediluvians, and which must have been in the highest degree favorable to their advancement in the arts of life, was the uniformity of language. Nothing could have tended more powerfully to maintain, equalize, and promote whatever advantages were enjoyed, and to prevent any portion of the human race from degenerating into savage life. SEE CONFUSION OF TONGUES.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

The opinion that the old world was acquainted with astronomy (q.v.) is chiefly founded on the ages of Seth and his descendants being particularly set down (Ge 5:6 sq), and the precise year, month, and day being stated in which Noah and his family, etc., entered the ark, and made their egress from it (Ge 7:11; Ge 8:13). The distinctions of day and night, and the lunar month, were of course observed; and the thirteenth rotation of the moon, compared with the sun's return to his primary position in theheavens, and the effects produced on the earth by his return, would point out the year. SEE MONTH. The variation between the rotations of the moon and sun easily became discoverable from the difference which in a very few years would be exhibited in the seasons; and hence it may be supposed that, although the calculations of time might be by lunar months or revolutions, yet the return of vegetation would dictate the solar year. SEE YEAR. The longevity of the antediluvian patriarchs, and the simplicity of their employments, favor this conjecture, which receives additional strength from the fact that the Hebrew for year, שָׁנָה, implies an iteration, a return to the same point, a repetition (Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 1448); and it is also remarkable that the Indians, Chinese, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and other nations, all deduce their origin from personages said to be versed in astronomy. SEE TIME. — The knowledge of zoology (q.v.) which Adam possessed was doubtless imparted to his children; and we find that Noah was so minutely informed on the subject as to distinguish between clean and unclean beasts, and that his instructions extended to birds of every kind (Ge 7:2-4). — A knowledge of some essential principles in botany (q.v.) is shown by the fact that Adam knew how to distinguish "seed-bearing herb" and "tree in which is a seed-bearing fruit," with "every green herb" (Ge 1:29-30). The trees of life and of knowledge are the only ones mentioned before the Fall; but in the history of Noah the vine, the olive, and the wood of which the ark was made (Ge 6:14; Ge 8:11; Ge 9:20) are spoken of in such a manner as clearly to intimate a knowledge of their qualities. — With mineralogy (q.v.) the antediluvians were at least so far acquainted as to distinguish metals; and in the description of the garden of Eden gold and precious stones are noticed (Ge 2:12).

That the antediluvians were acquainted with music (q.v.) is certain; for it is expressly said that Jubal (while Adam was still alive) became "the father of those who handle the כּנּוֹר, kinnor, and the עוּגָב, ug, ab" (Ge 4:21). The former, SEE HARP, was evidently a stringed instrument resembling a lyre; and the latter, SEE LYRE, was without doubt the Pandeean pipe, composed of reeds of different lengths joined together. This clearly intimates considerable progress in the science; for it is not probable that the art of playing on wind and on stringed instruments was discovered at the same time. We may rather suppose that the principles of harmony, having been discovered in the one, were by analogy transferred to the other; and that Jubal, by repeated efforts, became the first performer on the harp and the pipe. SEE ART.

Our materials are too scanty to allow us to affirm that the antediluvians possessed the means of communicating their ideas by writing (q.v.) or by hieroglyphics, although tradition, and a hint or two in the Scriptures, might support the assertion. With respect to poetry (q.v.), the story of Lamech and his wives (Ge 4:19-24) is evidently in verse, and is most probably the oldest specimen of Hebrew poetry extant; but whether it was written before or after the Flood is uncertain, although the probability is that it is one of those previously-existing documents which Moses transcribed into his writing.

With regard to architecture (q.v.), it is a singular and important fact that Cain, when he was driven from his first abode, built a city in the land to which he went, and called it Enoch, after his son. This shows that the descendants of Adam lived in houses and towns from the first, and consequently affords another confirmation of the argument for the original cultivation of the human family. What this "city" was is not mentioned, except in the term itself; and as that term is in the early Scriptures applied to almost every collection of human habitations, we need not attach any very exalted ideas to it in this instance. But if we take into view the requisites necessary to enable Noah to erect so stupendous a fabric as the ark (q.v.) must have been, it will not be difficult to conceive that the art of building had reached considerable advancement before the Deluge; nor can one reflect on the building of Babel without a conviction that it must have been through the great patriarchs who lived in the old world that so much knowledge was obtained as to lead to the attempt of erecting a fabric whose summit was intended to reach the clouds. It is not likely that the builders would, by their own intuitive genius, be equal to a task which they certainly were not inspired by Heaven to execute.

The metallurgy (q.v.) of the antediluvians appears to have originated with the line of Cain (Ge 4:22), being carried to a high degree of perfection, so far as forging and tempering are concerned, by Tubal-Cain (q.v.). — Respecting agriculture (q.v.), which was evidently the first employment of Adam (Ge 2:15; Ge 3:17-18), and, afterward, at first of Cain (Ge 4:2), we shall only add a reference to the case of Noah, who, immediately after the Flood, became a husbandman, and planted a vineyard. He also knew the method of fermenting the juice of the grape; for it is said he drank of the wine, which produced inebriation (Ge 9:20-21). This knowledge he doubtless obtained from his progenitors anterior to the destruction of the old world.

Pasturage (q.v.) appears to have been coeval with husbandry. Abel was a keeper of sheep, while his brother was a tiller of the ground (Ge 4:2); but there is no necessity for supposing that Cain's husbandry excluded the care of cattle. The class of tentd-welling pastors — that is, of those who live in tents that they may move with their flocks and herds from one pasture-ground to another — did not originate till comparatively late after the Fall; for Jabal, the seventh from Adam in the line of Cain, is said to have been the "father" or founder of that mode of life (Ge 4:20). It is doubtful whether the manufacture of cloth is involved in the mention of tents, seeing that excellent tent-coverings are even at this day made of skins; and we know that skins were the first articles of clothing used by fallen man (Ge 3:21). The same doubt applies to the garment with which the sons of Noah covered their inebriated father (Ge 9:23). But, upon the whole, there can be little doubt that, in the course of so long a period, the art of manufacturing cloths of hair and wool, if not of linen or cotton, had been acquired. SEE WEAVING. It is impossible to speak with any decision respecting the form or forms of government which prevailed before the Deluge. The slight intimations to be found on the subject seem to favor the notion that the particular governments were patriarchal, subject to a general theocratical control, God himself manifestly interfering to uphold the good and check the wicked. The right of property was recognised, for Abel and Jabal possessed flocks, and Cain built a city. As ordinances of religion, sacrifices certainly existed (Ge 4:4), and some think that the Sabbath was observed; while some interpret the words, "Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord" (Ge 4:26), to signify that public worship then began to be practiced. From Noah's familiarity with the distinction of clean and unclean beasts (Ge 7:2), it would seem that the Levitical rules on this subject were by no means new when laid down in the code of Moses. SEE WORSHIP.

Marriage (q.v.), and all the relations springing from it, existed from the beginning (Ge 2:23-25); and, although polygamy was known among the antediluvians (Ge 4:19), it was most probably unlawful; for it must have been obvious that, if more than one wife had been necessary for a man, the Lord would not have confined the first man to one woman. The marriage of the sons of Seth with the daughters of Cain appears to have been prohibited, since the consequence of it was that universal depravity in the family of Seth so forcibly expressed in this short passage, "All flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth" (Ge 7:11). This sin, described Orientally as an intermarriage of "the sons of God" with "the daughters of men" (Ge 6:2), appears to have been in its results one of the grand causes of the Deluge; for if the family of Seth had remained pure and obedient to God, he would doubtless have spared the world for their sake, as he would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah had ten righteous men been found there, and as he would have spared his own people, the Jews, had they not corrupted themselves by intermarriages with the heathen. Even the longevity of the antediluvians may have contributed to this ruinous result. Vastly more time was upon their hands than was needful for clearing woodlands, draining swamps, and other laborious and tedious processes, in addition to their ordinary agriculture and care of cattie; so that the temptations to idleness were likely to be very strong; and the next step would be to licentious habits and selfish violence. The ample leisure possessed by the children of Adam might have been employed for many excellent purposes of social life and religious obedience, and undoubtedly it was so employed by many; but to the larger part it became a snare and the occasion of temptations, so that "the wickedness of man became great, the earth was corrupt before God, and was filled with violence" (Crit. Bibl. 4, 14-20; see also Ant. U. Hist. 1, 142-201). SEE DELUGE.

 
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