Prehistoric Man

By Tom Edwards

Since prehistoric simply means “of or pertaining to the time prior to recorded history” (Webster), how can that phrase still be used when even the very first day of creation is recorded in the Bible, along with the six following days and what God did on each of those days? Recorded is the account of the first man and the first woman, their descendants, and events from that time that are also included in the book of Genesis to give us a look at the world in that beginning and early period of man.

As the Bible points out, Adam was created in the image of God, along with a female counterpart to be his wife and helper. They were given dominion over all else that had been made. They were to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:26-28). We are even shown of their diet to have been vegetarian at that time: Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you? (v. 29) — even the animals were then vegetarian, rather than carnivorous (v. 30).

We are also given the names of these first two people: “Adam” (Gen. 2:20) and “Eve” (Gen. 3:20). “Adam” is a transliteration from the Hebrew word “adam” and is said to mean “red earth” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary). It is also the same Hebrew word that is found in 348 other Bible verses where, instead of being used as a proper noun, it is used as a common noun that is translated primarily as “man,” and in 9 verses as “mankind.” It is also translated as “human” (19 times), “person” (6), “anyone” (4), and some other ways in the NASB.

By the way, the Hebrew word for “ground,” which the flesh of Adam was made from (Gen. 2:7), is “adamah.” And though that verse actually says “dust of the ground,” yet “dust” itself is defined by James Strong “(as powdered or gray); hence clay, earth, mud.”

We are also told of where that first couple lived, in the garden of Eden, and of the four specific rivers that flowed from the main river running through the garden (Gen. 2:8-14). Two we are probably more familiar with: the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.

Adam was to take care of the garden (Gen. 2:15); and from any tree in it, they could freely eat — except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (vv. 16,17).

Adam also had the responsibility of naming all the animals that God had made (vv. 19-20).

We are told of the how and why that Eve came about (vv. 18,21-25)—because it was not good for the man to be alone. Perhaps God did it that way to symbolically show how much the wife was to be a part of her husband’s life, since she was made from Adam’s rib, which God fashioned into a woman.

On and on, we could continue with early events that this first couple on earth experienced, such as their sin and expulsion from the garden (Gen. 3); their children and other descendants (beginning in chapter 4 and more seen in chapter 5); the corruption that led up to the days of Noah, and God’s specific instructions to Noah in building an ark; the great universal flood, and the time spent on the ark (Gen. 6-8). Noah and his family back on dry ground to repopulate the earth, given the promise that God would never again destroy the entire earth with a flood, and now allowed to also include meat in their diets (Gen. 9). More descendants listed in Genesis 10. The Tower of Babel, and the beginning of the different languages; those of the same language going off into their own groups and being scattered abroad over all the earth; and another genealogical record including ages at death and ending in Genesis 11 with Abraham, along with mentioning that his father passed away in Haran. The history then continues of Abraham, followed by Isaac, Jacob, and others through the rest of Genesis—and especially of Joseph in chapter 37 and his time in Egypt in chapters 39-48 and also in chapter 50 which ends with his death.

These are all historical events from a most reliable source. The word "Genesis" actually means "an origin, creation, or beginning" (Webster), which is well-fitting for this first book of the Bible. Genesis covers about a 2,400-year period from Adam (at the beginning of the Creation) to the death of Joseph.

“Prehistoric man,” however, is often depicted as having evolved from an apelike creature, but slowly developing more of today’s human characteristics through long periods of time. In his early version, his vocabulary is sometimes portrayed as not much more than a few different kinds of grunts or other sounds.

But how does that compare with the very first man Adam who was articulate? He communicated with God, with his wife, and had the responsibility of giving names to all the animals. In speaking of his wife, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). And Eve, when tempted to take of the forbidden fruit, said to the tempter, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ’You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die”? (Gen. 3:2,3). Both Adam and Eve could well communicate — and could understand not only each other, but also what God had been saying to them.

According to a published paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the earliest evidence of man’s use of fire goes back to 1 million years ago; and since evolution teaches that man began evolving from an apelike creature 6 million years ago, then that was about 5 million years before he was able to master the use of fire.

But the Bible, which does not teach the general theory of evolution, nor of man being millions of years on this planet, shows Abel, the son of the first man Adam, offering “the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions” as an offering to God (Gen. 4:4). Would we not assume that fire was used with that sacrifice? During the Mosaical Period, God’s instruction with regard to the firstborn of an ox, a sheep, or a goat was that they were not to be redeemed. Rather, “You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall offer up their fat in smoke as an offering by fire, for a soothing aroma to the Lord. Their meat shall be yours; it shall be yours like the breast of a wave offering and like the right thigh” (Num. 18:17-18). This period of time, however, was about 2,500 years after the time of Abel.

Job, however, was a man who lived during the Patriarchal Age. In a chronological reading of the Bible, the book of Job is placed right after Genesis 11, which mentions Abram’s birth in the end of that chapter and goes more into the life of Abram in Genesis 12. But notice Job 18:5: “Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out, And the flame of his fire gives no light.” And in Job 23:10: “...When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Many centuries later, God said through Isaiah, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10, ESV). The use of fire appears to have been very early in the history of man.

Concerning Adam and Eve’s first two sons, “...Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground” (Gen. 4:4).

Cain had a son named Enoch who built a city (Gen. 4:17). Enoch became the father of Irad, who became the father of Mehujael, who became the father of Methushael, who became the father of Lamech. And Lamech became the father of Jabal who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock, which indicates a nomadic way of life, that kind that is still practiced in some parts of the world today. Lamech was also the father of Jubal who was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe (Gen. 4:20, 21), which is also referred to as stringed and wind instruments. Isn’t it interesting that even way back then, just 8 generations from Adam, the world had musical instruments? Lamech was also the father of Tubal-cain who was a forger of all implements of bronze and iron. How creative man was—even way back then in the most ancient of history!

I suppose the speculation of some would be that these individuals even Adam and Eve were not until some billions of years after the earth was made. For the general theory of evolution teaches that it took about 4 billion years since the beginning of the earth until man evolved into being similar to how he is today. Yet, as we have recently seen, it was “In the beginning” that God “created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). And man was made on the 6th day of creation (Gen. 1:24-31), with each day, being like our 24-hour day, having its evening and a morning (Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23, 31). So man did not begin 4 billion years after the earth had begun, but within the first week! Jesus’ declaration in Mark 10:6 also confirms this: “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.”

The depiction of early man through the eyes of many today is far different from what is revealed in God’s word. And while man’s depiction is from the mind of man, God’s word, the Bible, contains His trustworthy account of those portions of His creation and the events that occurred, which He has seen fit to reveal through His divinely inspired word. What history book could be more authoritative and enlightening of actual fact? For God has never had to speculate, assume, or guess of these things in His account.

May we all, therefore, take the time to read this most important of all books the Bible. For it is more than a story. More than just a true account. For it also shows the way for fallen man to come back to His Creator, to be redeemed and brought into a meaningful relationship with God, which becomes a way of life -- and a life that ultimately leads to the blissfulness of heaven’s glory forevermore!

So may it be a book we each learn to love more and more as we repeatedly consider it, find great comfort in meditating upon it, and enjoy the blessings of God in living according to it -- throughout all our days. And for the world, in general, how wonderfully improved the present, the future, and the history of man would be if each one of us would do this!

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