The primary question is:
Is there something that the original audience would have found shocking or odd about Enoch (assuming this reader is familiar with the seventh antediluvian figure in earlier traditions)?
Here are some reasonable conclusions the original audience could reach:
- They would find little or no connection between Enmeduranki and Enoch but would see a connection to Methuselah. They would also recognize there are stronger connections to the list of Cain's descendants, than to the Patriarchs in Genesis 5.
- They could show the Hebrew writer used the Sumerian sexagesimal system to describe key events in the Genesis flood narrative.
- They could show a connection between Methuselah's life and the sexagesimal reigns of the Sumerian figures and show the Sumerian kingship begins when Enoch was taken by God.
In general there are good reasons any reader familiar with the Sumerian antediluvian figures would see a stronger correspondence to the descendants of Cain than the Patriarchs of Genesis 5.
First, a key characteristic in the Sumerian list is the placement of the kingship in a city:1
This has its parallels to Cain and his son Enoch:
Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. (Genesis 4:16-17) [ESV]
Given the significance the Sumerian accounts place on a king's reign in a city, a reader would note this correspondence to Cain's descendants and see two additional connections: the number of kings and “professions:”
Kings Genesis 4
Dumuzid (a shepherd) Methushael
En-men-dur-ana Jabal (dwell in tents and have livestock)
Ubara-Tutu Jubal (play the lyre and pipe)
The number in the Genesis 4 list agrees with the eight Sumerian figures.
Similarly, a profession or skill is only found only in Genesis 4. The audience would also discern how these associations create a positive impression to the Sumerian account since the Genesis narrative means Dumuzid had a profession like Abel’s. Also, the Sumerian account implies living in the city comes from god (since the divine kingship belongs in a city) while the Genesis account connects dwelling in tents (i.e. not in a city) with Cain’s descendants. Very likely the original audience who understood their lineage (by oral tradition) to Adam through Seth, would be surprised to see the contrast in key figures (like Abram) who lived in a manner handed down through Cain while a Sumerian king was shown to live like the righteous Abel.
If the original audience was familiar with the different versions of the Sumerian accounts which associate the longest reign to the second king and the shortest reign to the seventh (MS 2855) , they could show how this variation draws upon both Genesis 4 and 5 where each can be understood as giving preference to Enoch:
Genesis 4: The first city is named after Enoch
Genesis 5: Enoch had the shortest life span and was taken
Therefore, if a preference is seen, the reader of Genesis would likely understand differences between the versions of the Sumerian list are following the pattern of emphasis to an Enoch of Genesis 4 or Genesis 5.
Of particular interest to the OP is the number of years Enoch lived. All readers would reasonably see this number as one which corresponds to the number of days in a solar year. The significance would be symbolic, as it is reflects a year-day relationship. However, the Genesis audience would find no numerical or mathematical operation which would give a correspondence to this number, or any number of the years listed in Genesis 5 to the reigns of any Sumerian king:
Kings Reign Patriarch Age at Son Age after Son Age at Death
[Adam-assumed] Adam 130 800 930
Alulim 28,800 Seth 105 807 912
Alalngar 36,000 Enosh 90 815 905
En-men-lu-ana 43,200 Kenan 70 840 910
En-men-gal-ana 28,800 Mahalalel 65 830 895
Dumuzid 36,000 Jared 162 800 962
En-sipad-zid 28,800 Enoch 65 300 365
En-men-dur-ana 21,000 Methuselah 187 782 969
Ubara-Tutu 18,600 Lamech 182 595 777
[Ziusidra] Noah 500 350 950
First, a reader who attempted to align Enmeduranki with the Patriarchs of Genesis 5, would probably not start with Adam. The Patriarchal list must be reduced by two names; Adam and Noah are the obvious candidates. Furthermore, it makes little sense to begin a kingship with the first man. So a reader is more likely to choose Methuselah as the seventh Patriarch. (Following the same logic aligns Lamech in Genesis 4 with En-sipad-zid who reigned from the city of Larak. The similarity of names (Lamech/Larak) would likely be seen as an additional reference to Genesis 4.)
Second, the reader would note a fundamental difference between the way time is recorded in the two lists. The Genesis narrative uses precise numbers while the Sumerian list uses round numbers which also appear to be purposely arranged. Also, Genesis shows a Patriarch lived concurrently with more than one future “elder statesman,” where the Sumerian account appears to describe the typical royal succession where the son succeeds his father:
Two of the Patriarchs, Enoch and Lamech, died or left the earth before their fathers and did not achieve the position of “oldest Patriarch.” Or, to apply the Sumerian construct, Enoch and Lamech were born in the royal family, yet they never reigned. When those 2 names are dropped, the number of Patriarchs aligns with the Sumerian figures. Again, the original audience would see no direct correspondence with the Genesis 5 Enoch to any Sumerian figure but a reader might correlate the number of kings to the number of Patriarchs who outlived their father. Significantly, Methuselah would be counted as the seventh Patriarch; considered the final "elder" Patriarch before the flood and after Adam, had the longest period of being the oldest Patriarch.
Since the lengths of reigns of the Sumerian figures are unrealistic by Biblical standards, a sexagesimal (base 60) system is assumed to be in use by the Sumerians:
King Reign Multiple of 360 Partial Period
Alulim 28,800 years 80 -
Alalngar 36,000 years 100 -
En-men-lu-ana 43,200 years 120 -
En-men-gal-ana 28,800 years 80 -
Dumuzid 36,000 years 100 -
En-sipad-zid 28,800 years 80 -
En-men-dur-ana 21,000 years 58 120
Ubara-Tutu 18,600 years 51 240
Total 241,200 years 669 360
The first six kings reign for a period which is a multiple of 360; the seventh and eighth each have a partial period, which combine to make 360. The total of completed reigns is 669.
Some scholars, like Carol A. Hill, believe Hebrew scribes were unaware of and confused by the Sumerian methodology.2 Yet the Genesis audience would conclude the passage of time during the flood was measured using 30-day months:
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. (Genesis 7:11)
...At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:3-4)
The flood began on the 17th day of the second month; 150 days later on the 17th day of the seventh month the Ark came to rest. Therefore a month had 30-days (150 days for 5 months) and a year would have 360-days. So the Genesis audience would see a "divine" sexagesimal system in use during the flood account and would note how this contrasts with a calendar based on the sun (the implication of Enoch's 365-year life span).3
Now if the audience were to calculate the timelines of the Patriarch’s life following the Sumerian concept of a reign where a son follows his father, they would find the connection to Methuselah:
Year Died Years after father
Patriarch Year Born or Taken died or was taken
Adam 0 930 930
Seth 130 1042 112
Enosh 235 1140 98
Kenan 325 1235 95
Mahalalel 395 1290 55
Jared 460 1422 132
Enoch 622 987 -
Methuselah 687 1656 669
Lamech 874 1651 -
The number of years Methuselah lived after Enoch was taken, 669, is identical to the number of full sexagesimal reigns. Also, both lists end with the flood. Using the Genesis narrative and dates, the Sumerian list begins in the year 987 when Enoch is taken by God.4
Once the reader of Genesis applies the nature of time in the Sumerian list, they would recognize the connection to Enoch is found in how the Sumerian list is introduced:
Enoch walked with God, After the kingship
and he was not, for descended from heaven…
God took him (5:24)
Methuselah, lived for 669 Eight kings reigned for 669
years before the flood reigns before the flood
The Sumerian account works with Genesis to imply a "divine exchange." Enoch was taken by God and the Sumerian kingship descended to man.
When completed sexagesimal periods are used the 669 reigns equals the number of years Methuselah lived after Enoch was taken. Given the precision and unusual nature of this number and how it is embedded and must be calculated in both the Genesis account and the Sumerian list, it is unlikely this is a coincidence.
The correspondence of the number 669, which also comes to an end at the flood in both accounts, leads to one of two possibilities:
- The Sumerian list of reigns was contrived to total 669 sexagesimal periods to match the actual number of years Methuselah lived after Enoch.
- The life spans of the Patriarchs were contrived so as to give Methuselah the number of years after his father was taken equaling the combined reigns of the Sumerian figures.
Option 1 is the more reasonable conclusion.
The reigns of the first six Sumerian figures appears to be arranged. The first, fourth, and sixth figures have identical reigns as do the second and fifth.5 In addition:
When the kingdom durations of the antediluvian section are expressed in an early sexagesimal numerical system, all durations except two are expressed as multiples of 602. A simple tally of the ciphers used yields six 10x602 signs, six 602 signs and six 60 signs.6
These unnatural aspects to the list are characteristics of a mythic account.
Therefore, assuming the historicity of Genesis, means the Sumerian myth was developed from the Hebrew tradition (oral at the time the Sumerian's wrote): the antediluvian list was constructed as a myth which could be used to legitimize a king ruling over a city.
Using eight figures is taken from both Cain's descendants and the survivors of the flood. It also can be loosely to the Patriarchs in Genesis 5 (as the OP has done). The number eight may have been chosen because of significance in Sumerian astrology or numerology or, conversely, the number eight may have been given significance because of the actual events.
1. Some accounts also include a subtotal of the length of reign by city.
2. Carol A. Hill, "Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis", Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Dec 2003, p. 241
3. This would support the Sumerian legend which states the seventh king ascended to heaven to obtain divine knowledge. Thus, a sexagesimal system follows the divine system while the Hebrews (and others) rely on created objects.
4. Starting the reigns about 1,000 years after creation is more reasonable than with Adam, Cain, or Seth, since those kingships would have no subjects.
5. The Sumerian reigns of 80 have a correspondence with the number of years both Adam and Jared lived after the birth of their sons (800). Thus the first man and Enoch's father (the sixth) lived 800 years corresponding to the first and sixth kings who reigned for 80 sexagesimal periods.
6. The Antediluvian Patriarchs and the Sumerian King List.