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Also See Did Methuselah Die During the Global Flood? (below)

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Adam lived 930 years - "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." (Gen 5:5)

Seth lived 912 years - "And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died." (Gen 5:8)

Methuselah lived 969 years - "And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died." (Gen 5:27)

Did people in the Old Testament really live as long as the Bible states, or were biblical years different from ours? The Bible is not alone in claiming life spans much longer than we can imagine. Ancient Mesopotamian records contain some corroborative evidence. Stories from the ancient Akkadian and Sumerian cultures declare that their most ancient kings lived thousands of years each. The "Weld-Blundell Prism " for example, written about 2170 B. C., speaks of eight pre-flood rulers each reigning for several thousand years.

One school of thought claims that the ancient calendar made the year a month, or one lunar period. Others assert that a year equals one growing season of three or four months. One group says that a year in the bible was actually three months from Adam till Abraham, eight months till Joseph's time, and twelve months thereafter. No scriptural evidence has been presented for any of these ‘theories’ and nothing in the Bible indicates that pre-flood years were significantly shorter than ours. References to agriculture indicate that the ancients counted years similarly to the way we do. Some early Mesopotamian records (circa 1500 B. C.) indicate a calendar of twelve months, each month 30 days long. We have no record of any ancient society counting a shorter year. The Mesopotamians were fully aware that their twelve 30-day months fell short of a year by a little more than five days. With variations from one society to another, the ancients typically celebrated a set of festival days every few years or so to make up the difference.

If we accept the idea that one-year actually equaled one month of our time, Enoch would have been five years old when his son Methuselah was born! The age of all the patriarchs at the birth of their children would be equally ridiculous.

After the fall, the genetic line of Adam and his descendents was very pure, so their health would have been incredible.  Living that long would not have been a problem.   Also, some theologians think that there was a canopy of water that engulfed the entire earth and that it was released at the time of the flood.  "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened," (Gen 7:11).  This would account for the fossil record, which indicates sub-tropical vegetation all over the earth at some time in earth's past. In such a moist atmosphere growth would have been greatly stimulated (for both man and animals), the oxygen content could have been much higher than present day conditions, man could have been stronger with greater endurance tending to longevity. No rain is recorded in the Bible until after the flood which seems to support this idea.  This is, however, a theory but it is evident from the Bible that after the flood the lifespan of people was greatly reduced. .  "Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years," (Gen 6:3). 

This all seems to explain why there is a steady progression of declining ages of men as their distance from the Creation increases. Adam lived 930 years, his son Seth lived 912 years. Lamech, his son, lived 777 years. Noah (Lamech’s son) lived 950 years. Shem, his son, lived 600 years. Shem's son (Arphaxad) lived 438 years. Arphaxad's son Salah lived 403 years. Skipping a few generations to Abraham the count goes down to 175 years. A few generations later Moses lived 120 years, which is not an unknown age for people to live to in our own time.

Also Adam was commanded by God to limit his diet to vegetables (Genesis 1:29) but Noah was permitted (after the flood) to eat meat (Genesis 9:2-3). A diet, which includes meat introduces a sufficient concentration of heavy elements into the body as to prove life-threatening after a few hundred years, but is negligible as a health threat up to the age of 120 (except in cases of extreme industrial pollution).


Did Methuselah Die During the Global Flood?
by Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

In Genesis chapter 5, Moses recorded the genealogy of Adam. The name that commonly stands out in that list is Methuselah. Methuselah is the oldest person recorded in Scripture, and his name is often used today when referring to something or someone very old. In verse 21 of that chapter, we learn that Methuselah was the son of Enoch. We are then informed:

    Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and begot Lamech. After he begot Lamech, Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died. Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years and had a son (vss. 25-28).

Lamech’s son was Noah. The Bible records in Genesis 7:6 that Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters were on the Earth. In light of this information, we can take the age of Methuselah when Lamech was born (187), add to that Lamech’s age when he begot Noah (182) and the age of Noah when the floodwaters came (600), and determine that Methuselah was 969 years old the year the Flood occurred [187+182+600=969]. Since Genesis 5:27 indicates this was the age at which Methuselah died, it is logical to conclude that he died the year of the Flood. However, the Bible does not indicate that he died as a result of the Flood. [Remember, his father was Enoch, one of a select few who walked with God and was taken directly by God, not experiencing death. Thus, Methuselah’s father was a very righteous man, who undoubtedly set a proper example for his son.] While the exact meaning of Methuselah’s name is unknown, many scholars have suggested that it means: “When he dies, it shall be sent,” implying that the Flood would result when Methuselah died (Morris, 1976, p. 160). But, here again, we cannot be certain and should not be dogmatic.


Morris, Henry (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

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