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Ancient Longevity

In earliest Bible History, before The Flood (see also How Big Was Noah's Ark?), and with a few exceptions after, people lived to ages that seem quite fantastic in comparison to what is normal today ("normal" is a relative term in that regard - life expectancy varies greatly around the world even now, from only about 35 in some places, to far over 85 in others. For those whose life expectancy is only in the thirties, hearing of someone a hundred years old would seem amazing too).

Methuselah Examples of ancient longevity -

"This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. Male and female He created them, and He blessed them and named them Man when they were created." [see The Creation Of Adam And Eve and Eve]

"When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died." [see The Line of Seth]

"When Seth had lived a hundred and five years, he became the father of Enosh. Seth lived after the birth of Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died."

"When Enosh had lived ninety years, he became the father of Kenan. Enosh lived after the birth of Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died."

"When Kenan had lived seventy years, he became the father of Mahalalel. Kenan lived after the birth of Mahalalel eight hundred and forty years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died."

"When Mahalalel had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Jared. Mahalalel lived after the birth of Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died."

"When Jared had lived a hundred and sixty-two years he became the father of Enoch. Jared lived after the birth of Enoch eight hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died."

"When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him."

"When Methuselah had lived a hundred and eighty-seven years, he became the father of Lamech. Methuselah lived after the birth of Lamech seven hundred and eighty-two years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died."

"When Lamech had lived a hundred and eighty-two years, he became the father of a son, and called his name Noah, saying, "Out of the ground which The Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands." Lamech lived after the birth of Noah five hundred and ninety-five years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years; and he died."

"After Noah was five hundred years old, Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth." (Genesis 5:1-32 RSV) [see The Sons Of Noah]

How Was It Possible?

God made it possible. God is God - He can do whatever He wants.

Almighty God has the power to create humans from the lifeless soil, and has the power to raise humans back to life after they have died. Compared to creation and resurrection, having humans live to a great old age, while they were already living, would seem the simplest of the three tasks.

When the time came that God (see Rock Of Ages and The Logos) didn't want humans to live as long as they did at first, He decreed it so: "Then The Lord said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." (Genesis 6:3 RSV). Not coincidentally, the record age for humans today is right at the 120 year level, exactly as God said in Genesis.

But Why So Long At First?

The Bible doesn't say. The most obvious possible reason is faster population growth, starting from just two people - in order to have larger families, they would naturally have to live longer. Preservation of knowledge in a new world, before writing was invented, or in wide use, is another. In societies that had no written records, the death of an elder was regarded to them then much like the burning of a library would seem to us now.

Fact Finder: Who was the most long-lived human on record?
Genesis 5:27


This Week's Bible Quiz

1. Where was the prophet Elijah from?

2. What sort of birds brought food to Elijah while he was hiding at the Kerith Ravine?

3. Did God ever raise anyone back to life through Elijah?

4. Where did Elijah confront and defeat 450 prophets of Baal?

5. What was the name of the wicked queen who tried to have Elijah killed?

6. Who was chosen to succeed Elijah as prophet?

7. How did Elijah depart when his time of service was completed?

8. When Elisha was attacked by a very large gang of youths, how did he defend himself?

9. Did Elisha, through the power that God gave him, ever miraculously part the waters of the Jordan River?

10. After Elisha died, what happened to a dead man whose body had been thrown into Elisha's tomb?

For the answers to this March 28 2000 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page


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