The History of Noah (Genesis 5:3 – Genesis 6:9a)
Noah’s ancestry from Adam (Genesis 5:3 – Genesis 5:32)
The contents of this history of Noah includes tracing from Adam down to Noah, the birth of his three sons, and the development of wickedness in the pre-flood world.
Genesis 5:25-27 gives the history of Methuselah. In total, he lived 969 years the longest of any lifespan given in the Bible. From calculating the years from birth to birth (of Lamech, Noah, and age of Noah when the flood came) it would indicate that Methuselah died in the same year as the flood came. Whether he died in the flood or earlier in the year before the start of the Flood we have no evidence either way.
It should be noted here that the Masoretic text on which most translations are based differs from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) and the Samaritan Pentateuch. There are differences in the ages when they first became a father and differences in the years until their deaths after fathering their first son. However, the age at death is the same for all 8 in nearly every case. The differences are for Lamech in both LXX and SP and Methuselah for the SP. (These articles use the data from the NWT (Reference) Bible of 1984 Revision, based on the Masoretic text.)
Is the Masoretic text or the LXX text more likely to be corrupted with regard to the text and the ages of the Ante-Diluvian Patriarchs? Logic would suggest that it would be the LXX. The LXX initially would have had an extremely limited distribution in its early days, (mainly Alexandria), around the mid-3rd Century BCE c.250BCE, whereas at that time the Hebrew text which later became the Masoretic text was distributed widely in the Jewish world. It would therefore be much more difficult to introduce errors to the Hebrew Text.
The lifespans given in both LXX and Masoretic texts are much longer than we are used to today as are the years at which they became fathers. Typically, the LXX adds 100 years to these years and reduces the years after becoming a father by 100 years. However, does that mean that the age of deaths which are in hundreds of years are wrong, and is there any extra-biblical evidence of the lineage from Adam to Noah?
|First Son||Till Death||First Son||Till Death|
|Lamech||Genesis 5:25-27||182||595||188||565||777 (L 753)|
|Noah||Genesis 5:32||500||100 + 350||500||100 + 350||600 to Flood|
It appears there are some traces of longevity in ancient times in other civilizations. The New Ungers Bible Handbook states that “According to the Weld-Blundell Prism, eight antediluvian kings reigned over the lower Mesopotamian cities of Eridu, Badtibira, Larak, Sippar and Shuruppak; and the period of their combined rule totaled 241,200 years (the shortest reign being 18,600 years, the longest 43,200). Berossus, a Babylonian priest (3rd century B.C.), lists ten names in all (instead of eight) and further exaggerates the length of their reigns. Other nations too have traditions of primeval longevity.”[i] [ii]
The World becomes more wicked (Genesis 6:1-8)
Genesis 6:1-9 records how the spirit sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men and took many wives for themselves. (Genesis 6:2 in the LXX has “angels” instead of “sons”.) This resulted in the birth of hybrids, called Nephilim, which is Hebrew for “the fellers”, or “those who cause others to fall down” based on its root “naphal”, meaning “to fall”. Strong’s concordance translates it as “giants”.
It was at this time the Bible says that God decided to limit the lifespan of man to 120 years (Genesis 6:3). It is interesting to note that despite the advances of modern medicine in increasing the average life expectancy, those individuals living beyond 100 years are still very few. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “The oldest person to ever live and the oldest person ever (female) was Jeanne Louise Calment (b. 21 February 1875) from Arles, France who died at the age of 122 years and 164 days old.”[iii]. The oldest living person is “Kane Tanaka (Japan, b. 2 January 1903) is the oldest person living currently and the oldest person living (female) at the ripe age of 117 years and 41 days (verified on 12 February 2020)”.[iv] This would seem to verify that the practical limit of life in years for humans is 120 years, in accord with Genesis 6:3 written at least 3,500 years ago by Moses, and had compiled from historical records handed down to him from the time of Noah.
The badness that became rampant caused God to pronounce that he would wipe that wicked generation off the face of the earth, with the exception of Noah who found favor in the eyes of God (Genesis 6:8).
Genesis 6:9a – Colophon, “toledot”, Family History[v]
The Colophon of Genesis 6:9 simply states, “This is the History of Noah” and constitutes the third such section of Genesis. It omits when it was written.
The Writer or Owner: “of Noah”. The owner or writer of this section was Noah.
The description: “This is the history”.
[ii] https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/as11.pdf pdf page 81, book page 65
[iv] There have been claims by some of being in their 130’s +, but these obviously were not possible to verify.
[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colophon_(publishing) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Colophon
I thought your article was interesting and well thought out. You put a lot of effort into the data that you presented. I always imagined that Methuselah was one of the good guys. So when you suggested he may have vanished in the flood I was slightly taken back by it. I know you weren’t stating it as fact, more of a hypothesis, a mere possibility because the scriptures don’t elaborate on it. For some reason, that possibility never occurred to me, but if I had to guess, I would say he died prior to the flood. Thank you for… Read more »
Interesting article, thanks. Where I am more inclined towards the LXX dating is the period just after the flood. Otherwise I cannot see how the population would have grown fast enough to start building the Tower of Babel, and then spread out following the confusion of the languages.
Agreed. The post-flood era is what I meant by the patriarchal era. There are seven generations that have a combined 650 years difference between the LXX & SP (and Josephus) with the MT. That extra amount of years helps explain a lot of things.
Hi Tadua, I appreciate your efforts regarding Genesis. Regarding the 120 years mentioned in Gen 6:3, have you ever thought of the possibility that they refer to time left before the flood? There is an interesting comment in the NET Bible at that verse (footnote # 11): tn Heb “his days will be 120 years.” Some interpret this to mean that the age expectancy of people from this point on would be 120, but neither the subsequent narrative nor reality favors this. It is more likely that this refers to the time remaining between this announcement of judgment and the coming of… Read more »
Hi Bobcat Thank you for your post. In the past on more than one occasion I certainly have considered the reference to 120 years as being the time left to the Flood. On balance, because of the maximum age of humans being 120 years for a long period of time, I settled for that understanding, but in truth it could be either as there is simply not enough evidence either way. The fact that some immediately after the flood still lived longer than 120 years for a few generations would not affect the fact that the natural reduction of lifespan… Read more »