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Why Did People In The Bible Live So Long

Mutations And Genetic Bottlenecks

Why did people in the Old Testament live so long?

A mutation is any change in the sequence of DNA.5 All known mutationscause a loss of information. The rate at which all types of mutations occur pergeneration has been suggested to be greater than 1,000.6 We inherit mutationsfrom our parents and also develop mutations of our own subsequently, wepass a proportion of those on to our children. So it is conceivable in the manygenerations between Adam and Moses that a large number of mutations wouldhave been present in any given individual.

Genetic bottlenecks occur when a significantproportion of the population dies or proportions become isolated. Such abottleneck occurred at the time of Noahs flood when the human populationwas reduced to eight people . Other smaller bottlenecks occurredfollowing the Tower of Babel dispersion . These events would haveresulted in a major reduction of genetic variety.

For every gene there are two or more versions called alleles. This is analogousto the color red but different shades of redlight and dark . It ispossible for good alleles to mask or hide bad alleles.However, in a smaller population with less allelic variation, this becomes moredifficult to accomplish, and thus mutated alleles have a greater effect.

Why Did People Live So Long Before The Flood

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The book of Genesis reports that people lived for hundreds of years. The most famous is Methuselah, who reportedly lived 969 years. This is very different from ordinary human experience today, as most people live into their 70s or 80s. How do we make sense of the long life-spans reported in Genesis?

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The Life Span Of Humans Opposed To Life Expectancy Which Is A Statistical Construct Hasnt Really Changed Much At All Walter Scheidel

There is a basic distinction between life expectancy and life span, says Stanford University historian Walter Scheidel, a leading scholar of ancient Roman demography. The life span of humans opposed to life expectancy, which is a statistical construct hasnt really changed much at all, as far as I can tell.

Life expectancy is an average. If you have two children, and one dies before their first birthday but the other lives to the age of 70, their average life expectancy is 35.

Thats mathematically correct and it certainly tells us something about the circumstances in which the children were raised. But it doesnt give us the full picture. It also becomes especially problematic when looking at eras, or in regions, where there are high levels of infant mortality. Most of human history has been blighted by poor survival rates among children, and that continues in various countries today.

The 6th-Century ruler Empress Suiko, who was Japans first reigning empress in recorded history, died at 74 years of age

This averaging-out, however, is why its commonly said that ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, lived to just 30 or 35. But was that really the case for people who survived the fragile period of childhood, and did it mean that a 35-year-old was truly considered old?

Chronological Index Of The Years And Times From Adam Unto Christ

How and why did people live so long in Genesis?

The following chronology is from the first edition of the King James version of the Bible printed by Philadelphia printer Matthew Carey in 1801. The Chronology given largely follows that of Rev. James Usshers Annals of the World, first published in 1658. Usshers chronology divided the worlds history into six ages, from creation to the fall of Jerusalem. Careys Bible has a heading noting the First Age, but, there are no headings for ensuing ages. From clearly marks the beginning of each age, however.

Proved by the Scriptures, from the Collection of divers Authors.

The sum of the years of the First Age.

From Adam unto Noahs flood are years 1656.For when Adam was 150 years old he begat Seth.Seth being 105 years, begat Enos.Enos, being 90 years, begat Cainan.Cainan, being 70 years, begat Mahaleel.Mahaleel, being 65 years, begat Jared.Jared, at the age of 162, begat Enoch.Enoch, being 65 years, begat Methuselah.Methuselah, at the age of 187, begat Lamech.Lamech, being 182 years, begat Noah.Noah, at the coming of the flood, was 600 years old, as appeareth in the 7th chap. of Genesis.

The whole sum of the years are 1656.

These accounted, are 422 years and ten days.

So this chronology is the 430 years mentioned in the 12th chap. of Exodus and the 3d chap. to the Galatians.

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How To Lengthen Life

The way to lengthen life is to eat a balanced diet, dont smoke, dont drink excessive amounts of alcohol, avoid drugs, particularly illicit drugs, and to exercise at least three times a week. A proper day of rest is also of supreme importance. Most people in Western Civilizations have at least one day of rest. For most of Western society it is Sunday. God commanded a Sabbath-rest in the Old Testament and there still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God today . God created us. He knows our bodies better than we do. He knows we need to rest and this is part of the reason He commanded the Sabbath day to rest. Most Christians rest on Sunday. In fact, as a former manager, I understood that most people can get more done on six days than in seven. This is because of the simple fact that a rest worker is a more productive and capable worker than if they work seven days a week, week after week.

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God Curses The Ground

After the fall of man, God said to Adam in Genesis 3:17-18, To Adam he said, Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, You must not eat from it, Cursed is the ground because of you through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. So here is part of the reason. The ground became difficult to work. Thorns and thistles were found in the earth and man had to work hard to produce food. The fall also may have produced disease and sickness since the ground was now cursed.

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Common Denominator Of All People Today

All people today go back to Noah and his wife . So, the genetics of reduced age has to come through them. Consider the name of Noah and the prophecy associated with it:

Genesis 5:29And he called his name Noah, saying, This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.

Noahs name literally means rest. This verse is obviously looking back to Genesis 3:1719, where the ground was cursed due to sin .

How can we have rest or comfort in this? It is by either better ways to doing the work . . . or not doing it as long. Commentators have long stated many ideas on this, such as Noah comforting us in being a type of Christ with the Ark. Others have pointed out that this relates to the post-Flood statement by God that He would no longer curse the ground due to mans sake, among other comments too.

Some have said that this was the advent of farming however, Adam worked the ground . So, this may not be the best interpretation. Consider this verse:

Revelation 14:13Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.

This verse gives support to the idea that rest or comfort from work and labor means that you have died. Lets face it: the people after Noah did not work for 900 years, but far less than that by the sheer fact that they did not live that long.

Long Life Spans In Genesis: Literal Or Symbolic

Why do people live so long in the book of Genesis?

We at BioLogos are often asked how we understand the long life spans attributed to the patriarchs in Genesis. There is no direct connection between these and the scientific theory of evolution, but I suppose some people think there is a problem for us since the ages given in the genealogies have been used to date the origin of humanity to the relatively recent past . Furthermore, it is charged, people living for more than 900 years stands in conflict with BioLogos acceptance of contemporary science. On this latter point, I should note that our acceptance of science does not at all imply that we think God never performs miracles. If God wanted to make Methuselah live to be 969 years old, we certainly believe that God could intervene in the natural order of things and make that happen. The question ratheras it should be for all biblical interpretationis whether that is really the message of the text.

There are 30 age numbers we can get from Genesis chapter 5three numbers for each of ten patriarchs: the age when a son was born, the number of years the patriarch lived after the son was born, and the total number of years the patriarch lived. For example, When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of Seth. The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were 800 years Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years . We get similar accounts of Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah .

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How And Why Did People In The Bible Live So Long

Why were life spans of people living in biblical times so much long then than they are today? What has changed? Why did people in the Old Testament live for hundreds of years before the flood drop dramatically after the flood? Why do people living today live much shorter life spans than in the days in which the Bible was written?

Long Lives In The Ancient Days

The first few humans recorded in the Bible, in particular the Old Testament, lived an exceedingly long number of years. Adam lived to the age of 930 years, his son Seth lived 912, his son Lamech lived 777 years, Lamechs son Noah lived to 950 years, his son Shem lived 600 years. There is a pattern that shows up. Progressively, each generation lived shorter and shorter lives. Adam was the first human created and must have been nearly perfect. They were more perfect in health, size, and stature. Perhaps the first generations of humans lived such long lives because they were so close to the man that God created and what God creates was perfect from the beginning. That is until sin entered the human race. Sin is destructive and the continuing sin through the generations had a cumulative effect. By the time Abraham was born, the life spans had shrunk considerably.

Even though Abraham lived to 175 years, Moses lived only 120 years. The effects of the fall of man, which happened in the Garden of Eden, had an effect. The creation had fallen with the fall of man. God cursed the land after Adam and Eve sinned. No longer would the environment be perfect. Even nature itself would be feeling the effects of sin.

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Why Did Man Live Longer Before The Flood

The Bible tell us that men who existed before the flood such as Adam lived 930 years, Jared lived to 962, and Jared’s grandson Methuselah lived the longest in history at 969 years! While the average age at death before the deluge was high, it averaged only 317 years for the ten generations following it.

Many who refuse to believe in the Bible say that the ages upon death found in the first several chapters of Genesis are nothing but fabrications and tall tales. Several things could have contributed to the shorter lifespans of man after the flood. Scripture denotes that the waters God brought on the earth would destroy not only animals by the earth itself.

And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them. And, behold, I will destroy them with the earth . . . And I will establish My covenant with you . . . Neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth .

The earth after the flood was dramatically different than it was before it. The differences included the altering of the climate, atmospheric changes, changes in the hydrologic cycle, geologic features, a significant increase in harmful radiation reaching ground level, man’s dietary habits went from solely plant-based to one where meat was eaten, and so on. These and many other factors led to man’s much shorter lifespans.

Being Pregnant Adversely Affects Your Immune System Then You Tend To Be Susceptible To Other Diseases Jane Humphries

Why did people live so long in the Bible?

We know, for example, that being pregnant adversely affects your immune system, because youve basically got another person growing inside you, says Jane Humphries, a historian at the University of Oxford. Then you tend to be susceptible to other diseases. So, for example, tuberculosis interacts with pregnancy in a very threatening way. And tuberculosis was a disease that had higher female than male mortality.

The Roman noble Julia the Elder died in the year 14 at the age of 54, but most sources agree her death was the untimely consequence of exile and imprisonment

Childbirth was worsened by other factors too. Women often were fed less than men, Gazzaniga says. That malnutrition means that young girls often had incomplete development of pelvic bones, which then increased the risk of difficult child labour.

The life expectancy of Roman women actually increased with the decline of fertility, Gazzaniga says. The more fertile the population is, the lower the female life expectancy.

Missing people

The difficulty in knowing for sure just how long our average predecessor lived, whether ancient or pre-historic, is the lack of data. When trying to determine average ages of death for ancient Romans, for example, anthropologists often rely on census returns from Roman Egypt. But because these papyri were used to collect taxes, they often under-reported men as well as left out many babies and women.

On the record

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Why Did People Live So Long In The Old Testament

One of the enduring questions about these early days after Creation, but before the flood, is how and why did people live so long?

Firstly, sin had only just entered the world. While there were sins, problems, and repercussions, many theologians point out that it has taken a stronger grip on people through time. While they died eventually, they were closer to Creation, and the way things ought to have been. There is also speculation that because the world was different before the flood, with higher barometric pressure and greater vegetation, that perhaps the climate was well-suited to longevity.

Ultimately, there is only one verse that may or may not indicate God putting a limit on the life of man. In Genesis 6:3, it says, Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years . While some argue this verse is the Lord capping mans lifespan, there is another camp which believes that this verse is God giving man 120 years until the Flood. Ultimately, there is no clear-cut answer as to why people lived so long in the Old Testament – even after the Flood. Some argue the years should be taken symbolically, rather than literally, however that does make some the ages of the fathers and their sons – including Enoch and Methuselah, impossible, as they would have been very young to father children.

Ask A Priest: Did Noah Really Live 900 Years

Q: I was going through RCIA class, but I stopped going because Im experiencing a period of doubt. What should I do when I happen across difficult Bible passages? Im experiencing doubt of the Bibles accuracy over the fact that Scripture records Noah and the other patriarchs as having lived over 900 years. When the Bible records the patriarchs to live to be over 900 years, is it literal or figurative truth? It just seems plainly unbelievable and actually silly to think that someone could live that long. What are your thoughts? Perhaps you can revive my faith. -C.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good to hear that you were in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The questions you raise are good, but your difficulties shouldnt dissuade you from continuing in the RCIA.

It is permissible for Catholics to believe that the long ages of the patriarchs are literal. But practically all Catholic interpreters consider the ages to be meant to teach us a theological truth, that sin brings with it death, expressed symbolically in the constantly decreasing number of years people lived.

Gods original plan for Adam and Eve was immortality they wouldnt die. But Adam and Eve fell, and sin entered the world. As we go through the Book of Genesis we see that the life spans of key figures get shorter. This seems to figuratively represent how sin brings death into the world.

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