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Holy Spirit Interactive Youth: Bible Geek: Why Are People So Old In The Old Testament?

Why Are People So Old In The Old Testament?

Why do people in the Old Testament live to be like 600 years old? How old was Noah? How old was Moses? I heard some guy named “meth-something” was like 800 or something like that? What’s the deal? Why did people live so much longer then? Is it just symbolic language? And, while we’re at it, how old are you, Bible Geek?

Duh, they're old in the Old Testament, because it's the Old Testament

And, as far as I can tell, rule-breaker, you asked not 1, not 2, but seven questions…you’re a curious little squirrel aren’t ya’?

Well, let’s tackle these, shall we? I’ll group them together…

1. Why do people in the Old Testament live to be like 600 years old? What’s the deal, why did people live so much longer then? Is it just symbolic language?
Well, that’s a popular question. Basically, Biblical scholars disagree about Old Testament ages. Some say that it took several thousand years for the “full effect” of original sin to weigh in on our lifespan, essentially reducing it. Technology has done its best to lengthen it, again. Other theologians say that it was just a literary device used by the ancient Jewish writers to demonstrate prominence, dignity, importance or holiness. Still others claim it to be a translational problem or misgiving (but, that seems to be oversimplifying its importance).

To be honest, no one really knows, for sure. What we do know is that within Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, the authors were not as concerned about the scientific, orderly “data” and facts, but with the overall message. Put simply, they were more worried about the “why”, not the “how”.

2. How old was Noah?
The Biblical narrative states that “the whole lifetime of Noah was nine hundred and fifty years; then he died” (Genesis 9:29).

3. How old was Moses?
The Biblical narrative states that “Moses was one hunded and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.” (Deuteronomy 34:7)

4. I heard some guy named “meth-something” was like 800 or something like that?
“Meth-something”? Hmmm, well since “meth” labs didn’t come around for thousands of years, I’m going to assume you’re referring to Methuselah, who was the oldest (recorded) person found in the Bible, living until the ripe ol’ age of 969 years old (Genesis 5:27). He was Noah’s grandfather.

5. And, while we’re at it, how old are you, Bible Geek?
Technically, I’m 33 years and 8 months old (that, of course, counts the nine months I spent in my mom’s womb). My birthday is October 12th. That’s right, I start my “Jesus year” in less than a month. Feel free to call me and sing that day. Checks are appreciated, cash is better.

Just kidding.

Keep reading. Keep searching for answers. Keep praying. Keep brushing (take care of your teeth and they’ll take care of you).

And if you want to learn more about the early world in Genesis…let us help you.


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