Long Lifespan in Genesis

Why was there such long lifespan in Genesis?  I’ve heard theories saying it was because their food was more nutritious than ours.  Other people say that there was a cloud that protected people from the harmful rays of the sun, thus giving them longer life.  Are these long lifespan real or myth?

Long Lifespan in Genesis


  1. Adam died at age 930 (Gen 5:5)
  2. Seth died at age 912 (Gen 5:9)
  3. Enos died at age 905 (Gen 5:11)
  4. Cainan died at age 910 (Gen 5:14)
  5. Mahalaleel died at age 895 (Gen 5:17)
  6. Jared died at age 962 (Gen 5:20)
  7. Enoch was 365 when God took him (Gen 5:23-24)
  8. Methuselah died at age 969 (Gen 5:27)
  9. Lamech died at age 777 (Gen 5:31)

Flavius Josephus Explains Long Lifespan in Genesis

I don’t normally look to sources outside of the bible, but Josephus tries to explain the reason for such long life in Genesis.  Josephus was a Jew and a Pharisee.  Here’s what Jews believed 2000 years ago:

Antiquities 1.3.9 (by Josephus) – “(104) Now when Noah had lived three hundred and fifty years after the Flood, and that all that time happily, he died, having lived the number of nine hundred and fifty years:(105) but let no one, upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness of our lives at present an argument that neither did they attain to so long a duration of life; (106) for those ancients were beloved of God and [LATELY] made by God himself; and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live so great a number of years; and besides, God, afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, which would not have afforded the time of foretelling [THE PERIODS OF THE STARS] unless they had lived six hundred years; for the Great Year is completed in that interval.”

He basically said 1) their food was better, 2) THEY were better, and 3) they needed time for discoveries…

Lifespan Shortened After Flood

After the flood, the average lifespan starts to decrease.  Many people say this is because God said, “his (man’s) days shall be 120 years” (Gen 6:3).  The Hebrew for man is “H0120, ‘âḏâm”, which means ADAM.  This could not refer to the average lifespan, because it didn’t even happen until after Jacob.

  1. Noah died at age 950 (Gen 9:29)
  2. Shem died at age 600 (Gen 11:10-11)
  3. Arphaxad died at age 438 (Gen 11:12-13)
  4. Salah died at age 433 (Gen 11:14-15)
  5. Eber died at age 473 (Gen 11:16-17)
  6. Peleg died at age 239 (Gen 11:18-19)
  7. Reu died at age 239 (Gen 11:20-21)
  8. Serug died at age 230 (Gen 11:22-23)
  9. Nahor died at age 148 (Gen 11:24-25)
  10. Terah died at age 205 (Gen 11:32)
  11. Abraham died at age 175 (Gen 25:7)
  12. Isaac died at age 180 (Gen 35:29)
  13. Jacob died at age 147 (Gen 47:28)
Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

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