In the book of Genesis from Bible, we see that the Antediluvian patriarchs lived extremely long, nearly a thousand years. However, the book of Genesis was written during the time of Samuel, several millenniums after the flood, copied from earlier manuscripts. Hence, the texts regarding the number of years mentioned in Genesis must also be viewed in light of the fact that it was written by scribes who were themselves separated by several thousand years from the actual event. We do not know from where they copied them or who passed on but here, we will focus only on the number of years in the genealogy of Adam found in Genesis and understand it using the oldest book in the Bible, i.e, book of Job.
Years: Elihu and Eliphaz
The oldest book in the entire Bible is Job. Here we will see how Job and his friends used the terms ‘year’ and ‘months’.
Job 32:4 Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. … (6) So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are very old; Therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you.
Job 32:7 I said, ‘Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.’
Job 36:11 If they obey and serve Him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures. …. (26) Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered.
While the story of Job did not happen in Israel, Elihu is a common Israelite name which mean “God of him”. There were also several Israelites with this same name as we see in (1 Sam 1:1, 1Chr 12:20; 1Chr 26:7; 1Chr 27:18). When Elihu in the story of Job refers to age or anything to refer the length of his age, he always uses “years” to refer it.
Job 15:20 The wicked man writhes with pain all his days, And the number of years is hidden from the oppressor.
Eliphaz is an Edomite name as we see in (Gen 36:4) which is also the name of Esau’s son. When Eliphaz refers to the length of man’s life, he too mentions it in “years”.
Job 3:6 As for that night, may darkness seize it; May it not rejoice among the days of the year, May it not come into the number of the months.
Job 7:3 So I have been allotted months of futility, And wearisome nights have been appointed to me.
Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.
Job 21:21 For what does he care about his household after him, When the number of his months is cut in half?
Job 39:2 Can you number the months that they fulfill? Or do you know the time when they bear young?
When Job refers to age or length or life, he always mentions it in months. He never mentions it in years. This does not mean Job never mentions years. He does refer to years as “days of the year” or comparing days and years of man with God’s as in Job 10:5. However, when referring to age or the period of man’s life, he repeatedly uses “months”.
Adam to Noah: Months to Years
With Job being the oldest book in the Bible, the manuscript from which the scribes copied the long years of Genesis could be the same of Job’s. The book of Job gives a telltale story of how Job used months to refer age and Israelite friends used years. This shows that either Abraham who came from the same region as Job or an earlier manuscript could have passed down the age of Antediluvian patriarchs in months while the Israelite scribes during the period of Samuel misinterpreted it as years.
Reinterpreting the age of Antediluvian patriarchs gives the following results: This is basically dividing the value by 12.
The above table uses the corrected Septuagint years. If the numbers mentioned in genesis is actually months, then it reveals that most Antediluvian marriages were child marriages which were very common in ancient cultures. It also reveals that the total years of pre-flood world was just 184 years.
Still don’t believe me? Ask Moses himself …
Ps 90:10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Psalm 90 is called the prayer of Moses. He very clearly mentions that the average lifespan of a man is 70 and by reason of strength is 80. While Moses was said to have died at 120, was it really 120 or just a numerical misunderstanding of different languages?
Continue to read in Part 2, Post-flood decline of long years.