Why did the people in Genesis live such long lives?


Genesis 1:1 - 31

ESV - 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
It is somewhat of a mystery why people in early chapters of Genesis lived such long lives. There are many theories put forward by biblical scholars. The genealogy in Genesis 5 records the line of t...

July 01 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini Steven Draves
In Genesis 6:3 God said that it was time to limit mans lifespan to 120 years. He said his spirit could not abide in man forever for man was flesh. I think God himself was keeping these people alive for that long for His purposes of populating the earth with Godly leaders.

December 30 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Scan14 Michael Tinsley Retired Army veteran. Love my Bible (Jesus) and fishing.
Mankind's lifetimes continued to diminish from Genesis 6:3 until the last century when medical knowledge developed enough to allow us to live longer with new medicines and treatments so some people are living closer to 120 years again. 

My mother lived to be 97 with all her faculties intact and three of her aunts (who were near her age) lived into their 90's and one of those lived to be 100. Not every family is as genetically lucky as mine with heart disease, strokes, cancer, and Alzheimer's taking their tolls, but many live to 100, as Willard Scott applauds and recognizes every day on the Today Show.

Adam and Eve were perfect creatures and, as Michael said above, after the fall our genetic codes began to be corrupted and mankind inherited Adam's sinful nature so that from Noah onward, people's life times began to decrease in length, Genesis 11:10-32.

So between the Lord's love of humanity, keeping us from suffering extended lives in worn out bodies and, the genetic code He implanted in us, our physical bodies became less and less perfect as generations proceeded.

That, at least, is the information I learned during my study of the Bible and Bible references.

April 16 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini sandra caddy
Have you considered the 'Hallalujah acreas' suggestion? 'In the beginning God said, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. T You shall have them for food." and therefore we were created to be vegan? After the flood and recorded in Genesis 9: 2 God said, 'All animals, birds, reptiles and fish will be afraid of you. I have placed them under your control and I have given them to you for food. From now on, you may eat them as well as the green plants that you have always eaten.' (contempory English version) The Hallalujah acreas people suggest the consumption of animal products was the reason for the rapid lowering of life expectancy after the flood. Could eating flesh also be the cause of the rapid increase of extreme sin? It was only 100 years after the flood to the dispersion required after the inhabitants started to build the tower of babel.

October 22 2013 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini ainsley chalmers Medical Research Scientist, devoted family man.
It is well known that people die because of their mutational load (ie damage to their DNA/genetic material). For example people who mutate quickly die in their teens with the body of a 70 year old person (the condition is called Progeria). 

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God they were mutation free so they could live to 1,000 years. Also the initial low mutation load allowed close relative marrying which must have occurred over the early years. It was only when the mutation load got too high that God banned close relative conception.

The life spans of humans have been prolonged because of the advances in medical sciences (immunizations, antibiotics, nutrition, etc). But humans will continue to deteriorate over time because we hand on at least 100 deleterious mutations to each new generation. It has been calculated that we have about 1,000 ears to go to extinction. But God will certainly rescue us before that time.

In short these scientific findings of aging and mutations are in line with what is written in Genesis. This is not unexpected as the bible is absolute truth.

July 23 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Mike Dumais
There are two scientific reasons. First is a law of physics, which everything in the universe is subject to, the second law of thermodynamics or entropy. Very simply stated, everything is in a state of decay or entropy, including our DNA. The second, compounding the effects of the first, is that after the flood the "breeding pairs" were reduced to several pairs known as a "genetic bottle neck" where DNA mutations (defects) quickly took their toll. Have you ever wondered why, with so much advancement in medicine we really don't seem to be making much progress in increasing life spans?

June 13 2014 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Darwin Iverson
Before the story of Noah's Ark (boat) people lived almost 1000 years and this was because they were protected from outer space and sun radiation by water many miles thick in the atmosphere. Also food was extremely healthy and disease did not exist. In Genesis 6:3 God was upset, so he decided to reduce the natural age of people to 120 years. After Genesis chapter 12, no one lived past age 200. The Noah's Ark flood brought that water down and with underground water, today's big and deep oceans and seas were formed (8:2). Beginning with Abraham people did start dying around age 120. In Genesis 23:1-2 Sarah died of old age at age 127. In Genesis 25:7 Abraham died of old age at age 175.

March 23 2015 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Data Danny Hickman Supporter Believer in The Gospel Of Jesus Christ
Someone other than the writer of the book of Genesis told the writer the ages to which the people he wrote about lived to be. It's clear he was making a point out of revealing their long lifespans. I think he was challenging our willingness to trust whomever it was who told him the details of those people's lives. Or, he was challenging our willingness to trust him, the author? What I think I'm hearing is that many of us are not sure we can trust that the writer, or whoever gave the details to the writer, is telling it like it really happened. It sounds incredible, too extraordinary as to seem impossible. It's literally hard to believe. 

I challenge anyone who will give it a shot, to name one thing the bible tells us that is easy to believe. Try this on: Hebrews 11:3 says 'the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made of things that are visible.' Talk about incredible. And this: In the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea (water) Mt 14:25. Who can accept that as true with no hesitation? Is there a figurative meaning attached to that? Can this be a metaphor of some kind? It seems that He set that scene up when He "made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side (vs 22), while He dismissed the crowd." 

Jesus is God, so God walking on water is no big deal. Or is it? But Joshua isn't God. Joshua 10 relates the story of Israel's battle with the Amorites. Israel had the Amorites on the run and wanted to finish them off, but the day was wasting away, they needed more daylight. So Joshua spoke to God about it. Then he said, "Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon." And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies (Jos 10:12,13). God heeded the voice of a man. He not only made the sun stand still, but the moon stopped. This is just as impossible as a man walking on water. 

It's not scientifically impossible for people to live thousands of years. What science is defied when people keep living? Keeping people alive for an extraordinary length of time is far more explainable than a man speaking to the sun and causing the process of time to halt. The earth travels around the sun at a speed of approximately 67,000 mph, while rotating around 1,000 mph. Did both orbit and rotation cease or just the rotation of the earth? And what about the moon? I have no idea of how to explain this scientifically. It's just like a man walking on water. It can't be explained scientifically. Neither can things being spoken into materializing being made of invisible things. 

The fire didn't harm the three hebrew boys (Dan 3:27), the lions didn't harm Daniel (Dan 6:22). Fire doesn't take any time off. The lions could have temporarily lost their appetites, but fire never does. It defies science that the fire didn't harm them. Lions don't have to eat a man, there's no science problem with that. 

The greatest threat to science is that Jesus was pronounced dead: When Jesus had received the sour wine, (vinegar) he said, "It's finished, " and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit (Jn 19:36). He was buried: So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with spices... Jn 19:40. Three days later on the first day of the week (Jn 20) : Sir... tell me where you laid Him... Jesus said to her, "Mary." He is risen from the grave.. 

I think raising the dead is more of a threat to science than keeping people alive for an unbelievable length of time. Staying alive doesn't mock science; rising from being dead to being alive forevermore does.

How is it that some people who say they are believers find it harder to believe that God kept Methuselah alive for 969 years, than it is to believe that although Jesus only lived 33 years before dying, He was raised from the dead to now live forevermore? Which is easier, to extend life or to restore it after it is ended?

June 18 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini daniel kirat
God blessed man kind and other beings and also the earth was fresh and pollution free.The food man ate was healthy and fresh, God shortened the life span of man not more than 120 years as it is written.

October 01 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Robert Faseler
It was because of increased atmospheric pressure. The earth was in what is called a hypo-barometric chamber before the flood. It never rained before the flood but a mist went up from the earth and watered it. This denser atmosphere created more pressure. When God wanted to decrease the lifespan of man, He modified the atmosphere's pressure.

July 24 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
It is not explained in the Scriptures why people lived such long lives. Many explanations have been given.

From Genesis 5, 10, and other Scriptures, here are the ages at death of the patriarchs:
Adam 930; Seth 912; Enosh 815; Cainan 910
Mahalalel 895; Jared 962; Enoch translated at 365
Methuselah 969; Lamech 777; Noah 950

Shem 600; Arphaxad 438; Salah 433; Eber 464
Peleg 239; Reu 239; Serug 230; Nahor 148
Terah 205; Abram 175; Isaac 180; Jacob 147

Their ages are representative of the population on the earth in their days. An example is Job who likely lived a few generations after Abraham. He had to have lived to at least 200 (the Septuagint says 240) years, but close to the ages of people then. 

The 120 years mentioned in Genesis 6:3, is suggested to be limit God set on length of life. But many after the Flood outlived that figure. However in context, the verse is about the Lord giving the people 120 years to repent before the Flood. 

The canopy theory can be ruled out. A growing number of scientists say that such a shield of water in the upper atmosphere could not necessarily prolong life, nor for that matter, have existed at all. In his writings especially “Explaining the Flood without the Canopy,” Carl Wieland wrote the canopy theory does not adequately explain how the Flood mechanics worked. Nor does it explain the reduction in the longevity rate right after the Flood as if the collapse of the canopy, that supposedly blocked radiation, worsened the environment. There is no actual evidence that the environment or increased atmospheric pressure could contribute to long lifespans.

Another explanation is that from the beginning, genetic defects and mutations started to appear that caused disease and illness as expected by the process of decay. But the ages at death stay pretty much stable until the Flood. Noah lived to be 950 years, outliving Adam as others also did. Note the ages at death do not drop drastically until after the Flood.

However, there is a scientific explanation that seems plausible. When the Flood came upon the earth, it disrupted everything about the earth. In his book, “In the Beginning, Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood,” Walt Brown suggested that when the fountains of the deep were broken open, chemical reactions were responsible for releasing radioactive elements such as C14 and K40. This could very well change how long people lived after the flood. When the ages at death are charted from creation to after the Flood, the rate of decline is the same observed in the normal process of decay of radioactive elements. 

So, conditions before the Flood were such that longevity of life was the rule. It will be again in the Millennium, Isaiah 65:20, when there will be no ‘premature’ deaths. One who is a hundred years, is considered a child or young person. Earthly conditions will likely revert back to what it was before the Flood.

March 27 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Open uri20160825 6966 rhyaou John Matthews Retired Professional Singer, Conductor and Seeker
The answer for this question cannot be based on assumption and speculation. We don't know why lifespans were so different. We can only go by what Scripture says; and it says very little about this subject.

We humans find a need to explain and comprehend everything. With God, many things cannot be explained sufficiently to our comprehension and understanding. But don't just accept that which we cannot understand on faith alone. Try to find meaning in what we don't comprehend. That's how we grow in faith and learn about the limitless God we worship.

I, for one, don't question God, but look to further enlightenment by trying to find answers and explanations to perplexing concepts and situations that God puts in front of me everyday in Scripture. It does not matter whether those answers come from science, religious scholars, the Bible, the internet, whatever. All knowledge is what it is and it is not good or bad. It's what we do with it that causes problems. But having a foundation in Jesus Christ gives us the ability to use knowledge learned for His glory.

If I were to speculate, I would put forth that what we think of a "year" today is not the same as a "year" in the book of Genesis. There wasn't a "calendar" or a concept of hourly time 6,000+ years ago, certainly not how we conceive time today. 

Since the book of Genesis was written long after the fact, the concept of time had certainly evolved by the time it was put to paper. But even then, let's just agree that Noah, Methuselah and many others lived a long time and leave it at that.

May 04 2017 1 response Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
I think that "God granted those long lives so that we, looking back, could see from which we have fallen. In other words, those long lives testify that death was not part of the perfect creation. God ordains as a lesson to us that the force of life be preserved for hundreds of years in very long lives in those early centuries to show that life, not death, was his design and our portion in creation at the beginning. So, the long lives of those first humans stand as a testimony of how utterly short our lives are and how God’s design at the beginning and his design in the future is life — indeed, eternal life." Piper

I myself am awed at the brevity of life today. We can only wish that our ancestors had never fallen into sin. But it is a reality and something that only God could overcome. He did this through Christ's sacrificial death on a cross (Romans 3:23; 6:23). So now it is POSSIBLE that each and everyone of us CAN LIVE an extremely long life, a FOREVER LIFE in eternity with God, but first you have to repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. I did this at a Billy Graham, and his organization still says: "Don’t carry the burden of your sins any longer, but by faith turn to Christ and trust Him alone for your salvation."

God commands all men to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark quotes Jesus in Mark 1:15, “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

August 18 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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