Did They Really Live That Long?

According to the Bible, Adam lived for 930 years, Seth for 912, and Methuselah for 969​—just 31 years short of a thousand! (Genesis 5:5, 8, 27) Were those years similar in length to ours today, or were they shorter periods, perhaps equivalent to our months, as some have suggested?

The internal evidence in the Bible points to literal years similar in length to ours. Consider: Had the ancient year been only as long as our month, the following men would have become fathers at an impossibly early age: Kenan before he was six years old, and Mahalalel and Enoch just over the age of five.​—Genesis 5:12, 15, 21.

Moreover, the ancients distinguished between days, months, and years. (Genesis 1:14-16; 8:13) In fact, Noah’s detailed chronology helps us to determine the length of a month. A comparison of Genesis 7:11, 24 and Genesis 8:3, 4 shows that five months​—from the 17th day of the second month to the 17th day of the seventh month—​equaled 150 days. Evidently, then, Noah employed a 30-day month, 12 of which added up to a year.​—Genesis 8:5-13. *

But how could people live for 900 years or more? The Bible tells us that God made humans to live forever and that Adam’s sin brought imperfection and death to the human family. (Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19; Romans 5:12) Those who lived before the Flood were much closer to perfection than we are today, and this was no doubt a major factor in their longevity. Methuselah, for instance, was only seven generations removed from Adam.​—Luke 3:37, 38.

Soon, however, Jehovah God will eliminate every trace of Adamic sin from all who exercise faith in the shed blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. “The wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Yes, the time is coming when Methuselah’s 969 years will seem very short indeed!


^ par. 4 See Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 1214, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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Average man today