(Gen. 5:5) Did these people really live this long?

CLAIM: Genesis states that Adam lived for 930 years. Is this really feasible?

RESPONSE: There is no indication that the Jews counted time differently at this stage in history. Originally, they measured years according to the revolutions of the sun (Gen. 1:14), just as we do today. Later, Genesis 6:3 states that humans would live no longer than 120 years old—a reasonable limit for a human’s life. Therefore, these ages appear to be actual records of time.

Other cultures also claimed that ancient humans lived for extraordinary lengths of time. For instance, the Sumerians recorded that kings lived for thirty to forty thousand years long.[1] Moreover, after a great Flood swept over the land, the Sumerians claimed that the life-span of humans became drastically shorter.[2] The Egyptians also have similar records, claiming that ancient kings lived for thousands of years.[3]

Christians have no problem thinking that they will live forever in the New Heavens and Earth. Thus it’s interesting that they would take issue with life spans that are merely hundreds of years long.[4]

[1] Ross writes, “Stories from the ancient Akkadian and Sumerian cultures also tell of extraordinarily long life spans. Only rough dates or ages appear in these accounts, but they claim that their most ancient kings lived thousands of years.” Ross, Hugh. The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998. 115.

[2] Hoffmeier writes, “After recording eight kings and the lengths of their reigns, the List reads: ‘The Flood then swept over [the land]. After the Flood has swept over [the land] and kingship had descended heaven, Kish became [the seat] of kingship.’ Now the duration of the reigns drops radically… Nearly fifty years ago, a text of King Enmebarggesi was discovered, demonstrating that despite the 900-year reign attributed to him, he was a historical figure.” Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 38-39.

[3] Hoffmeier writes, “Egypt has a similar tradition preserved in the Turin Canon of the kings of Egypt, a papyrus in Turin Museum… Two of these divine kings are assigned reigns of 7,726 and 7,718 years. So the pattern is similar to what we witnessed in Sumer and in the Bible.” Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 39.

[4] I am indebted to my friend Conrad Hilario for this helpful insight.