The Ages of the Patriarchs


Recently, I was reviewing different parts of the Bible and came across Adam’s descendants in Genesis 5. Whilst reading Chapter 5, I noticed that the ages of the patriarchs are given. Adam had Seth at 130 and Adam lived to be 930. Seth had Enosh at 105 and Seth lived 912. This pattern continues until Noah has Shem at 500 and Noah is said to die at the ripe old age of 950. Whether Genesis is to be taken as the Word of God, literally or allegorically, or as just another culture’s ancient writings, the author of this text must have had some reason for including these specific ages for these specific men. Does anyone know why these men lived to these ages? Any and all help is much appreciated.


According to Genesis the Spirit of God (The Lord, the giver of life as we say I’m the creed) enabled them to live so long. But then he limited the life of men saying :

*“And God said: My spirit shall not remain in man for ever, because he is flesh, and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.”

  • Genesis 6:3*


I was taught that these “ages” are metaphorical and intended to serve as indicators of the relative righteousness of the individuals involved.


Given that these impressive ages occurred prior to the flood and fell off steadily after it, I’d hold that they were at least to an extent, historical, but that subsequent changes to the environment or to human genes put an end to those human durations.



This has always been my theory as well. The closer we were to our glorified bodies, the longer our lifespan was. Over time, our lifespans decreased until medicine stepped in to help extend them again.



My understanding is that God needed to populate the earth with His children (Believers) and by affording them such longevity it would allow them to procreate for a longer period than the present standard (female: about 20 to 30 years, and male: about 30 to 40years).

Maran atha!




With the caveat that A&E did not have “glorified bodies.” The luminous nudes shown in NOAH were an invention; A&E were two standard-issue naked human bodies. But protected from genetic entropy, as well as from having to die.

Once you are a glorified body, becoming dead will not even be possible. :):slight_smile:



I have read both the longevity shows righteousness, as well as the theory that these were lunar calculations, not solar years as we use now


Excellent point. By “Glorified body,” I meant a body unstained by the effects of sin. My bad, and thank you for the correction.


I don’t think lunar ages make sense. Mainly because Noah’s age is given in years and months and the patriarchs would be having. kids way too young. Adam had Seth at 130. 130/12=10.83


Besides which, such a theory smacks of “chronological snobbery.”

People in the nature cultures of the past knew perfectly well what months and years were.



Thank you all for your insightful answers. However, I don’t think my question was understood correctly. I’m wondering that if the numbers themselves have a specific meaning. For example, is their any meaning for Adam having Seth at 130 compared to 129 or 131. I’m figuring that there must be some deeper theological meaning.


Sorry for the confusion.

I personally am not aware of any significance to the actual ages.



…yeah, I saw that… but I was trying to keep away!

…too often we fall into that “numerology” thing–even though and in spite of the fact that both the gauge (system of measuring) and the end product are susceptible to manipulation–i.e.: the sign of the Beast: 666.

Maran atha!



What do you mean? Calendars vary to this day, by region, culture, religion and purpose.


That assumes a 12month cycle. What if a year was measured by harvest moon or blue moon or whatever else (moon tied to hi-tide, etc)


Of course they do, but all distinguish months from years.

The difference between calendars leads only to an error of less 10%, not to a factor of 10.



A harvest moon happens once a year, it is the full moon before the call equinox. And a blue moon depends on year. Normally, they happen every few years. But counting in blue moons isn’t practical.


Practical or not, consider the variation just in one region:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit