The lifetimes given for the Patriarchs in the Book of Genesis are: Adam 930 years, Seth 912, Enos 905, Kenan 910, Mahalalel 895, Jared 962, Enoch 365 (did not die, but was taken away by God), Methuselah 969, Lamech 777, Noah 950. The lifespans given cause problems of chronology for Bible scholars,.... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarchs_(Bible))
These ages sounded incredulous and not believable to me even as young child. Can anybody believe that ancient people lived over 200 years let alone over 900 years, that nature was so different and that human life spans were so much greater ?
It is possible the stated life spans are purely fictional or had some other metaphorical meaning. Still why would the bible authors use such fictional values ?
A plausible explanation is the lifespans are not in years, but in lunar months (a lunar month is 28 days). For example, in some parts Africa you may ask how old is that toddler and they will say 39. However, 39 lunar months is 3 years old. ( 39*28/365 is about 3 years). Ancient peoples reckoned time base on the lunar cycle. (I hope to discuss moon worship, sun worship and its relation to Judaism in future posts).
Similarly the lifetimes of the patriarchs are likely stated in lunar months, so for example Enos at 905 is only about 65 years old when he dies. (64.42 = 905*28/365).
If the bible is using lunar months for the patriarchal life spans, then anybody using years (365 days) to determine the age of the earth since Adam will be sorely in error.
UPDATE 10/7/2013 Some of the "years" in Torah may actually be Lunar months and others Solar.
- Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist
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