According to the biblical account, Noah and his descendants up to his great-great-grandsons each lived about 500 years after the flood. They were superhuman in physical and intellectual power, supplemented by centuries of accumulated learning from experience.
This may seem mythic, but explanatory clues are given.
This no doubt explains one reason Abraham insisted on marrying close relations: himself to his half sister, his son Isaac to his cousin, and grandson Jacob to his cousins. This maximized the highest quality gene pool passed from both parents to their children. Isaac died at the age of 180, Jacob was astonishingly old at the age of 130 years, and lived until the age of 147. Joseph died at the age of 110, and Moses, who was born during Joseph’s lifetime, died at the age of 120.
Note, too, the exceptionally long generational spans that prevented genetic defects from accumulating in the Bible’s First Family. For example, Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (or 91). Meanwhile the lifespans of the hoi poloi rapidly decreased from genetic defects accumulating in the exponentially shorter breeding periods. Anthropologists’ best estimates for Bronze Age lifespans are 70 years if one was lucky enough to die of old age.
Just think about the immense influence that these first few exceptionally long-lived ancestors had over the new population.
Too often the biblical record is treated as a series of events, when we know that all literature, media and documentation is limited to describing single events with flashbacks or “meanwhile, back at the ranch” to acknowledge overlapping timelines.
The following timeline using biblical lifespans in Genesis 5 and 11 allow us to collate co-existing persons and their significant events in history. Centuries are included in the graph to give a rough sense of the time spans vs overlapping events.The commonly encountered historical notation of BC is matched with the Jewish Anno Mundi system which provides a more readily apparent timeframe.
Bear in mind that historical documentation of “first millennium BC” accounts for dates from 0 backwards to 999 BC, “second millennium BC” for dates 1,000 backwards to 1999 BC, “third millennium BC” for dates 2000 – 2999 BC, and “fourth millennium BC” for dates 3000 – 3999 BC. In other words, one thousand years less than the label of the millennium.
From a biblical perspective, the historical millennia can be roughly categorized as:
- Fourth Millennium BC: Adam to Noah, the gods reign on earth, Genesis 1-5
- Third Millennium BC: Noah’s first 600 years before the flood to Abram leaving Mesopotamia. Artifacts dated to this era include the highly developed pre-flood civilization brought to earth by the gods, its renaissance as best as could be recreated after the flood, as well as simultaneous rough necessities of life by refugees fleeing the tyranny of the gods. Genesis 6-12
- Second Millenium BC: Abraham in the land of his contemporaneous nephew Canaan to King David. Genesis 12-Ruth
- First Millenium: I Samuel / King David – Birth of Christ
Centuries are included in the graph to give a rough sense of the time spans between simultaneous events.
|AM||BC||Birth / Event||
|0||-4004||Death imposed, calendar begins|
|930||-3074||Adam aged 930 yrs|
|1056||-2948||1st generation: Noah born, lives 950 yrs|
|1558||-2446||2nd generation: Shem born, lives 610 yrs|
|Approximate same for Ham & Japheth|
|1658||-2346||3rd gen: Arphaxad born, lives 438 yrs|
|Approximate same for bro Assur|
|Approximate same for 1st cousin Cush son of Ham, lives ~ 430 yrs|
|1693||-2311||4th gen: Shelah born, lives 433 yrs|
|1723||-2281||5th gen Eber born, lives 464 yrs|
|1734||-2270||Historic Sargon begins rule per short chronology, but exact dates unknown|
|1757||-2247||Peleg born, lives 239 yrs|
|1787||-2217||Reu born, lives 239 yrs|
|1789||-2215||Sargon overthrown after 55 yr reign|
|1819||-2185||Serug born lives 230 yrs|
|1849||-2155||Nahor born lives 148 years|
|1878||-2126||Terah born lives 205 years|
|4th gen Nimrod born, lifespan ~400 yrs|
|1900||-2086||Nimrod reigns at ~40 yrs old, Tower of Babel begins shortly after|
|1948||-2056||Abram born, lives 175 yrs|
|1978||-2020||Tower of Babylon construction stops about now as workforce breaks up|
|1996||-2008||By now division of physical earth by aftershocks expedites separating nations||Peleg|
|2006||-1998||Shem moves from cave to Mount Zion?||Noah|
|2018||-1986||Abram age 70 leaves Ur fleeing Nimrod|
|2048||-1956||Sodom & Gomorrah – Nimrod still alive new name of Amraphel to glorify him|
|2048||-1956||Isaac born, lives 180 years||Serug|
|2096||-1908||Arphaxad, approx for Assur & Cush|
|2108||-1896||Jacob & Esau born, Jacob lives 147 years|
|2148||-1856||Esau kills Nimrod per Jewish legend||Approximate for Nimrod|
|2158||-1846||Shem, approx. for Ham|
|2199||-1805||Joseph born, lives 110 years|
|2216||-1788||Joseph to Egypt|
|2235||-1769||Amram son of Kohoth son of Levi born|
|2238||-1766||Jacob & Family to Egypt|
|2309||-1695||Moses son of Amram born|
|2319||-1685||Joseph, end of Genesis|
|2389||-1615||The Exodus under Moses aged 80|
Using 25 years as a statistical average for subsequent generations, the founding fathers would have outlived a minimum of 16 consecutive generations, but actually more since another generation is born to some family every year. These Elders appear immortal to those who are born and die without seeing them age. They are entreated to intervene in problems / beseeched / prayed to. In order to gain access to their resources and network of connections their favor is curried with offerings of the best housing, best foods, gifts of precious metals, gems, fabrics and crafts exploited from their territories or obtained in trade, extolled in ceremonies with memorial speeches and songs / worshipped. As they finally age, they maintain their mystic by secreting themselves in Mount Olympus, Valhalla, etc. Ancestor worship develops in Africa, Japan, Americas as a more accurate memory of history.
Their precious birthright was literacy, from pre-apocalypse records stored on the ark and and in pyramid vaults. They led the renaissance of civilization for the pioneers forging homes in every type of wilderness from tundra to desert. This explains how “civilizations seem to have appeared full-blown, already fully developed.”
To catch a glimpse of how these men shaped the world, imagine that one of them is Leonardo DaVinci, the genius who epitomizes that other Renaissance humanist ideal, superhuman intellect in all sciences and arts, revered for technological ingenuity never matched by another historically known human. What impact would he have had on the world if he had lived for five hundred years from 1656 AD to 2106 AD, alive in our day and continuing after our deaths up to the 22nd century? Would humanity have survived its wars if Da Vinci had continued to develop his war machines?