A lifelong Christian, Jeremy enjoys taking a scientific look at the teachings of the Bible.
Longest Lifespans in the Bible
One of the Old Testament's most interesting components is its mortal lifespans, chronicling the extended longevity of many prominent figures in Genesis. Some are famous names most will recognize, others are more obscure, yet still made it to a ripe old age—who lived the longest? These are the ten oldest men in the Christian Bible!
Age at death: 600
Shem is best known as a loyal son of Noah, famous for building the Ark that withstood the global flood. Shem was nearly 100 at that time, but would see the post-flood world for another 500 years, and is distantly related to Abraham.
Age at death: 777
Lamech, son of Methuselah, is descended from Seth's line, though he's easily confused with the Lamech (son of Methushael) descended from Cain. In addition to his extended life and being Noah's father, Lamech is notably the first mentioned polygamist in the Bible, taking both Adah and Zillah as his wives.
Age at death: 895
An ancestor of Shem and Lamech, little is known about Mahalalel beyond him being a stepping stone between Seth and Noah. But living to almost 900, he got to meet several of his descendents before ultimately passing.
Age at death: 905
Sometimes called Enos, Enosh (not to be confused with Cain's son Enoch) is the grandson of Adam and Eve and the son of Seth. According to the Gospel of Luke, Enoch's bloodline eventually gives way to Joseph (Mary's husband), connecting him to Jesus.
Age at death: 910
Kenan's life isn't as well chronicled as his grandfather Seth or descendent Noah, but he's still notable for his incredible years and for being the great-grandson of Adam and Eve.
Age at death: 912
People usually think of Cain and Abel as Adam and Eve's children, often forgetting they later had a third son, Seth. Though not much is known about him, he is considered a righteous child similar to Abel, so much so that Eve believed God gave Seth as a replacement for her fallen son.
Age at death: 930
The original humans according to Genesis, Adam and his wife Eve are well-known for being cast out of the Garden of Eden after defying God and eating the forbidden fruit. Having suffered God's curses of hard labor and the pains of childbirth, the pair later parent Cain, Abel, and later Seth.
Age at death: 950
Seeing mankind's sins, God decided to punish the world with a global Flood, but he instructed Noah to build an Ark to withstand the apocalyptical disaster. Noah faithfully obeyed, and his ship carried his family and pairs of land animals safely throughout the Flood.
Although post-Flood humanity is as sinful as before, God had made a covenant with Noah to never again destroy the world, and Noah's line ultimately gives rise to the Israelites, God's chosen people.
Age at death: 962
Son of Mahalalel, Jared is another of Noah's ancestors, known more for his advanced age than anything else. It's interesting that all of today's figures are from Seth's line, not Cain's, which could be a result of Seth's righteousness and Cain's sin. Jared also happens to be the grandfather of the longest-living Biblical man…
Age at death: 969
Despite Methuselah's small mention in Genesis, he's become well-known for his near-millennium of life, outliving all other pre-Flood patriarchs. After the Flood, lifespans gradually shortened, with Noah's sons living only a few hundred years, with other famed figures like Moses only living to 120.
Why Did Old Testament Characters Live So Long?
As we've seen, Old Testament figures lived far longer than modern humans; what could explain the discrepancy? Some believe that as mankind sinned, our closeness to God decreased, gradually shortening our lifespans. Others find that the numbers may have been mistranslated, or at times indicated months instead of years.
Still others simply feel that God (who was much more active in the Old Testament) used divine powers to extend the lives of some key prophets. Feel free to share your interpretation and I'll see you at our next Biblical review!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill