By Jack Sheedy
Centuries turn, casting humanity headlong toward an uncertain future upon a planet tilted some 23 ½ degrees off its axis, basking one astronomical unit from the warming rays of mighty Sol.
Time parades by upon the crust of Terra, crusades are fought, children are born, and elderly folk die. How does God count the march of mankind’s toiling? In years? Decades? Generations? Or does His calendar operate on a larger scale? Centuries? Millennia? Geologic ages? Epochs? Periods? Eons?
The average lifespan of a member of the species Homo sapiens is but a wink of the eye upon the face of the great celestial clock, a momentary flutter of the lashes, practically unnoticed amongst the infinite ripples of the universe. A lifespan – currently between seven and eight decades on average for a male of the species – is over with the orbit of a single comet. Heck, at that age biblical figures of the Old Testament were just getting started.
The pages of the five books of Moses, from Genesis through Deuteronomy, reveal that some of the legendary figures of those early days lived well over one hundred years of age In fact, the ten generations from Adam through Noah regularly lived nearly ten times one hundred years as depicted in the following from Genesis 5:3-8:
“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth. And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters. And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos. And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.”
The begetting continues with: Enos 905 years old; Cainan 910 years; Mahalaleel 895; Jared 962; Enoch only 365; Methuselah 969; Lamech 777 … which leads to Noah. A common trait amongst these early patriarchs was their ability to beget sons and daughters at a ripe old age, sometimes well over a hundred years old, as depicted in Genesis 5:28-32 with Lamech fathering children at nearly age 200, and Noah at age 500:
“And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son. And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed. And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died. And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”
The story of Noah and the Great Flood is well known. What is not so well known is that Noah was 600 years old at the time. It seems if you walked the earth in those early days and avoided being drowned in a biblical flood or smote by God you stood a good chance of living a long and productive existence, with a healthy sex life spanning hundreds of years to beget future generations enough to fill the pages of the Old Testament. Not a bad life. And with plenty of wine and wild parties to boot, as documented in Genesis 9:17-24, with helps:
“And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth…And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his brethren without, ‘Dad’s up to his old begetting again!’ And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father, and Ham arrived with a fresh pot of coffee and a mug imprinted with words ‘World’s Greatest Dad.’ And Noah awoke from his wine, and groaning, exclaimed, ‘Man, what a night!”
Noah died at the ripe old age of 950. His only regret was that in all those years he never took up golf.
Over time, and generations, average lifespan waned. Abraham lived to “an hundred threescore and fifteen years” (Gen.25:7), while his wife, Sarah died at “an hundred and seven and twenty years old” (Gen 23.1). Abraham’s son, Isaac, lived to “an hundred and fourscore years” (Gen 35:28). While Joseph, the grandson of Isaac, and son of Jacob, “died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him just for kicks,” thus ending the Book of Genesis.
The next four books of Moses – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – follow the life and times of Moses, and spell out in great detail the rules by which all peoples should live. The death of Moses arrives at the end of the last book, Deuteronomy 34:5, at age 120, as follows:
“So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And (the Lord) buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day, as the Lord misplaced the plot paperwork and the Moab Cemetery Department has such a poor filing system. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated, although he did lose his driver’s license a few years earlier when he mistook the gas pedal for the brake and plowed into a bagel shoppe.”
“And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, for as the Scriptures read: Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November.”
So, what are the secrets to a long life?
Take a walk every morning (preferably walking with the Lord), eat plenty of protein (and manna from heaven), take Vitamin C every day (especially during cold and flu season), keep holy the Sabbath (and don’t skip out right after holy communion), enjoy a healthy centenarian sex life (and be sure to send flowers the next day), take up a hobby (like building an ark), and keep a garden and partake of its fruit (but stay away from the apple tree).
Jack Sheedy is an author/co-author of six books, including Cape Odd and Cape Cod Harvest.