An Old Testament Math Problem

When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech.  After he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died.

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son.  He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.”  After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and then he died.

  • Genesis 5:25-31

Do not trust a neighbor;
    put no confidence in a friend.
Even with the woman who lies in your embrace
    guard the words of your lips.
For a son dishonors his father,
    a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
    I wait for God my Savior;
    my God will hear me.

  • Micah 7:5-7

Several years ago, I took one of those “Read the Bible in a Year” challenges.  Since I had done this many times before, I thought about not doing it, but I had never done the chronological method before.  I wanted to do something in addition to the challenge.  I created a table that had every number mentioned in the Bible.  Sorry, I had this table on my work computer and that file was lost forever when I was laid off in 2014.

In my studying of Genesis 5, I created a spreadsheet of birthdates and death dates.  In looking at the numbers, I started wondering if a son died before the father.  Indeed, Lamech lived to be 777 years old when he died, and Methuselah lived 782 years after Lamech was born.  Both of these statements come from the first Scripture above.

It is a terrible thing to have a child die during your lifetime.  My brother had a son die of infant crib death.  My brother died three weeks before my father passed away, almost to the hour.  My mother followed a couple of months later.  My parents lost the will to live after my brother’s death even though there were two children remaining.

The loss of a loved one is a tough moment of grief, but the loss of an offspring is somehow worse.  I heard someone say that it is not supposed to work that way.

Methuselah lived for five years after the death of his son, Lamech.

That’s when it struck me as I pondered the numbers.  How old was Noah when Methuselah died?

It is fairly easy math.  Methuselah was 187 when Lamech was born.  Lamech was 182 when Noah was born.  If you add 187 and 182, you get Grandpa Methuselah being 369 years of age when Noah was born.

For all of you people who cannot believe these verses, because the amount of years is totally ridiculous, read Genesis 6:3.  God made a change in the DNA of mankind so that we would not live beyond 120 years.  There were a few notable exceptions after Noah, but not many.  I thought it was hilarious that some scientist had discovered that human cells do not regenerate beyond 120 years old, and thus that age is the longest anyone can live.  Was he trying to refute the Biblical text in Genesis 5 while ignoring, and thus confirming, Genesis 6:3?

But now back to the math.

Genesis 7:6 states, Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.”

Why is this verse important?  Do the math.  If Methuselah was 369 years of age when Noah was born, Noah would be 600 years old when Methuselah passed away.

Wait!  The flood came when Noah was 600 years old.

Did Methuselah die in the flood?

Yes, none of these ages in Genesis 5 carry with them a birthdate.  You know, month and day of the month.

My brother bragged about being ten years older than me.  I informed him that I was only nine years younger.  Yet, my brother impressed his ten-year-older will on me for the four months between his birthday and mine – with the blessings of a certain family member.

Methuselah could have passed away earlier that year.  Since we can believe that the Biblical record is correct, he did not die later that year.  Forget the Bill Cosby taunt in his version of the story of Noah, “How long can you tread water?”  But we have no idea if that one cataclysmic event is the method of his demise.

Is the idea of Methuselah dying in the flood significant or merely trivial?  I have never heard a sermon on the topic.  I have never heard or read about a theologian doing the math.

If Methuselah died in the flood, it adds another concept to the story of Noah and the flood – one not for the faint of heart.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-39 that we are to die to self and follow Him.  We may be at odds with our own family as a result.  Jesus quotes Micah 7:6, in the second Scripture above.  One of the conflicts that is not mentioned is a grandson and his grandfather, but the end of that verse states that a person’s enemies could be members of his family to catch any familial connections that are not mentioned.

Noah obeyed God.  He built the ark.  He took himself and his family onto the ark.  He took a pair of each unclean animal and seven pairs of clean animals onto the ark (Genesis 7:2).  But there is nothing said about saving Grandpa.

Even if Methuselah died a month before the flood, there must have been some very interesting discussions between Noah and his grandfather during the construction project.

I have mentioned it in a few posts in the past, but if God opened the gates of Heaven and beckoned me to come, I would go as fast as my body would take me.  I would not worry about the paperwork and details of this world.  Noah did the same thing.  He did as God led him to do.  He did so in spite of the distractions around him.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Great artical Glory be to God,

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting. I can’t see Methuselah dying in a flood intended to destroy the wicked, but I can totally see him having those interesting conversations with Noah! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I’d previously noticed that – he died about the time of the flood. Whether it was IN the flood or immediately BEFORE it, it doesn’t say.

    Liked by 1 person

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