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How did Noah and Methuselah live for hundreds of years?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


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It is a fact that the life-expectancy of people in industrialized nations is much higher than their third-world country counterparts. The life expectancy today is also much higher than it was even a century ago. Is this a super-natural, miraculous occurrence? No. We live healthier lifestyles, we are immunized from many diseases which plagued our ancestors, and we have access to better medical care.

We see that "aging" is subjective. One hundred years ago a sixty-five year old person was considered old, and chances are that in a century from now that a centenarian won't be considered so old.

When G-d created the world and Man, conditions were ideal. The environment and atmosphere were pure, and harmful illness causing bacteria were not yet developed
When G-d created the world and Man the conditions were ideal. The environment and atmosphere were pure, and the different harmful bacteria which cause illness were not yet developed. The Flood, however, had a drastic affect on the environment (for this reason it became necessary at that time to eat meat (protein), and was therefore permitted by G-d) and shortened people's lives.

According to Kabbalah, the world was created with G-d's seven attributes; each day of creation being dominated by a different divine attribute. The world is comprised of seven millennia, and here too, each millennium is dominated by one of G-d's attributes. The first millennium was the beneficiary of the attribute of chesed (kindness), the second millennium experienced G-d's gevurah (severity) - thus the flood, etc.

Only G-d's unlimited chesed could allow such wicked, undeserving people to have lived such long lives.


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How did Noah and Methuselah live for hundreds of years?

Posted by: Joel, VA on Aug 18, 2006

Correct me if Im wrong; This was the normal before the flood that people lived this long. After the flood and because of how wicked a person could become if they lived this long. (I think G-d may have lengthened life spans to give those living a chance to turn from their ways to avoid the flood out of mercy, but they did not)

G-d then limited how long man could live to around 120 years.

I know that even after this a few continued to live long, G-d did not say when or how the new limit would start just that he was now limiting the length.

Editor's Comment

Indeed, this is the opinion expressed in this article, based on the writings of the Biblical commentators Nachmanides, Seforno, and others. Maimomides in his Guide for the Perplexed maintains that only those regarding whom it is explicitly stated so in the Torah enjoyed unusual longevity, the remainder of the people of those generations lived ordinary lifespans. See Nachmanides on Genesis 5:4.
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.