Adam lived for 930 years, to within about a century of Noah’s birth (Genesis 5:3-5).
How is it possible to live for more than 900 years?
Before the Flood, the young earth was a very different place. It is impossible to know what the environment was like then.
Perhaps “the waters above the expanse” (Genesis 1:7) significantly blocked cosmic radiation, now a major contributor to senescence. Nobody knows how God modified human biochemistry to gradually shorten life spans when executing the judgment of death for sin incurred by Adam.
Early in human history, long lifespans let men accumulate individual knowledge for centuries. The snowballing effect helped jump-start civilization.
We usually underestimate ancient man. He was smarter, stronger, and probably bigger than men today. Less genetic deterioration had accumulated in these men than in men today. See Was Adam Backward or Brilliant?
Even after Noah’s Flood, men still possessed much of the vigor of early man. For example, the average lifespan of the post-Flood patriarchs from Shem to Peleg was 435 years. These patriarchs were contemporary with those who built the Tower of Babel.
Men yearn for a “fountain of youth” to extend life. But with long life spans, wickedness tends to dominate goodness. For a documented historical example, consider the sin-soaked pre-Flood world when Noah alone was righteous (Genesis 6).
Evil had almost stamped out righteousness, and probably would have succeeded had it not been for the intervening judgment of God via the worldwide Flood. Thus it is not necessarily better for men to live longer. The shorter life spans God eventually imposed do limit the cumulative effects of sin.
Adam was not the only man who lived for over 900 years. Genesis reports 900-year lifespans for most of the antediluvian patriarchs. The records show that Adam to Abraham covered about 2,000 years. Abraham to Christ was about 2,000 years. Adding 2,000 years from Christ to the present totals about 6,000 years since creation.
If you cannot trust the Bible for simple historical information like ages, how can you trust it for reliable information about the far more complex issue of rescue from sin and death?
Thus if you trust Jesus of Nazareth for eternal life, you should also believe in Adam’s 930-year lifespan, even if it seems outlandishly long and impossible.
The same Bible teaches both.
Why Didn’t Adam Die the Day He Ate the Forbidden Fruit?
Why did Adam live to age 930? Didn’t God promise he would die the day he ate the Forbidden Fruit?
The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB)
This translation (New American Standard Bible) certainly makes it sound as if God said that Adam would die the same day he ate the Forbidden Fruit. But Adam did not die that day. Here are 50 English versions of Genesis 2:17, and most of them give the same impression.
This usual interpretation of this passage presents a problem. Supposedly God told Adam he would die the very same day he ate the Forbidden Fruit. Yet Adam did not die. He lived to age 930.
What is the solution to this apparent contradiction? Was God was mistaken? Or is the usual interpretation of God’s warning in Genesis 2:16-17 incorrect.
I believe the usual understanding of God’s warning is incorrect due to a faulty translation of the passage. Although most English translations sound like God warns Adam that he will die the same day he eats from tree of the knowledge of good and evil, some translations express the warning differently. These translations of Genesis 2:17 convey the understanding that death was not necessarily immediate:
- “You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.” (Complete Jewish Bible)
- “If you ever eat fruit from that tree, you will certainly die!” (Expanded Bible)
- “But you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when you eat from it, you will certainly die.” (GOD’S WORD Translation)
- “If you ever eat fruit from that tree, you will die!” (International Children’s Bible)
- “If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.” (Living Bible)
- “If you ever eat fruit from that tree, you will die!” (New Century Version)
- “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.” (New English Translation, New International Version)
- “But you must not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you will certainly die.” (New International Reader’s Version)
- “except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (New Living Translation)
These translations do not specify that the day of Adam’s death will be the same as the day he eats the Forbidden Fruit. They say that death is certain, but the time till death is unspecified. This fits with what actually occurred.
The 1898 Young’s Literal Translation by Robert Young is a very literal translation. It preserves the tense and word usage of the original Hebrew and Greek. This is the same Robert Young who compiled Young’s Analytical Concordance. Here is Young’s Literal Translation of the passage:
And Jehovah God layeth a charge on the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden eating thou dost eat; and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying thou dost die.”
(Genesis 2:16-17 YLT)
The literal translation of the Hebrew מ֥וֹת תָּמֽוּת׃, transliterated tāmūṯ mōwṯ, is “dying die.” That is, in the day you eat the Forbidden Fruit, you will begin dying and will surely die (eventually). The repetitive use of these forms of the Hebrew verb מוּת, transliterated muth meaning “to die” (Strong’s H4191), in Hebrew indicates intensity and continuity; it’s a continuing process resulting in certain death. But it does not require death the same day the death process begins.
The Hebrew word בְּי֛וֹם, transliterated bəyôm, means “in the day.” It’s a form of yôm, the usual Hebrew word י֔וֹם for a regular day (Strong’s H3117). But bəyôm can mean either a regular day or an indefinite period of time; it is often therefore translated “when” if a time period other than a single day is in view (see for example Genesis 2:4; 35:3; Leviticus 14:57; Numbers 3:1; 7:10,84; Joshua 14:11; 2 Samuel 22:1,19; Psalm 20:1). In Genesis 2:17 it should be understood as an indefinite period of time instead of as the specific day Adam ate the Forbidden Fruit.
Thus I believe the proper understanding of the Hebrew of Genesis 2:16-17 is
“From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day (indefinite period of time) you eat from it, dying you shall die.”
God was warning Adam that eating the Forbidden Fruit would begin an irrevocable, progressive dying process that would culminate in physical death, returning to dust out of which he was made (Genesis 3:19).
When Adam ate the Forbidden Fruit the death process began. Spiritually he died right away as indicated by Adam and Eve realizing they were naked, feeling ashamed, and hiding themselves from the Lord when He came to visit them that evening. Their perfect fellowship with the Creator had been broken by their sin of disobedience. They were dead in their sin, although not yet dead physically (Ephesians 2:1-2). Adam died physically at age 930.
Questions to Ponder
- Suppose you could live for 200 years. What would you hope to accomplish in your second 100 years?
- How would what you learned in your first 100 years contribute to the accomplishment of your goals for the second hundred years?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the 24th of a series of weekly blog articles on Adam.
Read the prequels:
1. Was Adam in the Garden of Eden?
2. Did Moses Believe in Adam?
3. Did Jesus Believe in Adam?
4. Did Paul Believe in Adam?
5. Does Belief in Adam Matter?
6. Adam and Puppies
7. Why Did Adam Sin?
8. What Should Adam Have Done?
9. What Did Adam Cause?
10. What Was Adam’s Forbidden Fruit?
11. How Long Was Adam in Eden?
12. Was Adam’s Garden of Eden Real?
13. Christmas & Adam (with videos)
14. Where Was Adam’s Garden of Eden?
15. Did Adam Wear Clothes in Eden?
16. Was Adam Backward or Brilliant? (with video)
17. Who Was Mrs. Adam?
18. Adam’s Dream Girl
19. Adam’s Prolific Princess
20. Adam’s Problematic Princess
21. How Many Children Did Adam Have?
22. Whom Did Adam’s Sons Marry?
23. Did Adam Ride a Unicorn?
Read the sequels:
25. Did Adam Swat Mosquitoes in Eden?
26. Did Adam’s Garden Have a Talking Snake?
27. Why Should Adam’s Sin Affect Me?
28. Did Roses Have Thorns in Adam’s Garden?
29. Adam the Image-Bearer & Harambe the Gorilla
30. Did Adam Ever Return to Eden?
31. What Was Adam’s Tree of Life?
32. Will Adam Be in Heaven?
33. Did Adam See the Big Dipper?
34. Did Adam Know Earth Is Round?
35. Did Jesus Say When Adam Was Created?
36. Did Adam See Dinosaurs?
37. Did Adam Like Steak?
38. Could Adam Read & Write?
39. Did God Use Evolution to Make Adam?
40. Adam & the Olympics
41. Adam and the Gospel
42. Adam and the Genesis Road
Subscribe – Don’t miss future blog posts!
Click the sidebar’s “SUBSCRIBE” button to follow the
Bible-Science Guy Blog. You’ll automatically receive
new posts free by email. Click SUBSCRIBE NOW!
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday April 27, 2016 A.D.
The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 2:16; 3:1-6)