In the latter two-thirds of Genesis eleven, we have the full messianic lineage, from Shem to Abraham. This is laid out just like Genesis five, with only a couple of exceptions. For review, the pattern is
- Father is identified
- Age at the birth of the seed-line son is given.
- The messianic-line son is named.
- The age at which the father died.
- A note that the father had other sons and daughters.
But, there’s something very different here: the age of the dad at the time the son is born is dramatically lower than the ages before the Deluge. And, even more importantly, the lifespans over all are dramatically reduced, from both the Genesis five patriarchs, and from their own fathers and grandfathers. Shem outlived six of the next seven generations of descendants. His son Arpachshad likewise outlived six of the next seven generations. And, when Abram (later Abraham) was born, six of his direct ancestors were still alive. Great (x7) gradnpa Arpachshad was still alive. And, Noah himself had only died two years earlier.
This is a huge change from both the earlier patriarchs and from the modern world. My mom met her three grandchildren. Her mom met four. But, Abram could have known his ancestor ten generations back.
The Deluge changed a lot more than the topography. We already know that many species went extinct either in the Deluge or shortly after it. And, if the pattern of age drop that existed in humans played out similarly in the animal kingdom, there was an explosion of growth, but a nearly equal (compared to before the Deluge) death rate.
This makes sense. If so many species went extinct, then our eating habits also changed dramatically. We already know from Genesis nine that people started eating meat after the Deluge. No doubt many other things changed as well.
Yet, according to some, “the Bible isn’t a science textbook”1.
That’s a true statement, but it’s usually used in a derogatory sense. But, in this case, we have an example of something the ancients would never make up, precisely because they weren’t scientists: a dramatic drop in life expectancy due to a cataclysmic event.
Because they were not scientists, the records must be telling the truth. If they made the story up, they would have made up some excuse as to why things changed. Yet again, the Bible defends itself handily by simply reporting the truth.