Saturday, 13 October 2007

The postdiluvian patriarchs

Only the age at the birth of the son and the remaining years are mentioned for the postdiluvian patriarchs. The age at which they died can easily be calculated. Again the figures vary depending on the texttype.

Texttype Masoretic Septuagint Samaritan
Name Son Years Died Son Years Died Son Years Died
Noah
502
448
950 502 448 950 502 448 950
Shem 100 500 600 100 500 600 100 500 600
Arphaxad
35 403 438 135 430 565 135 303 438
Shelah
30 403 433 130 330 460 130 303 433
Eber
34 430 464 134 370 504 134 270 404
Peleg
30 209 239 130 209 339 130 109 239
Reu
32 207 239 132 207 339 132 107 239
Serug
30 200 230 130 200
330 130 100 230
Nahor 29 119 148 79 129 208 79 69 148
Terah 70 135 205 70 135 205 70 75 145

The figures for Terah are to his first son. Genesis 12 and Acts 7 imply that Abram was 75 at Terah's death and therefore Terah was 130 when Abram was born, so the year in which Abram was born is 75 years prior to Terah's death.

So we can calculate the year of the flood, the year in which Abram was born and the time elapsed.

Texttype Masoretic Septuagint Samaritan
Period Flood Gap Abram Flood Gap Abram Flood Gap Abram

1656 352
2008
2242
1132
3374
1307
942
2249

Again I prefer the Masoretic. There seems to be a rationale for lengthening the times so as to make one's culture ancient, but to shorten the timeframe would seem unlikely. As there is no summary age as there is in Genesis 5, the fact of the systematic change in Genesis 5 and the frequent difference of 100 years suggests this was conscious, not accidental.

If the Masoretic is original, then the Samaritan has added years till the year of the first child but subtracted them for the remaining years leaving the total calculated age the same even though this is not given in Scripture. The exceptions being Eber and Nahor. The interesting thing about Eber is that the age after the son was born is 100 years less than the Septuagint. Was there are further Hebrew text which gave 370 years to Eber after his son was born?

Explaining the derivation of the Septuagint is difficult. Arphaxad, Salah and Eber don't appear to derive from the Masoretic at all. A smoothing effect (so that the ages drop off steadily from 900 years) is not clearly apparent and is an inadequate explanation.

If the Masoretic is correct we have the situation where Abram potentially could have known his ancestors. Abram was born in 2008 AM. Note the year of death.

Name BirthDeath
Noah
1056 2006
Shem 1558 2158
Arphaxad 1658 2096
Shelah 1693 2126
Eber 1723 2187
Peleg 1757 1996
Reu 1787 2026
Serug 1819 2049
Nahor 1849 1997
Terah 1878 2083
Abram 2008 2183

Of Abram's 10 ancestors following the Flood, 7 of them were alive at his birth. Noah died 2 years before Abram was born. And Peleg and Nahor also died prior to his birth. The others were all alive. Shem, who had seen the Flood, only died 25 years before Abram, Abram would have been 150 years old and Isaac 50. Eber, from whom the Hebrews derive their name, outlived Abram!

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