Methuselah comes from a history of people who lived long. His father (Enoch) was taken to heaven without dying at 365 years. Methuselah’s son Lamech died a few years before the Flood at 777 years. Lamech’s son Noah lived for 950 years. Without counting Enoch, most of the ten Antediluvian patriarchs from Adam to Noah lived an average of 900 years. That said, how old was Methuselah when he died?
Methuselah was 969 years old when he died (Genesis 5:27). However, it was not uncommon for people in the Antediluvian period to have a long lifespan. For instance, Adam and Jared lived 930 and 962 years, respectively. Still, Methuselah lived longer and his long lifespan has made him so popular that his name has become a metaphor for old things and people.
Why Did Methuselah Live So Long?
Adam and Eve were created without sin and they were meant to live forever in the Garden of Eden. However, the fall of man introduced sin which brought death. This meant there was a limit to the human lifespan. As such, Adam lived for 930 years and his descendants until Noah had a relatively long lifespan but still died nonetheless.
Genesis chapter 5 gives a list of descendants of Adam and how long they lived. For instance, Seth (the son of Adam) lived 912 years, and his son died at age 905. One of the reasons why people at that time had long lifespans was to have many children and increase in number to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). A low life expectancy meant people would have taken centuries to procreate and spread throughout the earth. Longevity was God’s way of ensuring early humanity survived longer and advanced. A long lifespan also indicates God’s incredible patience in giving humans time to repent (2 Peter 3: 8-10).
The Death of Methuselah
There was a spiritual decline during the time of Enoch and Methuselah. The Bible says in Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
Jude 1:14-15 talks of a prophecy given by Enoch about God coming to judge everyone and convict people of ungodly acts. So Enoch was warning people to repent. God was patient and throughout Methuselah’s long life, He gave people ample time and chances to turn away from wickedness.
There were a few people like the family of Enosh and Seth who worshiped the Lord, i.e., separated themselves from the wickedness of the world (Genesis 4:26). Noah was also one of the people who found favor with the Lord (Genesis 6:8). In fact, he was blameless in his generation. God gave the descendants of Adam time to repent through Methuselah’s long life. The scripture says, “God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Peter 3:20).
Additionally, Methuselah’s long life can also signify that God did not want people to perish: “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live” (Ezekiel 18:32). The many years it took Noah to build the ark also offered ample opportunity for people to repent and avert judgment.
But only eight people were found worthy. Methuselah was not among the people who boarded the ark. It’s unlikely he died in the floods because God asked Noah to take his family into the ark (Genesis 7:1). Methuselah wouldn’t have been left behind because he was Noah’s grandfather. He probably died from natural causes before the Flood started.
Methuselah was 187 years old when his son Lamech was born. Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son called Noah. That means Methuselah was 369 years old when Noah was born (Genesis 5:25-29). He probably spent time with his grandson and helped in the construction of the ark.
The Flood did not start until Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:6 ). If we add we add the length of time between Methuselah’s age when Noah was born and when Noah entered the ark (187+182+600) it is 969 years. That means Methuselah died the same year the Flood was sent.
Meaning of Methuselah
Hebrew parents often gave their children names. For example, Abraham’s name “father of many nations” reflects the promise God made to him (Genesis 17:4). When Enoch was 65 years he was blessed with a baby boy that he named Methuselah (Genesis 5:21). At that time Enoch was a prophet so the name he gave Methuselah could have been prophetic.
Scholars suggest that the name Methuselah means ‘death will be sent’ and that he died before the Floods. Another notable theory that points to the meaning of the name Methuselah explains that God gave Enoch a revelation that the floods would not come until his son died. In this case, Enoch named his son as a way to foretell when the Floods would come.
However, according to the Hebrew lexicon, Methuselah’s name may not be related to anything to do with the Floods. The name Methuselah comprises two parts: Metu (Man) and Shelah (dart/spear). When we combine the two in a way that makes sense, the name Methuselah would mean man of the dart.
Little is known about Methuselah’s life. However, evidence shows that he served as a bridge that shows the faith his father and grandson had in God. In fact, both Enoch and Noah lived a life of faith and walked with God (Genesis 5:24, 6:9).
Methuselah draws a lot of attention due to his age. He lived for 969 years and became the oldest man in the Bible. There have been various speculations on the meaning of his name. scholars suggest it signifies ‘death will be sent’ or ‘man of the dart.’ Regardless of what the name means, Methuselah died the same year as the Flood. Because of that, his death might have represented the promise of God to bring judgment to the sinful world.