LONGEVITY (16n-j6v1-ty). The lengthened ages of some of the ante and postdiluvian fathers, as given by Moses in the Hebrew text, are as fol lows: Infidelity has in various ages attacked revelation because of the supposed absurdity of assigning to any class of 'nen this lengthened term of exist ence. In reference to this Josephus (Antiq. lib. iii.) remarks:—'Let no one upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think that what we say of them is false; or make the shortness of our lives at present an argument that neither did they attain to so long a duration of life.' When we consider the compensating process which is going on, the marvel is that the human frame should not' last longer than it does. Some, however, have supposed that the years above named are /unar, consisting of about thirty days; but this supposition, with a view to reduce the lives of the antediluvians to our standard, is re plete with difficulties. At this rate the whole time, from the creation of man to the Flood, would not be more than about No years; and Methuselah himself would not have attained to the age which many even now do, whilst many must have had children when mere infants! Be sides, if we compute the age of the postdiluvians by this mode of calculation—and why should we not ?—we shall find that Abraham, who is said to have died in a good old age (Gen. xxv:8) could not have been more than fifteett years old! Moses must therefore have meant solar, not /unar years —not, however, exactly so long as ours, for the ancients generally reckoned twelve months, of thirty days each, to the year.
(1) St. Augustine's Explanation. But it is asked, if Moses meant solar years, how came it to pass that the patriarchs did not begin to be get children at an earlier period than they are reported to have done? Seth was 1°5 years old, on the lowest calculation, when he begat Enos; and Methuselah 187 when Lamech was born! St. Augustine 0:15) explains this difficulty in a two fold manner, by supposing: (t) Either that the age of puberty was later in proportion as the lives of the antediluvians were longer than ours.
(2) Or that Moses does not record the firstborn sons, but as the order of the genealogy required. his object being to trace the succession from Adam, through Seth, to Abraham.
(2) Josephus' Explanation. As to the prob able reason why God so prolonged the life of man in the earlier ages of the world, and as to the sub ordinate means by which this might have been ac complished, Josephus says (Attila. i, 3): 'For those ancients were beloved of God, and lately made by God himself; and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, they might well live so great a number of years; and because God afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue and the good use they made of life in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, for they would not have had the time for foretelling, the periods of the stars unless they had lived 600 years; for the great year is completed in that interval.' (3) Reasons Examined. in the above pas sage Josephus enumerates four causes of the longevity of the earlier patriarchs. As to the first, viz., their being dearer to God than other men, it is plain that it cannot be maintained; for the profligate descendants of Cain were equally long-lived, as mentioned above, with others. Neither can we agree in the second reason Ile assigns; because we find that Noah and others, though born so long subsequently to the creation of Adam, yet lived to as great an age, some of them to a greater age than Ile d:d. lf, again, it were right to attribute longevity to the superior quality of the food of the antediluvians, then the seasons on which this depends must, about Moses' time—for it was then that the term of hu man existence was reduced to its present stand ard—have assumed a fixed character. But no change at that time took place in the revolution of the heavenly bodies by which the seasons of heat, cold, etc., are regulated; hence we must not as sume that it was the nature of the fruits they ate which caused longevity.