120 years in Genesis 6

Ben Crick ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Thu Jan 3 16:41:36 EST 2002

On Wed  2 Jan 2002 (20:58:12), sdbiblestudy at aol.com wrote:
> I am wondering if anyone has any great interpretations for the Genesis 
> passage that talks about man only having 120 years left.  Some say that
> this is the new "lifespan for mankind" others say this is how long it
> would be until the flood....which is correct?  Either?  Are there any
> Hebrew insights? Thanks for your thoughts
 AIUI, Jeff, 120 years is the time it took Noah and his sons to build the
 Ark (compare 1 Peter 3:20). If that were the case, then yes, only 120 years
 were left before the Flood, because "My Spirit shall not always strive with
 man" (verse 3).

 Some compare the 120 years with the life spans of heroes like Moses, Joshua,
 Caleb, and even Joseph who only managed 110. It was in the Psalm of *Moses*
 (Psalm 90) that the human life span is given as merely 70 to 80 years (verse

 The Flood came in the year that Methuselah died (M:TuW$eLaX, "when I die it
 happens"). Noah was 600 when the Flood came; Lamech lived 182 years before
 Noah was born; therefore the Flood came 782 years after the birth of Lamech.
 Methuselah lived another 782 years after the birth of Lamech: therefore he
 died the year that the Flood came (Genesis 5:26-28, 7:6). Methuselah was the
 oldest of all; the patience of God waited until the oldest of all was safely
 gathered in to his fathers before the judgment of the Flood came with a rush.

 Quite apart from the context of 6:1-2 which bristles with difficulties,
 verse 3 is not without problems. YaDoWN is from root DiYN [=DuWN] to rule;
 compare the noun 'aDoWN, a lord. In 6:3 it is in the Qal; in the Niphal it
 means to strive. But to be lord implies also to judge; here the judgment is to
 reduce the lifespan to 120 years (or the time left for repentance reduced to
 120 years).

 B:$aGGaM is a problem word. Is it B: plus 'a$eR plus GaM, meaning "because"?
 Or is it the infinitive of $aGaG to err, with the 3 m pl suffix, and the
 preposition B: "in their erring"?  This erring and straying demonstrates
 their fleshly nature (Ba&aR) as opposed to the spiritual nature of God
 (RuWaXiY). God will not give them an indefinite period (L:`oLaM) to repent,
 but will limit their time to repent to 120 years, during which time Noah is to
 preach righteousness to them (2 Peter 2:5).

 So what do you think, Jeff?

 Revd Ben Crick BA CF, and Mrs Joanna (Goodwin) Crick
 <ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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