[b-hebrew] Assumptions about ANE ages that just don't work.

biblical hebrew jcr.bhebrew at gmail.com
Mon Oct 22 05:49:55 EDT 2007

Hi Markus,

Yeah! Thanks for bringing this out. I didn't mention it because I didn't
want to overly complicate the discussion. At first glance, it would seem
that Abraham doesn't feel confident in his virility at 100 years of age. But
how do we reconcile this with the fact that he knew he was the first of
three sons and that his father was 130 when he was born? No mention of Terah
being a particularly holy man or any intervention which helped him become

My understanding, in context, of Abraham's statement of shock is that he is
not so much shocked that he can knock Sarah up at age 100 but the
combination of his being 100 with Sarah's being 90. He didn't show any
surprise at being able to knock Hagar up a few years earlier. That's
probably because Hagar was much younger.

However, one good point you've brought to the fore is that Sarah was 10
years younger than Abraham. That puts her at 65 when Abraham starts his
travels as the new family head. Dividing by 3 that would put her at 22ish by
modern standards. Or, as some suggest, dividing by 2 puts her at 33ish. Does
anyone find it particularly exceptional that a woman can still be beautiful
in the 22-33 age range?

James Christian Read - BSc Computer Science
http://www.lamie.org/hebrew       Thesis 1 - Aleppo codex machine
http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc  Thesis 2 - language acquisition simulation

On 10/19/07, Markus Karzelek <markus at karzelek.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> James C. Read wrote:
> > [...] By Moses day people could expect to live to 70 years or if they
> were
> > particularly strong up to 80 years. But such was not the case in Abram's
> > day. Let's consider Genesis 11:32 where Abram is about to become the new
> > family head:
> > [...]
> > This is how Aram started to get rich. Let's, for arguments sake, say
> that
> > Sarah was between 50 and 70 at the time. Dividing by three that
> > puts here in the 16-24 age bracket by modern standards. Nothing
> > surprising about her being good looking there.
> hm - you make a good point, but there are some verses which you
> overlooked:
> let's take Gen 17,15ff as an example
> +++++++++++++++++
> 15 Then God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call
> her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
> 16 "I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will
> bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will
> come
> from her."
> 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will
> a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is
> ninety years old, bear a child?"
> +++++++++++++++++
> It seems like even in the times of Abraham a man being 100 years old was
> really old and an 90 years old woman has had already her's menopause. At
> least, that's what I think this text suggests.
> kind regards
> Markus
> --
> Markus Karzelek
> ul. sw. Jadwigi 12
> 50-266 Wroclaw
> Poland

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