RE: [asa] Ages of the Patriarchs

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Tue Feb 20 2007 - 16:12:39 EST

For a disclaimer, I'm no mathematician. However, all that symmetry gets
messed up when you consider the Masoretic text, the Samaritan Pentateuch
and the Septuagint all have different numbers. Any numbers that give
off wonderful symmetry from one text won't in another. Furthermore
there is a deletion of one post-flood patriarch Canaan who is the son of
Arphaxad absent without leave in the Masoretic text yet present and
accounted for in the Septuagint. So adding up all those ages and coming
up with marvelous numbers is all hokum, in my humble estimation.

Consider this: The consensus date for the flood is 2900 BC. Abraham was
at about 2000 BC. That puts 900 years to be divided by 9 patriarchs
from Shem to Abraham. Now that's math I can do.

Dick Fischer, Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Iain Strachan
Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2007 2:07 PM
To: Asa
Subject: Re: [asa] Ages of the Patriarchs


I think there is much more to it than the digit-ends.

Since my interaction with the list, I had some private off-list
correspondence with Carol Ann Hill, who directed me to a most
interesting letter to the editor in PSCF Vol 56 No 2. The letter, by
Richard Johnson was in response to Carol's original article:

Johnson's findings (summarised from his Masters thesis) provide much
more dramatic proof of deliberate summing to sacred numbers, involving
7 as a basis.

He considers the Genealogies in Genesis 5 (Adam to Noah) Genesis 11
(Shem to Terah) and the scattered genealogy in Genesis and Exodus of
the patriarchal ages from Abraham to Moses (seven patriarchs).

The only feature I found a little dubious was that he concentes on the
first and third of these (the two geneaolgies that begin and end with
a person with whom God made a covenant. However, if one swallows that
for a moment, he considered the remaining 17 ages given for these
patriarchs and noted the following.

The first 10 (Gen 5) add up to 8575 = 25 x 7 x 7 x 7
The last 7 (Abraham - Moses) add up to 1029 = 3 x 7 x 7 x 7

(ie the total comes to 9604 = 4x7x7x7x7 )

The "middle" entry in the list of 17 is Lamech, with the age of 777.

Taking the list of 17 as contiguous (ie omitting the Gen 11 figures)
he found that the sum of the seven ages before Lamech (Seth to Enoch)
and the seven after Lamech (Noah to Amran -omitting the names in Gen
11) made a total of 7777 years.

Within that group there are several contiguous subgroups that come to
multiples of 101 (7777 = 77x101) There were combinations coming to
2727, 4949, 1919, and 909.

What he did not point out (though it might have been in his thesis) is
a "digit-pair reversal" symmetry in that the seven before Lamech and
the seven after Lamech come to 5918 and 1859 respectively. (Note that
59+18 = 77). [ I also noticed that if 5918 is expressed in Babylonian
sexagesimal (base 60) arithmetic, it comes to [1,38,38] whose "digits"
also sum to 77].

Now, I know that many on the list find that numerology is not to their
taste, but we are here discussing the possible deliberate use of
numerology, rather than indulging in numerology ourselves. (Though it
looks like the Biblical authors weren't above numerology!) I would
say the pattern looks pretty convincing, and was therefore
deliberately contrived.

He also notes that if you take into account the 10 ages from Genesis
11, the whole lot (26 patriarchs) comes to a round total of 12600, and
notes for mathematicians that 12600 is the smallest integer to have
exactly 70 divisors (excluding 1 and itself).


On 2/20/07, gordon brown <> wrote:
> David,
> I think that Phil's point is not about the last digit of the numbers
> about what happens after you lop off the last seven years in the cases
> where the numbers end in 2 or 7. The number of options for making the
> of the number the sum of sacred numbers is so great that it would
> that you could do this with any numbers ending in 0 or 5.
> Gordon Brown
> Department of Mathematics
> University of Colorado
> Boulder, CO 80309-0395
> On Tue, 20 Feb 2007, David Opderbeck wrote:
> > *This was fairly easy to prove -- you just write down the rules the
way they
> > were being used in that article and then you apply them consistently
to all
> > the other numbers that exist, and you can prove in just a few hours
> > that literally **every** number meets the rules equally well.
Hence, this
> > approach fails to show that there is anything special about the**
ages of
> > the patriarchs. There is **no** evidence whatsoever that they are
> > numbers*.
> >
> > Phil, perhaps it's because I'm math-challenged, but how does this
relate to
> > the following paragraph in Carol's paper:
> >
> >
> > Note that for the 30 numbers listed for the antediluvial patriarchs
up to
> > the Flood (from Adam to Noah), all of the ages end in 0, 5, 7, 2 (5
+ 7 =1*2
> > *) or 9 (5 + 7 + 7 = 1*9*) - *a chance probability of one in a
> > For the entire 60-number list (antediluvial and postdiluvial), none
of the
> > ages end in 1 or 6 -- a chance probability of one in about one-half
> > million. Surely, if the ages of the patriarchs in Genesis are
> > numbers, as weould be expected for real ages, this could not be the
> > *It
> > is inconceivable that all this could be accidental! *(Hill at p.
> > (emphasis in original))
> >
> > In an earlier post, Iain pointed out a flaw in the "one in a
> > probability, but the correction still results in an extraordinarly
> > probability that seems to suggest these aren't "real" random ages.
It seems
> > to me that the *combination* of this observation about the numbers
with the
> > observation that they can be broken into some combination of sacred
> > gives the thesis that these numbers are symbolic its power -- not
> > formula for breaking down the numbers alone.
> >
> >
> > On 2/17/07, <> wrote:
> >>
> >> Hi all,
> >>
> >> I plan to write an article on this topic, but here are some
> >>
> >> First, although I really love all of Carol Hill's articles, I
believe this
> >> particular article contains a mistake. She was trying to show that
> >> patriarchical ages in Gen.5 are symbolic, and hence not to be taken
> >> literally. To do so she and her collaborator developed a list of
> >> that
> >> would define certain numbers as being "special" symbolic numbers.
> >> example, divisibility by 60 carries symbolic meaning since 60 was
> >> number
> >> associated with a certain Sumerian god, and was the basis of their
> >> system, and had other symbolic meaning in Sumeria. Apparently,
this list
> >> of
> >> rules to define "special" numbers had to be expanded until it
became broad
> >> enough to include all the patriarchical ages. So it was necessary
> >> include not just factorization, but also breaking down the numbers
> >> additively into portions that may be factorized separately. This
is what
> >> the article actually does for almost all the numbers in the
list.&nb sp;
> >> But
> >> this had the side effect of making the rules so overly broad that
> >> every number between 1 and infinity satisfies the definition of a
> >> symbolic number. This was fairly easy to prove -- you just write
down the
> >> rules the way they were being used in that article and then you
apply them
> >> consistently to all the other numbers that exist, and you can prove
in just
> >> a few hours work that literally **every** number meets the rules
> >> well. Hence, this approach fails to show that there is anything
> >> about the ages of the patriarchs. There is **no** evidence
> >> that they are symbolic numbers.
> >>
> >> As far as the Sumerian kings list (SKL) and other sources that say
> >> Sumerians lived very long ages, this has already been thoroughly
> >> by ANE scholars. I tried this myself: just plot all the ages from
the SKL
> >> (both ante- and post-deluvial) onto a scatterplot. You will see
that every
> >> city-state had its own average age and its own standard deviation
> >> around that average. When the kings list leaves one city-state and
goes to
> >> the next, you get a very distinct step in both the average and the
> >> These steps are sometimes a factor of 60, sometimes a factor of 6,
> >> The
> >> obvious implication is that the funny data are the result of
> >> city-states using different numbering systems. Whoever compiled
the SKL
> >> back in ancient times was unaware of the different numbering
systems and
> >> wrongly interpreted them according to the same set of rules. This
> >> the apparently long ages that we see for some ci ty-states as well
as all
> >> the distinct steps we see between the other city-states. ANE
scholars have
> >> known about this for a long time and have explained it in detail
from the
> >> actual numbering systems that were in use. Apparently, the ancient
> >> who compiled the SKL not only made the mistake of misinterpeting
> >> numbers, but then followed up by creating mythology around these
> >> They believed that the earlier kings lived long ages so they
> >> fantastic stories about it.
> >>
> >> What about the Patriarchs' ages in the Bible? Apparently something
> >> similar happened in the misinterpretation of the ages. Here is the
> >> of events that I am hypothesizing (and others have probably
> >> exactly this, as well): that Abraham brought the account of the
Flood and
> >> antediluvial patriarchs with him from Sumeria when God sent him to
> >> The Jewish people faithfully copied down the numerals for
> >> generation-by-generation even long after they had forgotten what
> >> meant. Eventually, the Jews were brought into Babylon during the
> >> and this re-exposed them to the most common of the old Mesopotamian
> >> systems. So they suddenly had a way to understand the numerals
> >> in
> >> their own Scripture. Unfortunately, they were not exposed to the
> >> **correct** one of the many old Mesopotamian number systems, and so
> >> numbers were misinterpreted. This gave us a Patriarch list with
ove rly
> >> long ages, but which have funny statistical features that give
evidence of
> >> that misinterpretation.
> >>
> >> Here is a funny statistical feature: note that every age in the
list ends
> >> in either 0, 2, 5, or 7. There is never any use of 1, 3, 4, 6, 8,
or 9 for
> >> the trailing digit. (The one exception is Methuselah's total age,
> >> ends in 9 because it is the addition of a 2 and a 7 for his earlier
> >> of
> >> life; so the 9 is probably a gloss to get additive consistency.
More will
> >> be said about this kind of "tinkering" below.) The improbability
of this
> >> unusual feature is so overwhelming that it gives strong evidence of
> >> mistranslation of the original numbering system. At least one
theory has
> >> been worked out in detail as to how these features could arise,
based on
> >> actual Mesopotamian systems with only a little speculation. I have
> >> out my own theory, but it is purely speculative (not based on known
> >> Mesopotamian number systems) and hence not a good theory. But in
any case,
> >> we know that the mistranslation of number systems can give exactly
> >> kinds of funny statistical features, and nothing else reasonably
> >>
> >> The interpretation of ages in the Patriarch list wasn't the only
> >> problem in the ancient text of the Jewish scriptures. There is
> >> that they had other number systems before finally settling on the
> >> system the world uses today. I think that at the time of the
Exodus until
> >> somewhere before king David, the Jews were using a base-7 system.
There is
> >> some very strong evidence for that in the Bible, which I hope to
> >> soon. There are many other numerical problems in the OT, too. So
> >> Jewish scholars at the time of the Captivity were struggling to
> >> why the numbers in the Bible didn't add up correctly, and how it
needed to
> >> be changed to "correct" it since they had faith that the text was
from God
> >> but didn't know how the numbers were supposed to be handled. The
> >> result
> >> of their arguments is seen in the three existing texts of the
> >> the Masoretic (upon which our modern Bibles are bas ed), the
> >> and
> >> the Samaritan. All three versions have different patterns in the
> >> Apparently the scholars never got absolute unanimity in their
attempt to
> >> resolve the numbers and that is why we have three versions
surviving to
> >> this
> >> day. Their differences aren't random, but rather they show that
> >> scholars were consciously trying to reconcile the numbers and so
> >> version consistently uses a different method to do so. As the end
> >> in each version the numbers are internally consistent by adding up
> >> correctly
> >> number-by-number. So we know that there was some "tinkering" with
> >> numbers to make each version internally consistent like this. For
> >> Jewish scholars, who greatly respected their Scriptures, it must
have been
> >> a
> >> very long and intense debate about how to change God's holy words,
and so
> >> the debate was probably not finished for several centuries. When
> >> masoretic text was finally settled, all its numerals were converted
> >> spelled-out words (writing "seven" instead of "7") in order to
codify the
> >> conclusions and prevent that kind of problem from happening again.
> >>
> >> So I am convinced that the Patriarch's ages are a misinterpretation
of an
> >> ancient number system, and that it has no implications against the
> >> inspiration and inerrancy of the original text. I believe this was
> >> result of scholars attempting to "correct" something that wasn't
> >> to begin with, because they didn't have sufficient knowledge of
> >> numbering systems.
> >>
> >> There are a couple of remarkable things to point out. First,
unlike what
> >> happened in Mesopotamia, there is absolutely NO mythology in the
> >> surrounding these long ages of the Patriarchs. The Bible treats
them as
> >> completely unremarkable and has nothing to say about the length of
> >> these ages. This is evidence that the Bible was not formed as a
> >> mythology the way that the Sumerian stories developed.
> >>
> >> Second, the very existence of these numerical features is evidence
> >> the Bible is really very old and hence authentic. If the stories
of the
> >> Patriarchs and later the Exodus and Conquest were merely invented
at a late
> >> age when base-10 was the norm, then its inventors would not have
come up
> >> with numbers that are statistically provable as mistranslations of
> >> number systems. The only way this could have reasonably happened
was if
> >> the
> >> ancient Jews really did use a base-7 system at the time of the
> >> and
> >> if the Patriarch's ages really did come from ancient Mesopotamian
> >> numbering,
> >> and so this proves that the text was not a recent fabrication.
> >>
> >> I have purposely not told the evidence for the base-7 system
because that
> >> is the main thing that I hope to publish soon.
> >>
> >> best regards,
> >>
> >> Phil Metzger
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From:
> >> To:
> >> Sent: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 8:41 AM
> >> Subject: Re: [asa] Ages of the Patriarchs
> >>
> >> I have several questions on this topic.
> >>
> >> First, for Dick Fischer:
> >>
> >> You wrote "Evidence for long life is scant at best, but personally,
I take
> >> the ages at face value" by which I take it you mean the stated
numbers in
> >> Gen. 1-11 are the physical years of life of the patriarchs. I've
> >> admired your work, and that of Carol Hill, Conrad Hyers, etc. in
the sense
> >> that a deep understanding of the mesopotamian culture is vital to
> >> understanding Genesis. Given the indications that numbers had a
> >> symbolic value in that culture, why do you feel that these numbers
> >> represent
> >> chronology instead of symbolism? Or at least would you have an
openness to
> >> the possibility that they might be?
> >>
> >> To any paleontologists or similar expertise:
> >>
> >> How is the longevity of a pre-historic species determined? esp. of
> >> mammals?
> >> Is there any evidence for enhanced longevity in Homo Sapiens at any
> >> in the past? (assuming the longevity wasn't limited to a small
number of
> >> special cases)
> >> If not, is it simply that there is no evidence of it? or is there
> >> that there was no enhanced longevity?
> >>
> >> To biologists:
> >>
> >> What is the latest research thinking on aging? How big a factor is
> >> radiation considered to be?
> >> What is the role of telomeres in aging? Can you help explain
> >> Is there any reason to believe that Homo Sapiens could have had,
from a
> >> biological point of view, enhanced longevity in the past?
> >> Is there reason to believe it couldn't have had it?
> >> Is the increase in life expectancy over the last couple of
> >> entirely due to the shift in distribution of life spans? or is
there also
> >> an
> >> element of increasing longevity?
> >> (assuming I'm using the terms longevity and life expectancy
correctly to
> >> mean, respectively, the inherent 'early disease-free' life of an
> >> individual, vs the actuarial expectation)
> >>
> >>
> >> Randy
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> ------------------------------
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> >>
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> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > David W. Opderbeck
> > Web:
> > Blog:
> > MySpace (Music):
> >
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Received on Tue Feb 20 16:13:29 2007

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