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Genesis 6:3 refers to when God set humans' lifespans to (approximately) 120 years. However, the NLT (the translation I prefer) has a slightly different translation for the 120-years part.

Genesis 6:3 (NIV)
3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

Genesis 6:3 (ESV)

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120

Genesis 6:3 (NLT)
3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.”

In particular, the NLT says "no more than" whereas the other translations don't. Thus, my question is: does the original Hebrew support this interpretation, allow it, or neither?

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Welcome to Hermeneutics! ;-) –  Jon Ericson Feb 27 '12 at 16:57
Yeah, I signed up four months ago just to post this! ;P –  El'endia Starman Feb 27 '12 at 16:59
One of the most interesting aspects of this verse is that it is out of place in the narrative, it is one of the places where you could have an interpolation. But I don't see any possible motivation for anyone to interpolate this, other than it looks like an interpolation. NLT is not very good in keeping faithful nuance of meaning--- it is a crude translation IMO. –  Ron Maimon Apr 12 '12 at 6:53
I always interpreted this to mean that from that point it was 120 years until the flood of Noah considering the time it took to build the ark and so forth. Not human life spans, because even after the flood people we living 3 and 4 hundred years fairly commonly up until Abraham and even he lived well over 120 years. –  user654 Jun 29 '12 at 22:24
From the three translations that you give, it seems that the NLT simply adds some padding to the literal translation so as to make it more digestible. In particular, one could suspect that the NLT translators found the phrase "and his days will be 120 years" confusing, since it would seem to imply that everybody would live to exactly 120 years; hence they added the clause "no more than". The original Hebrew bears this out: it simply reads wehaiu iamaiu meʼam we'esrim shanah, which word-for-word translates as "and-they-will-be his-days hundred and-twenty years". So this seems pretty clear. –  René Oct 1 at 16:46

protected by Community Oct 1 at 11:24

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