Many people think the Genesis ages are chosen to be numbers that people could easily
remember, and some are.
The reason for this is no doubt that many of the traditions that came to be recorded in the Bok of Genesis were initially handed down orally by tradents, who used a variety of techniques to help them remember the stories, including poetry, numbers and meaningful names.
Examples include Noah, who (Genesis 5:32) begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth at the age of 500, although we later learn that there were age differences among Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah was (Genesis 7:6) exactly 600 years old at the time of the Flood, and died just 950 years old. Shem was (Genesis 11:10-11) 100 years old when he begat Arphaxad and then lived another 500 years, thus his lifespan was 600 years. Lamech lived 777 years.
Enoch, who traditionally invented the calendar, follows another rule: Genesis 5:23 tells us he lived 365 years. At the same time, we also find numbers that tradents could easily remember. Enoch's age is split by the birth of Methuselah when he was 65, then exactly 300 more years to his death. Enoch's father Jared, in like fashion, (Genesis 5:18) lived one hundred and sixty two years when he begat Enoch then another 800 years.
The number 17 had special significance in many of the ages in Genesis.
Methuselah, the Bible’s oldest living human, became a father at 187 (11x17) and died at 969 (57x17). There is little chance that the oldest living man would become a father at a multiple of 17 and then die at a multiple of 17 years.
Even more compelling are the ages of the Hebrew patriarchs and their family members, which are hidden in patterns based around the number 17.
- Abraham's lifepan was 175 years, which is (5x5) x7
- Isaac's lifepan was 180 years, which is (6x6) x 5
- Jacob's lifepan was 147 years, which is (7x7) x 3
Examining these supposed lifespans, we find that:
- Each lifespan involves a perfect square (5, 6, then 7) in a numeric
- The third factor also forms a series (7, 5, 3)
- In each case the sum of the factors is 17.
Abraham's wife, Sarah, lived to 127 years, which is the sum of these consecutive square numbers plus 17 -- (127 = 5x5 + 6x6 + 7x7 + 17).
Joseph, sometimes thought of as the fourth patriarch, lived to 110, which is the sum of the square numbers -- (110 = 5x5 + 6x6 + 7x7).
The Book of Genesis ends with Joseph, whose age, 110 years, can be represented as 10X10 + 10.
The Book of Genesis opens with Adam, whose age, 930 years, can be represented as 30X30 + 30.
I also detect patterns around the number 17 among other Genesis characters. For example:
- Adam lived 930 years, which is 7x9 + 3x17x17
- Adam's surviving son, Seth, lived 912 years, which is 5x9 + 3x17x17.
There is more than one “rule” applicable to all of those Genesis ages, but the most common, and the most complex, is the use of the number 17.