In Genesis 5 it stands written concerning the descendants of Adam through to Noah and his sons. Now, in making my own chronology of years, I have come across an issue in applying the numbers together: The term "He was X years old" is used in the same fashion as saying "In his X year". This could mean two things:

  1. The year spoken of is to be understood in regards to how many full circulations of the sun he has experienced since his birth.


  1. The year spoken of is to be understood as the year in which he participated in, be it 1 day or 359 days.


Adam was created Year 6/1/1, and so would he then be 2 years of age when the date was 6/1/2, one complete year's length later, or when it was 1/1/2, at the beginning of the second year?


2 Answers 2


The practice throughout the genealogies of Genesis appears to be, in the words of the OP, option #1. This can be seen from a very simple observation about any of the patriarchs - take Adam as an example in Gen 5:3-5.

  • Adam is 130 years old when Seth is born.
  • Adam lives 800 years after Seth is born
  • Adam is 930 old when he dies.

Since 130 + 800 = 930, it is NOT inclusive reckoning. The same results apply for all other patriarchs in Gen 5 and Gen 11. The NASB makes this clearer as do most other translations.


The years in the Genesis genealogies fit nicely into the chronology when we first notice that it doesn't say "When Adam was 130 years old...he became the father of Seth". That would require calculating speculations like 'was he 129 years and 7 months old, or maybe 130 years and 5 months old, or somewhere in between'?

It says "When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father...".

So we start the timeline with Creation. Adam was created on day 6. We can start the clock now and count off 130 years. Next we're told "Seth lived 105 years, and became the father of Enosh", so we add 105 years and now we've counted off a total of 235 years.

This method can be followed until Noah, when we're told "Noah was 500 years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth". NOW is when we see the phrase "years old" in reference to (apparently) the genealogy, but this number is irrelevant for our purposes because Shem is next in the lineage to Messiah, and he's not reckoned to the Timeline by when he was born.

The Flood started on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the 600th year of Noah's life. The flood would remain on the earth the entire year, and as the water receded the mountain tops could be seen in the 10th month.

Then they came off the Ark in the 601st year of Noah's life, on the 27th day of the 2nd month. They were told to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

10 months later, after leaving the ark, was the beginning of the year that Shem's son Arphaxad was born. We know 4 things about this year:

  • It was the 602nd year of Noah's life
  • It was the year Arphaxad was born
  • Shem was 100 years old
  • It was 2 years after the Flood

"Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood" (Gen. 11:10)

From here we continue as we did in the beginning: "Arphaxad lived 35 years, and begot Salah" etc. etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.