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Background

In English and most other languages, positively including Spanish, the year that elapses between the birth and the first birthday of a person, say Noah, during which he is [0 years and] n months old, with n < 12, is called the first year of his life, not the "zeroth" year (or, if using cardinals instead of ordinals, year 1, not year 0).

So, the year during which Noah is 1 year old is the second year (or year 2) of his life, and the year during which Noah is n years old is the (n+1)th year (or year n+1) of his life.

Question

Does the above rule hold in the biblical Hebrew used by the Priestly school in Gen 7:11? Specifically, does Gen 7:11, which I will quote from the NASB...

"In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened." (Gen 7:11)

... mean that the Flood started when Noah was 599 years old?

Note: my question is strictly at the linguistic level about the plain meaning of the Gen 7:11 text in isolation, so please answer it at that level, just ignoring Gen 7:6.

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  • We can only know the linguistics of ancient languages through how they are used in preserved texts, so why would you purposely ignore a key phrase right next to the one you're asking about?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 22 at 5:13
  • Taking it therefore as granted that he was 600 years old from verse 6 in the 600th year of his life, it follows to ask whether year 0 or year 1 was the year he was 1 years old in the first year of his life. If you look at Jacob's age when he entered Egypt at 130 years old, and how he lived in the land for another 17 years, dying at 147, then it's clear that no part of the tallied seventeen number was included in the tallied 130 years, but that only after the next calendar year had begun(the year in which his 1st year in Egypt had ended) did they start counting those years(also see Gen 8:13).
    – user21676
    Jun 23 at 21:15
  • @curiousdannii, because understanding 7:11 based on 7:6 presupposes one type of consistency between 7:6 and 7:11, namely absolute consistency, whereas if we can determine the meaning of 7:11 in isolation, then we can discern the type of consistency between 7:6 and 7:11, namely either absolute or increasing accuracy consistency.
    – Johannes
    Jun 23 at 21:55
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Genesis 1:

5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.”
And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

As OP mentions: the counting starts at 1, not 0. At this point, the earth was 1 day old.

Genesis 2:

2 And by the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on that day He rested from all His work.

Generalize this to count years. There is no Year 0. It starts with Year 1.

Genesis 7:11

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day, based strictly at the linguistic level, Noah was 600 years old according to the usage of the Hebrew language.

I understand your point. My Chinese mother would call me 62 years old but my Canadian children would call me 61 years old. I think the ancient Hebrew count age the way ancient Chinese did, not as modern Westerners. Also, both cultures used the lunar system.

The Flood started when Noah was 599 years old? Yes, in the Western sense of years-old.

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