At first it seems clear that Noah was 500 years older than Shem.

Gen 5:32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (KJV)

However, if we calculate from a different perspective, it seems Noah may have been as much as 502 years older than Shem.

Noah’s age at the time of the flood:

Gen 9:28-29 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died*** (KJV)

With those verses it seems Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood (950 -350).

Shem’s age at the time of the flood:

Gen 11:10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: (KJV)

Per that verse it seems Shem was 98 years old at the time of the flood (i.e. 100 – 2).

Combining the last 3 verses, Noah was 502 years older than Shem (i.e. Noah 600 years old at the time of the flood less Shem at 98).

Was Noah only 500 years older than Shem or as much as 502 years older? How can the 2 year difference be reconciled?


1 Answer 1


Genesis 7:6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

I don't know if anyone can prove the 2-year aspect or not. He could not have had three boys simultaneously. However Shem was the first-born... so it is reasonable to infer he was born (i.e. within 9 months) in Noah's 500th year.

Thus Shem certainly could have been 500 years (born in Noah's 500th year) younger than Noah, and 100 years old when the flood occurred. Time lived on the ark was 370 days (using the 360 day calendar which was very common back then). Shem must have been 101 years old when he left the ark. Noah was 601.

While the Bible is consistent in many cases about the parents age at the birth of the first-born, I am speculating the context perhaps means Shem was 100 when he entered the ark, 101 when leaving the ark, and 102 when he had Arphaxad (within 1 year after leaving the ark). He got 'busy' as soon as he left the ark!

Thus the 2-year mystery 'may' be solved!


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