Another interpretation of the incredibly long life spans is that the numbers are simply symbolic.

Numbers within the Bible, as well as in our modern culture, have associated meanings.

For example, in the Bible 7 means perfection and 8 means the start of a new thing.

In our modern times, we may say ‘rule of 3’, or twos company and threes a crowd.

When we come to these very long ages certain numbers may stand out, like Lamech’s 777 (the most perfect number, sometimes linked to God).

Many of these numbers rely on a sexagesimal system, or numbers which use 60 rather than 10 as a base. This ancient counting system is still used to count time as well as directions and measuring angels in circles.

We can see in this table how each patriarch relates to the Base 60 system. The symbolic meaning of 60 may mean completeness.

Another mathematical connection can be seen when we divide by 5, symbolically related to the grace of God.

As we can see in the table below, most of these numbers are divisible by 5 and the rest divisible by 5 after subtracting 7s.

It could be assumed that these numbers aren’t necessarily accurate in terms of how old each patriarch lived, but point to how close they lived in line with God.

For example, Mahalalel lived until 895 years. He lived a righteous life because his number of years was divisible by 5. While Methuselah lived 969 years, which is only divisible by 5 if two 7s are subtracted from his age. Symbolically saying, he did not live a good life.

However, if we look at the first table, where I divided by 60, the opposite is true for Mahalalel and Methuselah. Mahalalel seems to had lead a life which falls short of 60, the number of completeness.

In the next post we will look at another take on why the lifespans are so long. And it’s all to do with the Greeks.

Before commenting, I delved into Biblical numerology. As with numerology in general, most people get carried away. It's a subject I approach with prejudiced skepticism. The sheer volume of commentary, both wrong-headed and well-meaning, is daunting. I did find what I consider to be stable resources, but nothing satisfying or solid. I think number symbolism is hard to capture objectively in many cases.

I realize this is a light attempt at proof considering the 'base 60 + subtraction = measure of righteousness' system is clearly flawed. It surely gets carried away with itself.

The previous explanations have been interesting and satisfying because it accepts the information we were given and fits an explanation around it. Numerology seems to treat as unimportant the fact that we were told names and ages. Surely to be included in scripture the plain reading has to make some kind of sense? I could not have figured out the numerology without you writing this article--if it was important to our faith why use cryptic numbers? if it was unimportant to our faith, why include it?

This is all very interesting. looking forward to seeing what the Greeks have to add!