Tuesday, January 22, 2008

120 years

This week a couple people have asked me about a passage from Genesis 6, so I though it would be good to go back and post concerning this passage.

The end of Genesis 5 introduces us to Noah and chapter 6 begins the story of Noah, his family and the flood. The chapter begins with this passage:

1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

The question that was posed to me this week was about the 120 years mentioned in verse 3, but to understand that let's get a little insight into the first part of this passage. There are a lot of different ideas about who the sons of God and the daughters of men are. I believe that the more traditional Hebrew rabbinical view of this passage makes the most sense. The Hebrew Tanach text translates the phrase sons of God as sons of nobles. A Jewish person reading this text would recognize the daughters who were beautiful or from the Tenach text daughters who were beautifying themselves as ones who were adorned to enter the marriage canopy or chuppah. (HOO-pah)

A chuppah is a canopy traditionally used in Jewish weddings. It consists of a cloth or sheet stretched or supported over four poles, and is sometimes carried by attendants to the ceremony's location. A chuppah symbolizes the home the couple will build together.

So it was becoming common for the sons of nobles to force their way into wedding preparations and have relations with a bride as she was getting ready for her wedding. It reminds me of the beginning of the movie Braveheart where the English soldiers would demand that every bride spend her wedding night with the captain of the guards. Mel Gibson's character refused to go along and his bride was killed, starting the Scottish revolution and eventually ending England's tyranny. (that's the movie version, I don't know if that is historically accurate) I can't think of a more offensive thing that could happen to a bride, a groom and their families during the celebration of their wedding. Verse 5 says:

The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

Our text goes on to say that God is fed up with such behavior and predicts that the time is coming when He will no longer contend with men. In other words He is saying, "Your days are numbered!"

So the question then is how many days until God keeps His promise? Answer: "his days will be a hundred and twenty years." What is going to happen in 120 years? Answer: 120 years until the flood. 120 years until God will no longer put up with such irreverent and godless people. 120 years until God will destroy everyone on earth except for Noah and his family. Why Noah? Because "Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." (see earlier post "walk this way")


Tor2000 said...

Don't forget to look at Genesis 6. This talks about the limit of 120 years for Man

Tor said...

I tried to get to it before you.

Curt Seth said...

That makes sense that the flood happened 120 years after God made that comment, but it's also interesting that no one in the modern era has lived longer than 120 years. One person lived to 122, but that is disputed and one lady made it to 120 and a half.

secondjohnvs12 said...

I think Genesis 6 is talking about the time until the flood. And I think that the flood caused irreversable effects upon the earth and one of those results was a shorter life-span for humans. Maybe it is coincidence that no one has lived past that same mark, or God's sense of humor, or divine irony. Either way it certainly is another example the effects that sin can have, both personally and universally.

secondjohnvs12 said...

I just read in Genesis 35 that Isaac lived 180 years. This was well after the flood. Remember Isaac was the promised son of Abraham and the father of Jacob (Israel) and Esau. If you did interpret Genesis 6 to mean that men would not live past the age 120 years I don't know when that would begin. Certainly not from the flood forward.