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How Old Did People Live In The Bible

Life expectancy in biblical times depended greatly on one’s environment and lifestyle. In general, people during this period lived shorter lives than people do today. Archeological evidence and references in the Bible suggest the average lifespan in the time of the Old Testament was around 35 to 40 years. Given the economic, environmental and dietary issues, people had to deal with in biblical times, living for 60 or more years was an achievement. In comparison, the World Health Organization estimates the global average life expectancy to be just over 71 years old in 2019.

Calculating life expectancy from the members of the Bible’s Hall of Faith, which records individuals’ ages at death, suggests striking differences. Abraham lived to be 175, While Moses and Josiah lived to 120 and David to 70. The variation in ages of death could be due to a number of reasons. In some cases, it seems that individuals in the Old Testament may have deified certain people, such as Abraham, Nathan, and Josiah, for living so long. It may also be that their ages were not accurately recorded or calculated. It is also possible that these figures were actually a metaphor for their great life in the form of their years.

There were factors that both helped and hurt an individual’s chances of living a long life from biblical times. Generally, the wealthier an individual was in biblical times, the better their chances of living made it, as they were less likely to experience harsh living conditions and had access to better medical care. Additionally, the dietary habits of a person in the Bible could have played a role in their lifespan. It is believed that diets high in fiber and whole grain staples could have given people a longer life. Finally, religious beliefs, and their attitudes towards life, could have played a role in a person’s ability to live to a ripe old age.

Not surprisingly, the Old Testament’s records of age at death typically place greater emphasis on the quality of life than its quantity. For example, the Patriarch Jacob is described as dying at 147, but verse 47 of Genesis 47 offers a more meaningful description of his life: “The days of the years of Jacob were one hundred forty-seven years.” It is highly unlikely that a 147-year-old would be capable of doing “all his work.” More important to the author was the idea that Jacob enjoyed a long and healthy life.

Overall, the evidence suggests that a long life in biblical times was a rarity and reserved for individuals who had access to wealth, good nutrition and proper health care. There were factors that could help an individual’s longevity, such as their attitude to life, religious devotion, and dietary practices. Despite the fact that life expectancy was much shorter in biblical times, the authors often stressed the lived life’s quality, not its length.

Interpretation of the Bible

The Bible is open to a variety of interpretations, and the subject of life expectancy in biblical times is no different. It is possible to interpret the Old Testament as depicting a world where people lived up to as many as 900 years. However, most commentators agree that this is symbolic and that it is more likely that individuals lived much shorter lives in biblical times.

Central to the interpretation of the Bible is the concept of death through sin. This is apparent in the story of Adam and Eve, who were barred from the Garden of Eden after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, despite initially having access to the Tree of Life. This narrative has been interpreted as a warning that sin is the cause of death. While this is one interpretation, it is possible that the authors may have been more interested in the consequences of mortality rather than sin.

Another interpretive approach looks at how death was viewed in the world of the Bible. It is possible that the authors believed that a good life was one that was lived with intelligence and that death was often seen as a natural part of life. This would suggest that individuals in the Old Testament valued living a life that was full of knowledge and wisdom. Age may have been seen as a sign of such achievement.

In contrast, other interpretations point to the idea that a person’s age at death was reflective of their status in life. This view could suggest that the authors of the Bible wanted to emphasize the importance of growing old with dignity. Such an approach to life expectancy in biblical times would have encouraged individuals to lead productive and wholesome lives regardless of their economic standing.

Finally, it is possible that the authors of the Bible interpreted life expectancy as a metaphor for moral and spiritual development. For example, in the story of Noah, the author writes that he is 600 years old when he enters the ark. This could mean that Noah was at the peak of his spiritual and moral development at this time, as he was entering a life-changing moment in his life.


The interpretation of the Bible’s records of life expectancy in biblical times largely depends on the reader’s perspective. Some observers point out that a long life may have been seen as a sign of favoritism in the eyes of God whereas others focus on moral and spiritual development as the indicator of an individual’s life expectancy. It is, however, clear that the authors of the Bible placed great emphasis on the quality of life, rather than its quantity. Living to a great age was largely reserved for individuals with access to wealth, good nutrition, and proper health care.

Socio-Economic Factors

Due to the harsh practices of slavery and forced labor, as well as the prevalence of poverty, it is believed that socio-economic factors heavily influenced life expectancy in biblical times. Poor individuals generally lived shorter lives than their wealthy counterparts, as they lacked access to basic necessities such as shelter, food and medical care. Additionally, women and the elderly often lived much shorter lives due to their precarious social status.

The practice of slavery heavily impacted life expectancy in biblical times. Slaves were expected to do arduous labor, such as farming and mining, for little or no pay and often worked in hazardous conditions. Due to the sheer amount of work, it is likely that many slaves died before reaching middle age.

Aside from the harsh conditions of slavery, poverty had a significant effect on life expectancy in the Bible. Poor individuals were often malnourished and lacked access to basic necessities such as clean water and adequate shelter. This had a negative impact on their overall health and life expectancy.

Moreover, the lifestyles of the rich in biblical times differed from those of the poor. Wealthy individuals often had access to better housing, nutrition, and medical care. Meanwhile, poorer individuals were more likely to live in unhealthy and unhygienic conditions and have inadequate nutrition.

Consequently, life expectancy in biblical times was heavily determined by a person’s social status and socioeconomic class. Those with wealth and good health often lived much longer than their poorer counterparts who lacked access to basic necessities.

Biblical Practices and Attitudes

The Bible is filled with stories of individuals whose lives have been greatly impacted by their faith. For example, Abraham was promised a long life in return for his obedience and devotion to God. This suggests that religious beliefs played a major role in how one was expected to live in biblical times. It is possible that these beliefs placed emphasis on living a virtuous and pious life, as promised rewards for such living could include a longer lifespan.

Additionally, it is likely that attitudes towards death shaped how one was expected to live in biblical times. For example, death may have been seen as a natural and inevitable part of life and not a punishment for sin. This would suggest that the authors of the Bible placed greater emphasis on living a good and moral life, as this could be seen as having a positive impact on one’s longevity.

Furthermore, it is possible that dietary practices in biblical times influenced an individual’s life expectancy. For example, diets high in fiber and whole grain staples could have been linked with a longer life. It is likely that individuals in biblical times were aware of the benefits of eating a balanced diet and tried to adhere to healthy habits which would have had a positive effect on their longevity.

Finally, it is also likely that an individual’s attitude towards life also influenced their longevity. Those with positive outlooks towards life may have been more likely to live for a longer period of time than those who were pessimistic about their situation. This suggests that having a positive attitude and outlook on life in biblical times could have been beneficial for a person’s lifespan.

Health Care

In biblical times, healthcare was limited and often associated with the wealthy. Access to medical knowledge and treatments was often limited, as knowledge was typically passed down orally or in written form. The wealthier an individual was, the more likely they were to have access to treatment and medical care.

In general, the most common forms of healthcare during this period were folk remedies and faith-based healing. Folk remedies usually consisted of herbal remedies and poultices, while faith-based healing often utilized prayer and ceremonies. It is likely that treatments such as these could have had a positive effect on an individual’s life expectancy.

In addition, it is likely that physical remedies were practiced in biblical times as well. Exercise, massage, and hot and cold baths have all been used throughout history to treat medical ailments. However, these treatments were probably less effective than herbal remedies or faith-based healing. These treatments could, however, have had a positive effect on one’s life expectancy particularly when combined with a healthy diet.

Finally, it is possible that the overall lifestyle of a person in biblical times may have had an effect on the length of their life. Individuals who avoided unhealthy habits, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and having an unbalanced diet, would likely have lived longer than those who did not. This suggests that leading a healthy lifestyle could have been beneficial for an individual’s life expectancy in biblical times.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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