The 120-year Puzzle of Man’s Days
in Gen6:3

Unprecedented Exegesis with Refutation of Common Opinions


P. Eng. Deacon Basil Lamie, aka Christopher Mark




 “And Jehovah saith, `My Spirit doth not strive in man--to the age; in their erring they are flesh:' and his days have been an hundred and twenty years.(Gen6:3)


The 120 years assigned as the days of man in Gen6:3 are the ultimate effective age of the genital power of human beings individually. The ability of reproduction has actually dropped from few hundreds of years before the meant prophecy down to 120 years starting immediately after the very mention of the prophecy from Shem, to later on degenerate further!

 This unprecedented exegesis is the only one that agrees with everything, biblically, contextually, linguistically, as well as logically speaking. Other common exegeses suffer from fatal mistakes.  Read on to make sure of that,,,


It is NOT about the Longevity, but about the Reproductive Energy!!!




The First Exegesis:

A Reprieve for Repentance before the Flood!


The 120 year prophecy is a prophecy on the coming flood, and the 120 years were, in one hand, a reprieve given by God to allow for repentance as well as it warned on the other hand that God would not be tolerant with wickedness forever!


This is the most accepted opinion. The real problem in this view is not that it takes place between Gen 5:32 and Gen 7:6 (which allows a time of only 100 years at most). Actually the prophecy on the 120 years comes in retrospect and delayed until finishing the line of genealogy up to Noah’s sons. Then the allusion to the 120 years is inserted as parentheses between the background of humanity status and the turning into details of God’s interference through Noah and Noh’s ark.  Time order is not followed here clearly. So, it is an adequate assumption that the time between God’s decision and the occurring of the flood is NECESSARILY 100 years at most rather than 120 years.

The problems of this popular opinion lie in different points!

-          Actually the real problem is that the scripture tells about an internal divine self-talk. Logically speaking God knows His works from eternity, as it is ‘Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.’ (Act15:18). God is above time, and His thought is only put into chronology when they interact with human world. However, there is no mention of any chronological specific point in time the declaration of the divine decision fits in! The missing of determining a specific point in time may work in general events as a declaration of god’s opinion or reaction toward specific status, but NOT WITH THE DETERMINATION OF 120 years. The 120 years, being a period of time call for a starting point in time which is not there!

-          Also, the divine decision, being lacking a public declaration, does not work for a warning or a reprieve at all.

-          The period of 120 years is loose. It has no fixed starting point. As such it goes meaningless of any implication. Had this opinion been true, it would have started when Noah was 480 years old, an opaque point in time that carries no implication whatsoever.

 The most popular opinion is the most dummy one!



The Second Exegesis:

Maximum Human Lifespan!!


The 120-year period is the maximum of human lifespan.


Some defend it by clearing out the apparent contradiction with people living more than that in the coming generations after the mentioning of the prophecy, by suggesting that the prophecy meant to foretell how things will end up finally.



The cons against this exegesis are not weak:

-          The referring to a far stage in history lacks a direct link to the prophecy, making it out of context.

-          Even though, the assumed maximum age is not common, and is so scarcely reached that it makes nonsense to be marked at all as apparent sign of anything. When The Psalter of Psa90 wrote about the maximum age he said, ‘‘Days of our years, in them are seventy years, and if, by reason of might, eighty years…’ (Psa90: 10) The psalm is attributed to Moses who lived 120 years himself.

-          It also has some actual case in contradiction. I will put aside such a debatable case of Elizabeth Israel of Dominica, said to have lived 128 years, and allude to Jeanne Louise Calment of 122 years of age. (Some of the literary ‘apologists’ who adopt this interpretation accuse the case of the French lady Jeanne Louise Calment (21 February 1875 – 4 August 1997) of fakeness or forged history. However, the case is well documented and has been put into scrutiny to come out with multiple evidences in approval.)



The Third Exegesis:

Cells Maximum Lifespan!!!


It is the overall average of human lifespan that is set to 120 years.


That is nonsense at all, for:

-          That standard deviation of it is very high. It is above any reasonable notion.

-          Besides its being an unproven mere assumption, it could not be shown in the first place that it works for a divine sign.



The Fourth Exegesis:

Cells Maximum Lifespan!!!


Human cells have a maximum span of 120 years of life.


That cannot be a biblical exegesis, because God’s prophecies care about the souls of persons not about individual cells.


However it may be accepted as a subsequent result, as a reflection of the prophecy on the biological level, in accordance of how the whole age of men got shortened in turn of shortening the age of reproduction power.



The Fifth Exegesis:

They are 120 Jubilees Cycles


The 120 years refer to 120 Jubilee cycles. The Jubilee cycle is 50 year long, ‘A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you(Lev25: 12).


The empirical  verification of this idea should  wait until the fourth millennium A.D., granted that the starting point of calculation is the flood year, which it is a mere assumption in itself.

However, there is a much more difficult objection against it, which is the whole idea is entirely out of context, as lacking any clue.


In brief, all other exegeses ignore the difficulties they themselves raise.

The idea of the average age makes a very high standard deviation, besides it suffers from the non-verifiability, all make it nonsense at all.

The idea of ‘120 years before the flood’ means that the prophecy determines a point in the middle of nowhere, as 120 years before the flood there was no specific event, nor the prophecy itself was told to Noah directly in order that it may help convey any further info.




The suggested Unprecedented Exegesis:

Only One Sound Interpretation Survives!

It is NOT about the Longevity, but about the Reproductive Energy!!!


One looks now for a meaning that has got to be of relative reference with respect to individual man age, rather than absolute time period.  And that is it: The ‘120 years’ are the maximum age at/under which man may have the power of reproduction. It is a divine decree issued that man’s reproductive power will be put to 120 year maximum.


·         To begin with, a strong clue is in the very sentence. It is the ‘FLESH’ alluded to in the scripture, related to which the 120-year period is mentioned. The ‘flesh’ is obviously highly related to the genital energy.


·         The closest chronological point is Noah's giving birth to his sons! It makes sense to think that if this exegesis is true, then the prophecy started off in effect from the generation of the sons of Noah. Fortunately enough data is given on Sem. We know about him such enough data with which the suggested exegesis could be put into scrutiny. Shem, to begin with immediately after the flood gave birth to only five baby boys (mounting following the average to 10 babies as a whole.) Giving two years between each (the maximum time of weaning) give a maximum of 20 years after Shem’s turning 100 years of age. 100 + 20 = 120. Shem stopped giving birth at 120 years of age. The calculation is straightforward, Shem gave birth to his first son at the age of 100 years. He gave birth to 5 baby boys, mount in average to 10 babies (+ 5 baby girls). Each in-between interval is a couple of years in average..

The whole calculation mounts up to 120 years when Shem stopped giving birth.


·         The remarkable drop in the starting point in age  at which consequent generations would give birth after the flood (starting immediately from the first generation after the flood) makes up for the drop of the maximum age of the genital energy of man.  The drop is not only in the absolute values but in percentage as well, and that is of more implication. Selah. Son of Arphaxad, was born when Arphaxad was at 35 age (Gen11: 12), and Arphaxad lived 438 years of age (Gen11: 13). Shem begat his first son at the age of 100 years (Gen11:10) and lived 600 years (Gen11:11).  Noah started to beget Japheth, Shem, and Ham at the age of 500 years (Gen5: 32) and died at the age of 950 years (Gen9:29). The ratios of age-of-giving-birth to longevity are: Arphaxad 438/35, Shem  1/6, Noah ~1/2. So, the drop in birth age is as large as the absolute drop of the reproduction-energy maximum age. That can only be interpreted as a natural balance designed by God to sustain the multiplication overall rate. The issue again is the drop in the reproduction energy age.


·         Further, the question of how the prophecy came to be known is clear: Ancient generations were keen to keep records of ages and genealogies. They remark the remarkable drop of the bio maximum age. They could easily spiritually link it to the wickedness that had proliferated before the flood. Finally Moses wrote the consistent tradition. Other scenario is that Moses was inspired directly to write the reason behind that genital-activity age drop.


·          Finally to make it a case close, here is a typical biblical usage of the word ‘dead’ describing human beings after their genital activity is entirely over due to age:

            + ‘and not having been weak in the faith, he did not consider his own body, already become dead, (being about a hundred years old,) and the deadness of Sarah's womb(YLT: Rom4: 19).

            + Also, wherefore, also from one were begotten--and that of one who had become dead--as the stars of the heaven in multitude, and as sand that is by the sea-shore--the innumerable.(YLT: Heb11:12).


So, linguistically, biblically, and factually speaking, the non-thought of exegesis of the maximum productive energy age stands sound and working!



   & Only one objection has to be cleared out, that is the fact that Abraham was born when his father  Terah was 130 years old. (Considering that: Terah died at 205 years of age (Gen 11:32), that Abraham entered first the land of Canaan after the death of Terah (Act 7:4), and that Abraham left Haran and moved to Canaan when he was 75 years old (Gen 12:4). The answer is as simple as that it is a miracle. Yes: A MIRACLE. That simple! Abraham himself gave birth to Isaac by a miracle. Isaac begot Jacob by a miracle, as his wife, Rebecca, was barren (Gen25:21). That makes the birth of the three main patriarchs is the fruit of a triune consecutive miracles series



In the light of the new suggested solution, other suggested exegeses can be well evaluated:

Now, the present fact that the maximum longevity of man does not exceed, but very rarely, 120 years, as it does not most probably reach 90 years in the first place, such a fact is a naturally correlated fact of that of the drop of the productive age. The longevity of human beings, in general, started to suffer from exponential decay.

The cell lifetime is a subsequent microscopic explanation in the under layer of the story.

In all cases, the first one of the pre-flood reprieve is meaningless. It is only an illogic premature apologetic fabrication.



Links to Related Articles and Posts:

English Version at the Main Site

Draft of an Arabic Version of this Article

Again, a Post at Facebook with a Collection of Links

A Post in a well known site, Introducing the Solution for the First Time Ever

Referring to this Page in the Aforementioned Site

Terah’s Miracle of Giving Birth to Abraham

The Ages of Patriarchs of Genesis’ Era

P. Eng. Deacon Basil Lamie, aka Christopher Mark


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