Timeline: From Adam to Abraham

HomeChristianity and the BibleTimeline: From Adam to Abraham

Genesis tells of people who lived very long lives. Methuselah was the oldest, living 969 years. This chart, and the following table, show each person in the family line from Adam to Abraham. The numbers are taken from Genesis 5 and Genesis 11. While some biblical genealogies are incomplete, listing only prominent people instead of every generation, this list reflects direct father/son relationships.

It’s worth mentioning that Adam was still alive when Methusaleh was born, that Methuselah was alive when Noah was born, and that Noah was alive when Abram (Abraham) was born. This means that Abraham might have sat on Noah’s lap and heard a retelling of first-hand accounts of the lives of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. That would be amazing!

You can grab and drag this section left and right.

  • Adam930 years
  • Seth912 years
  • Enosh905 years
  • Kenan910 years
  • Mahalel895 years
  • Jared962 years
  • Enoch365 years
  • Methusaleh969 years
  • Lamech777 years
  • Noah950 years
  • Shem600 years
  • Arphaxad438 years
  • Shelah433 years
  • Eber464 years
  • Peleg239 years
  • Reu239 years
  • Serug230 years
  • Nahor148 years
  • Terah205 years
  • Abraham175 years

Here’s a simple list of the information above:

Name

Age at Son’s Birth

Lived For

Adam

130 years old

930 years

Seth

105 years old

912 years

Enosh

90 years old

905 years

Kenan

70 years old

910 years

Mahalel

65 years old

830 years

Jared

162 years old

962 years

Enoch

65 years old

365 years

Methusaleh

187 years old

** 969 years

Lamech

182 years old

777 years

Noah

502 years old *

950 years

Shem

100 years old

600 years

Arphaxad

35 years old

438 years

Shelah

30 years old

433 years

Eber

34 years old

464 years

Peleg

30 years old

239 years

Reu

32 years old

239 years

Serug

30 years old

230 years

Nahor

29 years old

148 years

Terah

70 years old

205 years

Abram (Abraham)

175 years

* Noah’s age at Shem’s birth isn’t listed directly, but is calculated this way:

** The Death of Methusaleh

If you do the math, it appears that Methusaleh died in the year of the flood. That leaves us with a couple of options: we can believe that he died before the flood, or that he died in the flood. The Bible doesn’t tell us about his death, so we have no strong evidence either way.

One Jewish source says he died just before the flood. That’s plausible.

Another says he died 14 years after the flood, but I’m not sure how they did that math… or why they would make the claim, when Scripture indicates he wasn’t in the ark.

Another tradition says specifically that he died 7 days before the flood, and that God delayed the flood for a period of mourning due to Methusaleh’s righteousness. More specifically, another tradition says that he died on the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan (October-November), just before the flood. These two traditions may be related.


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21 responses to “Timeline: From Adam to Abraham”

  1. Rose says:

    Hi. I’m a seminary student. I wondered what your thoughts were on the Historical Adam. What is your view of genome science?
    Thanks.

    • Tony says:

      Hey Rose! I’m happy to hear that you’re in seminary. How are things going? What’s your favorite part so far, and what do you enjoy the least?

      Historical Adam, eh? Hmmm.

      We have two choices:

      • Adam, as described in Genesis, was a literal person created individually by God, who combined non-living earth with spirit, somehow… or
      • Adam, as described in Genesis is a symbol.

      There’s a LOT that could be said about this, and is. I’m not sure I can give a thorough response at this time. Still:

      My first reaction is that the ‘quest for the historical Adam’ is similar to the ‘quest for the historical Jesus,’ in which people who claim to believe in God and trust the Bible deny that miracles are possible, forcing them to reframe what they read in the Bible to accommodate their doubts. This first reaction of mine is admittedly simplistic. That’s what often happens with first reactions, right?

      I would suggest that this simplistic reaction is accurate, though. I’m not aware of anything in the Bible that directly suggests that Moses’ account of the beginning of the universe and humanity is symbolic, metaphorical, truncated by ignorance, or anything else. Were there some Scriptural warrant for reading the creation account as metaphor, I would consider it carefully. Instead, every indication we have is that the people and writers of Scripture spoke of Adam and the creation as if they were literal. While I recognize that really, really ancient Hebrew is difficult to translate, and while I recognize that we understand more details about biology and cosmology than our predecessors, I also recognize that Jesus Himself spoke of Adam in literal terms. One can read his words as if they were metaphor, or parable… but nothing in His actual words suggest that’s the best explanation.

      Paul, of course, used Adam to explain our fall and need for redemption. He could have been using Adam as a metaphor for the human condition… but where else in Scripture do we see that kind of abstraction? We see metaphors as parallels all over the place, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head that abstract at that level. That seems like a modern way of thinking, which makes it unlikely that the writers of Scripture employed it as a method.

      Then you have this: https://godwords.org/timeline-from-adam-to-abraham/. Recently, because I was interested, I put the people in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 into a graph format. I believe that many such listings are truncated, skipping over one or many who weren’t considered noteworthy… but these passages seem very specifically a generation-by-generation account of fathers and sons. Without a historical Adam, these genealogies are meaningless at best, and misleading at worst. By doubting Adam’s historicity, we don’t solve anything… we only push the question forward a generation. If Adam wasn’t real, was Seth? Was Enosh? What about Kenan, or Mahalel, Jared or Enoch? At what point do we end up with a real, historical person?

      I find such discussions very interesting. Unfortunately, we don’t have an iron-clad argument either way… but the implications of a non-historical Adam are, for me, untenable.

      I’m interested in hearing what you think, and what your professors think. Thanks for asking!

  2. NP Yeo says:

    Hi Tony, could you clarify Genesis 25 : 7 These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years – instead of 335 years stated above, thanks!

    • Tony says:

      NP Yeo:

      Wow… thanks! I made a mistake. The code that made this chart is pretty complex, and I simply wrote in the wrong number. With your help, it’s been fixed. Is there anything I can do for you?

  3. Jermaine Hart says:

    METHUSELAH HAD TO DIE THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD, HIS NAME WAS A PROPHECY IN ITSELF, WHICH MEANT, “AFTER HIM, IT SHALL COME”, THE FLOOD WOULD NOT COME UNTIL METHUSELAH DIED. ACCORDING TO SOME SOURCE, HE DIED 10 DAYS BEFORE THE FLOOD.

    • Tony says:

      Jermaine:

      Do you have any evidence that your words are true? I’ve not seen any. In fact, no Hebrew language source I can find suggests that Methusaleh means anything like “after him, it shall come.”

  4. Srscotty says:

    For a meaning of the name Methuselah, Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads מות (mut) for the first part and translates the whole name with When He Is Dead It Shall Be Sent. NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary both read מת (mat) for the first part; NOBSE translates the whole name with Man Of A Javelin; BDB proposes Man Of The Dart.

    • Tony says:

      Srscotty:

      Do you have any information that leads you to conclude which translation is most accurate?

  5. Fuller Ming, Jr. says:

    Tony,
    Your reply to Rose is interesting. Question – when was all of this dialogue written? There are no dates. Is this recent or from 5 years ago. (I’m writing on January 2nd, 2023).

    I, like Rose, am also a seminary student, working on a PhD in Biblical Studies and I am currently planning to write a dissertation on a topic related to this. I happened to be an old-earth creationist that also believes in a historical Adam that was created by God as an adult anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago (which is still extremely young and unacceptable to atheist and those that believe we evolved from a common ancestor of other modern primates and mammals.)

    I found your website while looking for material to start my research (I really haven’t started yet!) I will look around and see what else you have and if can lead me to some solid academic and/or archaeological material.

    Thanks,
    –Fuller

    • Tony says:

      Fuller: welcome! Thanks for writing. My comment is from November 2021. The dates are there but, as most theological content is evergreen, dates are often a distraction. On this, not as much… considering recent public conversations about the topic.

      I’m also an old-earth creationist who believes in a real Adam and Eve. I’d guess it’s closer to 100,000 than 10,000, but have no way of knowing beyond simple things like the existence of objects of worship in archaeology. I find Darwinian evolution pretty silly, to be honest. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you… and I wish you well in your studies! I’d love to read your dissertation, if possible. Keep in touch!

  6. Anders says:

    Nice chart. (the second one stills shows Abram living 335 years, btw) I’m wondering about the age of Terah when Abram was born. Gen 11:26 is not conclusive, but you seem to accept that Terah was 70 when Abram was born. But Abram left Haran after Terah died at the age of 205. (Acts 7:4) Abram was 75 at that time according to Gen 12:4, when he should have been at least 130. I have not yet seen a good solution to this. The best explanation I’ve come across is that Abram’s oldest brother Haran was born when Terah was 70, and Abram was born 55 years later. Not terribly convincing. Do you know of a better resolution?

    • Tony says:

      Thanks again for catching my 335 mistake, Anders! I’ve fixed it (again).

      One might assume that the listing in Genesis 11 is chronological, from first-born to last: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. However: in Genesis 5, Japheth is the oldest but Shem is named first. A better assumption would be that the one named first is the one through whom the Messiah would come. Both fit this pattern. If Abram wasn’t the firstborn, there’s room for the math to fit. We don’t know who was the oldest, in what years of Terah’s life each was born, etc.

      Terah lived to be 205. Abram left at age 75, right after Terah died, so it looks like he would have been born when his father was 130 years old. I haven’t changed the number on the chart because it’s speculative. I’m not sure we can be more precise with confidence, so I left the number 70 from Genesis 11.

      What do you think?

  7. Anders says:

    Yes, Gen 11:26 has evidently created confusion and speculation, even long before Stephen asserted that Abram left Haran “when his father was dead”. Anyone who wants to study this question can find plenty of material online. I don’t believe that this is the kind of “foolish questions about genealogy” that Paul warns Titus about. It is healthy for Christians to wrestle with texts that could cause people to question the inerrancy of the Bible.
    I wish Gen 11:26 were more precise. But the best explanation seems to be that Abram was the youngest of the three brothers, and he was born when his father was 130, not 70 years old. The options are that Stephen was mistaken, or that a copyist slipped up and changed the original number in Genesis.

    • Tony says:

      It seems that’s the best explanation. We agree about Titus: wrestling with the text isn’t the same as endless speculation, which is often a substitute for serious study. Have a great day!

  8. Joshua Xiao says:

    Good job! Thank you.

  9. Thomas Howard says:

    Fuller, Adam was not created 100,000 years ago, not even 10,000 years ago, as we have the chronological age of those decedents of Adam who lived before and after the flood. Most theologians agree that from this, that from Adam to Christ is about 4,000 years give or take a couple of years. We also know that Christ lived about 2,000 years ago from our day, so we are now almost 6,000 years combined, from Adam.

    • Tony says:

      Thomas:

      I hope Fuller replies on his own but, as we share the view, I’ll respond. While this section of genealogy (Genesis 5 and 11) appears complete, that’s not necessarily the case for each list in Scripture. The reason some think it’s been 6000 years and not far longer? Typically, it’s because in 1650 James Ussher published his calculations, putting the time and date of creation as 6pm on October 22, 4004 BC.

      Ussher’s calculations – like other calculations from the time – were based primarily on the idea that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. While that’s a biblical phrase, the assumption that it’s a mathematical formula may go too far. After all, the verse (2 Peter 3:8) refers to Psalm 90: A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. If we’re to take that literally, we should probably take these other phrases from the Psalm literally as well:

      • the mountains were born
      • God turns people to dust
      • people are like new grass, born in the morning and living only until evening

      If we do take the Scriptures literally in this case, we have to ask: which is it? Is a thousand years like a day, or like a watch in the night? Seems the three watches are about 4 hours each. If a day is 24 hours and a night watch is 4, imagine how far off the calculations would be by choosing the wrong multiple!

      Given that the chronological records in Scripture are obviously truncated, even conservative theologians like BB Warfield concluded that such calculations are highly speculative. Ussher was apparently an amazing man, a true scholar, and someone to be admired for a number of reasons, but it should be clear that his work in this area has not been established as fact in any sense. Disagreeing with Ussher’s conclusions and methodology shouldn’t be considered a problem.

      An example might be useful. The kingdom of Egypt was, obviously, established after the flood. Egyptian chronology appears to go back to around 3000 BC, while Ussher’s date for the flood was 2348 BC. Both can’t be right… and, at a scale of 6000 years total, 600 years isn’t a minor adjustment. The relevant question is whether Egypt’s timeline is more reliable than Ussher’s. In his calculations, Ussher used historical records of kings heavily, as we do today… but he failed to account for things like overlapping reigns by fathers and sons, the use of different calendars, and how to calculate the year that a king took power. Archaeology has helped in this, from finding King Ahab Shalmaneser’s account of the Battle of Qarqar to the Black Obelisk describing King Jehu. Fascinating stuff.

      In the end I don’t believe the exact age of the universe and the earth are relevant to whether the Bible is fully trustworthy, whether the gospel is true, and so on. These are details that modern folks worry about, perhaps as a distraction from the point of it all. In the words of Solomon: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

  10. Anders says:

    We can differ on the exact age of the earth. But one thing that is certain is that all of mankind descended from two individuals. Genetic scientists have now discovered that this is the case. And Paul’s reasoning in the Book of Romans would otherwise be incomprehensible.

    • Tony says:

      Anders:

      With respect, genetic scientists haven’t quite gotten there. We have the theories of ‘Mitochondrial Eve’ and ‘Y Chromosomal Adam,’ but most estimates for when they might have lived don’t come close to matching up. M-Eve doesn’t necessarily point to a real Eve, either… only to the single common female ancestor of current populations. When an older family group dies out, the M-Eve designation would move to a younger common ancestor. There’s nothing in the theory that suggests a single ancestor for all humanity. An apt image might include (for example) 10 females, with lineage from 9 of them dying out, or having a broken chain of female descendants. Y-Adam is the male analog, and we face the same difficulties in trying to appropriate them as the Adam and Eve in Genesis.

      I believe God created the first two humans as described in Genesis, so yeah: the rest of Scripture strongly supports the idea. We can’t escape or ignore the implications of the Hebrew used in Genesis, though. It does leave a bit of room for a different interpretation.

  11. Anders says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. It’s true that scientists haven’t gotten as far as I indicated… yet. But if Adam and Eve are historical figures, then Science will eventually confirm that. The main difficulty is that most geneticists are firmly committed to another paradigm. For some, virtually no amount of evidence will ever induce them to revise their preferred premiss.

  12. James D Ray says:

    (Humor alert) I’ve always felt that Methusaleh died 1 of 2 ways: (1) (Noah): “Grandpa, bring me that bucket of pitch, would ya please?” (2) (Methusaleh): “NOAH, I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS STUFF FALLING ON MY HEAD IS, BUT YOU LET ME IN RIGHT NOW!!”
    Jim Ray

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