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Episodes in the book of Genesis. Oil painting by a Spanish painter. Iconographic Collections.

Can the Babylonian Calendar Help Explain the Ages of Patriarchs Recounted in the Book of Genesis? - Part 1

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The ages of Adam and his descendants in the Book of Genesis appear incredulous when compared to the average lifespan of Man throughout history. Though there have been several attempts to justify the numbers mathematically, none can be applied to all cases equally. Can these outlandish figures be explained?

A Mixed-up Interpretation?

The problem is, not only does Genesis list the age of the patriarchs, it lists their age at the time of their firstborn child. For example, Methuselah was 187 when he had his first son and he died at the age of 969. Had the scribes incorrectly interpreted months as years in the source data, the figures would be exaggerated by a factor of 12, and Methuselah would have been a more believable 15 and 80 years respectively at each event. Unfortunately, that does not work so well for his father, Enoch, who was 65 when Methuselah was born, which equates to 5 years old, and less so for the generations after the flood, the majority of whom were less than 36 when the first son was born, which would imply they were only 3 years old.

Book of Genesis Chapter 21-2 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media). Image: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

The Flood Story

The 19th century discovery and subsequent translation of 12 cuneiform clay tablets from the 7th century BC revealed the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’, a poem about a Mesopotamian king who is believed to have reigned around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. The 11th tablet contains a Babylonian account of a great flood, which is similar to that described in the Book of Genesis, not only in its synopsis but also in the timing, the Biblical flood having occurred around 2348 BC when calculated using the dates of events and genealogy available in the Bible (the Ussher chronology).

Astronomical Diaries

Of the hundreds of tablets recovered from Mesopotamia, many contain astronomical diaries compiled from observers specifically trained and employed for keeping a regular watch on the location of the moon and planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) at various times each night. This involved recording the location of each of these objects as they approached one of 31 ‘Normal Stars’ close to the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun each year). Short diaries were filled with entries on a daily basis while the clay tablet was soft enough for an impression to be made. These were compiled into longer diaries to coincide with the beginning of the two half-years of the Babylonian calendar.

The diary contained not only astronomical observations but also phenomena - the solstices and equinoxes, the appearance of comets and meteors, weather conditions (mist, rain, cloud activity, winds and storms), commodity prices, river levels and notable events - the intention being the identification of patterns of behavior that could be used to interpret omens. Key to this principle was the proximity of one or more planets to one of the constellations, for example this omen from a 17th century BC tablet:

“If Venus comes close to Scorpius: winds which are not good will blow”

Observation of Haley's Comet, recorded in Cuneiform on a clay tablet between 22-28 September 164 BC, Babylon, Iraq. British Museum, London. ( Public Domain)

From this we might assume that, at some time in the past, abnormally strong winds were noted as the planet Venus was observed approaching the constellation of Scorpio. This developed into the wider interpretation of where planets would be in relation to the Babylonian zodiac, which divided the sky into 12 equal segments of 30°.

The initial process of observing when and for how long a planet occupied a sign or house (the transit) would have taken tens of years due to the orbit of the Earth relative to the other planets, which causes the planets to waltz across the sky, speeding up, slowing down, stopping and even reversing direction briefly, rather than simply passing from East to West like the Sun or Moon (the same effect from which Copernicus hypothesized it was the Sun, not the Earth, that was at the center of the universe). The transit time for Mercury, which takes a short 88 days to orbit the Sun, is around 14 to 30 days whereas Saturn, the farthest planet from Earth visible with the naked eye, takes over 29 years to complete an orbit and can stay anything from a few days to more than 3 years in a sign.

Saturn eclipsing the sun, seen from behind from the Cassini orbiter. The image is a composite assembled from images taken by the Cassini spacecraft on September 15, 2006. (Public Domain)

Saturn eclipsing the sun, seen from behind from the Cassini orbiter. The image is a composite assembled from images taken by the Cassini spacecraft on September 15, 2006 . ( Public Domain )

Comparing the Babylonian Saturn Calendar with Genesis Generations

In the table below, the entry and exit dates from a Saturn transit calendar have been used to reproduce half-year diaries. In keeping with the Babylonian calendar, the Entry Date was based on the number of days since the start of the first- or second-half of the year, which were around the time of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes respectively.

The Days before transit was then calculated as the difference in days between the Entry Date and the previous March 20th (the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere). Where this value exceeded 182 days (half a year), the same was subtracted to yield the number of days in the second half of the year. The Transit Days were calculated as the number of days between the Entry Date and Exit Date . Finally, the Transit Days value was added to the Days before transit value to give the Total days for each entry:

Half-year diaries for Saturn transiting through the signs. (Author provided)

Half-year diaries for Saturn transiting through the signs. (Author provided)

Compare the table above to the generations of Man (below) compiled from the book of Genesis.

Generations of Man according to Genesis. Note: Ismael was Abraham’s first born but the Bible considers Isaac in the bloodline to Moses. (Author provided)

Generations of Man according to Genesis. Note: Ismael was Abraham’s first born but the Bible considers Isaac in the bloodline to Moses. (Author provided)

In each case Genesis states the age of the patriarch when the first son is born, the number of years until death and the age at death, for example:

“And Seth lived one hundred and five years, and he begot Enosh. And Seth lived after he had begotten Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and he begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.”

Source: Chabad.org

The list starts with Adam and continues through Noah in chapter 5 of Genesis. The process continues in chapter 11 of Genesis, i.e. after the flood story, starting with Noah’s son, Shem, and continues through Abram (Abraham) to provide a genealogy tracing Abraham’s sons, Ishmael and Isaac, to the first Man created by God.

Isaac and Ishmael bury their father Abraham in the cave, as in Genesis 25:9. (Public Domain)

Isaac and Ishmael bury their father Abraham in the cave, as in Genesis 25:9. ( Public Domain )

Ignoring the units used in each, the numerical similarities in the relationships, and the orders of magnitude, between the second and third columns for the ‘Half-year diaries’ and the ‘Generations of Man’ are undeniable.

To be correct, the values in the ‘Age at first born’ column should not exceed half-a-year. Although a value of 182 days was used to create the half-year diaries from the transit calendar, the Babylonian calendar was 12 lunar months, each month being 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of a new crescent Moon, yielding a year of around 354 days as opposed to 365 in our (Gregorian) calendar. And whereas we insert one day every four years to compensate for the difference between our year and a solar year, the Babylonians inserted one month every 3 years after either the 6th or 12th month.

The maximum value for Age at first born could then be equal to seven lunar months, or 206. Indeed, only in the case of Noah is that value exceeded, that too as a prelude to the flood suggesting this particular diary contained references to heavy rainfall, high river levels and cloudy conditions that prevented Saturn from being observed for a period of around one year - an omen in the making. One possible explanation for this would be a large volcanic event.

‘The Deluge’ (1834) by John Martin. (Public Domain)

‘The Deluge’ (1834) by John Martin. ( Public Domain )

Another notable exception in the generations before the flood is Enoch, whose death at 365 years is significantly less than the others. Apart from Noah, Enoch is the only other patriarch to be afforded special consideration in Chapter 5 of Genesis:

“And Enoch lived sixty five years, and he begot Methuselah. And Enoch walked with God after he had begotten Methuselah, three hundred years, and he begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty five years. And Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer, for God had taken him.”

Source: Chabad.org

Genesis 5:24: "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (KJV) illustration from the 1728 ‘Figures de la Bible’; illustrated by Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others and published by P. de Hondt in The Hague; image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries. (Public Domain)

Genesis 5:24: "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (KJV) illustration from the 1728 ‘Figures de la Bible’; illustrated by Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others and published by P. de Hondt in The Hague; image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries. ( Public Domain )

This is in contrast to every other patriarch whose short eulogy always ends with ‘… and he died ’. The apologist’s explanation for Enoch’s unusually short life and unique relationship with God is that he constantly set God before himself - for which he was spared a natural death. It could also be that the author or scribe of Genesis has in this particular diary misinterpreted the reference to an astrological ‘exaltation’.

An exaltation in astrology occurs when a planet is in a sign of a similar nature, but which it does not rule, and embodies the planet with strength and energy (as opposed to the literal use of exaltation, which is a state of bliss or the action of elevating a person’s status). In late Babylonian sources the exaltations are referred to as the ‘secret houses’ or ‘secret places’, which the author could be forgiven for mistaking as a special place to which Enoch was taken some 500 years before he was expected to die.

In the second and concluding part, we take a more detailed look at values for Saturn’s transit through the houses and the possibility that the ages of Adam and his descendants have their origin in Babylonian astronomical diaries.

READ PART 2

Top image: Episodes in the book of Genesis. Oil painting by a Spanish painter. Iconographic Collections. Source:  CC BY 4.0

By Dean Talboys

Dean Talboys is the author of The Stonehenge Observatory .

Resources:

Propp, William, Origins of the Bible , 2015

Sachs, A. J., Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia , (completed and edited by H. Hunger), 1988

Ussher, Rev. J., The Annals of The World , 1658

White, Gavin, The Exaltation System in Babylonian Astrology , 2009

Comments

evilsorcerer1's picture

I’m just curious if you’d be interest in what I’ve found. You won’t believe it. I’ve been working on this for many years, I devote all my time to it. I’d like to share my findings with someone interested. And actually believes (or knows) the genealogies were not that at all. Not a waste of reading time at all, if you’re interested in knowing the complete solution to the puzzle. Much more astonishing than my previous findings. I’ve basically solved the complete meaning. Although some minor details haven’t been worked out. And in reply to the comment above, the words were never names. Whoever wrote it, wrote it a story of creation, which didn’t involve people. I don’t know if older pictograph writings were found and mistranslated, or those that wrote much of the bible knew all along it was symbolic. But if you check online, numbers have always been much easier to decipher. It would have been much easier to assume they were names when the numbers were found.

damned2hell4ever

evilsorcerer1's picture

I’m just curious if you’d be interest in what I’ve found. You won’t believe it. I’ve been working on this for many years, I devote all my time to it. I’d like to share my findings with someone interested. And actually believes (or knows) the genealogies were not that at all. Not a waste of reading time at all, if you’re interested in knowing the complete solution to the puzzle. Much more astonishing than my previous findings. I’ve basically solved the complete meaning. Although some minor details haven’t been worked out. And in reply to the comment above, the words were never names. Whoever wrote it, wrote it a story of creation, which didn’t involve people. I don’t know if older pictograph writings were found and mistranslated, or those that wrote much of the bible knew all along it was symbolic. But if you check online, numbers have always been much easier to decipher. It would have been much easier to assume they were names when the numbers were found.

damned2hell4ever

evilsorcerer1's picture

I enjoy sharing my finding, and I try continually to present material that will force those who look at it to see their beliefs are lies. I believed what many do as far back as I remember. So I know when people envision the ‘devils’ they are horrified that some being has been inescapably sentenced to unbearable torment. I often think, the only thing that could possibly be worse than devils that know they can’t escape the unimaginable are devils that don’t know. Not a coincidence devil backwards is lived. Evidence the beings are a result of most of humanity’s denial about their true selves. I know the bible and religion much better than most imagine, and I enjoy sharing it with others. But I knew he bible better than most before I ever started reading it. I don’t even know if you know humanity never had a chance of escaping the unthinkable. But I can tell you the people of this world haven’t the slightest idea of reality or who the person is staring back at them in the mirror. I’ve stated before, I cry every time I hear about a child being abused. . . and living through it. Because that’s approximately everyone alive, except most of them continue to believe they are given a free pass to shed blood by the god they made up. I try to make my message clear about what people are doing. What’s it like living in the world? About 8 billion adults hiding in the bushes with face paint on and their pants down for the first person who doesn’t see them, so they can go on claiming they’re going to paradise. Their kids and their fake god in the bushes right next to them. It’s almost always the same, people tell me some god loves me, and I just know. I know they say the same thing about those baby’s who keep turning up abused, or worse dead. So they can go on murdering, except murder that is so much worse than what people think. And I’m not complaining about the children and infants who people allowed to die. I’m complaining about those they allowed to live. I tell people the next time they have a war on pedophilia they should get their all powerful god and children to fight against it too. . . I think the world religion motto should be, ‘Over seven billion saved every day.’ Yeah, from their rightful judgement. If people were to wonder why I have the viewpoint I do, I’d tell them because I know jesus never existed. How do I know? Because I’m dying for their sins. When people say jesus loves little chilren, I think about some baby’s lifeless body in a pool of blood and think cheerily, you can go in line in front of me. I know it was some type of time chart that was being created to work as many different ways as possible, which makes proving it much easier for me. I’m just not sure if characters were consciously inserted into the story, although I’m almost positive some older writings were mistranslated, including a story about creation. If a person(s) first identified the chart as a genealogy, it would be easier to have concluded the other stories were something completely different. I’ve read very old writings used pictures and the system could be very difficult to learn and understand. And I know  for a fact adam was dust, abel was mist and cain was light. And that the original creator of the story knew they weren’t people, although he may have come to believe they were a part of creation. But I don’t think that’s possible. I know the bible so well. My favorite thoughts (second to surviving a holocaust) are forcing people to know who they are. I chose my path, no one ever said a thing to me. Just to let them know that they fought eveyday to continue doing what they were doing. Sick degenerates. 

damned2hell4ever

Dean Talboys's picture

EvilSorcerer1 (Eddie)

I was researching a related topic when I noticed the correlation with Saturn’s orbit, which was a bit annoying because it took a good couple of weeks out of my schedule to put the document together!

I empathize with you over the problem of not being recognized for groundbreaking work. I have written two books on very different subjects and also several academic papers with very little response. Unfortunately, the academic community relies on towing the party line for their financing, which includes publication, and anything that goes against the grain is simply ignored. Independent researchers then have to rely on alternative platforms to stand a chance of being heard, the problem being that such platforms are often treated with derision by followers of their academic “GODS”. You only have to look at the current global alarmist attitude of mainstream media to appreciate how the system works.

As for your research, you must be able to show a cohesive argument across all cases that implies a purpose and offer an apology for any case that does not agree. It looks like you have done your homework, so explain it in a table and see if you can get it published on this site.

Good luck!

Dean

evilsorcerer1's picture

I agree with you the genealogies were not people's names and ages. I study them and know them well. I am curious what you're motive was for writing this. I happen to know everyone was damned without hope before they were born. By some god no one knows. I'd just hate to see someone have hit so close to home who denies christianity but accepts some other belief system built on lies.
I do want to share some of what I've learned, although you may already know it. But if, at any time in the future, you think it's worth something, I also have a lot of similar knowledge on other areas of biblical history. Tying a lot of it together. Although there don't seem too many people who want to hear the god they made up in their heads is a sick, bloodthirsty liar. I'm 42, and my findings may never gain notoriety. I guarantee, if you don't already know what I tell you, it could help you and many fill in a lot of the questions. And seek new ones if you wish. And if you know anyone who would be interested in publishing my findings, it would be of great help to me. I just submitted an article here, but was told they're looking for people with credentials in the field. It's frustrating knowing my answers are so right and being rejected.
The sums of all names with ages in Genesis, excluding joseph, is 23,999. One short of hours in 1000 days. The numbers stop at 930, when listed in order of appearance. They ascend from bottom to top, although not perfectly. I've created many charts, with the names and ages listed. Adam's: 130,800,930. The sum of 800 & 930, assuming they're hours, equals 72 days, 2 hours. If it were 70, when added to 930 it'd be 1000 even. My explanation as to why it's off by that is very good, but I want to tell you some other things. When 800 & 930 are added to the four columns beneath them, their sums are 8644. Just 4 hours more than hours in 360 days. Also, the sum of the last columns, age at death, of the last four last names (excluding Jacob, whose only age given is 147) is 708. As you probably know, the right most number of each name is always equal to the sum of the left two. So the sum of the numbers in those four rows is 1416. Also the amount of hours in 59 (29.5*2). And 29.5 is of course a very close estimate for time from new moon to new moon. Furthermore, the next three names up are identical. Except the amount of names, three instead of four. The last three columns sum equals 708, as does the first two. At least some of the numbers had multiple meanings. One 70 could symbolize 70 hours and days. The sum of the last 7 rows equals 118 days exactly (Jacob excluded). Interestingly, 29.5 short of 147.5, half a day off of Jacob, the only name below it. And enoch's row would fit well there, where it looks like it might fit. And although the sum of all three of his numbers is 730, 22 more hours than in 29.5 days, and there are other inconsistencies, I'm pretty sure I know what they did or were trying to do, and how it would fit.
The sum of the first 16 numbers (beginning with adam's) in the middle column is 8755, 364 days and 19 hours. I've seen several other possibilities how that number being off could relate to the rest of the chart. But haven't had a chance to explore it. Since the first 5 numbers in that column, except cainin's, are all equally separated by 7 or 8, it seems the chart was also comparing years divided into increments of 30 and 36 days. 930 may have also symbolized the 35th or 36th day of the month in the 3rd year. The 36th day of the 25th month in a 36 day month is 900. Since the 8644 I mentioned earlier was the sum of 10 numbers, they'd represent the 36 day months.
It was definitely some sort of a chart, attempting to solve some of the mysteries of the universe. Specifically why we have as many days and months in a year, and so on. I also believe they were mistakenly assumed to be genealogies.
I have a lot of other knowledge, including the stories of the garden, cain, abel, how the new testament came to be, why jesus never existed, and more. If you or anyone you know, at any time in the future, is interested in hearing more, you can contact me at [email protected] or 310-340-5641. I go by Eddie. And I'm definitely going to check out the chart you listed as a comparison to the genealogies.

damned2hell4ever

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