According to biblical records, the oldest man who ever lived on the face of the earth was Methuselah. I recall my primary school days, trying to display our aptitude of general knowledge and current affairs, this mysterious old man was a delight. “Who was the oldest man to ever live on the surface of the earth”? Queried Ms. Okeke our class teacher and the class echoes, “Methuselah”! I became very curious about who this guy was and how it felt to live almost a thousand years. My curiosities lead me to the world’s bestselling book – the bible. But, even the bible didn’t say much about him. Just like the bible didn’t record all about our lord Jesus Christ. As I grew older I began to hear people say things like, “the wisdom of Solomon has nothing to do with the old age of Methuselah”. I too joined in the usage of this axiom and without thinking, repeating it almost like a mantra; I vented it out to any foolish old man, or any older person whom I considered unwise and wanted to prove a point to. Now I agree that most of my previous resolve on Methuselah was based on popular opinions about him. Looking back, I was a victim of crowd effect or mixed multitude syndrome. Not to say people who think Methuselah didn’t live up to full potential were outright numb nuts. They had credible information that made them draw up their conclusion. Even the bible seemed to have summarized his life in three activities; that he lived had children and died. So it seemed that all he accomplished in between his birth and death was procreation; he begat Lamech who begat Noah making it easy for people to submit unsolicited eulogies reading, “What a waste of life”. However like old wine sour and lose their taste, popular wisdom becomes unpopular. Did Methuselah really live a life that in comparison appeared animalistic? We can only know the answer to this question from the bible.
If we can do a bit of time traveling, eons of years backwards, with a high imaginative prowess we can come to see that the era of Methuselah was characterized by very low activities and elongated life span. This culminates to low achievements. There was hardly any form of innovation. Man had yet to activate his creative genius. The first invention man made was a failure; it was apparel made from interwoven fig leaves, and this was done back in Eden after the first couple discovered that there were naked. Man was typically slow. God had to make a better cloth for the banished couple from animal skin. Let me paint a picture of how slow there were for you. The US library of congress has over 80,000.00 books. If someone from this era was to copy the entire information from those books, it would take only 4.6 seconds to download the entire info using Cisco’s CSR1 router! Whereas, if Adam, Seth or Enoch were to copy the same information using the technology of Moses’s time, it would take approximately two hundred and thirty years if they copied a page under 3 minutes and one book had only 500 pages! This assumption excludes the time it would take to learn how to copy.
Taking a closer look at the sons of God, that is the lineage of Adam from Seth, Methuselah wasn’t the only man whose life could be summarized as, and “he lived, procreated and died”. Even Adam, the father of humanity, lived, sinned, procreated and died. Why has no one said, “Adam lived a wasted life”?
While the focus and emphasis is on the spent years of Methuselah, let us remember that before Methuselah there was Jared. He lived seven years short of Methuselah and was Methuselah’s grandfather! Tracing the genealogy from Adam to Noah, it appears that the only two distinct people mentioned were Enoch and Noah. Methuselah, who was Noah’s grandfather, was Enoch’s son.
Enoch was described as an honorable man, and God’s friend, there were so close that he literally transited from earth to heaven without dieing. I believe he was a great influence in the life of Methuselah who went on to beget Lamech, passing on to his generation great spiritual values. I am not a parent but I know that parenting on its own is a serious task. Noah didn’t just spring up; he was brought up in the fear of God by Lamech his father who was also groomed by Methuselah. If we also study the life of Methuselah, according to biblical accounts, we will discover that he was the only patriarch who knew Adam and survived till the creation of the ark and the beginning of the flood. It is clear that grand pa Methuselah would have told Noah some impressionable stories about the first man who he was unlucky to know or see. I can imagine Noah asking Methuselah, “papa, how did he look?” and Methuselah would respond with a smile and say, “just like you, a lot like you”. Methuselah also played a supportive role as Noah’s father when Lamech died. I am sure he encouraged Noah to go ahead to build the ark against all odds. No wonder he didn’t die till the flood. I have strong reasons to believe that he died in the ark, that is, he died in the year of the flood!
I do not know how to end this piece but I sure would have set some thoughts in motion. I live you to conclude, was Methuselah a failure or his life work was subtly presented in the scripture in a way that we can conveniently ignore or overlook.