- This article is about the Biblical character. See Methuselah (disambiguation) for other uses.
Methuselah or Metush�lach (מתושלח "Man of the dart", Standard Hebrew Mətuš�laḥ / Mətuš�laḥ, Tiberian Hebrew Məṯ�š�laḥ / Məṯ�šālaḥ) was the oldest person whose age is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He reportedly reached the age of 969 years. According to the Book of Genesis 5:27: And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died. (ASV)
He is mentioned in Genesis as the son of Enoch and the father of Lamech (father of Noah), whom he fathered at the age of 195. His name has become a general synonym for any living creature of great age. A close reading of the dates in the Old Testament reveals that Methuselah is said to have died the year of the Great Flood.
Modern cultural references
Robert Heinlein wrote a science fiction series about rejuvenation and a project called the 'Howard family' that was working to extend the human lifespan beyond 150 years - the first volume was called Methuselah's Children.
In the Star Trek episode "Requiem for Methuselah", Methuselah is revealed to be an immortal man born in the year 3834 BC. According to Star Trek, other identities of the immortal Methuselah included Leonardo Da Vinci, Merlin, Solomon, Lazarus, and Johannes Brahms. Methuselah was played in Star Trek by actor James Daly.
Our current knowledge on cellular lifespan hypothesizes that the natural limit on modern human longevity is well below 150 years. Guinness Records for the oldest living person have long remained within the range from age 112 to the all-time record of 122 years held by Jeanne Calment, but the process of sorting genuine supercentenarians from longevity myths is hampered by the often questionable birth certification records from the late 19th century. Guinness Record statistics are soon likely to reveal the approximate true longest natural human lifespan yet acheived in modern times.
Today some maintain that the unusually high longevity of Biblical patriarchs is the result of an error in translation: lunar cycles were mistaken for the solar ones, and the actual ages are 13.5 times less. This gives 72 years for Methuselah, which is still an impressive number, bearing in mind the life expectancy of these times. This theory however, seems doubtful to others since patriarchs such as Mahalalel (ibid 5:15) and Enoch (ibid 5:21) were said to have become fathers after 65 "years." If the lunar cycle theory were accepted this would translate to an age of about 4 years and 10 months. Creationists have proposed a number of ideas for the dramatic decrease in lifespans following the flood of Noah's time. One was that conditions before the flood caused much less ultraviolet light from the sun to impact the earth, and that this allowed for longer life spans. The latest proposal is that it is due to the genetic bottleneck that would have been caused by the flood.