Methuselah and the Ark; Dirt and ‘supergerms’
Why wasn’t Methuselah on the Ark? And can rolling in dirt really cure some infections?
Published: 7 July 2007 (GMT+10)
We have two feedbacks this week. The first is an interesting set of questions from Peter E of Queensland, Australia, concerning why Methuselah was not on the Ark, to which Russell Grigg replies. The second is an enquiry from William H of Michigan, USA, about the idea that rolling in dirt can cure ‘supergerm’ infections, to which Dr Carl Wieland replies.
Why wasn’t Methuselah on the Ark?
>I’m working on a project and have encountered a stumbling-block.
Genesis 6 gives the impression that the only person who is a Godly man is Noah.
At that time, Methuselah is still alive. Wasn’t he Godly? Why did God only find favour with Noah? Was Methuselah a sinner who had fallen out of favour with God, and killed in the flood like everyone else? Perhaps Methuselah had just died before God first spoke to Noah and the flood came later that year.
With regard to taking the bible at face value, would I be in error for arriving at the above conclusions? Can any be disproved by the bible?
Russell Grigg replies:
Thank you for your questions. Noah certainly was a godly man. The Bible describes his relationship to God several times in Genesis 6 and 7.
- ‘Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord’ (Genesis 6:8).
- ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the peoples of his time, and he walked with God’ (Genesis 6:9).
- ‘Noah did everything just as God commanded him’ (Genesis 6:22; 7:5; cf. 7:9).
- ‘Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation”’ (Genesis 7:1).
The biblical account doesn’t necessarily require that Noah was the only righteous person alive at the time that he found favour (grace) in God’s eyes. Given the highly family-oriented culture throughout the biblical milieu (and indeed in most cultures today), it would not have been necessary to include mention of Noah’s immediate family. Often where the family patriarch went, the rest followed (cf. Acts 16). Concerning the fact that Noah’s family (i.e. his wife and three sons and their three wives) were on the Ark even though they were not explicitly included in the ‘godly’ description, Henry Morris makes the point:
‘Though it was because of Noah’s faith and obedience that God gave the promise concerning his house, each member of that household also exercised saving faith as well. Each one chose voluntarily to enter the Ark and renounce the world in which they had lived so long. Noah was undoubtedly a man of great wealth, in order to finance the building of the Ark; but he and his sons and their wives willingly left it all behind because of their faith that God would perform what He had promised’.1
Concerning Methuselah, he was the son of Enoch, a pre-Flood prophet (Jude 14). Enoch gave his son a name which meant ‘when he dies it shall be sent’2 (see box below: What does Methuselah mean?). And what was sent, in the year Methuselah died, was of course the Flood, as can be shown by adding up the years in the chronogenealogy of Genesis 5. Presumably, as a prophet, Enoch was inspired by God to give his son this name; however, we are not told that he knew what it meant, 969 years before the event of the Flood.
We cannot be certain whether or not Methuselah was a godly man, though it seems likely he was. There are several reasons to think so:
- He was the son of a prophet.
- His son knew the true God (Genesis 5:29).
- He was in the line of those who called upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26). The Jewish historian Josephus, who may have had access to historical records since lost to us, said in his Antiquities of the Jews (Book 1): ‘Seth, when he was brought up, and came to those years in which he could discern what was good, became a virtuous man; and as he was himself of an excellent character, so did he leave children behind him who imitated his virtues. All these proved to be of good dispositions. … ’ ‘Now this posterity of Seth continued to esteem God as the Lord of the universe, and to have an entire regard to virtue, for seven generations; but in process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers, and did neither pay those honours to God which were appointed them, nor had they any concern to do justice toward men. But for what degree of zeal they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions a double degree of wickedness; whereby they made God to be their enemy … ’ ‘Noah alone was saved; for God suggested to him the following contrivance and way of escape:– that he should make an ark of four [three] stories high, three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits broad, and thirty cubits high. Accordingly he entered into that ark, and his wife and sons, and their wives … ’
Note in the last paragraph, Josephus confirms what we said above: ‘only Noah’ in his usage clearly included his family members.
When did the Fall happen? We can logically deduce from Scripture that it couldn’t have been during Creation Week, because God called everything ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). Nor is there any indication that it happened on the 7th Day, because God blessed this, and there was no hint of any sin or curse on this day. Therefore, the Fall must have occurred after Creation Week.
However, the Fall can’t have been too long afterwards, because of the history of their immediate descendants. Adam and Eve were commanded to ‘fill the Earth’; they would have obeyed in their unfallen state, and their physically perfect bodies would have been capable of conceiving immediately, at least within the first menstrual cycle. But the first child they conceived (Cain) was indisputably sinful.
Therefore, their Fall must have occurred a very short time, perhaps three to four weeks at most, after Creation Week. Therefore, we can also narrow down Satan’s fall to the narrow window between the blessed 7th Day and the Fall of mankind.
Return to text.
Another point to consider is that in the line of promise, Noah was in the 10th generation after creation, while Methuselah was in the 8th generation. God’s declaration that Noah was ‘righteous…in this generation’ (Genesis 7:1 KJV) and ‘perfect in his generations (Genesis 6:9 KJV) could conceivably have been referring to the 10th and subsequent generations of people on earth. Perhaps the generation of Noah’s grandfather Methuselah (the 8th generation) was a generally law-abiding one. Britain was a nation of church-goers and generally law-abiding citizenry a mere two generations ago.
Regardless of all this, it was obviously not God’s intention that Methuselah should board the Ark, but rather that he should die in the same way that all his ancestors had died (with the exception of his father, of whom we are told that ‘God took him’—Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5). Some commentators have suggested that the exceeding longevity of Methuselah was due to God’s prolonging the time that the people of his day had to repent. Then in the year that he died, God sent the Flood. Noah, it may be noted, in the New Testament is described as a ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5). From this description it seems a very logical conclusion that Noah was warning people of the coming Flood, but in the event, no one outside of his family heeded the warning.
God’s purpose for Noah’s family was that they should begin the repopulation of the world: ‘And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth”’ (Genesis 9:1). This purpose included the three sons and their wives, but apparently did not include Methuselah. God evidently wanted a completely fresh start, with Noah as the patriarch of the new world.
Also, there were many people still alive at the time who would have known Adam.
How could so many people have turned to worshipping false gods so soon after the initial creations, Adam and Eve, had died.
Yes, Lamech, the father of Noah, was born 16 years before Adam died.3 No doubt there were many others living then who would have known Adam also.
Concerning the rapid spread of sin, the first sin mentioned in the Bible was Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s command not to eat from the forbidden tree, because they wanted to decide what was right and what was wrong for themselves. This must have happened very soon after creation (see box: Timing of the Fall).
The second sin explicitly mentioned (though not necessarily the second one committed) was the murder of Abel by his brother Cain in the very next generation.
In Exodus chapters 7–12 we have the account of how the Israelites had personally experienced God’s deliverance of them from the Egyptians through the plagues He inflicted (see The ten plagues of Egypt: Miracles or ‘Mother Nature’?), plus His destruction of the Egyptian army (Exodus ch. 14). This was followed by their experience of God’s presence on Mt Sinai that involved thunder, lightning, the sound of a trumpet and the mountain smoking, which ‘when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance’ (Exodus 20:18). ‘And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top’ (Exodus 24:17).
Then a mere 40 days later, despite all of the above, the people asked Aaron to make them a god, which he did, and they worshipped it: ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt’ (Exodus 32:4). How could they do it? In their case, not nine generations after the creation of Adam and Eve, but just a few weeks after their own experience of the power and glory of the True God?
I suggest the answer is that there is no limit to the sin which people may commit, or the speed with which they commit it, when they reject God’s call to faith and obedience.
I’m sincere with my questions. I’m asking to learn and understand, not criticize.
Thank you again. We always welcome sincere questions, and we wish you God’s blessing as you study His Word.
What does Methuselah mean?
- Methuselah: Enoch, a pre-Flood prophet (Jude 14), gave his son a name meaning ‘when he dies it shall be sent’, and the Masoretic chronology without any gaps would place his death in the year of the Flood.Return to text.Some commentaries claim that the name means ‘man of the spear’, but the Hebrew Christian scholar Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries argues:‘[T]he name Methuselah could mean one of two things. Therefore, it will either mean “man of the spear” or “when he dies it shall be sent”. The debate is not over the second part of the word which, in Hebrew, is shalach; and shalach means “to send”. While the concept of sending is the primary meaning of shalach, it has a secondary meaning of being thrown or cast forth in a context where the sending is with heavy force or speed. On that basis, some would conclude that shalach would mean either “missile” or “dart” or “spear”. However, that is a derived meaning because the primary meaning of shalach is “to send”, as any lexicon shows.’
>‘Ultimately, how one deals with shalach depends on how you deal with the first part of the word, which has the two Hebrew letters spelling mat. Based upon the root, then the meaning would indeed be “man”. Hence, commentaries conclude that it means “man of the spear” or “man of the dart”. However, the use of the term “spear” or “dart” is not the meaning of shalach in any lexicon that I know of. It is simply a derived meaning going from sending to throwing to trying to make a specific object. If mat was intended to mean man, if one was to keep it strictly literal, it would not mean “man of the spear” or “man of the dart”, but “a man—sent”.’
‘The second option for mat is that it comes from the root that means “to die”. Furthermore, the letter “vav” between mat and shalach gives it a verbal force. That is why I prefer to take it strictly literally, using the root “to die” and literally it would mean “he dies it shall be sent”.’
‘I prefer that translation of the name, “when he dies it shall be sent”, for two reasons. The first reason is that I find it fitting the Hebrew parsing of the name much better. Secondly, it is better in the wider context since, if we follow the chronology of Genesis, the same year he died was the year of the flood. I do not think this was purely coincidental.’4
Dirt and supergerms: can rolling in the former really cure you of the latter?
I was reading Dr. Carl Wieland’s article on antibiotic resistance [Superbugs not super after all], and I’d like to know which bacteria strain did the doctors suspect (and/or he himself) would be eliminated by getting outdoors a lot, occasionally even rolling in the dirt? I know a little about the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, but haven’t read that this would apply to serious illnesses like the ones suffered by Dr. Wieland. Thanks.
Dear Mr H/Dear William
Thanks for your enquiry. The strain in question was ‘MRSA’, i.e. ‘Multiply-resistant Staphylococcus aureus’, aka ‘Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus’. This is colloquially known as ‘Golden Staph’; although this term actually applies to ALL Staph. aureus, it has become synonymous with the multiply-resistant types. I had several episodes of serious infection from such ‘hospital superbugs’, both Klebsiella and MRSA while I was an inpatient at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
The ‘roll in the dirt to get rid of them more quickly’ advice was not referring to the treatment of serious infection, but to get rid of the longterm colonization of my skin/body with MRSA upon discharge from hospital, i.e. well after I had recovered from the serious infections.
It’s worth noting though that a raging infection with a superbug is regarded as more ‘serious’ than one of the same species that is not multiply resistant only because of the fact that the usual antibiotics don’t work. The ‘ordinary’ Staph. aureus that are not multiply resistant are very capable of causing very serious infection, it’s only that antibiotics are effective against such infections. In fact, as pointed out, the nonresistant ones are if anything more capable of causing such infection; they are more virulent, if anything, i.e. ‘stronger’ than the so-called ‘supergerms’.
Of course, getting rid of the MSRA colonization was a worthwhile aim, because if I did become vulnerable to an invasion by Staph, they would not then be of the ‘super’ variety, and thus could be treated easily. The advice was actually ‘roll in the dirt, jump in the sea, spend time in the sunshine’, from memory. The specialist concerned would have known that as a medical doctor, I would not have taken his advice so literally that, for example, I would have rolled in garden manure exposing myself to clostridial infection such that minor puncture wounds could have seen me infected with tetanus or gas gangrene, potentially. He was trying to make the point that fastidious hygiene would not hasten the elimination of the MRSA colonization, but if anything delay it, so being dirty and dusty and exposing myself to ‘ordinary’ Staph. aureus, for example, would mean that these would more rapidly outcompete the resistant versions. The same principles would apply regardless of the strain of supergerm.
The same has been noted inadvertently in a major TV propaganda series on evolution, where this principle was applied with HIV and antivirals:
Veronica Miller of Goethe University in Germany experimented by ceasing all antiviral drug treatments to a patient. Without the drugs, the few surviving original (‘wild’) types that had infected the patient could grow more easily. It turned out that they easily out-competed the vast numbers of resistant forms that had developed in the hospital. She said this was a risk because the wild types were also more dangerous—more efficient than the new strains that had survived the earlier drug treatments. The superior efficiency and reproductive success of the wild type implies that the other ‘evolved’ strains acquired resistance due to a loss of information somewhere.5
I hope this helps—please don’t hesitate to seek further clarification if required.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Dr Carl Wieland
- Morris, H., The Genesis Record, Master Books, CA 92022, USA, 1976, p. 190. Return to Text.
- For a discussion about this meaning, see Sarfati, J., Refuting Compromise, Master Books, AR72638, USA, 2004, pp. 294–295. Return to Text.
- See Grigg, R., Meeting the ancestors, Creation 25(2):13–15, March 2003. Return to Text.
- Fruchtenbaum, A.G., personal communication to J. Sarfati, 7 November 2000, cited in Refuting Compromise, pp. 29–95. Return to Text.
- Sarfati, J., HIV resistance to drugs, in: Refuting Evolution 2, Master Books, 2002, pp. 95–96. Return to Text.