Not long ago I heard a British scientist on the radio discussing the possibility of people living for hundreds of years, maybe even thousands. He believes this will become possible as miraculous breakthroughs in medical science continue to occur over the coming decades.
As I listened I couldn’t help but think of Methuselah who, according to the book of Genesis, lived to the good old age of 969. The good book doesn’t say how long Mrs. Methuselah lived, but given that women usually outlive men I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Mrs. M made it to 1,002.
We don’t know what finally brought about Methuselah’s demise but I am guessing it was old age. And to think, had he lived just 7 more years he could have spent a year touring the world by sea with his grandson, Noah, and his family.
It surely was a different time. Adam lived to be 930, Seth lived to 912, and Noah, after surviving the flood, lived to see his 950th birthday. That’s a heck of a lot of candles, to say nothing of trying to blow them all out with one breath.
The more I thought on these things the more I wanted to know why people are lucky to reach 90 today, let alone 900. I decided to do some research. I can’t begin to share all that I discovered but here is the basic story.
Apparently the germs, bacteria, and diseases that cause us to pass on today did not exist in Methuselah and Noah’s day. What is evident from reading the book of Genesis is this. Within a few years of the flood waters receding people began dying at a younger and younger age, until Abraham and his descendants were lucky if they lived to see three score and ten.
I can’t say for sure but there seems to have been a correlation between this precipitous decline in lifespan among the descendants of Noah and their consumption of meat. You can’t blame them for eating meat. For some period of time after the flood broccoli, brussel sprouts, rutabaga and other vegetables were in short supply so it only made since to eat what was handy – namely the animals that had been saved on the ark.
You can be sure it didn’t take long for Noah’s children and grandchildren to figure out that hamburgers and fried chicken were mouthwatering and finger licking good. I can just hear Noah’s great-great-great-great-great grandchildren (remember, he did live to be 950), as they bounced along in the back of his donkey cart. “Grandpa, can we please stop at the Pearly Gates for chicken nuggets?” (Later, much later, a fellow named Kroc would franchise the business, and in the interest of keeping the biblical theme would nickname his hamburger stands the Golden Arches.)
Cooking and eating meat for fun and flavor quickly caught on, but as the span of life steadily declined a small group of Noah’s descendants reverted to eating only fruits and vegetables in hopes of regaining the longevity that had been enjoyed by their forefathers and foremothers. This green lifestyle made them feel somehow superior to their meat eating relatives so they decided to distinguish themselves by adopting the name VEGANS. Through my research I discovered this was an acronym that stood for “Vegetarians Eating Grass, Artichokes, Nuts, and Spaghetti.”
The meat eaters were not nearly as uptight about dietary practices as the VEGANS, but to be good sports they decided to adopt a name for themselves. There was much debate and various names were considered such as the “Baconators” and the “Shish-Kabobs”, but in the end they decided to simply call themselves “People Eating Tasty Animals”, which was quickly shortened to “PETA”. Imagine the chagrin if they had known a future generation of VEGANS would alter the words to the PETA acronym in order to promote the protection of animals instead of the joy of eating them. Times do change.
But over the millennia one thing hasn’t changed, man’s (and woman’s) love for wine. From my research I can report with some certainty that the first record of grapes being fermented and consumed as a beverage can be traced back to Noah. In addition to planting broccoli and other vegetables after the flood, Noah and his sons wasted no time in planting a vineyard. To me this suggests they were already familiar with grapes and their various derivatives, like raisins, grape flavored gum, and, of course, wine. They seemed to have been anxious to have some wine with their meals, as a healthy alternative to goat’s milk and water.
The Apostle Paul, being a scholar of the Torah, took note of this and even admonished his young friend, Timothy, to drink less water and replace it with wine. “Stop drinking only water and have a little wine for your stomach’s sake”, he told Timothy. Now that’s advice I can live by.
Given Noah’s proclivity to wine (you can read the not so pretty details for yourself in Genesis chapter 9), one cannot help but wonder if his great (x seven) grandparents experimented with making hard cider using apples from their favorite tree. But that’s a story for another time and will require a great deal of research to be sure I get the facts straight.
For now I’ll just say, I subscribe to the tenets of PETA, with a good glass of Merlot on the side for my stomach’s sake.
George Brown is a freelance writer. He lives in Jackson Township with his wife Yvonne.