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From The Biographical Writings and Letters of Venerable Bede, translated from the Latin, by J. A. Giles; James Bohn, London, 1845; pp. 221-225.
The first age of this world, from Adam to Noah, containing 1656 years according to the Hebrew verity, but, as the Septuagint has it, 2242, is divided, according to both these texts, into ten generations. This age was destroyed by the deluge, and in the same way are the first years of every man’s life buried in oblivion, for who is there that can remember his own infancy?
SIX AGES OF THE WORLD.
Age. THE FIRST AGE
In the first age, when the world was first created, and on the first day of this age, God made the light, and called it day. On the second, he poised the firmament of heaven in the midst of the waters; for the waters themselves and the land, together with the upper heaven, and the virtues which were there placed to celebrate their Maker, had already been created before the beginning of these six days. On the third day, the waters, which before covered every thing, were gathered into
Age. and the dry land was made to appear. On the fourth day he placed the stars in the firmament of heaven; and this day, as far as we can conjecture by the Equinox, is now called the twenty-first of March. On the fifth day he made those animals which swim and fly. On the sixth day he made the land-animals and the man Adam, Adam created
March 23. from whose side, whilst he slept, he produced Eve, the mother of all living; and that day, as seems probable to me, is now called the twenty-third of March. Wherefore it is justly thought, if no more probable conjecture can be made, that Christ was crucified on the same twenty-third of March, as has been written by the blessed Theophilus, in the disputation which he held about Easter, with many other bishops, not only of Palestine, but of other countries also. For thus it would seem fitting, that on the same day, not only of the week, but also of the month, the Second Adam, to redeem the human race, should die that he might raise again, and by the heavenly Sacraments which he produced out of his own side, sanctify to himself his bride, the church; for on this same day he had himself created the first Adam, the parent of the human race, and taking a rib out of his side formed a woman, to assist in propagating the human race.
A.M. 130 .
Adam was 130 years old when he begat Seth, after whose birth he lived 800 years. But the Septuagint translators make it 230 years before Seth’s birth, and 500 afterwards.
Resurrection. Seth means resurrection, and typifies the rising of Christ from the dead, whose death at the hands of the Jews is pointed out by Abel; i. e. sorrow, who was slain by his brother Cain.
A.M. 235 .
Seth, at the age of 105 years, begat Enos, and lived afterwards 807 years. The Septuagint makes it 205
years before the birth of Enos,
Man. and 707 afterwards. Enos is interpreted Man, of whom it is well said, “He began to call on the name of the Lord;” for it is the peculiar property of mankind to remember their own frailty and to invoke the aid of their Maker; at least of all such as live in the faith of Christ, and rejoice to become sons of the resurrection.
A.M. 325 .
Enos lived 90 years and begat Cainan, after which he lived 815. But the Septuagint makes it 190 years before the birth of Cainan, and 715 afterwards.
A.M. 395 .
Cainan was 70 years old when he begat Malaleel, after whose birth he lived 840 years. The Septuagint allows 170 years before Malaleel’s birth and 740 afterwards.
A.M. 460 .
Malaleel lived 65 years and begat Jareth; after which he lived 830 years. The Septuagint gives 165 years before Jareth’s birth, and 730 afterwards.
A.M. 622 .
rious.Jareth lived 162 years and begat Enoch, after whose birth he lived 800 years. In this generation there is no discrepancy between the copies. We learn from the Apostle St. Jude that this Enoch composed some diving writings. But, as St. Augustine says: “It is not in vain that they are not found in that canon of the Holy Scriptures, which was preserved by the care of succeeding priests in the temple of the Hebrew people, but that they are considered for their antiquity of doubtful authenticity, nor can it be discovered, whether these are what he wrote or not.” Wherefore what now passes under his name, and contains those fables about the 224 Giants, The First
Age. and their not having had men for their fathers, is considered by good judges to be spurious.
A.M. 687 .
Enoch lived 65 years and begat Methuselah, after which he lived 300 years, and walked with God, The Septuagint makes it 165 years before the birth of Methuselah, and 200 afterwards.
tion. And it happened most appropriately, that in the seventh generation, Enoch, which means dedication, was taken from the world by God; for the communion of the elect, after labouring in God’s cause during these six ages of the world, expect to obtain the glory of consecration in the seventh — their future sabbath.
But, because the reprobate are contented with their present happiness, Cain consecrates the city which he built, not in the seventh generation, but in his first-born son Enoch.
A.M. 874 .
Methuselah was 187 years old when he begat Lamech, after whose birth he lived 782 years, i. e. till the time of the deluge. The Septuagint reckons 167 years before the birth of Lamech, and 802 afterwards. This number, as the reader will easily perceive, passes beyond the date of the deluge, by 20 years according to the Hebrew calculation, and 14 by their own system. On this famous question those learned fathers, Jerome and Augustine, have treated at length, the former in his book of Hebrew Questions; the latter in the fifteenth book of his work on “the City of God.”
A.M. 1056 .
Lamech, at the age of 182 years, begat Noah, whose birth he outlived 595 years. The Septuagint calculates 188 years before Noah’s birth, and 565 years afterwards. This is the only generation about the length of which
there is a difference;
Age. for the Hebrew text makes Lamech to have lived 24 years longer than the copies of the Septuagint translation.
A.M. 1656 .
The Deluge. In the 600th year of Noah’s life came the deluge, in the second month, and the seventeenth day of the month. If any one should be disposed to taunt me with having raised new questions about the difference in the number of years between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, let him read the treatises of the above-named fathers, and he will see that this difference was well known long ago. The origin of it has been inquired into by Augustine, who, among other remarks in the above-named thirteenth chapter, has the following: — “One may think it very likely that such a thing would happen when the work was first copied from the library of Ptolemy in one transcript, and originally copied from thence, so that it would spread more widely, and moreover there was a possibility of the writers making an error; and this it is not unreasonable to suppose may have happened in the life of Methuselah.” A little farther on he adds: “I should not make the least hesitation, if I found a difference between the two copies, to give the preference to that language from which the other was only a translation, for both cannot be historically correct.2
1 “Infantia, quæ hinc appellata est, quod fari non potest.”
2 The dates which are placed in the margin are given from the admirable chronological tables, appended to Bagster’s Comprehensive Bible.