How Long Is A Generation In The Bible (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 27 To 100 Years

The Bible uses the term generation in a few different ways. However, regardless of its exact meaning, generation refers to a particular period in a human’s life. Numerous verses of the Bible use the word generation to denote a varying number of years. In general, the length of a generation is 27 to 100 years, depending on its usage and historical period. 

How Long Is A Generation In The Bible?

Usage of The term GenerationLength of a Generation
Genesis 50.2327 years
Deuteronomy 2:13-1537 years
Reference to all the people living at the same time 30 years
Reference to the age of a man when the first son is born and the age when a man dies40 to 100 years
The book of Enoch and Jubilees 70 years

The Bible does not directly answer this question. Scripture shows that the length of a generation varies depending on how it uses the term and the historical period. 

The first and second mention of generation is in Genesis 9.12 and Genesis 17.7. In both these verses, the term generation describes all future progeny. 

The third instance of usage of the term generation occurs in Genesis 50.23. Here, the length of a generation is 27 years, using Joseph as the measure. In Deuteronomy 2:13-15, Jesus says that the generation would pass away in 40 years. However, the generation passes away in 38 years, implying that the length of that generation is a maximum of 37 years. 

Additionally, the term generation refers to all the people living at the same time. This definition is similar to modern words like Generation X or the Millennial generation. Here, the length of a generation is about thirty years.

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A generation also refers to the age of a man when the first son is born. It also is the age of a man at this death. Hence, the exact span of years in a generation could be between 40 to 100 years. The 100 years long generation is prevalent in the Bible before Moses when men lived longer. 

On occasion, the Bible gives 70 years as the length of a generation. For example, the book of Enoch and Jubilees mentions that the duration is around 70 years. 

Furthermore, the Bible also mentions that lifespan and generation are connected. When life span increases, so do the length of the term generation. The average lifespan of pre-Flood patriarchs was 912 years. The lifespan reduced to 484 years from Shem to Peleg and 195 years from Peleg to Abraham. The generation length from Abraham to Davis was 64 years, while the average generation for the other two groups was 38 years. 

Why Is A Generation In The Bible So Long?

The length of a generation defers depending on how it is defined. Suppose the term refers to the age when a man’s first son was born, then the length of this generation would be 30 years. However, if the word means the age at which man will die, it is about 70 years. Similarly, if generation refers to all people alive at a given time, the length could be 30 years.  

Furthermore, the term generation depends on the lifespan of individuals. Greater the life span, the longer the generation. 

In Genesis 50.23, Jesus refers to the life of Joseph, who dies like his father at the age of one hundred. The verse depicts how children were born on Joseph’s lap and how after death, he was embalmed. Here the generation gap is about 27 years. 

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In Deuteronomy 2:13-15, Jesus describes the generation that lives for 40 years. However, they die before that. The verse explains how people started from Kadesh Barnea and went over the brook Zered, for which they took 38 years. However, they all died in their 38th year. Hence, the generation lives for a maximum of 37 years. 

Conclusion

Although the definition of generation changes from verse to verse, it is always between 27 to 100 years of age. Most stanzas that mention genesis refer to the future progeny of the individual. However, a few ones like Genesis 50.23 give a rough estimation of the length of the generation.

References 

  1. https://philpapers.org/rec/HUNETC-2
  2. https://journals.co.za/doi/abs/10.10520/EJC32978
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