Biblical bottles: Jeroboam to Salmanazar

Methuselah – six litres/eight bottles
Used in: Champagne and Burgundy

The oldest man in the Bible and the grandfather of Noah – who was after all the world’s first vintner.

He is first mentioned in Genesis as part of the genealogy linking Adam to Noah. It is explained that he was the son of Enoch who was already aged 65 when Methuselah was born and lived to 365 years old himself!

Methuselah easily surpassed his father, however, begetting his first son, Lamech, at the age of 187 and having more children over the span of 780 years before dying aged 969.

Of course, these figures are nonsense, although people have tried to justify them literally through all manner of tenuous arguments.

It may very well be that Methuselah, Enoch and Lamech were important, semi-legendary figures who lived for an unusually long time.

More logical explanations have tried to reason that perhaps the chronicler had meant months rather than years or perhaps tenths of years – either explanation would make Methuselah a more believable 78½ or 96 when he died. The only problem then is that would make his father, Enoch, just five or six when Methuselah was conceived.

Better is to take these extreme ages as either symbolic or out-and-out fiction. Methuselah is counted as the eighth patriarch, Adam being the first and Noah the tenth. So the lengthy lives of these figures might just be a convenient way of having 10 figures representing the history of Man from Adam to Noah. It’s neat, and 10 names in a genealogy is much easier to remember than several hundred – and a lot of these teachings would have to be remembered by people because written texts would have been rare and most people couldn’t read anyway.

Having 10 names is likely just a device to move the story on quickly and efficiently from the expulsion from Eden to the flood.

5 Responses to “Biblical bottles: Jeroboam to Salmanazar”

  1. Kent Benson says:

    “In the Book of Samuel, Saul does indeed meet death and defeat at the hands of the Philistines at the Battle of Gilboa after proving himself unworthy in the eyes of God, although whether he fell on his own sword or was polished off by an Amalekite is unknown as both accounts are given in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel respectively.”

    The II Sam. 1:1-16 account of Saul being killed by an Amalekite at the battle of Gilboa was a story told to David by the very Amalekite in question. It is thought that the Amalekite was an opportunist hoping to curry favor with the heir to the throne (David) by delivering the news of Saul’s death and taking credit for it. It didn’t work, David had him killed for slaying “God’s anointed.”

    The Amalekite’s story is probably not what actually happened. The history recorded by the chroniclers of I & II Samuel (I Sam. 31:1-6) has Samuel killing himself with his sword in order to avoid torture at the hands of the Philistines, after being incapacitated by a Philistine arrow – this, only after his armourbearer refused to do the job. An almost identical account is recorded in I Chron. 10:1-6.

  2. Kent Benson says:

    “Of course, these figures are nonsense, although people have tried to justify them literally through all manner of tenuous arguments.”

    It is your explanation of the Bible’s account of pre-flood longevity that is tenuous. Many things in the Bible seemed like nonsense until science advanced to enough to give them credence. Isaiah 40:22 refers to the “circle of the earth”, which was nonsense prior to Galileo. The physical world prior to a world-wide flood could have been dramatically different. According to the biblical record, it never rained, instead a mist went up from the earth to water the ground (Gen. 2:5-6). One speculation is that a filtering canopy surrounded the earth blocking virtually all harmful solar radiation. In addition, there could have been a much more oxygen-rich environment contributing to longevity. We’re not likely to ever know why humans may have lived much longer thousands of years ago, but treating the idea as nonsense is a closed minded approach to examining human history.

  3. There are several kings named Shalmaneser, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalmaneser .
    Shalmaneser II was the king of Assyria 1030–1019 BC and ruled for 12 years according to the Assyrian Kinglist.
    So, I think, a big bottle containing 12 standard bottles, is named in honor of these 12 years 🙂

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