See also: Genesis Interpretation
|Mahalaleel||The Blessed God||3716||65||895||2821|
|Jared||Shall come down||3651||162||962||2689|
|Methuselah||His death shall bring||3424||187||969||2455|
|Noah||rest, or comfort||3055||500||950||2105||God spoke to Noah 2575bc|
|Shem||2555||100||600||1955||Flood 2455 bc|
|Eber||2390||34||464||1926||Tower of Babel|
|Peleg||2356||30||239||2117||(about 2361 bc)|
Furthermore there are those who theorize that the years given in the genealogies are not literal years but rather the numbers have some spiritual significance of which we are ignorant. But the fact is that the years are treated as real years. Notice for example Methuselah lived 187 years before begatting Lamech and afterwards he lived 782 years. Now if we add up those numbers we come up with 969 years, which in fact is the number of years that the Bible says Methuselah lived. So the numbers are not treated as if having some mystical value, but rather they are treated as actual numbers of years. Yes in some cases there may be some rounding off involved, but given large numbers that is not outside our normal usage of numbers.
This poses a problem to some Christians who see a contradiction between Adam's recent creation at about 4100 bc and what is known of ancient history. The problem is further exacerbated for those who hold a global flood interpretation considering that the flood would have occurred about 2400 or 2500 bc. But we have a continuous record of Egyptian history, for example, throughout that time period. And it's further exacerbated by the interpretation that the nations and the diversity of languages were not formed until after the tower of Babel incident which occurred about 2300 or 2400 bc. But many are convinced that there is sufficient evidence to say that nations and the diversity of languages existed before that time. And then of course there's the population problem. Thus even among young earth creationists, those more informed of the ancient history of that time period attempt to arbitrarily disregard the genealogies in an attempt to turn back the clock on the date for the creation of Adam much further than the Bible would indicate in hopes that by putting it far back enough in time that they could say that scientists and historians don't know enough of that time period to say confidently what really happened and thereby allow a door for the theories of young earth creationism. But if "literalness" is going to be the hermeneutical flag of such Christians, then there is little basis or consistency for them interpreting the genealogies in a non-literal manner.
As for myself, I interpret the whole thing "literally" - all of Genesis. Days mean days and years mean years. And yet I'm not a young earth creationist! For there is more than one way to interpret such things "literally". For more discussion see Genesis Interpretation.