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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Age; Old Age

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In individual lives (חלד , ḥeledh ; ἡλικία , hēlı̄kı́a ): We have scarcely any word in the Old Testament or New Testament which denotes "age" in the familiar modern sense; the nearest in the Old Testament is perhaps ḥeledh , "life," "lifetime," and in the New Testament hēlikia , "full age," "manhood," but which is rendered stature in Matthew 6:27 , etc., the King James Version; cheledh occurs (Job 11:17 , "Thine age shall be clearer than the noonday," the Revised Version (British and American) "(thy) life"; Psalm 39:5 , "Mine age is as nothing before thee," the American Standard Revised Version, "my life-time"); we have hēlikia (John 9:21 , John 9:23 , "He is of age"; Hebrews 11:11 "past age," Luke 2:52 , "Jesus increased in wisdom and age," so the Revised Version, margin, King James Version margin, Ephesians 4:13 ); yōm , day, (days) is used in the Old Testament to express "age" (Genesis 47:28 ), the whole age of Jacob," the King James Version, "the days of the years of his life"; but it occurs mostly in connection with old age); bēn , "son" (Numbers 8:25 ; 1 Chronicles 23:3 , 1 Chronicles 23:24 ); kelaḥ , "to be complete," is translated "full age" (Job 5:26 ); téleios , "complete" (Hebrews 5:14 , the Revised Version (British and American), full-grown men, margin, perfect"), dōr , a revolution," "a period" is translated "age" (Isaiah 38:12 , "Mine age is departed and removed from me as a shepherd's tent," the American Standard Revised Version, "My dwelling is removed, and is carried away from me as a shepherd's tent," the English Revised Version, "mine age," margin, "or habitation"; Delitzsch, "my home"; compare Psalm 49:19 (20); 2 Corinthians 5:8 ). In New Testament we have étos , "year" (Mark 5:42 , the Revised Version (British and American), "old"; Luke 2:37 ; Luke 3:23 , "Jesus ... about 30 years of age"). "Old age," "aged," are the translation of various words, zāḳēn (zāḳān , "the chin," "the beard"), perhaps to have the chin sharp or hanging down, often translated "elders," "old man," etc. (2 Samuel 19:32 ; Job 12:20 ; Job 32:9 ; Jeremiah 6:11 ).

In New Testament we have presbútēs , "aged," "advanced in days" (Titus 2:2 ; Philippians 1:9 ); presbútis , "aged woman" (Titus 2:3 ); probebēkō̇s en hēmérais , advanced in days" (Luke 2:36 ); gē̇ras , "old age" (Luke 1:36 ).

Revised Version has "old" for "the age of" (1 Chronicles 23:3 ), "own age" for "sort" (Daniel 1:10 ); "aged" for "ancients" (Psalm 119:100 ), for "ancient" (Isaiah 47:6 ); for "old" (Hebrews 8:13 ); "aged men" for "the ancients" (Job 12:12 ); for "aged" (Job 12:20 ), "elders."

Regard for Old Age

(1) Among the Hebrews (and Orientals generally) old age was held in honor, and respect was required for the aged (Leviticus 19:32 ), "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man"; a mark of the low estate of the nation was that "The faces of elders were not honored"; "The elders have ceased from the gate" (Lamentations 5:12 , Lamentations 5:14 ). Compare Job 29:8 (as showing the exceptionally high regard for Job). See also The Wisdom of Solomon 2:10; Ecclesiasticus 8:6.

(2) Old age was greatly desired and its attainment regarded as a Divine blessing (Genesis 15:15 ; Exodus 20:12 , "that thy days may be long in the land"; Job 5:26 ; Psalm 91:16 , "With long life will I satisfy him"; Psalm 92:14 ; compare Isaiah 65:20 ; Zechariah 8:4 ; 1 Samuel 2:32 ).

(3) A D ivine assurance is given, "Even to old age I am he, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you" (Isaiah 46:4 ); hence it was looked forward to in faith and hope (Psalm 71:9 , Psalm 71:18 ).

(4) Superior wisdom was believed to belong to the aged (Job 12:20 ; Job 15:10 ; Job 32:7 , Job 32:9 ; compare 1 Kings 12:8 ); hence positions of guidance and authority were given to them, as the terms "elders," "presbyters" and (Arabic) "sheik" indicate.


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Age; Old Age'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/a/age-old-age.html. 1915.

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