Age; Old Age

In individual lives (cheledh; helikia): 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 heledh, "life," "lifetime," and in the New Testament helikia, "full age," "manhood," but which is rendered stature in Mt 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"; Ps 39:5, "Mine age is as nothing before thee," the American Standard Revised Version, "my life-time"); we have helikia (Joh 9:21,23, "He is of age"; Heb 11:11 "past age," Lu 2:52, "Jesus increased in wisdom and age," so the Revised Version, margin, King James Version margin, Eph 4:13); yom, day, (days) is used in the Old Testament to express "age" (Ge 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); ben, "son" (Nu 8:25; 1Ch 23:3,24); kelah, "to be complete," is translated "full age" (Job 5:26); teleios, "complete" (Heb 5:14, the Revised Version (British and American), full-grown men, margin, perfect"), dor, a revolution," "a period" is translated "age" (Isa 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 Ps 49:19 (20); 2Co 5:8). In New Testament we have etos, "year" (Mr 5:42, the Revised Version (British and American), "old"; Lu 2:37; 3:23, "Jesus .... about 30 years of age"). "Old age," "aged," are the translation of various words, zaqen (zaqan, "the chin," the beard"), perhaps to have the chin sharp or hanging down, often translated "elders," "old man," etc. (2Sa 19:32; Job 12:20; 32:9; Jer 6:11).

In New Testament we have presbutes, "aged," "advanced in days" (Tit 2:2; Phm 1:9); presbutis, "aged woman" (Tit 2:3); probebekos en hemerais, advanced in days" (Lu 2:36); geras, "old age" (Lu 1:36).

Revised Version has "old" for "the age of" (1Ch 23:3), "own age" for "sort" (Da 1:10); "aged" for "ancients" (Ps 119:100), for "ancient" (Isa 47:6); for "old" (Heb 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 (Le 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" (La 5:12,14). Compare Job 29:8 (as showing the exceptionally high regard for Job). See also The Wisdom of Solomon 2:10; Ec 8:6.

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

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

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

W. L. Walker

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