When I hear the phrase “as old as Methuselah,” I think of a story that my mom told me when I was in high school. This is because for a short time she worked at the state park. It was a civil service job and the people there weren’t nice, but the story isn’t about that. One day, two older gentlemen came to the park. They were nice and polite, so they joked with her. They said that their names were Moses and Methuselah. These are two old figures from the Bible.
Moses was said to be 120 years old when he died. Methuselah is known to be the man who lived to be the oldest. It is in Genesis 5:27 that it says that Methuselah lived 969 years.
However, the phrase “as old as Methuselah” did not originate in the Bible. It is only the fact that Methuselah was old that comes from the Bible.
The exact origin of the phrase “as old as Methuselah” is not known. However, it is known that it can be traced back to the 14th century. Circa 1390, it is thought that it was written, “…if a Mon may libben heer As longe as dude Matussale.”
This is found in the 1901 work “Minor Poems” by Furnivall.
Today, the phrase can be used to refer to an old person, although it is not nice for somebody to say that somebody else is old as Methuselah unless it is joke between the people and is understood to be a joke. It is okay for a person to call himself or herself as old as Methuselah.
However, it is always okay to use the phrase to say that a controversy or a problem is old. This is like when “USA Today” printed that the controversy of Bible translations is as old as Methuselah. The problem will never go away and will only get older.
Deuteronomy 34 NIV. (n.d.). Genesis 1 NIV . Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://niv.scripturetext.com/deuteronomy/34.htm
Genesis 5:27 Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.. (n.d.). Online Parallel Bible: Weaving God’s Word into the Web . Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://bible.cc/genesis/5-27.htm
Grossman, C. L. (n.d.). USATODAY.com – Bible controversy is as old as Methuselah. News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USATODAY.com . Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/2002-03-27-bible-translation.htm
Martin, G. (n.d.). As old as Methuselah. The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases . Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/43200.html