In the early days of the world, the standard age of living was well into the hundreds, with many people living until they were 800 or 900. Being that people lived so long, when did they start to "look old"?

For example, would someone 100 years old look like a modern 100, or perhaps a modern 20?

  • 8
    Isn't there some Midrash about Avraham being the first person to age in appearance?
    – Double AA
    Oct 23, 2014 at 7:54
  • I've never heard it, but i'm not proficient in Midrash.
    – Scimonster
    Oct 23, 2014 at 7:57
  • Ah Bava Metzia 87a Kindva boring answer, no?
    – Double AA
    Oct 23, 2014 at 8:00
  • Interesting question! I heard something about the reason Pharaoh asked Yaakov his age was due to his aged appearance.
    – Malka S
    Oct 23, 2014 at 9:46
  • 2
    I want to answer "as soon as their children became teenagers" but that would be too flippant. Oct 30, 2014 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


Bava Metzia 87a:

Until Abraham there was no old age; whoever wished to speak to Abraham would speak to Isaac, and the reverse. Thereupon he prayed, and old age came into existence, as it is written, And Abraham was old and well-stricken in age.

So during the age when people lived 200+ years, they showed no signs of age.

  • 1
    Doesn't Ber 18:11 indicate that there were signs of age, at least internal/physiological ones?
    – rosends
    Oct 23, 2014 at 13:58
  • 1
    @Scimonster They looked exactly like each other, and were confused for each other. Later, when Avraham started to look old, people were able to tell the difference between them.
    – MTL
    Oct 23, 2014 at 14:01
  • 1
    I think it's still a valid answer. The way i understand the phrase @Danno brought is that they were old internally, but not necessarily externally visible.
    – Scimonster
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:01
  • 1
    According to Sfas Emed parshas Chayei Sarah year 636, Avraham's prayer for oldness means chochma, knowledge, to understand spirituality and the next world while still on this one. Apparently not a new physical reality.
    – user6591
    Nov 14, 2014 at 3:46
  • 1
    He doesn't get into that but thinking imaginatively we can say that people who wanted sage spiritual advice would end up talking to Yitzchok. Abraham prayed for that spiritual sagacity. And kalstar panim could also be understood like this. If you really want. But it's a drasha. Just thought I'd mention it.
    – user6591
    Nov 14, 2014 at 14:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .