Sometimes we rush over names and numbers in the Bible without giving these facts much thought. Anyone who has read Genesis knows that the first several generations of mankind had a long life span. But did you ever notice the overlap in their years? While there is some disagreement on exact dates, it is very likely that Noah was still alive when Abraham was born! Some people think he died just prior, but others (myself included) calculate his being around for up to 58 years of Abraham’s life! Can you imagine? Abraham may have talked personally with Noah! It’s fascinating to think of the stories that may have been shared across those generations! Of course, from the vantage point of history looking back, who wouldn’t LOVE to sit at Noah’s feet and hear all about the flood?!
Even taking into account the most conservative date estimates, it is certain that Noah’s son Shem was alive during Abraham’s life. You may have heard the theory that the mysterious figure Melchizedek, that Abraham gave a tenth of everything to (see Genesis 14), was actually Shem. The word “Melchizedek” is really a title (meaning “king of righteousness”) not a name and can be compared to the title “Messiah” versus the name Yeshua. Whether or not this was Shem isn’t really crucial to know, but it is certainly an interesting hypothesis!