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Q&A: Did the Sumerian Kings Reign for 10,000 Years?

From Jeff in Lake Ozark, MO

In your book The Genesis Question (p. 117), you mention ten kings of Sumer who lived before a “great deluge” in ancient Mesopotamia. The eye-catching aspect of these kings is that each king’s reign exceeded 10,000 years, with one attaining nearly 50,000 years! The life spans of these kings far surpass even the life spans of pre-flood humans recorded in the Bible. My questions are: (1) what were these kings? (2) should we regard them as historical or legendary? and (3) if they weren’t human, might they be one reason God placed Adam in the Garden at the beginning so as to shelter him and Eve?


These kings were human and, thus, posed no threat to Adam and Eve. However, the Sumerian and Akkadian historical accounts have a well-deserved reputation for exaggeration and promotion of political agendas. Their societies were hierarchical, with a few kings and nobles lording it over vast populations of serfs. Their historical accounts pump up the successes of the leaders while ignoring their failures. The accounts portray the serfs as inferior and the leaders as superhuman. The obvious agenda was to make certain the serfs knew their place in society, namely their role to serve the royalty and to treat the royals as if they were gods. 

For exaggeration to be effective, however, it cannot be overdone. Thus, Assyriologists conclude that it is unlikely the recorders of the Sumerian and Akkadian historical accounts pushed their exaggerations beyond a factor of ten or a hundred. Thus, it seems the duration of the reigns of the recorded kings are roughly consistent with the Bible’s account of the life spans of some of the pre-flood patriarchs. It could well be, too, that contemporary Sumerian and Akkadian kings were claiming a certain birthright from the patriarchs mentioned in Genesis 5. However, with the exception of Enoch and Noah, estimations of these patriarchs’ political or spiritual standing is speculation.