(represented by several Hebrew and Gr. words), sometimes signifies an indefinite period; at others, it is used for: 1. A generation (q.v.) of the human race, or thirty years; 2. As the Latin soeculum, or a hundred years;
3. The maturity of life (Joh 9:21); 4. The latter end of life (Job 11:17). SEE AEON.
OLD AGE. The strong desire of a protracted life, and the marked respect with which aged persons were treated among the Jews, are very often indicated in the Scriptures. The most striking instance which Job can give of the respect in which he was once held, is that even old men stood up as he passed them in the streets (Job 29:8), the force of which is illustrated by the injunction in the law, "Before the hoary head thou shalt stand up, and shalt reverence the aged" (Le 19:30). Similar injunctions are repeated in the Apocrypha, so as to show the deportment expected from young men toward their seniors in company. Thus, in describing a feast, the author of Ecclesiasticus (32:3, 7) says, "Speak thou that art the elder, for it becometh thee. Speak, young man, if there be need of thee, and yet scarcely when thou art twice asked." SEE ELDER. The attainment of old age is constantly promised or described as a blessing (Ge 15:15; Job 5:26), and communities are represented as highly favored in which old people abound (Isa 65:20; Zec 8:4,9), while premature death is denounced as the greatest of calamities to individuals, and to the families to which they belong (1Sa 2:32); the aged are constantly supposed to excel in understanding and judgment (Job 12:20; Job 15:10; Job 32:9; 1Ki 12:6,8), and the mercilessness of the Chaldeans is expressed by their having "no compassion" upon the "old man, or him who stooped for age" (2Ch 36:17). SEE LONGEVITY. The strong desire to attain old age was necessarily in some degree connected with or resembled the respect paid to aged persons; for people would scarcely desire to be old, were the aged neglected or regarded with mere sufferance. SEE OLD. Attention to age was very general in ancient times; and is still observed in all such conditions of society as those through which the Israelites passed. Among the Egyptians, the young men rose before the aged, and always yielded to them the first place (Herod. 2:80). The youth of Sparta did the same, and were silent — or, as the Hebrew would say, laid their hand upon their mouth — whenever their elders spoke. At Athens, and in other Greek states, old men were treated with corresponding respect. In China deference for the aged, and the honors and distinctions awarded to them, form a capital point in the government (Mem. sur les Chinois, 1, 450); and among the Moslems of Western Asia, whose usages offer so many analogies to those of the Hebrews, the same regard for seniority is strongly shown. Among the Arabs, it is very seldom that a youth can be permitted to eat with men (Lane, Arabian Nights, c. 11, note 26). With the Turks, age, even between brothers, is the object of marked deference (Urquhart, Spirit of the East, 2, 471).
AGE, ADULT, or that at which marriage may be contracted or religious vows made. The canonists agree that men may contract marriage at fourteen years of age, and women at twelve. Until the contracting parties are each twenty-one years of age, no marriage can be legally contracted without the consent of the parents or guardians of the party which is a minor.
AGE, CANONICAL, i.e. proper for receiving orders. In the Latin Church it is forbidden to give the tonsure to any one unless he be seven years of age, and have been confirmed (Conc. Trid. sess. 23, cap. 4). The proper age for conferring the four minor orders is left to the discretion of the bishop: but it is forbidden to promote any one to the rank of subdeacon under twenty-two years of age, to that of deacon under twenty-three, and to that of priest unless in his twenty-fifth year (Ibid. cap. 12). A bishop must be at least in his twenty-seventh year, or, more properly, thirty.
In the Church of England a deacon may be admitted to the priesthood at the expiration of one year from the time of receiving deacon's orders, and not before, i.e. at twenty-four years of age at the earliest; and it is to be noted that the stat. 13 Eliz. 12 declares all dispensations to the contrary to be absolutely void in law. The preface to the ordination service declares that every man, to be consecrated bishop, must be full thirty years of age.
AGES OF THE WORLD. The time preceding the birth of our Savior has been generally divided into six ages:
1. From the beginning of the world to the Deluge;
2. From the Deluge to the entrance of Abraham into the land of promise;
3. From the entrance of Abraham into the land of promise to the Exodus;
4. From the Exodus to the foundation of the Temple by Solomon;
5. From the foundation of the Temple of Solomon to the Babylonian captivity;
6. From the Babylonian captivity to the birth of our Lord. SEE CHRONOLOGY.