(February 21, 2014)
I found it noteworthy that Jacob mentions the lifespan of the ancients – while we would find his lifespan unreal, he looks at his 130 or so years as short in relation to those who came before. That is something that seems to give verisimilitude to this portion of the Bible. Were it being written by a materialist (whether a knowing or unknowing materialist), they would not have considered that a 130 year old man would be complaining about how short their lifespan had been.
By the same token, there is a lesson about gratitude here. Everything comes down to who we compare ourselves with if we gain our happiness through comparison. If Jacob had seen the Dark Ages, when a man was fortunate to life into his 50s, he might feel somewhat better about his 147 years of life. Instead, by looking backwards to the ages of the ancient (and even his recent lineage), he viewed his lifespan as unreasonably short. So to, if we choose the wrong comparisons (and we should really avoid such comparisons at all), risk finding only unhappiness despite our fortunate and blessed circumstances because we choose to compare ourselves with those who have – as we suppose – more than we do.