And Jacob said to Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years…
Pilgrimage is the broad condition of every life-course that passes upward, as well as onward, and has its bourne in God. Pharaoh speaks of years of life, Jacob of pilgrimage. Pharaoh measured existence by days of power and pleasure, by banquets, triumphs, and festivals of the gods. Jacob by the stages where, after stern battle, he had left a lust, a vice, a weakness buried; by the waning of the stars which lit his night of sorrow, and the rosy flush in the east which was already brightening, breaking into the morning of his everlasting day. It is a very wonderful fact that God's elect, His friends, in the early dawn of history, were men who lived upon promises, and who possessed absolutely not one clod of the land which God called their own, except the cave where they buried their dead. Very splendid, very wealthy, was their inheritance (Genesis 13:14-17). But the cave which they bought of Ephron (Genesis 23.)was their only possession in the land which yet was all their own. Pilgrimage of the hardest, sternest character was their portion; and the wonder is that they never made a moan over it, and never reproach the justice and fidelity of the Lord. Bravely they accepted their lot as pilgrims; and they blessed the angel who had guided their pilgrimage when their heads were bowed in death. What had they then which was a richer possession than those graves? Well, they had the land; all its beauty and splendour, morning pomp and golden evening mists, moonlight that silvered its ridges, shadows that slept in its hollows, stars that watched its wolds through the dewy night, and the myriad gems that glittered a laughing welcome to the rising day. They had that; it was all their own. They lived with Nature as God's children alone can live with her, and were filled with her blessing. Yes! they had the land, as we may all have the land, as no lustful heathen could have the land; and with hearts bursting with joy and thankfulness they praised His name, whose bounty and tenderness had laid all this wealth of beauty and splendour at their feet. Yes! they had the land, and they held it by the tenure of praise. And the things which were seen were prophets to them of the things which were not seen. Through the vestibule they looked into the temple; they had vision of fairer homes, of brighter suns, in the world to which they had the mysterious entrance; where, too, they had seen the white-winged troops of angels gleaming in the celestial sunlight, and whence they had heard the voice of the Invisible King. The pilgrims held in fee two worlds. They had the promise of the life that now is (compare Lot and Abraham), and of the life that is to come. And bravely Jacob bears witness before Pharaoh of his pilgrim life and lot. To Pharaoh earth was the home; men were pilgrims in the shades. Here the sunlight, the sun warmth, the joy of a home; there, behind the veil, the king could see only a rout of shivering, shuddering ghosts. Jacob had his pilgrimage here; his home, his kingdom, in eternity. Some sense of this perhaps flashed on the king as he gazed. It was a strange puzzle to him. Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, Pilate, Felix, were all perplexed by it in their times. These pilgrims, landless, penniless, powerless, were after all heaven's priests and kings. But there is something special in the experience which this pilgrim confesses before the king. "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been." A sad and weary old man. Would faithful Abraham or pious Isaac have borne this testimony? The life of the one was nobler, purer, grander, than Jacob's; the life of the other more simple and serene. The old age of either would have been fairer and brighter to look upon. Jacob's experience, on the other hand, has much to do with the habit of his nature and the sins and follies of his life. It is one of the most profoundly interesting biographies in history; because of the breadth of human experience it covers, the heights and the depths through which this princely pilgrim passed. He had a keen and subtle intellect, easily tempted to display itself in cunning, but with a lordly power in its compass when set on its noblest use. While he had a craving, grasping appetite for riches, and intense power of acquisition, joined with a grand faculty of spiritual insight and constant vision of the realities of the unseen world. A power at once to grope and to soar; now the huckster, now the seer. Two powerful natures struggling within for the mastery; the spirit wresting the victory from the flesh through bitter anguish and wasting pain. This false brother, this crafty steward, this scheming chief, this foolish father, had terrible lessons to learn at the hand of the Angel who was redeeming him from all evil; and it is the glory of the man that he had patience, courage, and faith to learn them, and to bless the Angel who had redeemed him as he bowed on his bed's head in death. He was such a pilgrim as most of us may be, with the double nature strongly developed. He might have made a successful venture of this life, as men count success, if God would have let him. But God endowed him with a nature which marred his prosperity, which would be aiming at unseen blessings, far-off fruits of birthright, and everlasting results. It is the battle of the two natures, both so strong and in such high development, which makes the striking interest of the patriarch's history. Few and evil were his days compared with his fathers, for his heart was rent by contending passions, his home was torn by hostile factions. The patriarch had won his freedom when he stood before Pharaoh; but the marks of the struggle, the dim eye, the furrowed brow, the sad lip, were on him.
(J. B. Brown, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
WEB: Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred thirty years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage."