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"If something extremely bad occurs, people forget all their usual daily worries and become totally preoccupied with this single, truly serious problem.

Bechaye, Sforno) understand that verse differently. The limit of 120 years was not a permanent decree on man’s lifespan, but a final deadline God had given mankind before his destruction.

If man would not repent within the next 120 years, the Flood would ensue.

Today we bless people to live as close to that limit as possible.

In truth, most of the commentators (Targum, Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Radak, R.

Why, Moses’s own brother Aaron lived till 123, and our forefathers down to his time lived well upwards of 120.

In modern times, Jeanne Calment beat the limit by over 2 years.

(In fact, Noah was commanded to begin construction of the ark a full 120 years in advance (and on top of a mountain) so that people would notice and inquire – and perhaps Noah’s response would stir them to repent in time.) A second possible source is Moses’s lifespan.