Genesis 25:17 says:

וְאֵלֶּה שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל מְאַת שָׁנָה וּשְׁלשִׁים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וַיִּגְוַע וַיָּמָת וַיֵּאָסֶף אֶל עַמָּיו׃

And these are the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred years and thirty years and seven years; and he expired and died and was gathered to his people.

What is the reason that the word “years” was written after every digit by Yishmael?

Rashi asks this question by Sarah (Genesis 23:1) and by Avraham ( Genesis 25:7) [lehavdil] but his answer in those cases doesn't seem likely to apply by Yishmael. By Yishmael - Rashi doesn't ask this question at all.

Is there a limud here by Yishmael?

  • bet-refael.com/show_art.php?artID=2137 Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 15:10
  • 2
    Thank you for the Rashi paragraph. My gut response up until that point, as I was reading the question, was to recommend you look in the traditional sources like Rashi. This is a well-sourced and thoroughly thought-out question. +1
    – Seth J
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 16:10
  • 3
    Duplicate?: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11405/…
    – Menachem
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 16:16
  • @Menachem, thank you! I searched for that question when I read this one, and couldn't find it. Anyway, no, IMO it's not a duplicate, though it's closely related: that asks why Rashi doesn't cite a d'rasha, and this asks for a d'rasha.
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 22:08
  • @msh210: I think the answers over there answer this question as well
    – Menachem
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


The Maskil LeDavid explains that Rashi implicitly addresses the repetition of "Shana" by Yishmael (see here).

Rashi (Bereshit 25:7) says that the repetition of Shana by Avraham is coming to tell us that Avraham was as free of sin at 100 as he was at 5 years old.

However, asks the Maskil LeDavid, according to some opinions, Avraham didn't recognize his Creator until he was 48 years old. If so, how can you say he was always free of sin?

Rather, Avraham did Teshuva out of love. The Talmud (Yoma 86A) says that when one does Teshuva out of love, his sins are uprooted, and considered as if they never happened. So Avraham was able to be considered as if he had never sinned because he did Teshuva out of Love.

Therefore, explains the Maskil LeDavid, once Rashi (Bereshit 25:9) explains that Yishmael did Teshuva, there is no need for him to explain what the repetition of Shana indicates by Yishmael. We understand that all of Yishmael's years were retroactively considered free of sin, since he did Teshuva.

So Rashi implicitly makes the same limud by Yishmael as he explicitly makes by Avraham.

  • The question is asked by comparison of Sara to Yishma'el (no mention of Avraham) in Zohar (on the spot) and the answer given is that Yishma'el repented. This is after the discussion of Sara's years being in 3 groups of "days" to emphasize how they were all good.
    – WAF
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 2:37

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