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Q&A

Why is Yemei singular?

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The first 2 verses of Parshat Vay'chi present me with a question, so I'm soliciting any help on this.

Here they are, for convenience's sake (from Sefaria):

וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה **וַיְהִ֤י ** יְמֵֽי־יַעֲקֹב֙ שְׁנֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה׃

Jacob lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt, so that the span of Jacob’s life came to one hundred and forty-seven years. (more literal translation here)

וַיִּקְרְב֣וּ יְמֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ לָמוּת֒ וַיִּקְרָ֣א ׀ לִבְנ֣וֹ לְיוֹסֵ֗ף וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ שִֽׂים־נָ֥א יָדְךָ֖ תַּ֣חַת יְרֵכִ֑י וְעָשִׂ֤יתָ עִמָּדִי֙ חֶ֣סֶד וֶאֱמֶ֔ת אַל־נָ֥א תִקְבְּרֵ֖נִי בְּמִצְרָֽיִם׃

And when the time approached for Israel to die, he summoned his son Joseph and said to him, “Do me this favor, place your hand under my thigh as a pledge of your steadfast loyalty: please do not bury me in Egypt.

in each, an idiom for "life" is used -- yemei. This word means "days of" (I bolded it in the 2 verses above).

In the first case, it is "the days of Yaakov" and in the second, "the days of Yisrael". Already, one could ask about the difference in the use of the names, but that isn't what gets to me.

In the second case, the introduction is "vayikrivu" (and THEY neared) whereas the first is introduced as "vayehi" (and IT was). The first phrase is kept in the singular as per the verb but the second is used in the plural as per the verb. Why isn't the first one in the plural (vayehiyu) or the second in the singular (vayikrav maybe?)?

The Onkelos in the first case is actually in the plural "וַהֲווֹ יוֹמֵי יַעֲקֹב" (the singular, should be וַהֲוָה as in Gen 21:20).

So why is the number inconsistent?

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