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Orthodox Judaism/How to determine singular vs. plural


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QUESTION: I have attached a picture to show the two hebrew words I'm referring to.
I have a question about the word mishkebi (#2 in picture) in Lev.18:22 and its relation to mishkeb (#1 in picture) in Judges 21:11-12. mishkebi is plural, and mishkeb is singular. Is it the "Yod" at the end of the first that makes it plural as opposed the the second one that has no "Yod"? Or is it the vowels that change whether it is plural or singular? Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi Frank,

The answer is:a combination.
Both the "Yud" and the vowel "tzeirei" change the word into plural.
The "yud" alone with a different vowel would turn it into a possessive noun i.e. My mishkav.

Hope this helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: This will sound like a stupid question, but if both were written with no vowels and only the consonants, would one still be singular and the other plural or would they both be singular? I'm asking from the standpoint of one who would be reading the original without vowels added.

Hi Frank.

There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Whether the vowels are included or not it would not change things.
Because the Torah is actually written without vowels.
The vowels are introduced as part of the Oral (interpretative) Torah.

That said, I'm unsure of the direction you are going toward.
But, if in fact it is written without vowels, you will have to fall back on the context to ascertain whether the yud is changing the word to plural or possessive.

Hope this is clear!


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Tzvi Frank


As a scholar of Judaic Studies & Ethics for close to 25 years, I am happy to answer any of your questions regarding Jewish Law and its meaning as well as general Jewish philosophy. Thousands of years of Jewish religious scholarship teaches us to always ask questions. From the Talmud to this very day, scholars have been consistently questioning premises and concepts that exist in Jewish thought. Never be afraid to ask! The answer may change your life. I will not answer questions pertaining to Christianity or Jesus.


I have been a scholar of Jewish Studies & Ethics for close to 25 years and I have been responding to online questions for close to 10 years.

Have been published in numerous (Hebrew) Academic publications.

B.A. in Judaica Studies and Ethics.

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