Number word pair forms

A place for those new to Biblical Hebrew to ask basic questions about the language of the Hebrew Bible.
Forum rules
Members will observe the rules for respectful discourse at all times!
Please sign all posts with your first and last (family) name.
Cbrundage
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed May 09, 2018 9:26 am

Number word pair forms

Postby Cbrundage » Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:08 pm

I am confused about the use of number word pair forms. In the text I am using there are two examples - “ obey the voice of the six angels “ and 6 is in the word pair form. Then there is “ obey the three women” with 3 not in the word pair form. Is it because in the first example, I should think of it as “obey the voice of the six of the angels“?

Also, the book says numbers more than one can be used with a noun that can be singular or plural, for instance, 20 men or 20 man, both correct. Confusing!

Any help gratefully received – I’m doing this learning on my own (at age 80) and sometimes it’s a bit difficult without a teacher.

Christina Brundage

Schubert
Posts: 29
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:05 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Number word pair forms

Postby Schubert » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:35 pm

Hi Christina,

Welcome to the B-Hebrew forum. Since no one else has jumped in, I'll provide my thoughts even though I'm still not much more than a beginner myself.

I'm curious which textbook you're using. I'd not heard the expression "word pair form" previously – although I've now googled it and found a few references to it.

I'm not an expert on numbers but my textbooks say exactly what yours does: 20 men or 20 man are both correct.
John McKinnon

S_Walch
Posts: 222
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:41 pm

Re: Number word pair forms

Postby S_Walch » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:28 pm

This is the difference between 'construct state', and 'absolute state' - in either case, the nouns could either agree or disagree in number, yet still indicate more than one thing.

A good example of this is Genesis 31:41:

זֶה־לִּ֞י עֶשְׂרִ֣ים שָׁנָה֮ בְּבֵיתֶךָ֒ עֲבַדְתִּ֜יךָ אַרְבַּֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה שָׁנָה֙ בִּשְׁתֵּ֣י בְנֹתֶ֔יךָ וְשֵׁ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים בְּצֹאנֶ֑ךָ וַתַּחֲלֵ֥ף אֶת־מַשְׂכֻּרְתִּ֖י עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת מֹנִֽים׃

Here we have examples of absolute forms:
עֶשְׂרִ֣ים שָׁנָה֮ = עֶשְׂרִ֣ים / twenty, plural + שָׁנָה֮ / year, singular, yet meaning years, so "twenty years".

אַרְבַּֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה שָׁנָה֙ = אַרְבַּֽע / four, singular + עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה / ten, singular + שָׁנָה֙ / year singular, yet meaning years, so "fourteen years".

Or construct forms:
שֵׁ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים = שֵׁ֥שׁ / two, singular + שָׁנִ֖ים / years, plural, so "two years".

עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת מֹנִֽים = עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת / ten, singular + מֹנִֽים / times, plural, so "ten times".

Notice, in the "ten times" example above, the morph that the number 'ten' takes in the Hebrew - it is different from the "fourteen" example.
Ste Walch

User avatar
SteveMiller
Posts: 295
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:53 pm
Location: Detroit, MI, USA
Contact:

Re: Number word pair forms

Postby SteveMiller » Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:42 pm

Ste,
You have a typo - שֵׁ֥שׁ is 6, not 2.
I didn't want Christina to be confused.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

S_Walch
Posts: 222
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:41 pm

Re: Number word pair forms

Postby S_Walch » Sun Sep 30, 2018 2:52 am

Ouch, thanks for the catch, Steve!

Must've read שש as שני due to the שנים following :)
Ste Walch

User avatar
SteveMiller
Posts: 295
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:53 pm
Location: Detroit, MI, USA
Contact:

Re: Number word pair forms

Postby SteveMiller » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:10 pm

Christine & Ste,
thank you for your posts. I had not realized that when modified by a cardinal number, a noun could be plural or singular in Hebrew.
I had seen this with the noun "generation" and thought that I could translate the singular as plural if it fit the context better, but that is not true. It is only when modified by a number that the singular generation would be translated as plural in English. So I have corrected my translation of Ps 24:6.

It certainly is strange that a noun which has distinct uses for its plural and singular forms can use either one when modified by a cardinal number.
In English, a number modifying a noun is an adjective. In Biblical Hebrew a number is a different class. Adjectives normally follow the noun they modify, but cardinal numbers precede the noun. Why? I don't know if anyone has researched it. That is a good research project for me.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)


Return to “Beginners' Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests