Hebrew plural nouns
Andrew C Smith
a.c.smith at juno.com
Tue Jan 26 06:02:21 EST 1999
I have long been interested in words which are morphologically plural but
which have a singular meaning. Hebrew seems to have many such words. Is
"noon" one of them? See the following article which I cut from a website:
In Hebrew, morning is "boker,' evening is "erev," and night is "lailah."
Why is "afternoon" said in the plural "tzohorayim"? The word for noon in
Hebrew, tzohorayim, is plural. Nachmanides in his commentary on the
Chumash addresses this question. He explains that the singular, tzohar,
means "light" (compare the word zohar which means "shining"). Noon is
called tzohorayim, "lights," in the plural for the following reason: In
the morning when the sun is in the east, there is a shadow on the west
side of objects. In the afternoon when the sun is in the west, there is a
shadow on the east side of objects. Only at noon, when the sun is
directly overhead, is there no shadow, neither to the east nor to the
west of objects. Both sides are light, hence, noon is called
"tzohorayim" in the plural to indicate a time of total light.
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