Category:Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms/Plural

Use of the plural in the Book of Mormon

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms

Plural Amplification

In order to amplify or emphasize an idea, biblical Hebrew sometimes uses a noun in the plural when a singular is expected.23 The King James translators translated these Hebrew plural nouns into the English singular. In the following examples from the Old Testament the Hebrew readings appear in brackets.

thy brother's blood [bloods] crieth unto me from the ground (Genesis 4:10)
and strength of salvation [salvations] (Isaiah 33:6)
O Lord God, to whom vengeance [vengeances] belongeth (Psalms 94:1)
Wisdom [wisdoms] crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets (Proverbs 1:20)
the wicked . . . shall be brought forth to the day of wrath [wraths] (Job 21:30)

In many instances the Book of Mormon contains Hebrew-like plural nouns instead of the expected singular:

there shall be bloodsheds ({{s|2|Nephi|1|12)
the understandings of the children of men (Mosiah 8:20)
great condescensions unto the children of men (Jacob 4:7)
labor with their mights (Jacob 5:72)
great slaughters with the sword (1 Nephi 12:2)
there were . . . magics (Mormon 1:19)
their cunning and their lyings (Alma 20:13)
mine afflictions were great above all (1 Nephi 15:5)
destructions24 of my people (1 Nephi 15:5)
foolish imaginations of his heart ({{s|1|Nephi|2:11)[1]

Semitic use of the plural for a noun of quality

Hugh Nibley commented:

Things looked dark when Nephi broke his fine steel bow, for the wooden bows of his brothers had "lost their springs" (1 Nephi 16:21; note the peculiarly Semitic use of the plural for a noun of quality[2]


  1. Donald W. Parry, "Hebraisms and Other Ancient Peculiarities in the Book of Mormon," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 7, references silently removed—consult original for citations.
  2. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 18, references silently removed—consult original for citations.

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