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If you want to say "face of gold" (sing.) in Hebrew, you say פני זהב.

If you want to say "faces of gold" (plural) in Hebrew, you say _______.

Part of the difficulty is that the Hebrew word for "face", פנים, is one of those unique nouns which are plural in their grammatical form, but singular conceptually. That being the case, is there any way to identify between whether a verse means "face of" or "faces of", assuming there weren't other telling signs in the verse?

A few examples:

  • In Bamidbar 20:10, when it speaks of פני הסלע, is there any way to know whether it means "face of" or "faces of" the rock?
  • In the words (from the Ramban) of הסתר פני הגאולה, is there any way to know whether he means "face" or "faces" of redemption?
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If you want to say "faces of gold" (plural) in Hebrew, you also say פני זהב

...or, if you want to refer to particular gold faces made by Betzalel, you could say פני הכרבים.

It seems that there's no difference in the word used in either case.

  • Is there any way to identify between whether a verse means "face of" or "faces of", assuming there weren't other telling signs in the verse? – Chaim Jan 13 at 18:17
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    I don't think so. It's the same word. – Heshy Jan 13 at 19:38
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    @Chaim "John gave Jim the pants" – Double AA Jan 13 at 19:39
  • @doubleaa Your analogy can be clarified by saying, "John gave Jim the pairs of pants." Is there any way to clarify the Hebrew ambiguity in OP question? – DanF Jan 14 at 16:12
  • @DanF "Popeye gave me the fish" – Double AA Jan 14 at 21:41

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