Why is the word "youth" בְּחֽוּרֹתֶ֑יךָ in Kohelet 12:1 in the plural, when the first word, the first verb in the sentence, indicates that the speaker is speaking to one person?

וּזְכֹר֙ אֶת־בּ֣וֹרְאֶ֔יךָ בִּימֵ֖י בְּחֽוּרֹתֶ֑יךָ עַ֣ד אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־יָבֹ֨אוּ֙ יְמֵ֣י הָֽרָעָ֔ה וְהִגִּ֣יעוּ שָׁנִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֹּאמַ֔ר אֵֽין־לִ֥י בָהֶ֖ם חֵֽפֶץ׃

And remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of evil come, and years arrive, about which you will say, "I have no desire in them."

  • I'm not an expert at dikduk - but the first word is in the imperative form commanding us to remember, the word בְּחֽוּרֹתֶ֑יךָ is talking to the masses and is therefore in the plural - there is nothing grammatically wrong here?
    – Dov
    Jan 24, 2021 at 10:12
  • @Dov should not the imperative be in the plural, too, if it is commanding "us" plural?
    – ninamag
    Jan 24, 2021 at 10:47
  • Ummm....over to the experts :-)
    – Dov
    Jan 24, 2021 at 12:23
  • You're not also confused by בוראיך? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/38850/759
    – Double AA
    Jan 24, 2021 at 13:15
  • 2
    We have more than one childhood in which to remember Hashem (Hamlet II, ii "Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an old man is twice a child.")
    – rosends
    Jan 24, 2021 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


Ibin Ezra indicates that the plural is the normal form for a stage of life:

מצאנו נעורים עלומים זקונים כלם לשון זכרים רק בחורותיך יצא מן הדרך.

We find "(days of) lads" "youths" "elders" all of them in masculine plural, and only "bachelors" is an exception (being grammatically feminine plural).

I put in links to the places it seems the Ibin Ezra is referring to.

  • Anyone have a better translation of בחור as opposed to נער, עלם?
    – Mordechai
    Feb 2, 2021 at 8:58
  • I think "childhood", "youth" "old age" and "bachelorhood" might be a more precise translation of the terms
    – Joel K
    Feb 2, 2021 at 9:02
  • I don't like childhood for נער, because we find that Yosef is called a נער at 28.
    – Mordechai
    Feb 2, 2021 at 9:13
  • Also קְדֵשִׁים (Job 36:14 as the Ibn Ezra (apparently) understands there
    – b a
    Feb 2, 2021 at 11:05
  • @Mordechai: for that matter, Yehoshua at 42 or 56.
    – Meir
    Feb 2, 2021 at 16:42

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