1

א שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל, אַתָּה עֹבֵר הַיּוֹם אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן, לָבֹא לָרֶשֶׁת גּוֹיִם גְּדֹלִים וַעֲצֻמִים מִמֶּךָּ--עָרִים גְּדֹלֹת וּבְצֻרֹת, בַּשָּׁמָיִם

Deutoronomy 9:1

Hear, O Israel: thou art to pass over the Jordan this day, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, .

יד הֶרֶף מִמֶּנִּי, וְאַשְׁמִידֵם, וְאֶמְחֶה אֶת-שְׁמָם, מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם; וְאֶעֱשֶׂה, אוֹתְךָ, לְגוֹי-עָצוּם וָרָב, מִמֶּנּוּ

Deuteronomy 9:14

14 let Me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.'

In the above texts the author uses different hebrew word (greater) which are translated into English as same words.Im not very familiar with Hebrew but just came across this arrangement which somehow was interesting.Can those who understand Hebrew grammatical structures help out on this one.

How can we understand the above texts?

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In your first citation, the adjective is plural when applied to the noun goy, nation. This is being applied to the non-Jewish nation occupying the land that Israel is going to take possession of.

In your second citation, the adjective is in the singular while being applied to the same noun goy. But in this second citation, the term goy is being applied to Israel, the Jewish people.

What this is emphasizing is the difference between Israel and the other nations. Israel is the Nation of One. This is emphasized in 2-Shmuel 7:23 and also in Yechezkel 37:22.

Just as G-d is One, like we say in the first line of the Shema and also that the Torah is One, like is found in Shemot 12:49, VaYikra 7:7, and BaMidbar 15:16, 15:29, so too Israel is the Nation of One.

The Jewish people were given this special status at Mount Sinai at the time of the Giving of the Torah.

This is emphasized again through the grammar usage in Shemot 19:2 and again in the blessing of the Kohanim found in BaMidbar 6:25 all of which apply the singular adjective or verb usage.

This distinction and change in status is considered a true kindness and the means of softening harsh judgment.

Surprisingly, according to the inner teachings of the Torah this quality is associated with the feminine and specifically to Jewish wives and mothers.

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  • 1
    Isn’t the question about גדולים vs רב?
    – Joel K
    Nov 15 at 16:12
  • @JoelK Her question title is about the grammar usage of the adjectives. In either case, the answer provided applies. If you consider the other adjective linked to the noun, it's even more of an emphasis because they are literally the same root. Your focus seems to be aimed at the dictionary definition distinction, which to me is not really about the "grammatical structures" she asks about. Nov 15 at 16:22
  • 1
    In the first citation the noun is גוים plural, therefore it takes plural adjectives. In the second it is גוי singular, so it takes singular adjectives.
    – Joel K
    Nov 15 at 17:56

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