B'reshis 1:11–12, :25; Sh'mini 11:15–22; and R'e 14:14–15 seem to use "לְמִינוֹ" and "לְמִינֵהוּ" interchangeably, and both words are generally translated the same way (usually something like the JPS's "after its kind").

  • What, if anything, is the difference in meaning between these words (in these contexts)?
  • If there is no difference in meaning, then why is each used where it is?

I do not see any difference in meaning between לְמִינוֹ and לְמִינֵהוּ, but the choice of usage between the two may have significance. The word לְמִינֵהוּ closely resembles the hypothetical way of expressing "to its kind" or "to its species" in Proto-Semitic (P.S.). Here, the Tsere vowel underneath the nun indicates that the word מִין ("species", "kind") is in the genitive case. Hence it should be clear that the form לְמִינֵהוּ is archaic and closely resembles what the P.S. would have been. The form לְמִינוֹ is the more typical form we would expect to see according to the grammatical rules of Biblical Hebrew.

An analysis of the frequency of occurrences for לְמִינוֹ and לְמִינֵהוּ is revealing. The word לְמִינוֹ occurs only 4 times in Tanach, with all occurrences being in the Torah. Only once does לְמִינוֹ appear in Genesis 1:11, with the other 3 occurrences being in Leviticus (11:15, 11:22), and Deuteronomy (14:14). The word לְמִינֵהוּ also exclusively appears 14 times in the Torah. However, it appears 8 times in Genesis as well as 6 times elsewhere in the Torah.

I would argue that the book of Genesis has a preference for using the more archaic form לְמִינֵהוּ over the more modern form לְמִינוֹ. In later books (Leviticus and Deuteronomy), both forms occur with a more equal frequency. If we assume that the composition of Genesis and Leviticus are separated by 1000-2000 years, then it is possible that earlier variants of the Hebrew language were preferred in Genesis over the other books of the Torah.

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  • If anyone can check the translation of לְמִינוֹ and לְמִינֵהוּ in the Septuagint, this would be helpful. – Tim Biegeleisen Feb 9 '15 at 13:46
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    Except that the composition of both was done by Moses in the desert at the dictation of Hashem. – sabbahillel Apr 6 '16 at 17:40
  • @sabbahillel I also forgot to mention that Moses was wearing a streimel when he received the Torah, and that he always wore two pairs of tefillin to make sure he got the mitzvah right. – Tim Biegeleisen Apr 9 '16 at 10:46
  • Sarcasm does not work in a statement like this. – sabbahillel Apr 10 '16 at 1:04
  • @sabbahillel And understanding the linguistic context of Hashem's word choice is certainly valuable. Why did Hashem choose to sound "Shakespearian" (ie old fashioned) in some cases not others? Without this answer, you wouldn't even know how to pose that question. It's almost like you aren't thinking and just looking to criticize. – Double AA Apr 10 '16 at 5:13

I think this is the correct answer. I have not seen the ksav v'kabala'. Rashi says that even though they dont look the same and have different names they can still be the same species. But they must have something in common. The translation of "lmino" or "lmino" is his or her species, depending if its masculine or feminine. The translation of "lminaihu" is like "lmin oisoi" to the same type of species but not his/her species. Like "yochluhu" "yochlu oiso". Best to give an example. Israel is a country, Yerashalaim is the same "species" and so is Tel Aviv. You could say the species is called Israel and these are its sub-species. Like "b'haimo" which uses the word "lmino", her species, for an ox and a sheep. Although they dont look the same or have the same name, they do have something in common. Whereas one cant say Tel Aviv is a species of Yerusholaim. But one can say it is the "same type of species" using the word "lminaihu". So "arbe" is a collective noun like "b'haimo", whereas "solom" isnt. So the torah is saying that anything which is the same "type" of species as "solom" is included.

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  • lminaihem is plural. – newcomer Apr 6 '16 at 17:50

Is there really a question? A simple idea by example (from ornithology, passerines). crow --> an Order, Crow and his specie (corvus albicolis, corvus corax, etc). Passerine birds with many suborders (למינהו) as suborder passery, infraorder corvida

An order that has not suborders --> למינו

An order that has suborders --> למינהו

Arbe is one order without suborders
Sal'am is an order with suborders.
Additionnal remark, the word סוג is introduced by Yehuda Ibn Tibbon and is not used as super species or super order in Tora and Chazal. It is in Chazal a big container (see Dmay 5, 6:פרק ה - משנה ו

הַלּוֹקֵחַ מִן הַסִּיטוֹן וְחָזַר וְלָקַח מִמֶּנּוּ שְׁנִיָּה, לֹא יְעַשֵּׂר מִזֶּה עַל זֶה, אֲפִלּוּ מֵאוֹתוֹ הַסּוּג, אֲפִלּוּ מֵאוֹתוֹ הַמִּין. נֶאֱמָן הַסִּיטוֹן לוֹמַר, מִשֶּׁל אֶחָד הֵם: )

See here and here

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