I am helping my son lain parshat Emor. He's having a hard time seeing the difference between קֹֽדֶשׁ and קָדֹ֥שׁ esp. when they are written the same. Usually, when I train students to lain, I try to help them understand the meaning of the words and their surrounding context, as that tends to help know how to pronounce similarly written words.

I'm stumped on these two, though. Here's an example of a verse that uses both forms.

Leviticus 21:6:

קְדֹשִׁ֤ים יִהְיוּ֙ לֵאלֹ֣הֵיהֶ֔ם וְלֹ֣א יְחַלְּל֔וּ שֵׁ֖ם אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֑ם כִּי֩ אֶת־אִשֵּׁ֨י יְהוָ֜ה לֶ֧חֶם אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֛ם הֵ֥ם מַקְרִיבִ֖ם וְהָ֥יוּ קֹֽדֶשׁ׃

They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God; for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, the bread of their God, they do offer; therefore they shall be holy.

The English translation is from Sefaria. It may be inaccurate, as, inevitably, nuances tend to hide within translation. Is one word a noun and the other an adjective? Otherwise, what's the difference in meaning?

  • Seems like a duplicate of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10164, no? cc @Scimonster
    – msh210
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 2:20
  • This should be a comment (which I am not entitled to make). One also has to realise that there is also a difference where the stress is. On kodesh it is "milel" at the beginning whereas on kodosh it is at the end (milra). Most words are at the end, but since kodesh ends with a closed short vowel it is at the beginning.
    – newcomer
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 10:29
  • Kodesh is singular. Different early versions have the plural adjective "holy" (Kodashim) rather than the MT singular noun "holiness".
    – U. Haller
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Is one word a noun and the other an adjective?

Yes, exactly.

Wiktionary explains that קדוש is an adjective, and קודש is a noun.

So, קְדֹשִׁ֤ים יִהְיוּ֙ לֵאלֹ֣הֵיהֶ֔ם means they shall be holy (adj.) to their God. וְהָ֥יוּ קֹֽדֶשׁ means they shall be holy (n.).


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