In the verse (Num 24,5):

מַה־טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

What's the meaning of טובו, could it not be written מה טובים אהליך יעקב?

  • 4
    In Shir hashirim there's מה יפו פעמיך and מה טבו דודיך מיין and מה יפו דודיך
    – Double AA
    Dec 28, 2018 at 1:13
  • As all Targumim (to Aramaic) inc English translate it as an adjective, why not say it's just a different/misspelled form of טובים just as all the Examples of DoubleAA?
    – Al Berko
    Dec 28, 2018 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


The word טֹּבוּ is a verb (not an adjective like טוֹב), conjugated for past (perfect aspect). Compare the conjugation of אֹרוּ (I Samuel 14:29). This is the conjugation normally used to describe a current state.

See the entry in the Even Shoshan dictionary:

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Some more examples:

מַה־יָּפִית֙ וּמַה־נָּעַ֔מְתְּ אַהֲבָ֖ה בַּתַּֽעֲנוּגִֽים׃

How fair you are, how beautiful! O Love, with all its rapture!

(Song of Songs 7:7)

מָֽה־אָהַ֥בְתִּי תוֹרָתֶ֑ךָ כָּל־הַ֝יּ֗וֹם הִ֣יא שִׂיחָתִֽי׃

O how I love Your teaching! It is my study all day long.

(Psalms 119:97)

  • I'm not convinced. It seems more plausible to say it's just a different/misspelled form of טובים than say that טובו is a verb. Can you find a translation that uses a verb instead? And theoretically, how do you prove a meaning if not its earliest translations?
    – Al Berko
    Dec 28, 2018 at 11:50
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – b a
    Dec 28, 2018 at 13:23

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