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But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress. - Daniel 11:10

ובנו יִתְגָּרוּ וְאָסְפוּ הֲמוֹן חֲיָלִים רַבִּים וּבָא בוֹא וְשָׁטַף וְעָבָר וְיָשֹׁב ויתגרו עַד־מעזה - Masoretic text of Daniel 11:10

The original Hebrew text of verse 10 uses the singular case for ‘but his son’, ובנו, yet in every English bible I’ve seen the word is translated as plural. Usually in the Hebrew both singular and plural are presented in brackets.

Why would English translations use the plural form of ‘but his son’ when in the original Hebrew the word is singular? And why is it that two forms of the Hebrew word are presented in verse 10?

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  • Does that occur anywhere else in the Masoretic text (the two forms presented side by side in brackets) ? (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Jan 12 at 0:01
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    I don’t know but the reason I’m asking is because it seems that the singular form should used in this verse because it fits in with history better
    – user329957
    Jan 12 at 0:06
  • This is an example of a "ketiv-qere" notation. Jan 12 at 4:08
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Masoretic Sopherim added "ketiv-qere" notations to correct misspelled words like in your example [Daniel 11:10], [Ruth 1:8] and also in [Proverbs 1:27].

When we see a "Ketiv-Qere" notation, we notice the original Ketiv form of a word written but recite the following Qere form instead. - For this reason the Qere form " וּבָנָ֣יו " is read instead of the Ketiv " ובנו " word written from Daniel 11:10.

Daniel 11:10And-his-sons will agitate and gather a multitude of great armies, and he will come and inundate and pass, and he will return and agitate until his stronghold." (ובנו [וּבָנָ֣יו] יִתְגָּר֗וּ וְאָסְפוּ֙ הֲמוֹן֙ חֲיָלִ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים וּבָ֥א ב֖וֹא וְשָׁטַ֣ף וְעָבָ֑ר וְיָשֹׁ֥ב ויתגרו [וְיִתְגָּרֶ֖ה] עַד־מעזה [מָעֻזּֽוֹ]׃ )

[See : https://www.sefaria.org/Daniel.11.10?with=all&lang=bi ]

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Updated:

So my text has an alternate reading, וּבָנָ֣יו which is plural together with the singular וּבָנָ֣ו in which the yod is dropped. But the verb יתגרו ("they will wage war") is a hitpael, 3rd person masculine plural verb so the subject should be plural as well, and thus the dropping of the yod appears to be a scribal error. The masoretes marked an alternate word that fixes this in which the yod is added back in.

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    Yeah, my text had a variant reading, but the sing was also there. I updated my answer. I think the BHS has both variants, but one is clearly correct due to subject verb agreement.
    – Robert
    Jan 12 at 0:39
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How do you match the singular with the plural verbs? וּבָ֯נָו֣ יִתְגָּר֗וּ וְאָסְפוּ֙

While the yod is missing for the plural construct, the masora match the plural construct rather than the singular: His sons בָּנָ֖יו; his son בְּנ֖וֹ

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