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https://biblehub.com/psalms/17-2.htm

Psalm 17:2
Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.

may Your eyes
עֵ֝ינֶ֗יךָ (‘ê·ne·ḵā)
Noun - cdc | second person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5869: An eye, a fountain

I don't know Hebrew. Forgive me if the answer is obvious. Why the Hebrew word for eyes is singular?

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    The phrase “2nd person masculine singular” is not referring the noun “eyes,” but the word “your” (i.e., the pronominal suffix attached to the noun is referring to a 2nd person, masculine gender, singular number object). If this is going over your head, a basic Biblical Hebrew grammar will clear the fog. – Der Übermensch Mar 7 at 3:58
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    In other words, עיניך is plural (the hint of the plural form is the yod between the nun and the final caf. The fem. future of "will see" clinches the parsing). The structure is therefore: עיניך "your" (masculine singular) "eyes" (fem. plural) תחזינה they (fem.plural) "will see". The verse in singular would be: מלפניך משפטי יצא, עינך תחזה מישרים. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Mar 7 at 12:03
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Here's how it works.

"Eyes" (עיניים) in Hebrew is a "dual" or "pair" word (צורה זוגי)1 like "ears" (אוזניים) and other parts of the body that generally come in pairs. These dual words are usually feminine gender. Exception to pairs objects are "teeth" (שיניים) and finger or toe nails (ציפורניים) that have a dual form but do not generally come in pairs.

These dual words have two forms: singular, pair. For these words the pair form also serves as the plural (many) form2. The pair form ends with "ayim" (ים pronounced as יים) which is not to be confused with the regular masculine plural form "eem" (ים) used in non-dual words of masculine gender.

When used in singular or plural compound possessive forms these pair words behave like any other word that does or does not have a pair form, and there is no indication in the compound that these words also have a pair form - it gets contracted out. So for "eye" we have:

  1. My eye עיני, short for העין שלי
  2. My eyes עיניי, short for העיניים שלי
  3. Your eye (masc.) עינך, and in verse final form עיניך, short for העין שלך
  4. Your eyes (masc.) עיניך, short for העיניים שלך

Note that without diacritics or context we have only the yod (י) between the nun (נ) and the final caf (ך) to distinguish between the singular and the plural. In some cases in the MT we don't even have this yod and we need to rely on the context to disambiguate.

Furthermore, the verse final form of the second person singular possessive singular is the same as the verse medial form of the second person singular possessive plural.

So, in Psalm 17:2, עיניך is simply second person possessive of plural objects (your eyes). The following verb, תחזינה which is feminine plural future isn't even needed to make the disambiguation.


  1. Yes, the term in Hebrew is "צורה זוגי", not "צורה זוגית"!
  2. https://hebrew-academy.org.il/2010/06/13/%D7%91%D7%90%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%A2-%D7%A2%D7%99%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%96%D7%95%D7%92%D7%99-%D7%91%D7%AA%D7%A4%D7%A7%D7%99%D7%93-%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%91%D7%95%D7%99/
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  • Are you saying that even though biblehub says it is singular, it is actually plural? – LisaMclaren Mar 7 at 18:50
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    @LisaMclaren You are misreading the Biblehub tool. It is telling you that the compound עיניך is "your" (masculine singular, possessive) "eyes". But inside this compound, "eyes" is feminine plural as noted by Der Übermensch in the first comment to your OP. BTW, and without connection to the previous, the masculine singular possessive in this word ("your") is collective, meaning that although it is singular and masculine, it refers to "you", each one of you, without regard to gender. You get all that packed into one Hebrew compound! – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Mar 8 at 4:07
  • I see :) pun intpended. Thank you. – LisaMclaren Mar 8 at 17:01
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Bible Hub is not giving the full information, which is like this. enter image description here

Eyes in your eyes עֵ֝ינֶ֗יךָ is neither singular or plural. It is dual construct with the second person singular suffix. You are singular and you have two eyes. The construct form in both dual and plural drop the ם.

Dual Nouns

 4.21      The dual is used to refer to two things, not one or three.
 4.22      Nouns in the dual are marked by the ַיִם ending.
 4.23      The use of the dual is mostly limited
 ➤      To nouns that come in natural pairs:

יָדַיִם יָד two hands hand

 ➤      To certain expressions of time:

יוֹמַיִם יוֹם two days day

Futato, M. D. (2003). Beginning Biblical Hebrew (p. 20). Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

Further:

 The absolute plural ending ים ִ is changed to י ֵ in the masculine plural construct.

Futato, M. D. (2003). Beginning Biblical Hebrew (p. 75). Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

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    עיניים like many things that come in pairs such as אוזניים, רגליים, is a dual word, but עינך is simply singular and עיניך is simply plural. Compare Isaiah 30:20, ונתן לכם אדני לחם צר .ומים לחץ ולא יכנף עוד מוריך והיו עיניך ראות את מוריך "your eyes see" - simple plural. The aspect of duality, the ים suffix, only applies to the noun form that names the object that comes in pairs. That is, we say עיניים not עיינות despite the fact that the noun is fem. gender, but the possessive "your eyes" drops the ים suffix and is only עיניך. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Mar 7 at 14:08

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