§ 17. Many words in sing. have a collective meaning, and do duty for the plur., as בָּקָר cattle, צֹאן sheep, goats, טַף children, רֶמֶשׂ creeping things, עוֹף birds, בְּהֵמָה cattle, beasts, &c., רֶכֶב chariots. Almost any word may be used in the sing. as collective, as אִישׁ men, נֶפֶשׁ persons, עֵץ trees, Gen. 3:8, שׁוֹר oxen, Gen. 49:6, אַרְבֶּה locusts, עִיר cities, אֶבֶן stones. 1 K. 22:47 הַקָּדֵשׁ hierodouli, 2 K. 11:10 הֽ190ָחֲנִית spears (beside a plur.), 2 K. 25:1, 1 K. 16:11 רֵעֵהוּ his comrades (beside a plur.), 1 Chr. 20:8. Particularly in enumerations, where the emphasis is on the number, and it is sufficient to state the kind or class of thing enumerated, e.g. חָלָל slain, 2 S. 23:8, נַֽעֲרָה בְתוּלָה young virgins, Jud. 21:12, מֶלֶךְ kings, 1 K. 20:1 (more usual Jud. 1:7), גֶּפֶן vines, Is. 7:23, מָשָׁל proverbs, 1 K. 5:12; and expressions like עשֵֹׁה מִלְחָמָה warriors, 2 Chr. 26:13, רֹעֵה צאן Gen. 47:3, cf. 2 K. 24:14, הַסַּבָּל the burden bearers, Neh. 4:4 (1 K. 5:29 rd. perhaps סֵבֶל). It is, however, chiefly words that express classes of persons or things that are used in the sing., and words of time, weight, and measure. Cf. § 37.
Rem. 1. The plur. is quite natural in such instances as עֵצִים timber (pieces of wood), חִטִּים wheat in grain, 2 S. 17:28 (חִטָּה wheat in crop, Ex. 9:32). So שֶׂעֹרִים and שְׂעֹרָה barley, &c.
Rem. 2. The plur. seems often used to heighten the idea of the sing., 1 S. 2:3 דֵּעוֹת knowledge, Jud. 11:36 vengeance, 2 S. 4:8, Is. 27:11 understanding, 40:14; Ps. 16:11 joy, Ps. 49:4; 76:11; 88:9 abomination, Pr. 28:20, Job 36:4. Cf. § 16b. In poetry the plur. comes to be used for sing. without difference of meaning, Gen. 49:4 bed sing. and plur., 1 Chr. 5:1, Ps. 63:7; 46.5; 132:5, Job 6:3 (seas).
Rem. 3. The plur. is sometimes used to express the idea in a general and indefinite way. Jud. 12:7 בְּעָרֵי גלעד in (one of) the cities of Gilead, 1 S. 17:43 staves, 2 K. 22:20 thy graves, Job 17:1, Gen. 21:7, Ex. 21:22, Zech. 9:9, Neh. 6:2. The word דִּבְרֵי matters of seems to convey the same meaning, Ps. 65:4.