Today Hebrew grammar is well understood and
there are many books on it. Rashi, however, lived
before the age of grammar books. A major Rashi method
is therefore the teaching of basic grammar.
Many students belittle this aspect of Rashi. They erroneously
think that because of modern methods we know more. However Rashi
will frequently focus on rare grammatical points not covered
in conventional textbooks.
There are many classical aspects to grammar whether
in Hebrew or other languages. They include
- The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you
differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and
designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For
example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will
sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
- Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject
and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
- Rules of Pronoun reference.
- Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is
not always covered in classical grammatical textbooks.
Today we deal with the Biblical rules governing indication of apposition.
Since starting this series on apposition I have found out that the concept of resumptive modifier
may be a more correct term.
Let us look at examples. A simple
example of apposition or resumptive modifier occurs in Is63-07 which states,
The graces of God I will remember, the praises of God. This sentence
is equivalent to I will remember the graces of God, the praises of God If we interpret
this last sentence using the principle of apposition then
the underlined phrase praises of God modifies the phrase graces of God. Apposition simply
refers to placing to phrases one next to the other with the second phrase modifying the first.
However Isiah did not directly say I will remember the graces of God, the praises of God. Rather Isiah
said The graces of God I will remember and then Isiah resumes what he remembers - he also
remembers the praises of God. This approach uses the technique of resumptive modifiers.
A resumptive modifier is often used when you have
a complicated message and you want to first summarize it and then elaborate on it. Let us know apply these principles to Ex25-34b.
Verse Ex25-34b states In the Candellabrah there were four stems.
Her buds and flowers were almond-like. This is the first approach we will use.
We have not used any principles like apposition or resumptive modifiers.
But this verse can also be
read using the principles of apposition and resumptive modifiers. Using
these techniques the verse would say In the Candellabrah there were four almond-like stems,'
- Her buds and flowers. Here buds and flowers resume the items
that almond-like modifies.
Both readings of the verse are equally valid. Use of resumptive modifiers, although it sounds
awkward, is very common in all languages including Biblical Hebrew. The issue between the two interpretations
is whether the stems alone were almond-like or whether the buds and flowers were
also almond like.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi mentioens that there are 4 other verses where two interpretations
are possible. Actually there are quite a few more than 4. We will therefore discuss this aspect of Rashi
on another occasion.