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 transformation of nouns into verbs.
Although most conjugation rules refer to the
conjugation of verbs, there are also conjugation
rules for transfroming nouns into verbs.
We list several common methods for transforming nouns
- create the noun: e.g. to flower
- remove the noun: e.g. to dust
- use the noun: e.g. to hammer
- the verb(activity) done to this noun: e.g.
Dt21-04b: neck the calf in other words kill it with
a blow to the neck
Hence from the noun phrase, beaming face we obtain the verb phrase,
indicating a creation of the noun-phrase: that is,
his face beams, means he has a beaming face.
English already has a word for this verb-noun transofrmation. Using the English words
we translate Ex34-29 as follows:
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of Testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that his facial skin beamed.
We have already explained in
rule #2, meaning above that
in Hebrew we use the word horn
instead of beam: So the verse
literally says his face horned.