Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form.
In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development
of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then
closed with a repetition of the broad theme.
The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph.
The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as
an extension of the general theme sentences.
Today's example illustrates
this as shown immediately below.
Biblical verses Ex18-19:23
form a Biblical paragraph with
a theme-detail-theme structure. The paragraph
discusses Jethro's advice to Moses
General: Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and G-d be with thee:
- be thou for the people before G-d, and bring thou the causes unto G-d.
- And thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws,
- and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
- Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear G-d, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
And let them judge the people at all seasons;
- and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge themselves; so shall they make it easier for thee and bear the burden with thee.
If thou shalt do this thing, and G-d command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace.'
The general-theme-general structure says the following
- General: God be with you and command you
- Detail: You will be a prophet for them, teach them, appoint judges, etc.
- General:God be with you and command you.
Hence the Rashi comment:
Yithro's advice to Moses to appoint delegates and a hierarchical system
of judges had an accompanying request to first seek God's approval prior
to implementing such a hierarchical system.
Here Rashi interprets the Detail clause as developing the General-Theme clause. Everything Moses did should be with God's approval. In particular if Moses wanted to follow Yithro's advice to implement a hierarchical judicia
should first ask God's approval.
Jethro teaches an important principal of state and office politics -- suggestions from outside your
component or country,no matter how good, should receive leadership, or supervisor approval, before implementation. This
way colleagues in the component, or fellow citizens, don't complain about outsider advice. In this
case Jethro was telling Moses how to run the Jewish court system.
To avoid criticism about accepting advice from outsiders Jethro tells Moses
that he must obtain approval from God before implementing Jethro's ideas.