Todays example combines word meaning,
Two familiar functions of grammar in all
languages are pronoun reference and
Hebrew is more flexible than
English in pronoun reference.
However Hebrew frequently follows the rule in all languages that
a pronoun refers to the last mentioned person.
Biblical Hebrew, in general, has two methods of indicating
This beautiful suffix-word distinction was developed by
the great modern commentator, Malbim. Malbim uses this principle
numerous times, especially throughout Leviticus to explain
various exegetical laws.
- Suffix: For example if I wanted to say Help him I would add a suffix Nun-Vav to the verb meaning
help. The suffix nun-vav means that the indirect object of the help should be him.
- Full word: However when a full word is used for
a pronoun it indicates emphasis: Only to that person.
In verse Ex23-05 the English phrase with him
is indicated by an entire word (vs. a suffix) thus indicating
emphasis. I have captured the essence of this emphasis
by translating you must, with his help unload.
Rashi (following the Mechiltah brought down in the Talmud) states
Does the command to help unload a donkey imply that the owner
of the donkey
can maliciously sit down in the shade and order me to unload by
myself since I am commanded to? No! For this reason it states
you must with his help unload.
Again we emphasize that the driving force of this exegesis
is the use of an entire word to indicate a pronoun indicating
Advanced Rashi: As indicated we will complete
the explanation of this Rashi in rule #7, formatting