Many students of Rashi are aware of Rashis based on grammatical
peculiarities or excessive words. However Rashi can also be based
on a non-standard word order. A non-standard word order generally
indicates unspecified emphasis. The examples below illustrate this principle.
Before proceeding we point out the difficulty in mirroring these
Rashis in the translations. Some terminology will help clarify this
difficulty. Most languages have a characteristic word order.
It is therefore hard to capture order, or deviance from order, in an English translation! Instead
we shall adopt the following translation rule: We shall translate a
standard word order in Hebrew into a standard word order in English.
We shall similarly translate a
non-standard word order in Hebrew into a non-standard word order in English.
However we shall not otherwise attempt to translate word-order literally.
- For example the characteristic word order in English is Subject-Verb-Object,
for example, your enemies will reign over you. Here enemies is the subject,
reign is the verb, and you is the object. Hence,
this sentence has the typical subject-verb-object order. Linguists, for short,
call this sequence S-V-O, using the first letters of Subject-Verb-Object.
- However the characteristic word order in Hebrew is V-S-O;
that is the verb comes first, followed by the subject, followed
by the object.
With this in mind let us analyze Lv16-17j which states
On you, your enemies will reign. The standard-word order
would require Your enemies will regin on you, since the phrase on you
is the direct object of the sentence. The non-standard word order,
On you, your enemies will reign, indicates an unspecified emphasis
in the phrase on you. Hence the Rashi comment: Your enemies will not only reign
over you but your enemies are on you, they will come from you; you will be the
victim of your own Jewish anti-semitism. Here, Rashi is not just making a pun; rather Rashi
is focusing on the non-standard word-order.
Advanced Rashi: We will further use the word order method in rule #7, Formatting
below. The word order rule is overlooked by many students of Rashi. Its use greatly simplifies