Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs
come from three-letter roots. Each root is
conjugated in the 8 dimensions of
person, gender,plurality, tense, activity,
modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. For example
the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch.
The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud
and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean
I watched and we were watched respectively.
The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described
in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation
of an odd grammatical form.
When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite
reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan
dictionary. This very short appendix lists most
the construction of the temple curtain
And you shall make a curtain for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the craftmanship of an embroiderer.
Rashi translates the Biblical word
as coming from the Biblical root
We have conveniently embedded the Rashi translation in the
translation of the verse. The closet conjugation rule governing this Biblical
word may be found by using table(s)
in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the
The translation is obvious. Rashi explains his point.
The verse should not be translated as embroidered craftmanship but
rather as the craftmanship of an embroiderer. That is the present
tense conjugation of a verb should not be translated as a verb but rather as
a noun - it refers to the person who does the act, the embroiderer.
Rashi does not further explain this point. We leave in a mechanistic age: Embroidery
is seen as an attribute of a cloth rather than as a creation by an embroiderer. We
tend to think of the Temple as being simply ordered by God. But this is not so! In several
I think this emphasis on the person vs. the created object is especially
important in our modern mechanistic age.