We have explained in our article
Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at
that the Biblical Author indicated bullets
by using repeating keywords.
That is, if a modern
author wanted to get a point across using bullets -
a list of similar but contrastive items -
then the Biblical
Author would use repeating keywords.
Today's verse illustrates this principle.
Bullets whether indicated through modern notation or
through the Biblical method of repeating keywords always indicate
contrastive emphasis - that is, each bullet is presumed
to be a distinct item contrasted to the other items on the list. Very often
the bullets are also used to indicate that the entire list is exhaustive
of some spectrum.
the administration of lashes to a person who violated Torah law
then it shall be, if the wicked man deserve to be lashed,
that the judge shall cause him to lie down,
and to be beaten before his face,
40 lashes but not more....less he be lashed more...and your brother will be humiliated
The repeated underlined phrase
according / by
creates a bullet effect. The bullet effect in turn
creates an emphasis on the distinctness of all enumerated items.
Rashi interprets the distinctness as follows
To give lashes you must ascertain two things: a) How wicked was the sin and
b) what number of lashes can the convicted endure [The lashes must be suggestive
of rehabilitation and not be so strong as to humiliate and degrade the person]
- according to the measure of his wickedness,
- by number.
Advanced Rashi: Rambam gives numerous laws that follow from this
principle. For example 1) The lashes were administered by a person of medium strength; it was prohibited
to administer the lashes by a powerful person; 2) Physiological signs of extreme fright exempted the
person from further lashes 3) re-estimations of capacity justified lowering the number of lashes 4)
the number of lashes even in someone who could withstand it never exceeds 40 (and to play it safe never
exceeded 39), 5) lashes were administered in triplets so as not to accidentally lose count (See Rambam
Sandendrin, Chapters 16,17,18).