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.
Moses prayer to God that memories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
should sway God from destroying the Jews:
The repeated underlined word/phrase
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
- of Abraham
- of Isaac and
- of Jacob
- of Abraham [Rashi: who endured a burning furnace rather than
- of Isaac [Rashi: who offered himself to the sword in the binding of
the Akaydah] and
- of Jacob [Rashi: who endured exile with Laban.]
Advanced Rashi: Just to recap - Moses prayed to God that memories of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their sacrifices should be sufficient to prevent God from
punishing the Jews with burning, sword and exile.
Those who are use to the traditional way to learn Rashi would explain this Rashi by emphasizing the unnecessary repetition
of the word of (the extra Hebrew lameds). The verse could have simply said Have memories
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.... Such a formulation would have used only one of. Our contribution
to this traditional understanding of Rashi, an understanding based on redundant words and letters, is to
interpret the extra words/letters as indicating and creating a bullet like effect. It is the bullet
effect, not the redundant words, that requires a distinct emphasis on all enumerated items. The conceptual
literature refers to this as a method of intermediate concepts since the redundancy is seen not as the
final solution but rather as an intermediate variable which in turn indicates a bullet effect.