We have explained in our article
Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at
that the Biblical Author indicated a bulleted or table
structure by skillful use of repated keywords.
That is, if a modern
author wanted to get a point across using a table then the Biblical
Author would use repeated keywords.
We illustrate this using verse
present in modern bulleted notation. The
repeating keywords indicating the bulleted
structure are underlined.
God's prohibition to Bilam to work with the Moabites, seeking the Jews destruction,
And G-d said unto Balaam:
- thou shall not go with them;
- thou shall not curse the people; for they are blessed.'
The verse has a bulleted structure indicated by the
repeating keyword phrase thou shalt.
This bulleted structure requires a distinct emphasis in each
The Rashi comment is based on this distinct emphasis.
- Don't curse the Jews for Moab
- Don't curse the Jews by yourself.
Advanced Rashi: A variety of Rashis and verses
indicate that, it was by Bilam's advice, that Moab sent Moabite
women to seduce the Jews and cause God's anger. Twenty four
thousand people died in the resulting plague. Despite the
participation of the Jewish men this act of seduction was
considered an act of war.
This fact enriches our understanding of Nu22-12a
by showing that God explicitly prohibited independent activity
by Bilam in cursing the Jewish people. Hence the Rashi comment:
Don't curse the Jews for Moab; don't curse them yourself [as I
know you are going to do] for the Jews are blessed.
Rashi further adds the following: Bilam said to God:
I will bless them. God replied: They are already blessed. This
is similar to the Israeli adage: Not from your honey and not
from your sting. My own thinking is that the parallel
structure only indicates two prohibitions: a) not to curse
for Moab and b) not to curse by himself. Furthermore we cite
Bilam's blessings in our daily prayers: How proper are Jewish homes,
Israeli Temples. Consequently I view this added Rashi comment
as an embellishment rather than as a genuine exegetical statement
on the verse.