Today, students of the Bible learn grammar from Biblical
Hebrew grammar textbooks. These textbooks organize material by
topics. Grammatical topics include a) verb mood and conjugation, b) plurality and gender
agreement, c) pronoun reference, d) subject-verb-object sequencing, e) sentence
structure and type, f) the possessive and g) connective words, and many other topics.
However in Rashi's time gramamr was just beginning. There were no official
grammatical textbooks and tables. One of Rashi's functions was to teach grammar.
Rashi did not write a grammar textbook but instead left grammatical explanations
appended to each verse.
In today's example Rashi explains rules about gender.
In English nouns do not have gender. We rather use the non-gender word, it.
By contrast in Hebrew, nouns have gender. Instead of using the word it Hebrew
will use the words he, she to refer to nouns.
Rashi explains that
- The Hebrew words for animal,blood are masculine
- The Hebrew word for soul is feminine
Using this Rashi we translate Lv17-14 as follows (the referents of the
pronouns his, her are indicated in brackets and follow the Rashi rules above):
For the soul of animals? His [the animal's] blood is for his [the animal's] soul;
and I have said to the Jews: 'Don't eat the blood of animals' because the animal's soul is
[is represented by] her [the soul's] blood; all who eat him [the blood]
shall be cut off [from their nation.]