When Rashi uses, what we may losely call, the hononym method, Rashi
does not explain new meaning but rather shows an underlying unity in disparate
meanings. Rashi will frequently do this by showing an underlying unity in
the varied meanings of a Biblical root.
In my article
Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at
I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation
using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples
The Heberw Biblical root
has a fundamental meaning of
making a hole.
Hence this Biblical root can mean
an instrument for making holes
that is, assign a slot (assign a hole!)
fix one's primary assignment, name or social calling.
identify one's primary assignment, name or social calling.
Applying the above translation to
the death penalty due to a blasphemer
He who identifies God's name
[utters God's personal name, the Tetragrammaton]
shall be put to death.
Advanced Rashi: The above translation may not seem punchy and exact. But other
verses with the root Nun-kuph-beth are also problematic in translation. To illustrate
one example Nu01-17 states And Moses and Aaron took these men who were fixed
by names [their new social position/slots/holes were fixed]. Finally comapre the
English idiom an opening referring to a job title; here opening closely resembles
the Hebrew hole! Thus while these translations are correct they don't fit in English as snugly
as most translations do.