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 prohibition of a Priest ritually defiling himself to the dead as well
as the exceptions to this rule
And the Lord said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them,
The repeated underlined 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
The phrase his relavite who is near to him refers to his wife.
- There shall be none defiled for the dead among his people;
- for his relative, who is near to him,[ his wife]
- for his mother, and
- for his father, and
- for his son, and
- for his daughter, and
- for his brother,
- And for his sister a virgin, who is near to him, which has had no husband; for her may he be defiled.
Advanced Rashi: We have embedded this Rashi comment in the above translation. It is important
to emphasize that Rashi is not deriving this translation from the meaning of the Hebrew word which is
translated as relative. Indeed there are many verses where this Hebrew word (Shin-Aleph-Resh, Sher)
means any relative; for example Lv18-06, Lv25-49. Rather the driving force motivating
Rashi to translate the word relative as meaning wife comes from the bulleted structure which
requires that each bullet item be regarded as distinctive. Reviewing the list shows that wife is a logical
complement to the other items and fits nicely at the beginning of the list.
What emerges from this analysis is that the formatting method is a separate and distinct exegetical tool,
alongside with grammar, meaning and alignment, by which to understand textual material.