the fright the Jews had of prophecy and the
request for Moses to be an intermediary between
them and God
Go thou [m] near, and hear all that HaShem our G-d may say;
and thou [f] shalt speak unto us all that HaShem our G-d
may speak unto thee; and we will hear it and do it.'
Recall, in Hebrew, unlike English, there are two distinct
words for "you"-one is used for males and one for females
Af the beginning of this verse the proper male "you" is
used. However in the middle of the verse Moses, a man, is
referred to as a female you.
Here the Bible uses the technique call puns. Puns are fully discussed
- in my article
- in the list of puns at
the Rashi website.
As explained in my article
A pun is a literary techique of distortion
of spoken or written texts to impart relevant secondary meaning
That is a pun is a deliberate distortion of pronunciation, grammar
and similar items in order to communicate a secondary
meaning in a sentence
In this case the primary meaning of the verse is
thou [Moses] shalt speak unto us all that HaShem our G-d
may speak unto thee;
But by using the female thou the verse indicates a secondary meaning
Rashi: I, Moses, became 'weak as a female' from this request
at the thought that you didn't want to speak to God directly
as in a love relationship but rather wanted me as an intermediary as in a fear relationship.
We have used L Heller's 1974 classification of puns
Here the pun involves a distortion of grammatical rules. Heller
introduces 11 methods of puns including distortions
of grammar, spelling, pronunciation, gestures etc.