Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs
come from three-letter roots. Each root is
conjugated in the 8 dimensions of
person, gender,plurality, tense, activity,
modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. For example
the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch.
The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud
and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean
I watched and we were watched respectively.
The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described
in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation
of an odd grammatical form.
When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite
reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan
dictionary. This very short appendix lists most
One of the challenges of learning Hebrew grammar is understanding the meaning
or meanings associated with the various conjugational modes. There are four approaches
to interpreting the Hebrew hitpael grammatical mode. Rashi's approach to the
hitpael is that it means interactive. Hence the hitpael form of the root
Gimel-Lamed-Lamed, to roll, would mean to interactively roll [accusations]
on us. Using this grammatical translation Rashi translates Gn43-18d as follows:
And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house;
and they said, We are brought in because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time;
that he may seek to interactively roll accusations on us
and fall upon us, and take us for slaves, and our asses.
Here the connotation is to pick on someone, to find fault with them,
and to interactively use everything they say against them.