Today's example presented in rules #3,4,8 is a peach of an example
studying the derivation of new grammar principle of Biblical meaning. I always laught at those who contend
that Hebrew grammar is well understood and that Rashi, although advanced
for his time, is no longer needed as he has been replaced by modern grammatical methods.
This is rediculous. Biblical grammar is not well understood. The Bible is more like a forest
through which we trek, joyous when by coincidence we hit a clear path. In fact the Masorites were
aware of advanced database theory and most Masoretic comments are nothing more than the outputs
of SQL theories. Had Masoretic approaches been studied when they were first developed we
could have advanced our civilization over 1000 years!
Today only basic Hebrew grammar is well understood and
there are many books on it. Rashi, however, lived
before the age of grammar books. A major Rashi method
is therefore the teaching of basic grammar.
Many students belittle this aspect of Rashi. They erroneously
think that because of modern methods we know more. However Rashi
will frequently focus on rare grammatical points not covered
in conventional textbooks.
There are many classical aspects to grammar whether
in Hebrew or other languages. They include
- The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you
differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and
designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For
example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will
sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
- Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject
and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
- Rules of Pronoun reference.
- Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is
not always covered in classical grammatical textbooks.
Today we study a new grammatical rule first introduced explicitly by the Malbim but used by Rashi: A Hebrew root
can change meaning both by the voice (binyan) in which it is conjugated as well as by the connective
prepositions it uses.
Applying this grammatical principle Rashi would translate
- Lamed-Kuph-Cheth Aleph-Tauv, LaQaX Eth as take but
- Lamed-Kuph-Cheth Mem..., LaQaX M as select.
Hence Rashi translates Dt01-23b as follows:
And the response pleased me well; and I selected twelve men of you, one from each tribe;
Rashi: Moses didn't take but selected. That is he selected
from the choicest and finest amongst you.
We continue this beautiful example in rule #4, alignment and rule #8, databases below. There we
show the justification for this new principle. We also show how new grammatical rules are discovered.