Two familiar functions of grammar in all
languages are pronoun reference and
Hebrew is more flexible than
English in pronoun reference. The following
verse uses a pronoun reference first and only then
mentions the people referred to. Such a construction
would not be allowed in English.
Verse Ex17-10:12b discussing Moses leading
the people in prayer during the war on Amalayk, states,
- So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
- But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it;
- and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
As can be seen the underlined pronoun
is mentioned in bullet 2, but the identity of the
pronoun is only made clear in bullet 3.
An alternate approach is to notice that bullet 1 mentions
Moses, Aaron and Chur. Since bullet 2 mentions a they
supporting Moses' hand we can infer from the plurality
that the they refers to Aaron and Chur.
Both of these approaches are not allowed in English.
English requires that a pronoun refer to an immediate
antecedent which must therefore be mentioned first.
Rashi does not take sides on which approach is used.
He simply points out that the pronoun they refers to
Aaron and Chur and leaves the reader to guestimate what
rule of grammar is used.