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.
the prohibition of work on Sabbath
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work,
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
You should not do any work nor let any work be done, whether by
- neither you,
- nor your son, nor your daughter,
- nor your manservant, nor your maidservant,
- nor your cattle,
- nor your resident non-Jews
- servants or
- young children.
Advanced Rashi: We have slightly rephrased the Rashi and utilized the Rabbi Ishmael
rule of context. In other words we have argued The prohibition of animals working is clearly
not a command to animals but rather a command to you to prevent work from being done by animals.
We similarly treat the prohibition of work by non-Jews, servants and children as a prohibition of
letting work be done by these people. The actual Rashi argument is a bit differnt - Rashi
focuses on the contrast of you vs children: The prohibition of grown children doing work is already
included in the prohibition of you doing work (Since you is plural and refers to all). Consequently
the distinctness of bulleted items necessitates interpreting the prohibition on children as a prohibition
on letting children do work. We have simply supplemented the Rashi explanation with an argument based
on context. It should be noted that Rashi also adds a requirement of educating children not to work.
In the translation above we have translated the Hebrew letter Vav as nor. Most
people are use to translating Vav as and. The reader can substitute and for
nor and the above analysis of Rashi would be identical. That is Rashi focused on the repeating
keyword, Vav, whether it means and or nor and therefore, because of the bullets,
applied a distinct meaning to each bullet. In passing, it is known that Vav in Biblical Hebrew
can refer to any type of logical connective. Vav can means or, and, nor,if etc. These translations
of Vav are not always used but are legitimate and correct.