The Bible in various places uses puns
to communicate both grammatical points and
nuances. Biblical puns can sometimes be deliberate and intended by the biblical Author.
For an excellent introduction to this lovely
subject please read my article on
Biblical Puns located on the world wide web at
Rav Hirsch introduced a powerful grammatical use
of puns! A noun with many parts - for example, a
table with four legs - if spelled deficiently,
indicates a possible deficiency in the components of
the object - possibly the table only had 3 of its 4 legs.
Here the language uses a pun - a deficient spelling indicates
a deficiency in plurality. Rav Hirsch considered this a
grammatical rule and explained many difficult Talmudic passages
with it. We give a partial list below.
- Dt06-09a: Write the mezuzoth on
the doorp-sts of your house. Rashi:
You only have to put a mezuzah on one doorpost.
(Hence the deficient spelling).
- Lv23-40c: Take palm branchs.
Rashi: Defectively written because you need
only take one palm branch.
- Ex31-18e: Moses held the tabl-ts.
Rashi: Defectively written because the two tablets
were really one tablet (the 2nd was a duplicate).
In each case the defective spelling indicates a deficiency
in plurality. Many other examples exist. As indicated Rav
Hirsch considered this use of puns a grammatical rule.