ויאמר בילדכן את העבריות. כל שהוא ממשפחת עבר יקרא עברי. ועל אמונתו יקרא עברי. על כן. אבי כל בני עבר. הבא מעבר הנהר. עבר נהר משתי העברים: WHEN YE DO THE OFFICE OF A MIDWIFE TO THE HEBREW WOMEN. Whoever comes from the family of ever (Eber)146Eber (ever) was the ancestor of Abraham (Gen. 11:14-29). Hence his descendants are known as ivrim (Hebrews). is called a Hebrew. One is called a Hebrew because of his faith.147One who adopts the faith of Abraham, even though he is not a biological descendant of ever, is also called a Hebrew (Filwarg). Krinsky explains: One is called a Hebrew both by virtue of descent from ever and also because of his or her belief in the faith of Abraham. Hence descendants of ever who do not believe in the faith of Abraham are not called Hebrews. Hence the children of Eber (Ever) in the father of all the children of Eber (Gen. 10:21) refers to those who came from the side (ever) of the river.148See Josh. 24:2 which, according to I.E, reads: Your fathers of old time dwelt on the side of the river. The reference is to the eastern side of the Euphrates. The side of the river refers to one of the banks of the river.149That is, the Euphrates. The word ever in Hebrew can refer to a person or to the side of a river. Gen. 10:21 reads, And unto Shem, the father of all the children of Eber (ever)…also were born children. Now Shem lived before Eber was born. I.E. assumed that Scripture would not report someone as being the ancestor of a person not yet born. Hence Eber in this verse cannot refer to a person. It refers to those born on one of the sides of the Euphrates. This interpretation contradicts the one I.E. gives in Genesis and elsewhere in Exodus. Cf. Gen. 10:21 and Ex. 21:2. Krinsky suggests emending “hence” to “or.” In other words, I.E. offers an alternative interpretation to the one he gave in Genesis and will offer later on in Exodus. Filwarg, on the other hand, suggests emending the text to read: Hence they err who say that the children of Eber, in the father of all the children of Eber, refers to those who came from the side of the river. For the side of the river refers to one of the sides of the river. In other words, ever cannot refer only to the western bank of the river where Abraham came from. A river has two sides and ever might refer to the eastern bank of the river, which is not the place that the Hebrews originally came from.
אמר בן קריש כי אל"ף אבנים נוסף מגזרת בנים והטעם המשבר כמו מי אפסים והנכון שהיא כמו באבנים והאל"ף שורש: [THE BIRTHSTOOL.] Ben Kuraish150An eighth-century North African grammarian. says that the alef of ovnayim (birthstool) is superfluous because ovnayim comes from the same root as banim (sons).151The root of which does not have an alef. Hence the alef of ovnayim is superfluous. For I.E’s concept of superfluous letters, see his comments on Gen. 1:1 and the notes thereto. The meaning of ovnayim is birthstool. Ovnayim is similar to afsayim (ankles)152The basic word is passayim. Hence the alef is superfluous. in waters that were to the ankles (Ezek. 47:3). In reality, however, ovnayim is similar to ba-ovnayim (at the wheel)153The reference is probably to Jer. 18:3. However, there the reading is al ha-ovnayim. I.E. probably quoted from memory. Ovnayim in Jeremiah refers to a double stone (even) wheel. Hence the alef is a root letter. According to I.E. ovnayim are birth stones. and the alef is a root letter.
והמתן אותו. בסתר שלא יודע הדבר כי חמס היה עושה. THEN YE SHALL KILL HIM. In secret so that it will not become known, because he was committing an act of violence.154An act of cruelty and injustice even by the standards of the times.
ומלת וחיה קשה מאד בדקדוק והיא זרה כי המשפט וחיתה. כי ה"א השרש מן חיה יחליפוהו בתי"ו כמשפט בסמוכים. ולכל חית הארץ. והיה כן בעבור שהה"א והתי"ו קרובים במכתב ואין ביניהם לבד משך הנקודה שבתוך הה"א אבל לא במבטא. כי הבדל יש ביניהן בשמות כי תחלה תקרא ה"א וכשתמשך הנקודה תקרא תי"ו וזה לאות כי הכתב שבידינו הוא כתב עברי. והכלל כי מלת חי גם חיים בספק. כי הסכימו חכמי הדקדוק. כי וארפכשד חי. מפעלי הכפל. וכמוהו כי אם תם הכסף שהוא מן תמם. וחיי כמו רבים חיים. ולפי דעתו כי זו הגזרה זרה ואם איננו כן. יראנו ממנו פעל עתיד. כמו אחוג יחוג. לחוג. היה ראוי שיאמר אחוי יחוי לחוי. או כמו סב. סבו ציון. סבי עיר. והנה זאת לאות כי היא מהפעלים בעלי הה"א באחרונה. אחר שלא מצאני מגזרת חי אחת מכל הגזרות שהזכרנו הנה זאת לאות כי הוא מהפעלים בעלי הה"א באחרונה כי מצאנו שיאמר אחיה נחיה יחיה תחיה כמו יאמר מן היה נהיה אהיה תהיה יהיה. וא"כ הוא מגזרת חיה כמו היה. ואף על פי שמצאנו שיאמר וארפכשד חי בלשון עבר לא נחוש לכל זה. אע"פ שידמה שהוא מפעלי הכפל. והוצרכתי לומר ככה בעבור שראיתי כי אין וא"ו בכל המקרא שהיא שרש בסוף המלה. ואין טענה עלי ממלת שלו. כי הוי"ו תחת ה"א. כי אותיו אהו"י מתחלפות זו בזו והעד. שלו כל בוגדי בגד. והוא מן שלה. והנה אפרש לך למה לא תבא וי"ו שורש בסוף המלה והיה זה בעבור כי הוי"ו ישרת בסוף בעבור יחיד שאיננו נמצא. כמו עבדו ואמתו. וסימן לשון רבים פרו ורבו. וגם יש וי"ו נוסף כמו. בנו בעור. ואילו היה וי"ו שרש היה מתערב עם אחת מאלו השלשה ווי"ן שהזכרנו יחיד ורבים ונוסף. ולא תדע המלה. גם ככה אומר לך באות יו"ד שלא תבא שורש באחרונה כי הוא סימן יחיד מדבר ידי גם ידי. וסימן רבים בסמוך. ידי נשים רחמניות. וסימן נקבה. דעי וראי. ויו"ד היחוס העברי או העבריה. גם נוסף בפעלים המגביהי להושיבי. גם בשמות בני אתונו. גם במלות הטעם זולתי מני אפרים. ובעבור כל זה אינו ראוי שיבא יו"ד שרש באחרונה פן תתערב לנו המלה עם אחת מכל אלה שהזכרנו. על כן אמרתי כי מלת וחיה זרה והיא כמו וחיתה ותהיה מהפעלים בעלי הה"א באחרונה כאשר פירשתי: [THEN SHE SHALL LIVE.] The word va-chayah (then she shall live) is irregular and presents a very difficult grammatical problem. The rules of grammar require va-chayetah155Va-chayah is masculine. Va-chayetah is feminine. Since the Bible speaks of a daughter the latter form should have been used. because the heh of the root156In a root ending in a heh. changes to a tav,157In the third person feminine perfect. as it does in the construct in the case of the word chayat (beast of)158From the root chet, yod, heh. in and to every beast of the earth (Gen. 1:30). The reason for the change is that the heh and the tav are similar in appearance when written. The only difference between them is the extension of the dot that is within the heh. For the letter tav is first a heh. It is only when the dot is extended that it becomes a tav.159The heh is open on the left side with the exception of a tiny line (referred to as a dot by I.E.) at the bottom. The tav is closed on both the right and left sides. Thus by drawing from the small line (the dot) to the top of the letter, the heh becomes a tav. However, the tav and the heh are pronounced completely differently.160The letters cannot be confused when spoken because they are sounded differently. But they can be confused when written, for they have similar forms. They also have different names.161Hence a person cannot mistake one for the other. Upon hearing heh, one will not think he heard tav. This proves that our form of the letters is the original Hebrew script.162There is a controversy in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 22a) over whether the original script of the Torah was identical to the script currently in use (the so-called Assyrian script), or whether the Torah was originally written in a script known as “Hebrew script.” In the Assyrian script the heh and the tav resemble each other. In the “Hebrew script” they are totally different. The fact that the Torah substitutes a heh for a tav because they resemble each other shows that the Torah was originally written in the Assyrian script. Historically speaking, the opinion that the Torah was given in “Hebrew script” is right, for all Hebrew writing extant from the period of the first commonwealth is in the “Hebrew script.”Generally speaking, the root of the word chai (lived) and the root of the word chayyim (life) are in doubt, for the grammarians have concluded that the root of the word chai (lived) in And Arpachshad lived (Gen. 11:12) is chet, yod, yod. The word tam (spent) in how that our money is all spent (Gen. 47:18) is similar, for it comes from the root tav, mem, mem.163Similar in that both words have a doubled root letter. The grammarians also agree that the plural of the root chet, yod, yod is chayyim (life). However, in my opinion we are dealing with an irregular root.164In the third person and participle kal forms, the word chai is written as if it came from the root chet, yod, yod. On the other hand, it is conjugated in the other kal forms as if it came from the root chet, yod, heh. If this is not so165If this root is not irregular. let someone show me a case where this root is conjugated in the imperfect according to the paradigm of chet, gimel, gimel, namely, achog (I will celebrate), tachog (you will celebrate), yachog (he will celebrate), la-chog (to celebrate).166This is the form of a double root in the kal imperfect. If the root of chai were chet, yod, yod, it should be conjugated achoy, yachoy, la-choy in the imperfect or like sov (go about) or sobu (walk about) in Walk about Zion (Ps. 48:13) and sobbi (go about)167Another example of a double root. For the root of sov or sobbi is samekh, bet, bet. Sov and sobbi are imperative forms. in Go about the city (Is. 23:16). This is proof that the word chai comes from a root ending in a heh. The fact that we do not find the root of chai conjugated in any of the above-mentioned forms is proof that it belongs to those verbs whose stems end in a heh,168That is, its root is chet, yod, heh. I.E. is usually not this verbose and repetitious. Filwarg suggests that from “the fact” until “for we say” is an explanatory gloss that was incorporated into the text. The original reading was: This is proof that the word chai comes from a root ending in a heh., for we say echyeh, nichyeh, etc. for we say echeyeh (I will live), nichyeh (we will live), eheyeh (I will be), tiheyeh (you will be), yiheyeh (he will be), all of which come from the root heh, yod, heh. Now if this is the case it comes from the root chet, yod, heh and is like the word haya (was).169That is, it is conjugated according to the paradigm of hayah. The fact that we find the word chai (lived) employed as a third person perfect in arpachshad chai (Arpachshad lived) (Gen. 11:12) does not disturb us.170It does not disprove I.E.’s contention that the root of the word is chet, yod, heh. We are not bothered by the aforementioned even though it appears that chai comes from a double root.171Chai is the normal conjugation of the word if it comes from the root chet, yod, yod. I.E. is not disturbed by this because he believes this root to be irregular. See note 155. What forced me to come to this conclusion is the fact that I saw that there is no root in Hebrew that ends in a vav.172Or in a yod. See further in I.E.’s note. The word shalev (at ease) (Job 16:12) does not disprove my contention.173Shalev appears to come from the root shin, lamed, vav. Its vav is in place of a heh,174Hence its root is shin, lamed, heh. since the letters alef, heh, vav, yod interchange. Proof that what I say is correct is the word shalu (secure) in Wherefore are all they secure that deal treacherously (Job 12:1). For the root of shalu is shin, lamed, heh.175Shalev is the noun form of the verb shalu. Hence the root of shalev must be the same as the root of shalu.I will now explain to you why a vav is never employed as a third letter of a root. The latter is so because the vav serves as a third person singular suffix, as in the words avdo va-amato (his man-servant nor his maid-servant) (Ex. 20:14). The vav also serves as the sign of the plural, as in peru u-revu (be fruitful and multiply) (Gen. 1:22). There are also superfluous vavs, as in beno be’or (the son of Beor) (Num. 24:3).176The usual form is ben. Hence the vav of beno is superfluous. Now if the vav was also used as the final letter of a root it would be confused with one of the three types of vavs that we have just mentioned, namely, the vav indicating a third person singular suffix, the vav indicating a plural, and the superfluous vav; we could not then ascertain the meaning of the word.177We would not be able to tell whether the vav is a root letter or a suffix (Krinsky). The same is also true of the yod. The yod cannot serve as the final letter of a stem because it is used as a first person singular suffix, as in the word yadi (my hand) (Gen. 42:37). It is also employed as a first person plural suffix, as in the word yadai (my hands) (Deut. 9:15). It is also the sign of the plural construct, as in yede (the hands of) in The hands of women full of compassion (Lamentations 4:10). It is used as the sign of the feminine imperative, as in de’i and re’i (know and consider) (I Sam. 25:17). It is used to indicate relationship, as in ha-ivri o ha-ivriyah (a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman) (Deut. 15:22). The yod is also used superfluously in verbs, as in ha-magbihi (that is enthroned) (Ps. 113:5) and in le-hoshivi (that He may set him) (Ps. 113:8).178The normal forms are ha-magbi’ah and le-hoshiv. Hence the yods are superfluous. It is used superfluously with nouns, as in beni atono (his ass’s colt) (Gen. 49:11)179The usual form is ben. Hence the yod is superfluous. and also with particles, as in zulati (save) (Deut. 1:36) and minni ephrayim (out of Ephraim) (Judges 5:14).180The usual form is zulat and min. Hence the yods are superfluous. For these reasons the yod is not employed as a final root letter lest it be confused with one of the above-noted yods. Therefore I maintain that the word va-chayah (then shall she live) is irregular and is a variant of va-chayetah. It belongs, as I have already explained, in the family of verbs ending in a heh.