I understand very well what "a sentence" is. Most time it works for the scriptures too, but sometimes it makes no sense to be a standalone Posuk, like:

וּמִשְׁמָע וְדוּמָה וּמַשָּׂא׃
Mishma, Dumah, Massa,

אַבְנֵי־שֹׁהַם וְאַבְנֵי מִלֻּאִים לָאֵפֹד וְלַחֹשֶׁן׃
lapis lazuli and other stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.

Or the opposite:

לֹא תִּגְנֹבוּ וְלֹא-תְכַחֲשׁוּ וְלֹא-תְשַׁקְּרוּ אִישׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ (three sentences in one)

Assuming the division is not arbitrary,
what does it mean to be a standalone Posuk in Hebrew scriptures? In what sense is it a standalone unit? What dod G-d mean by making it a unit?

  • Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/13502/759
    – Double AA
    Nov 21, 2019 at 23:23
  • With minor translation tweaks those could all be sentences.
    – Alex
    Nov 21, 2019 at 23:37
  • @DoubleAA Probably a Mi Yodeya technicality, here. But, it doesn't seem useful to dupe a question that has no positive answers.
    – DanF
    Nov 22, 2019 at 3:20
  • @DanF seems very useful. That way all the useful answers stay together!
    – Double AA
    Nov 22, 2019 at 3:42
  • The pesukim are a tradition from Sinai. Are you asking for why the Torah is broken that way?
    – Loewian
    Nov 22, 2019 at 4:33

1 Answer 1


As you most likely know, when viewing the Torah scroll, you would not know from reading it where a pasuk begins or ends, because it's written as a continuous paragraph. Thus, to determine where it ends, you need trope (cantillation notes.)

Every pasuk has exactly one sof pasuk trope. As its name means, it marks the end of a pasuk. So, this is how you know.

Incidentally, one cannot definitively say that the end of a paragraph (parsha) is the end of a pasuk. There are several situations where there is an etnachta at the end of a parsha.

In the case of the 10 Commandments, this is actually part of the whole debate between ta'am elyon vs. tachton. If you're using elyon, then these are 3 separate psukim.

Hence, there is controversy as to how many total psukim there are in the Torah.

  • I’m not sure this really answers the question.
    – Alex
    Nov 22, 2019 at 12:20
  • @Alex It answers "what does it mean". It means that there's a group of words that end in a specific trope note. See my comment below the question.
    – DanF
    Nov 22, 2019 at 14:41
  • Thank you. I didn't mean technically as we do know the division. I meant what kind of a semantic unit is it. E.g. why "וּמִשְׁמָע וְדוּמָה וּמַשָּׂא" is a unit? or maybe, how does G-d treat it?
    – Al Berko
    Nov 23, 2019 at 17:05

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