Shemos 20:17:

ויֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אֶל הָעָם אַל תִּירָאוּ כִּי לְבַעֲבוּר נַסּוֹת אֶתְכֶם בָּא הָאֱלֹהִים וּבַעֲבוּר תִּהְיֶה יִרְאָתוֹ עַל פְּנֵיכֶם לְבִלְתִּי תֶחֱטָאוּ

What does the 8th word in the verse mean? Generally, בעבור means "in order to" or "for the sake of," as it is used in the second clause of this verse (without the prefixed ל). Adding the ל seems to make it a difficult word to understand. "For in order to"?

What does the ל in this word mean, and how does it change the meaning of the word? And if it doesn't change the meaning of the word, why is it necessary?

And why the difference between the first and second time it is used in the verse?

  • 3
    Baal HaTurim notes that there are "לבעבור"s; the other two are in Shmuel Beis.
    – MTL
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 2:42
  • I'm guessing archaic form vs. (relatively) newer form. It's possible that, whether that's correct or not, there may be a nuanced difference in meaning as well (eg., the Rav Hirsch answer).
    – Seth J
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


Seems like Rav Hirsch is addressing this. He writes on that verse: בעבור in the transition to something, in the intention to achieve something. לבעבור for this intention: נסות אתכם So that you prove to yourselves whether you are able to receive God's Torah directly from Him, and inasmuch as you yourselves feel the necessity for an intermediary, you will all the more give the God-sent intermediary your full confidence, and also ובעבור וגו׳ So that the impression of this direct communication should remain with you for all time.

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