Why Shemot 35:3 is being translated as "do not burn fire" if the piel form of the verb "burn" in the Written Torah always being translated as "eradicate". Excellent example is Dvarim 21:9.

If I understand correctly, Shemot 35:3 should be translated "do not eradicate fire".

What do you think?

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    what about exo 22 4 mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0222.htm#4
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2016 at 5:28
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    Dear close-voters: Please do not vote to close questions about the Torah because they are about the language of the Torah. The Torah is a pretty important part of Judaism, and its language is a very important aspect of it.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 13, 2016 at 14:31
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    mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1107.htm#18 mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1239.htm#9 both are read plainly as kindling/lighting fires.
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2016 at 17:26
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    @AleksandrSigalov I don't think you understand what "kindling" means. Traditional translations are supported by context clues in Tanakh and do not seem incorrect.
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2016 at 19:58
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    @AleksandrSigalov If you limit yourself to a sufficiently small set of data, you will always be able to exclude any examples which you don't like. Leaving out NK is not helpful if you are trying to understand how the word is used in biblical hebrew (Isa 7:18, Ez 39:9, maybe Lev 6:4). The fact is that the piel form is clearly used in the context of lighting fires in biblical hebrew. While the paal form may have seemed more natural, we do find paal forms becoming intensified on occasion in biblical hebrew, ex Hoshea 2:9.
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2016 at 20:47

2 Answers 2


The root (בער) as listed in Jastrow has several different meanings depending on the context.

For example, (בער) meaning to burn is found in Shemot Rabbah 2:5 which says, "since the bush burned..." http://www.sefaria.org/Shemot_Rabbah.2.5/he/Daat_Shemot_Rabbah?qh=הסנה%2Bבוער&lang=he&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

And in Bamidbar Rabbah, parshat Naso, 9:46, which says, "for those burning with (desire for) idol worship..." http://www.sefaria.org/Bemidbar_Rabbah.9.46/he/Daat_Bemidbar_Rabbah?qh=לבוערים&lang=he&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

But it also means 'to remove' as is found in Mishnah Sheviyit 7:7, which says, "they require removal...this is the general rule, everything which imparts taste must be removed from that which doesn't."

וֶרֶד חָדָשׁ שֶׁכְּבָשׁוֹ בְּשֶׁמֶן יָשָׁן, יְלַקֵּט אֶת הַוֶּרֶד. וְיָשָׁן בְּחָדָשׁ, חַיָּב בַּבִּעוּר. חָרוּבִין חֲדָשִׁים שֶׁכְּבָשָׁן בְּיַיִן יָשָׁן, וִישָׁנִים בְּחָדָשׁ, חַיָּבִין בַּבִּעוּר. זֶה הַכְּלָל, כָּל שֶׁהוּא בְנוֹתֵן טַעַם, חַיָּב לְבַעֵר, מִין בְּשֶׁאֵינוֹ מִינוֹ. וּמִין בְּמִינוֹ, כָּל שֶׁהוּא. שְׁבִיעִית אוֹסֶרֶת כָּל שֶׁהוּא בְּמִינָהּ, וְשֶׁלֹּא בְמִינָהּ, בְּנוֹתֵן טָעַם:

It can also mean to consume or to clear away as is found in Bava Kamma 2b, which says, "And it shall consume (Shemot 22:4) denotes tooth, as expressed (in Melachim-1, 14:1) 'as the street sweeper clears away his filth'

ובער (שמות כב:ד) זו השן וכן הוא אומר (מלכים-א יד:י) כאשר יבער

And it also means 'to kindle or start a fire, as is found in Shemot 35:3, like it says, "לא תבערו אש בכל מושבתיכם", 'You will not kindle fire in all your dwellings..."

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    This post completely ignores the notion of Binyanim, and his hence really not helpful. Note as well that "clear away" and "remove" seem to be the same sense.
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2016 at 17:09
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    @DoubleAA According to the listing in Jastrow, all these usages apply to the Pi'el binyan that the OP asked about specifically. Jan 13, 2016 at 17:15
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    בוער in your first two links is clearly Pa'al. The only example you have of the Piel form meaning burn is Exo 35:3, which is not helpful for the OP at indicating a pattern when all other instances of the Piel form you brought have to do with getting rid of.
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2016 at 17:17
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    I understand. But usually Jastrow is relying on the Aruch in regard to grammar usage for definitions. Nathan ben Yechiel, the early Rishon, is seen as extremely authoritative in this area. These were the exact citations Jastrow brought for the Pi'el binyan. You can disagree, but that's above my pay grade. Jan 13, 2016 at 17:25
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    If you present this as your own thought then I can and will disagree by downvoting. If you present this as Jastrow's opinion, then I will not downvote. See meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1446/759
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2016 at 17:27

There are several perspectives bearing on the issue.

Samaritan Pentateuch

Instead of the word תְבַעֲר֣וּ found in the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch instead understands the word to be תַבְעִירוּ, which is the first person plural of the same Hebrew verb, but in the hifʿîl (imperfect). Since the context is Moses speaking to the people, the reading would be, “We are not to extinguish fire in your dwellings on the Sabbath Day.” Although this reading appears awkward in both English and Biblical Hebrew, the verse would be consistent with Leviticus 6:4, which commands that the fire of the tabernacle never be extinguished.

Babylonian Talmud

The Babylonian Talmud addresses this very verse at great length (see for example, Yevamoth, Folio 6B and Folio 7a or Sanhedrin, Folio 35B and Folio 36A). That is, the Talmud accepts the reading of the Masoretic Text, which is that fires will not be ignited on the Sabbath (under certain circumstances).

Jerusalem Talmud

The best Talmudic summary on this question appears in the Tractate Beitzah of the Talmud Yerushalmi, which is the tractate concerning festivals; in this regard, this Talmud also accepts the reading of the Masoretic Text, which is that fires will not be ignited on the Sabbath (under certain circumstances).

Mekilta de-Rabbi Ishmael

The the Mekilta de-Rabbi Ishmael is a classic collection of halakhic midrash to the Book of Exodus. This midrash compilation accepts the reading of the Masoretic Text, which is that fires will not be ignited on the Sabbath (under certain circumstances).


In summary, oral tradition leans toward the reading that the word תְבַעֲר֣וּ found in the Masoretic Text means do not ignite fire on the Sabbath (under certain circumstances).

  • Thanks. I know about traditional opinion. I was asking about what critical analysis of the text says. What you are proposing does not match the verses of the Written Torah. Sorry. Jan 13, 2016 at 20:05
  • I know about SP btw. But I think Samaritans got it wrong. It should be piel because it is most intensive form. Hiphil is usually translated as "to graze" to "consume" Jan 13, 2016 at 20:10

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