REAL/IRREAL MOOD AND WORD ORDER

In the last postI introduced the concept of real and irreal mood in Biblical Hebrew.  In  this post, we’ll take a look at real and irreal phrases and clauses in the Bible.

Recall that certain grammatical words at the beginning clauses indicate irreal mood.  These include:

  1. The negatives אַל and לֹא;
  2. Conditional clause markers (אִם and כִּי אִם)
  3. Volitional forms: Imperatives (second-person), jussives (second- or third-person), traditionally-called cohortatives (more properly, first-person jussives).
  4. Purpose clause markers, such as לְמַעַן

Both the Imperfect and Perfect forms can express irreal mood.  Continue reading “Mood and Word Order in Biblical Hebrew, pt. 3”

I am working on a post on real and irreal mood.  It is really long, so I think I’m going to cut it into further parts. Besides, Jason reminded me that “No one knows what real and irreal moods are!” So, that’s what this post is for.

Real and irreal mood is more or less the same thing as the indicative and subjunctive moods in English. Real mood (indicative) is a statement grounded in reality.  Most often, this is a simple statement.

Irreal (subjunctive) mood includes sentences or statements that are one step removed from reality, i.e., something that may or may not have happened. “Irreal” is a linguistic description derived from the Latin irrealis. Irreal mood may also be called “unreal” mood.

Continue reading “Mood and Word Order in Biblical Hebrew, pt. 1”

In recent years, there has been lively discussions concerning word order in Biblical Hebrew.  For last century, and until  very recently, the consensus among most scholars has been that Hebrew exhibits VERB-SUBJECT word order.  For example:

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֲלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָעָרֶץ׃
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.¹

At the head of the clause, we have an infinitive followed by the perfect verb ברא, followed by the subject אֲלֹהִים. The verb is first, followed by the subject.  While this is the most common word order, I argue (following John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt) that it is not the “default” word order. Instead, the default word order is SUBJECT-VERB, as in English.

Continue reading “Word Order in Biblical Hebrew, Pt. 1”

I have learned many things over the course of my years teaching and tutoring Biblical Hebrew.  For most people, the process of learning a new language is an intimidating one. This feeling of intimidation is compounded when you learn an ancient language, especially a Semitic one. The letters are foreign, apparently consisting of symbols rather than letters. It sounds strange to the ear. OK, more than strange – downright foreign. So, when it comes to learning a language like Biblical Hebrew, what is there to be done?

The answer is “plenty.” But there’s one thing in particular that “must” be done: you need to learn how to READ it.

Continue reading “The key(s) to success in Biblical Hebrew”