The second chapter of the book of Exodus overflows with textual oddities. By chance, Jonathan asked me to read it with him last night, and so we sat down on Zoom and read through it, stopping every once in a while to comment on some textual quirk that leapt off the page. I thought it would be worthwhile to write some of these down and get some feedback, if anyone else is interested. I’ll break it up by verses and comment where I think the text is less than clear. These really are just impressions that I get from the text. I haven’t checked any commentaries at this point beyond that of the Stone Chumash. They may have some great explanations that I haven’t come across yet.
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:
- The negatives אַל and לֹא;
- Conditional clause markers (אִם and כִּי אִם)
- Volitional forms: Imperatives (second-person), jussives (second- or third-person), traditionally-called cohortatives (more properly, first-person jussives).
- Purpose clause markers, such as לְמַעַן
Both the Imperfect and Perfect forms can express irreal mood.
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.