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Grammar of Biblical Hebrew


Wolfgang Schneider

Although Wolfgang Schneider’s Grammatik des biblischen Hebräisch: Ein Lehrbuch serves primarily as an introductory textbook to biblical Hebrew, it makes an invaluable contribution to the text-linguistic study of Hebrew Bible. Schneider’s understanding of narrative syntax and discourse linguistics continues to influence such grammarians as Niccacci and Talstra, through whom his work is validated. His discussion of clauses and text syntax remains pertinent to Hebrew students and professors alike. With this English translation, Schneider’s work may now make a worldwide contribution to biblical studies by clarifying for the student the contribution of text grammar to the reading of the biblical text.
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51 Description of the Statement of Intent (Mood)


Outside of the imperative (→ § 48.8) and some remaining jussive-forms (→ § 51.4), the Hebrew verbal system has no separate verb form (mood) to mark the statement of intent. If modality is to be expressed through syntactical signs at all, particles are at one’s disposal. Sentence position also plays a role.

The attention of the hearer is controlled through indicators, which lie on the level of meaning of the text (→ also § 52.2). Verbs with a modal meaning—as for example יכל “can”—also belong here, as well as relative verbs (→ § 50.5).

No Subjunctive

The Hebrew language does not have syntactical markers for the modal categories “real/unreal/ possible” (Realis/Irrealis/Potentialis); also there is no “subjunctive” as a syntactical marker of internal dependency.

51.1 Strengthening


An important strengthening particle is כִּי “yes/in truth/so it is” (→ § 53.3). For further strengthening adverbs and particles such as, for example, אַף “even,” הֵן “behold,” etc., the lexicon is to be consulted.

The connection of a finite verb with an infinitive absolute (→ § 50.4) also has a strengthening effect.

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