The short Hebrew wuh (we), which must be prefixed to the word to which it applies, means "and." But that is not all it means. It can mean many things: and, so, or, but, now, that, when, then' and so forth. It all depends on the context, part of which is the verbal form that follows. Yet the older English translators (such as those working on the King James and earlier versions) did not know this. Hebrew grammar was understood, but not well understood, until last century. The result: the awkwardness -- in the older versions, at any rate -- of starting countless sentences with the word 'and.' Lack of stylistic sensitivity. Or is it 'biblical style'? (Many think so.)

We can go further. If we combine wuh with yehi (it was, became, existed, or happened) we get wayehi (wa-yuh-HEE), a common sentence starter in Hebrew. Literally, it means 'and it was,' or, in the parlance of the older English translators, "and it came to pass." Though this may sound exalted, literary, and distinguished, it is not warranted by the Hebrew. Good Hebrew understands wayehi . The misunderstanding led to the KJV being peppered with "and it came to pass," as the phrase appears over 800 times in the Old Testament! A better rendering: 'And it came about' (NAS). Even better: "When" (other versions). Better yet (often): Leave it untranslated! Wayehi is a standard word in storytelling. The context should dictate whether it is translated, and if so, how.