This was not entirely news to me. At the final class of a Hebrew tutorial I took three years ago, the teacher casually mentioned that some words switch tenses when you add a letter "vav" (which also means "and") at their very beginnings. So a past tense verb miraculously becomes future, and vice-versa. (Modern Hebrew has no such weirdness.) Since I hadn't yet learned any tense beyond the past, I filed it away for future (no pun intended) reference. I subsequently noticed a preponderance of initial vavs in my Torah portions, and wondered if they were this weird thing. Translations shed little light on the phenomenon.
But last night at my wonderful and very serious Biblical Hebrew grammar class, my head practically exploded when the teacher explained that the majority of verbs in the Bible employ reversing vavs. And sometimes the initial vav also means "and" in addition to its role as time-shifter--or it doesn't. We can never know for certain. So a sentence that seems to say
"She sat and walked and stood."
might really mean
"She sat, will walk, and will stand."
"She will sit, and walked and stood."
The teacher offered one theory about this grammatical strangeness: In pre-Biblical times and often for reasons of poetic euphony, verb tenses were fluid. But the word "and" (the letter vav) always appeared in a sequence, and in a sequence there was a clear beginning and ending. Eventually the vav itself came to to signify a change of time in either direction. (Apologies to scholars. I am simplifying drastically and probably incorrectly. My brain was swimming in a sea of incredulity last night as this was explained at rapid pace.)
All I could think during class was that clever and sneaky God, by giving a us Torah written in Hebrew and full of vavs, made quite sure we would never stop trying to interpret it.