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Moses survived floating down the Nile in a basket, being in the presence of Yahweh, the ten plagues of Egypt, a jaunt across the Red Sea, and 40 years in the desert.

My question is: What does "being" as a present participle mean in the above sentence? /Would anyone please explain the use of "being" in the sentence above?

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  • He came into the room when I was watching TV.
    – Zhang
    Aug 15, 2018 at 3:12

2 Answers 2

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The applicable meaning of "be" in this case is: to have, maintain, or occupy a place, situation, or position (Webster)

The sentence is a list of things Moses survived, so simplify it to just the one in question:

Moses survived being in the presence of Yahweh.

It means that he survived having a location that was in the presence of Yahweh. You could rephrase that:

He was in the presence of Yahweh and survived that encounter.

In order to have consistent grammatical form in the list of the original sentence, "was" is changed to "being".

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The sentence is really a combination of several logical statements, all of which must be true for the sentence to be true. You can evaluate the grammar in the simplified form of the single logical statement

Moses survived being in the presence of Yahweh.

It is also valid to say

Moses survived in the presence of Yahweh

where the verb being is commonly understood. The use of being here is asserting that there was a past moment in time, of some unspecified duration, in which Moses existed in the presence of Yahweh.

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