In Gen. 18:12, Sarah, after hearing the Lord tell Abraham that in a year's time she will bear a son, says, (Gen. 18:12)

וַתִּצְחַ֥ק שָׂרָ֖ה בְּקִרְבָּ֣הּ לֵאמֹ֑ר אַחֲרֵ֤י בְלֹתִי֙ הָֽיְתָה־לִּ֣י עֶדְנָ֔ה וַֽאדֹנִ֖י זָקֵֽן׃

"So laughed Sarah in herself saying, After I have become old, shall I have to me this pleasure, and my lord being old?"(Interlinear translation from Westminster Leningrad Codex)

However, after visiting this website, I found this version:

וַתִּצְחַק שָׂרָה בְּקִרְבָּהּ לֵאמֹר אַחֲרֵי בְלֹתִי הָיְתָה לִּי עֶדְנָה וַאדֹנִי זָקֵן׃

which is translated

And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have become worn out, will I have smooth flesh? And also, my master is old."

I am not a Hebrew scholar, but the characters look identical, is this an acceptable translation of the text? Also, which perhaps is the Main Question, what does Sarah mean when she says, "Shall I have pleasure....?"


1 Answer 1

  1. ותצחק שרה

    and laughing Sarah

  2. בקרבה

    within herself

  3. לאמר

    to say

  4. אחרי בלתי

    after I am without/lack

  5. היתה לי

    her-exist/become of me

  6. עדנה


  7. ואדני זקן

    and my lord-husband is bearded/old

You should simply read the passage at its face value.

Sarah laughing within herself to say, after I lack/lose my liveliness, have pleasure and my husband is old.

  • Note that ותצחק (VaTiZXkaQ) and she laughing, and hence the name of Isaac (יצחק) IZXkaQ = piel he-collective-laughing = he-funny = he-hilarious.

  • Piel is said to be "intensive", which includes collective-action. E.g, he-kills
    -> he-intensive-kills = he murders
    -> he-collective-kills = he slaughters.

  • [עדנה] EDNH her-make-pleasure = feminine stative = English participle pleasuring.

  • Note that [עדנה] EDNH is from [עדנ = עדן] EDeN .
    Pleasure is correlated to the Garden of Eden. And apparently, so is sex.
    So [גן עדן] GaN ADoN = Garden of Lord = Garden of pleasure.


In biblical Hebrew,

there is no past/present/future tense, but the temporal tensor allows either
  • statement of action
  • incomplete/impending/propositional action

Feminine action statement is also taken to mean the participle/gerund/verbal noun = name of the action. e.g. in English

  • a beautiful painting (verbal noun)
  • her painting (gerund) of the new picture
  • he is painting (participle).

So that, her-make-pleasure actually maps to English participle "having-pleasure".

So that, "having pleasure and my husband is bearded-old", maps to the English skeptical statement "I have pleasure with my aged husband ?!".

Biblical Hebrew is a primeval language. Scholars have compulsively attempted to imbue western grammatical paradigms on biblical Hebrew, and invented obfuscating rules whenever biblical Hebrew strays out of such compulsive grammatical paradigms. In comparison to currently spoken sequential-stative languages, if one is familiar with austro-asiatic linguistic patterns, you would find that it is ludicrous to apply western linguistic paradigms to such stative languages.

For example, the inversive vav theory does not always hold, and yet it is accepted as the predominant theory on the action of the vav-conjunction onto its adjunct verb.

Biblical Hebrew should be read at face-value, without compulsively applying rules that had never yet been invented/developed at those times. So we should not even talk about participles/gerunds/verbal-nouns.

Biblical Hebrew is a sequential-stative language. You state an action, modify the action to indicate incompleteness if necessary. And then using the connective-vav, you state an action or propose an impending action, in the next sentence - so that the temporal tensor of the next statement anchors on the temporal state of the current sentence.

The vav-conjunction adjuncts an action, to indicate that action is relative to the state projected by the previous statement. For example,

Next week going-he (incomplete) to Europe. And-riding-he(incomplete) a plane there. And-make-he(stative) passport first. Also and-make-he(stative) make-her-photograph(feminine stative=verbal-noun) first. And-going-he (incomplete relative to after taking photos) to passport office.

In contrast, Greek and Romance languages use absolute temporal-reference (referencing all sentences within a context to one point of time anchor), which is a complete shift in paradigm from sequential temporal-reference (time anchoring shifts from sentence to sentence). So that the inversive-vav theory seems to work some times.

The inversive-vav theory is especially misleading in the prophetic books. Misinterpreting a subjunctive condition (set up by stative following an incomplete), as an absolute prophetic statement.

C'mon people, I have this whole huge book on biblical Hebrew which you people wrote - do you think the sheep herding nomadic people of that era had the mind-set to invent and actually apply those grammatical rules?

Read biblical Hebrew at its primitive face value. You need to take a plane to Papua New Guinea, and learn their language(s) and then learn biblical Hebrew.

  • Thank you for your insightful answer! I suspected as much, but have no understanding of Hebrew language constructs. Thank you for pointing out "she laughing" with "Isaac"(he laughing).
    – Tau
    Jul 9, 2015 at 23:53
  • Note I added explanation on the meaning of [עדן] EDN, translated as pleasure here.
    – Cynthia
    Jul 10, 2015 at 4:53

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