In this verse the translators say that the tent belonged to Noah, ‘his tent’ but doesn't the feminine possessive suffix indicate that it should be her tent, as in his wife’s tent?

“He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent (אהלה).” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭9:21‬

The MT tries to mitigate this (אָהֳלֹֽה) but this is a far later addition.

It’s particularly interesting because of the next verse mentions seeing his father’s nakedness (which according to other texts is understood to mean the wife or sleeping with the wife, Lev 18:8)

  • If it helps the Hebrew diacritics 'as rendered' do not show evidence of suffix usage. However the root אהל does show up regularly within Strong's Number: 168 as "tent".
    – Decrypted
    Jul 2, 2019 at 5:53
  • Wouldn’t his tent be אהלו? @Decrypted diacritics aside. Jul 2, 2019 at 11:22
  • 1
    There are times אהלו could be "his tent". Sometimes when they add the Hey at the end it simply makes the object feminine "within the world". Like the English word "mare" just because it's a feminine horse doesn't mean it belongs of him or her. Could think of it as unclaimed. "Sat by the mare". That said, diacritics where added later. It's their language, they likely did it right, but I only confirm the usage of the current diacritics, and as it is currently, it doesn't show evidence of suffix usage as possessive, that's what I meant in the earlier comment.
    – Decrypted
    Jul 2, 2019 at 19:11
  • Notice you wrote the mare not her mare. So that’s my question why was it translated his tent and not the tent @Decrypted Jul 2, 2019 at 19:16
  • I see no other evidence within the text, and answering why would be speculation and conjecture from my end.
    – Decrypted
    Jul 2, 2019 at 19:36

1 Answer 1


The Masoretic vowelization here isn't changing the meaning of the consonantal text. The letter ה as a suffix is used throughout the Bible, though less often than ו, to represent the /o/ that marks masculine possession.


Genesis 12:8 אׇהֳלֹה "his tent"
Genesis 49:11 עִירֹה "his donkey" and סוּתֹה "his garment"
Exodus 32:17 בְּרֵעֹה "in its shouting"
Jeremiah 20:7 כֻּלֹּה "all of it"
Psalms 27:5 בְּסֻכֹּה "in his hut"
Psalms 42:9 שִׁירֹה "his song"

Proper names that represent /o/ with ה are especially common.

פַּרְעֹה Pharaoh
שִׁילֹה Shiloh
שְׁלֹמֹה Solomon

In First Temple era Hebrew epigraphy, the letter ה exclusively is used to indicate the vowel /o/ at the end of a word, and the suffix -ו‏ in this position is extremely rare, if not nonexistent. For example, you can see that the Lachish letters use this orthography in the words ידעתה, שלחה, בה (letters 2, 3, 5 respectively) and never use ו for this. So a masculine suffix of -ה‏ is actually the older orthography.

The reason for this orthography is that the masculine possessive suffix was historically pronounced with the consonant /h/. This consonant survives in certain environments, e.g. אָחִיהוּ "his brother" (Micah 7:2) and מַעֲשֵׂהוּ "his action" (Psalms 33:4). In cognate languages (like Aramaic) this consonant survives in all environments.

Of course, this isn't to say that the masculine suffix is the only way to interpret a word ending in -ה‏ (in fact, I can see ways to interpret differently the verses I gave as examples by changing the vowels). However, here in Genesis 9:21, it has to mean "his tent." There is no woman or feminine noun that could be a reasonable antecedent to "her tent," so this interpretation would require the word to be referring to something that isn't mentioned by the text at all. Reading the word with a masculine possessive suffix, "his tent," therefore seems to be the best interpretation.

  • Looking at the Hebrew characters of Solomon's name, it looked to me like Shlomoh, so I did a search and discovered that Solomon's name is written "Shlomo" in some Hebrew commentaries. For example here
    – enegue
    Jul 3, 2019 at 11:00

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