I study Latin and I don't understand this sentence "absumat ebria sitientem", found in Deuteronomy 29:19

Context (just before the sentence):

because when such a person hears the words of this oath, he may invoke a blessing on himself, saying: "I will have peace, even though I walk in the stubbornness of my own heart.

Translations found of the sentence:

  • to sweep away the drunken with the thirsty.

  • to destroy the moist with the dry:

  • to add drunkenness to thirst.

  • (I go on, in order) to end the fulness with the thirst.

  • should not be destroyed together with the sinner, the sinless. (literal translation from Hebrew)

  • This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.


  1. What is the meaning in Latin of this sentence? How would it be translated literally, in this context? I find this Latin extract hard to translate.

  2. What is the meaning that Moses expresses? I feel it hard to understand.

  3. What is the difference between all the possible translations I gave (or other ones), which one is the more literal, and which one better expresses the meaning that Moses wanted to express?

  4. How come that there are several translations that are so different.

What is a saying in Moses' time? What are the connotations of the Hebrew words?

  • Are you wanting an interpretation of the Hebrew, Greek or Latin? If of the Hebrew, perhaps the references to Latin are unnecessary.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 20 '19 at 18:44
  • 1
    As it's the Vulgate, I'd like both. I want to compare the meaning in Latin and all its connotation, and the original meaning in Hebrew, and all the connotations, as I don't understand why it was translated this way, and that is there real or original meaning.
    – Quidam
    Oct 21 '19 at 12:16

I have found an interesting note on a specialized book (freely downloadable):

"'Alisumat ebria sitientem'. It is a proverbial expression, which may either be understood as spoken by the sinner, blessing, that is, flattering himself in his sins with the imagination of peace, and so great an abundance as may satisfy, and as it were consume all thirst and want, or it may be referred to the root of bitterness spoken of before, which being drunken with sin may attract, and by that means consume such as thirst after the like evils." (The Complete Notes of Doway Bible and Rhemish Testament [...], by the Reverend Robert J. McGhee, 1837, Dublin)

I hope this helps you.


I would venture to translate the Hebrew as follows:

... and he hear the words of this imprecation and bless himself in his heart and say, 'Let peace be mine, and let me walk according to the fancies of my heart,' so that he who is drunk consumes the thirsty, ...

What seems to be the gist is that the hedonistic, selfish person cares nothing for the will or rights of another, who seek only to benefit themselves at the expense of others (including God), and seek only pleasure and "peace" (lack of care for others or conscience) of which an epitomic and rather vivid example is a drunken or satisfied person destroying or otherwise exploiting someone who is thirsty and has nothing to drink.

The Latin translates to "he who is drunk consumes the thirsty" as I have translated above.

As for why there are so many translations: I honestly can't explain that.

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