[b-hebrew] "Sary" vs. "sary"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Mar 20 10:28:12 EDT 2008

“Sary” vs. “sary”
1.  In the Bible, we see two plural forms of sin-resh/“sar”.  The more 
common plural form in the Bible, and the only plural form in the Patriarchal 
narratives, is sin-resh-yod/“sary”.  Genesis 12: 15 and 47: 6  (The other plural 
form, which is seen in several books of the Bible and in modern Hebrew, is 
2.  Sarah’s birth name, which I transliterate into English as “Sary”, is 
spelled with the same three Hebrew letters:  sin-resh-yod.
3.  There seems to be clever Hebrew wordplay at Genesis 12: 15, based on “sary
” vs. “Sary”.  Though the name “Sary” does not explicitly appear at Genesis 
12: 15, it is clear from the preceding verses that “Sary” is who is being 
looked at.  So at Genesis 12: 15, the “sary” are looking at “Sary”, and the “
sary” recommend “Sary” to Pharaoh.  There are of course no capital letters in 
Hebrew, so in written Hebrew these two words look exactly the same:  
sin-resh-yod.  Pharaoh’s sin-resh-yod/“sary” are dealing with Abram’s wife 
4.  In English, “sary” at Genesis 12: 15 oddly gets translated as “princes”
, though certainly it is Pharaoh’s “top officials”, not princes (such as 
Pharaoh’s sons), who are being referenced here.  (In the Bible, when the word “sar
” is applied to a human being, it usually means “top official”, such as a 
military commander or Pharaoh’s senior officers.  The word “sar” rarely means “
prince” or “king” in the Bible, when applied to a human being.)
In English, Sarah’s birth name oddly gets translated as “Sarai”, pursuant to 
the medieval pointing.  (Note that Sary is not a “princess”.  Sary does have 
a strong-willed personality, though, like a king’s “top official”.)
In the Hebrew written text, in both cases it’s simply sin-resh-yod/“sary”.
Sary are dealing with Sary at Genesis 12: 15.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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