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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Mar 21 09:56:53 EDT 2008

Pere Porta:
You make many good points.  Yet almost all of what you say seems to me to be 
based on the medieval pointing that was done to the text in the Middle Ages, 
as opposed to the Hebrew letters that were in the Bible in ancient times.
1.  You make the fascinating point that “princes” at Isaiah 10: 8 is pointed 
the same as Sarah’s birth name.  
You then state:  “So, from a strict literal viewpoint "Saray" or "Sarai" 
means "my princes" (and not "my princess") -- a single letter s versus a double 
ss. It is just 
 the fourth word in Is 10:8.”
If Isaiah 10: 8 is referring to divine figures, or is speaking 
metaphorically, as appears to be the case, then I could accept there the translation “prince”
 in the singular, which is “princes” in the plural at Isaiah 10: 8.  Perhaps 
you agree with me that there is no “princess” here at all.
But at Genesis 12: 15 and 47: 6, I do not like a translation of “prince” or “
princes”, because there the references are to high officials (top men under 
Pharaoh), not to a king or to sons of a king.
2.  You wrote:  “The "sary" of Pharaoh are not "sary" but "sarEy".  Why do 
you take no account of the vowels?”
I believe that there you are referencing the medieval pointing.  The word “
sary” at Genesis 12: 15 was pointed differently in medieval times than the name “
Sary” at Genesis 12: 11.  Yet in the original text, which had no pointing, 
these two words are identical, as far as I can see.  Both words are 
sin-resh-yod, nothing else.
3.  You wrote:  “"sary" (as you spell it) is a plural construct... "sary" is 
not essentially different from "sarim".”
That may well be.  Yet what one sees at Genesis 12: 15 in unpointed text is 
sin-resh-yod, and those sin-resh-yod are dealing with sin-resh-yod.  That is to 
say, Pharaoh’s top officials, sin-resh-yod, are recommending to Pharaoh that 
sin-resh-yod, being the birth name of Abraham’s wife, be taken into Pharaoh’s 
The Hebrew letters in the original text are identical.  That’s my point.
4.  You wrote:  “Now, the name of Abraham's wife is "Saray" or "Sarai" and 
not “Sary.”
I believe that, once again, you are basing that statement on the medieval 
pointing.  Many scholars have stated that the medieval pointing is often 
If you ignore the medieval pointing, what would lead you to say that “the 
name of Abraham's wife is "Saray" or "Sarai" and not “Sary”?  All I see in 
unpointed text is sin-resh-yod, nothing else.
5.  You wrote:  “Sincerely, I think you are not on the good path at making 
this kind of 
Perhaps the fact that these two very different words have identical spellings 
is a mere coincidence here.  But you must remember that there is more clever 
Hebrew wordplay in the Patriarchal narratives than in virtually any other 
Hebrew composition ever done.
Sary are dealing with Sary at Genesis 12: 15.  Perhaps that’s a mere 
coincidence.  But perhaps not.
Perhaps the author of the Patriarchal narratives is deliberately trying to 
emphasize there that Abraham’s wife is as strong-willed and determined as are a 
king’s top officials.  Sary is as strong-willed and determined as sary.  Sary 
acts like sary.
To me it makes sense.  But I’m here to learn, like everyone else.
6.  I myself do not see the names “Sary” and “Sarah” as having an identical 
meaning, with the only difference being that “Sary” has an archaic feminine 
ending, whereas “Sarah” has a regular feminine ending.  I believe that is the 
way scholars explain these two names.  Scholars also often claim, in my view 
completely erroneously, that both of those names mean “princess”.  Sarah was 
never a princess.  That would not be a fitting name for Sarah, who was not the 
daughter of a king or anything like that.  I myself do not see either “Sary” 
or “Sarah” as meaning “princess”.
I view Genesis 12: 15 as being one key clue as to what Sarah’s birth name 
means.  Sary deal with Sary at Genesis 12: 15.  To me, that is intended to make 
us realize that Abraham’s wife Sary will act in as strong-willed and determined 
manner as do sary:  top officials of a king.  This is a positive and fitting 
name for an assertive, righteous woman like Abraham’s wife, who is one of the 
most appealing women in all of mankind’s accounts of women.  I do not think 
that Sarah’s birth name has anything at all to do with the concept of being a “
princess”.  Rather, I see Genesis 12: 15 as deliberately being a key clue to 
what Sarah’s birth name means.  
Sary deal with Sary at Genesis 12: 15.  Sary is as assertive as sary.  That’s 
the clever, meaningful Hebrew wordplay I am seeing here.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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