The following is the first English-to-Hebrew drill from Exercise 32 of Weingreen’s A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew. Participation in the translation drills dropped off, so I’ve decided to continue on my own. My dear friend Jonathan is welcome to post his work as a comment on this blog post, but I’m not going to continue to post the threads on B-Hebrew when no one seems interested. Perhaps this is a personal task that I will need to go forward on alone (or with Jonathan).

(1) Sarah the wife of Abraham bore (to) him a son and she called his name Isaac, as the word which the angel spoke to Abraham her husband.

Sarah is the subject of the sentence, so it appears without a preposition or the DDOM, and the wife of Abraham is in apposition to it. Of course, “wife” is the word for “woman” (אִשָּׁה), which appears in the construct here (אֵ֫שֶׁת) with “Abraham” as its base noun. The verb bore would be in the 3fs form (יָֽלְדָה), agreeing with “Sarah,” which is “she.” It takes the indirect object with the lamed prefix ((to) him לוֹ) and a son is indefinite and anarthrous (בֵּן). I’m taking the phrase as simply beginning a new narrative, no vav-consecutive and no temporal setup. Thus, for the first phrase we have:

שָׂרָה אֵ֫שֶׁת אַבְרָהָם יָֽלְדָה לוֹ בֵּן…

And she called will be continuing from the previous phrase, and I will take it as a vav-consecutive, which has the imperfect form of קָרָא “to call” in 3fs, which is identical to 2ms (תִּקְרָא). The vav-consecutive element is וַ□ּ (va- with dāḡēš), making the correct form וַתִּקְרָא “and she called.” His name is definite by use of the 3ms possessive suffix on שֵׁם, giving us the form שְׁמוֹ that needs to be joined to the verb with the DDOM. Isaac is technically an object complement in this sentence, sitting in a type of apposition to “his name.” We could reconstruct this statement as “his name was Isaac” to get at the semantic force behind it (שְׁמוֹ הָיָה יִצְחָק). This is what we have so far:

שָׂרָה אֵ֫שֶׁת אַבְרָהָם יָֽלְדָה לוֹ בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ יִצְחָק…

As the word is surely to be understood as “according to the word,” granted that “as” and “according to” both translate the prefixed preposition כְּ־. In this case, it is definite (כַּדָּבָר) and will be followed by a relative clause introduced by אֲשֶׁר. The angel spoke will be the piel perfect 3ms דִּבֶּר “he spoke”1 with הַמַּלְאָךְ as the subject. To Abraham will follow the preposition אֶל־ and have “her husband” (either אִישָׁהּ or בַּעֲלָהּ) in apposition. The entire drill will be rendered:

שָׂרָה אֵ֫שֶׁת אַבְרָהָם יָֽלְדָה לוֹ בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ יִצְחָק כַּדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר הַמַּלְאָךְ אֶל־אַבְרָהָם אִישָׁהּ׃

If you’re interested in keeping alive the prospect of translating from English to Hebrew on B-Hebrew, let me know. I’m more than willing to keep the exercises going, provided that people are still enjoying them and if we have participation. I don’t like being the only person working on them.


  1. We learn the paradigm of the piel as סִפֵּר with a tsere in the second syllable, but the word דִּבֶּר actually appears in the Bible with segol, just as שִׁלַּם and בֵּרַךְ appear with patach. In modern Hebrew, these have all been standardized, so that we say דִּבֵּר “he spoke,” שִׁלֵּם “he paid,” and בֵּרֵךְ “he blessed.” For example, the word in question appears eleven times in 1 Kings 2, in which one has דִּבֵּ֑ר (with etnachta in pause), one has דִּבֶּ֔ר (with zakef-katon, which often places words in pause, but not necessarily), and nine have דִּבֶּר (with various servant accents). I’ve used segol in the pointing of דִּבֶּר to be consistent with what is most frequently found in the text of the Bible.

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