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I’m a bit stumped about why in the phrase in the question title (Vulgate, Gen. 14:2), it’s ipsa and not ipse. What is the feminine noun to which ipsa refers?

inirent bellum contra Bara regem Sodomorum, et contra Bersa regem Gomorrhae, et contra Sennaab regem Adamae, et contra Semeber regem Seboim, contraque regem Balae, ipsa est Segor.

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3 Answers 3

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Draconis and TKR are correct and explain how the Latin works, but just to add further context, it's the same in the Greek Septuagint:

καὶ βασιλέως Βαλακ αὕτη ἐστὶν Σηγωρ

Both the Latin and the Greek both are translating the Hebrew הִיא, which is also feminine.

All three pronouns ultimately refer to the same thing: Bala, Βαλακ, בֶּלַע. Despite the Hebrew looking masculine, cities in biblical Hebrew are often feminine, as seems to be the case here.

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The full verse reads:

Inirent bellum contra Bara regem Sodomorum, et contra Bersa regem Gomorrhae, et contra Sennaab regem Adamae, et contra Semeber regem Seboim, contraque regem Balae, ipsa est Segor.

In other words, it's listing out a bunch of names of kings and cities. The kings are all masculine accusative singular, as shown by the word regem, even though the names themselves may or may not be declined.

The cities are all genitive, but they have a variety of genders and numbers: Sodomorum, for example, looks masculine or neuter plural. And Balae seems to be feminine singular.

Ipsa, then, must refer back to Balae: "and against the king of Bala; that one (Bala) is Segor". Or in more idiomatic English: "and against the king of Bala (that is, Segor)".

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It's referring to Bala, and saying that that place is also called Segor.

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