Translating Genesis 4:1

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, May 7 2011 5:59 AM

Hi all - looking for an opinion from some Hebrew scholars

Genesis 4:1 has Eve talking about the birth of her first son:

"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD."

The Holy Bible : English Standard Version., Ge 4:1 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).

But in "Messianic Christology", Fruchtenbaum argues that the last phrase literally means:

“I have gotten a man: Jehovah.”

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology : A Study of Old Testament Prophecy Concerning the First Coming of the Messiah, 15 (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998).

This to support his argument:

Few Bible translators really understand what Eve is saying here, which is why our English translations do not read as given above. Eve has clearly understood from God’s words in Genesis 3:15 that the serpent will be defeated by a God-Man. She obviously thinks that Cain is Jehovah.

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology : A Study of Old Testament Prophecy Concerning the First Coming of the Messiah, 15 (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998).

WBC recognises that this sentence is difficult but doesn't lean towards the meaning shown here, the UBS handbook says that it means "with Yahweh" and the JPS Torah Commentary has "together with".

The Commentary on the Old Testament recognises the validity of the construction but not the application:

So far as the grammar is concerned, the expression אֶת־יְהֹוָה might be rendered, as in apposition to אִישׁ, “a man, the Lord” (Luther), but the sense would not allow it. For even if we could suppose the faith of Eve in the promised conqueror of the serpent to have been sufficiently alive for this, the promise of God had not given her the slightest reason to expect that the promised seed would be of divine nature, and might be Jehovah, so as to lead her to believe that she had given birth to Jehovah now.

Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament., Ge 4:1–8 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002).

Any comments as to whether the proposed reading "gotten a man: Jehovah: could be valid?

Many thanks

Graham

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 6:43 AM

Actually WBC's raw translation agrees with Fruchtenbaum's raw translation. The issue is how best NOT to use the raw translation. I'm a big believer in taking the literal as the first choice (vs substituting a favored interpretation, which is where WBC ended up). One more reason I like literal translations. But in this case, my favorite JST let me down 'And Adam knew Life, his wife, and she will conceive and bear Cain, and said, I obtained a man of Jehovah.'

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 6:51 AM

 

Denise Barnhart:
Actually WBC's raw translation agrees with Fruchtenbaum's raw translation

Denise

Good point - thanks for pointing that out.

Graham

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Dominick Sela | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 6:59 AM

If you do a search of this verse in Ante-Nicene Fathers series and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series, you will find several hits that explain what the early Church fathers wrote and thought at the time. In my humble opinion, on questions like this I defer to the earliest fathers to see what they believed on or soon after Jesus, since they likely know what the oral tradition was of the Genesis stories that were discussed in Hebrew culture at that time and before.

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 7:12 AM

Denise Barnhart:
Actually WBC's raw translation agrees with Fruchtenbaum's raw translation. The issue is how best NOT to use the raw translation. I'm a big believer in taking the literal as the first choice (vs substituting a favored interpretation, which is where WBC ended up). One more reason I like literal translations. But in this case, my favorite JST let me down 'And Adam knew Life, his wife, and she will conceive and bear Cain, and said, I obtained a man of Jehovah.'

Both are literal. See these 289 verses for similar constructions of את  as "with":

 

 

Gen 4:1; 5:22, 24; 6:9, 13; 9:9–10; 13:5; 14:2, 9; 15:18; 17:21; 19:13, 27; 20:16; 21:20; 23:8; 24:49; 26:8; 32:11; 33:18; 34:5; 37:2; 39:2, 21; 41:9; 42:4, 13, 32; 43:32; Ex 1:1; 2:21, 24; 32:11; 34:23–24, 27; Lev 4:6, 17; 21:9; Num 3:1; 20:13; 25:14; Deut 5:3, 24; 15:3; 16:16; 19:5; 28:69; 29:14, 18; 31:7, 11; Josh 6:27; 10:1, 4; 11:18, 20; 15:63; 17:14; 22:21; Judg 1:16–17, 19, 21; 3:19; 4:11; 8:7; 12:4; 17:11; 1 Sam 1:22; 2:11, 13, 17, 19; 12:7; 13:22; 15:4; 22:4; 25:29; 2 Sam 7:7, 12; 10:19; 11:9, 17; 15:11–12; 16:17, 21; 17:8; 19:27, 35, 37; 20:15; 21:15; 1 Kings 3:1; 8:15; 9:26; 11:25; 12:6, 8; 13:6; 15:19; 21:8; 22:31; 2 Kings 2:16; 6:3; 8:28–29; 9:15, 25, 27; 10:6, 15; 11:8; 13:4, 23; 15:25; 17:15; 18:23; Is 23:17; 28:15, 18; 36:8; 40:14; 41:4; 45:9; 49:4, 25; 53:9, 12; 57:15; 63:11; 66:10, 14, 16; Jer 2:9; 7:22; 9:7; 11:10; 12:5; 21:4; 23:28; 26:19, 24; 31:31–33; 32:5; 33:5, 21; 34:3, 8, 13; 41:3, 10, 13; 43:6; 50:39; 51:59; 52:14; Ezek 11:13; 20:3, 36; 21:17; 22:11; 23:37; 24:27; 26:20; 31:16, 18; 32:18–19, 21, 24–25, 27–30, 32; 33:30; 43:8; Hos 7:5; 12:4; Mic 5:14–6:1; Zeph 1:18; 3:19; Zech 7:2, 9; 8:16, 21–22; 10:9; 11:10; Mal 2:4; Psa 12:3; 16:11; 21:7; 35:1; 78:8; 84:4; 105:9; 127:5; 140:14; 141:4; 143:2; Job 12:3; Prov 3:32; 8:31; 11:2; 13:10, 20; 16:19; 17:24; 22:24; 23:1; 25:9; 29:9; Ruth 2:11, 20, 23; 3:2; Dan 9:13; Neh 5:7; 13:11, 17; 1 Chr 16:16; 17:6; 20:5; 21:6; 2 Chr 6:4, 18; 10:6, 8; 16:3; 18:30; 22:5–6; 23:1, 7; 24:24; 33:12

 

 

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 7:17 AM

 

Dominick Sela:
If you do a search of this verse in Ante-Nicene Fathers series and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series, you will find several hits that explain what the early Church fathers wrote and thought at the time

Thanks Dominick

Some useful context there

Graham

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 7:21 AM

 

David Knoll:
Both are literal. See these 289 verses for similar constructions of את  as "with":

Thanks David

Very helpful

Graham

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 7:57 AM

The problem here is the homograph את.

There are three את's the first is the accusative marker (in WHM that is את-1) the second is a preposition with the meaning "with" (in WHM that is את-2) the third is a noun meaning "plowshare".

 

We deal here with the first two.  They differ when inflected (i.e. suffixed with a personal pronoun): The accusative marker is inflected:

אותי, אותך, אותך, אותו, אותה, אותנו, אֶתכם, אֶתכן, אותם, אותן,  

The preposition is inflected :

אתי, אתך, אתך, אתו, אתה, אתנו, אִתכם, אתכן, אתם, אתן

Note that there are some verses where the preposition is inflected as the accusative marker such as 2Ki 1:15, 3:11, 3:26; Isa 54:10 and probably more.

 

The problem lies in the uninflected forms of את. In the Tiberian vocalization system (like the one employed in BHS) they look exactly the same : אֵת

Modern Hebrew solved this ambiguity by reserving the uninflected form for the accusative marker. If an Israeli wants to say I went with him he would say "הלכתי אתו" but  if he wants to say I walked with the king (very unlikely Smile ) he would use the preposition עם and say  "הלכתי עם המלך". The use of את i.e. "הלכתי את המלך" which is of course good Biblical Hebrew is unacceptable.

Note that there are other vocalization traditions. In the oriental traditions the uninflected form of the preposition is pronounced itt. 

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Brent Gay | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 8:04 AM

Per A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Arnold and Choi (pp. 101-102), the preposition אֶת can have four uses: Accompaniment, Possession, Complement, and Spatial. The verse you are questioning is specifically cited under accompaniment.

This use shows "attendant circumstances" (cg. Num. 18:2, Gen 5:22, Gen 21:20). More specific to your question, however, is the "finer nuance of the usage [of] personal accompaniment, which expresses accompaniment for the purpose of providing help" (cf. Gen. 4:1, Neh 6:16).

Williams Hebrew Syntax, Third Edition by Ronald Williams also cites this verse under the same type of usage (p. 129), though he calls it the "אֶת of assistance (with the help of, with)."

That particular usage (with the help of) seems to make the most sense to me in that context. Hope that also helps some.

Brent

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Brent Gay | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 8:14 AM

David Knoll:
Modern Hebrew solved this ambiguity by reserving the uninflected form for the accusative marker. If an Israeli wants to say I went with him he would say "הלכתי אתו" but  if he wants to say I walked with the king (very unlikely Smile ) he would use the preposition עם and say  "הלכתי עם המלך". The use of את i.e. "הלכתי את המלך" which is of course good Biblical Hebrew is unacceptable.

Excellent information, David!! I'm going to Israel this summer to learn Modern Hebrew, so that little nugget of information is handy.

Thanks,

Brent

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 8:31 AM

Graham Criddle:

Hi all - looking for an opinion from some Hebrew scholars

Genesis 4:1 has Eve talking about the birth of her first son:

 

"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD."

The Holy Bible : English Standard Version., Ge 4:1 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).

But in "Messianic Christology", Fruchtenbaum argues that the last phrase literally means:

 

“I have gotten a man: Jehovah.”

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology : A Study of Old Testament Prophecy Concerning the First Coming of the Messiah, 15 (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998).

I don't know about the "tree" part, but I tend to think that Fruchtenbaum is indeed a fruit.  The את can be understood as either a sign of the accusative or as a preposition signifying "with" or "with the help of."  Of course, being the fruit that he is Fruchtenbaum chooses the more obscure usage.  BTW:  The WBC does not support the Fruit's reading.  Cf. 1 Chr 2.18

וְכָלֵב בֶּן־חֶצְרוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת־עֲזוּבָה אִשָּׁה וְאֶת־יְרִיעוֹת וְאֵלֶּה בָנֶיהָ יֵשֶׁר וְשׁוֹבָב וְאַרְדּוֹן׃

Here Azubah is Caleb's wife, he didn't beget Azubah.  I like Speiser's take on this verse.

"a life. Heb. ʾīš stands for "man" in the sense of an individual being, whereas ʾādām (see 2:5) is undifferentiated and generic. Ordinarily the term is applied to adults. Yet there is no warrant for suspecting the text, as is sometimes done. In the circumstances, Eve is fully justified in hailing the arrival of another human being.

with the help of

. Heb. ʾet "with," which has drawn considerable suspicion and speculation. It is worth mentioning, therefore, that Akk. personal names often employ the corresponding element itti, e.g., Itti-Bēl-balāṭu "With Bell there is life."

Speiser, E. A. Genesis: Introduction, Translation, and Notes, in loc. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 9:57 AM

Of course, much of the discussion / assumptions depends on where you think the account originated from. If the 'garden' (and ejection) is situated somewhere among the divine council environment, alternative hebraic interpretation would be more appropriate.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 12:05 PM

Graham Criddle:
“I have gotten a man: Jehovah.”

OK I checked this out and I think that the construction of Verb + Direct Object + Direct Object in apposition is impossible in Biblical Hebrew.

I searched in AF Syntactical Database for a clause that consists of two direct object immediate constituents.

I got 62 results. I read them all and I think they can be divided into three types:

Type I is where the second direct object opens a new clause it is suffixed with an attached pronoun whose referent is the first object (i.e. a resumptive pronoun)  and it is immediately followed by an inflected verb (You could analyse this as a Casus Pendens). To this type belong:

Gen 9:4, 24:14; Lev 11:3, 11:9, 21:14, 22:28; Num 22:20, 22:35, 22:38, 23:12, 23:26; Deut 13:1, 14:6, 20:20; Josh 5:7; Judg 11:24; 1 Sa 15:9; 1 Ki 22:14, 17:36; Isa 8:13; Jer 41:9, 44:21; Ps 101:5 (Twice); Ezra 1:11; 2 Ch 18:13, 36:18.

 

Type II is where the first object is followed (in Num 16:17 preceded) by an adverbial adjunct usually containing the lexeme איש or אחד:

Gen 45:25; Exod 26:6; Lev 12:8, 25:8; Num 4:19, 16:17; Deut 1:23; Josh 4:2, 24:28; 1 Sa 10:25, 20:15; 1 Ki 8:59, 20:24; Jer 3:14, 12:15, 13:14, 22:7 (twice); Ezek 37:17; Zech 8:10, 11:6; 1 Ch 16:3.

Type 3 is a double accusative such as to fill something with something else. Note that the referent in the second accusative is not the same as the first accusative (Unlike type I and unlike the proposed understanding of Gen 4:1)

 

So I think that this translation (unless my searches were wrongly constructed) does not conform with Biblical Hebrew syntax. That was my first intuition but intuition is not enough.

 

 

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 12:10 PM

Brent Gay:
I'm going to Israel this summer to learn Modern Hebrew

Where will you be staying?

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 12:23 PM

David Knoll:
OK I checked this out and I think that the construction of Verb + Direct Object + Direct Object in apposition is impossible in Biblical Hebrew.

I would agree.  If perhaps some do not understand my scorn for Fruchtenbaum's views, it rests on the fact that he appears to capitalize on his Jewish background with the implication that because he is Jewish he understands the text better than someone who is not of a Jewish background.  One of the greatest of Semitists who is highly respected in the Jewish community was S. R. Driver (see the Jewish book site www.ebookshuk.com).  There are many Jews today who don't know the first thing about Hebrew.  To pretend to be better suited because it's "in your genes" is nonsense.  Nahum Sarna in his JPS commentary on Genesis does not agree with Fruchtenbaum so it isn't a Jewish thing

"with the help of the Lord In Hebrew ʾet YHVH; the sign of the accusative often has the sense of "together with." A similar phrase is used in the Akkadian Atraḫasis Epic when the mother goddess Mami, who has been ordered to create man, replies that she can do so only with the help of the god Enki (itti Enki-ma).

"The role of God in human procreation is frequently acknowledged in the Bible. As Niddah 31a expresses it, "There are three copartners in the production of a human being: God, father, and mother."

 

Sarna, Nahum M. Genesis, in loc. The JPS Torah commentary. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 12:51 PM

Thanks David,George,Brent and yes Graham for posting. This thread has been very informative.

David and George, reading from your many post in the forum I can see you guys dream and sleep in HebrewSmile. Regards

 

Ted

Dell, studio XPS 7100, Ram 8GB, 64 - bit Operating System, AMD Phenom(mt) IIX6 1055T Processor 2.80 GHZ

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Brent Gay | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 1:09 PM

David Knoll:

Brent Gay:
I'm going to Israel this summer to learn Modern Hebrew

Where will you be staying?

Somwhere in Netanya. The school is the Israel College of the Bible.

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 1:15 PM

Brent Gay:
Somwhere in Netanya. The school is the Israel College of the Bible.

Interesting. Never heard of it. Prepare yourself: It is VERY hot around the Israeli coastline during summer.

Posts 93
Brent Gay | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 1:20 PM

David Knoll:

Brent Gay:
Somwhere in Netanya. The school is the Israel College of the Bible.

Interesting. Never heard of it. Prepare yourself: It is VERY hot around the Israeli coastline during summer.

Will do; I appreciate it. The website for the school is http://www.israelcollege.com/.

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 7 2011 2:17 PM

Thanks everyone for your contributions

I appreciate the research that has been done and the thought-through response. Really helpful

Graham

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