Author Topic: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living  (Read 220 times)

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Offline strobe

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Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« on: April 15, 2021, 05:51:04 AM »

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The translation of this verse has become very important in my studies and I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into it.
The versions I have been using are the ESV and the KJV and they give the translation as
The man called his wife's name Eve because she was the mother of all living.
However, the NIV has
Adam named his wife Eve because she would become the mother of all the living.
This seems to be an enormous disparity and surely must be either one or the other unless Hebrew does not allow for a distinction between these tenses but I doubt that this can be the case.
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Offline eik

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Re: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2021, 07:41:01 AM »
The translation of this verse has become very important in my studies and I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into it.
The versions I have been using are the ESV and the KJV and they give the translation as
The man called his wife's name Eve because she was the mother of all living.
However, the NIV has
Adam named his wife Eve because she would become the mother of all the living.
This seems to be an enormous disparity and surely must be either one or the other unless Hebrew does not allow for a distinction between these tenses but I doubt that this can be the case.
There is no verb present in Hebrew. The tense is implied, as the verb is implied. The Hebrew reads

...... Eve mother (construct state) alive (adjective accusative), (literally "...Eve mother of [those] alive").

I'm not clear  why "alive" is not in the genitive and why it is an adjective at all, as opposed to a noun. I am sure someone else will know. May be there is the implication of an implied pronoun, i.e. "those" which is just omitted.

It is interesting that the Hebrew word for "alive" ("ḥay") is the same word used for God himself being alive, as well as being used for animate life. So there is a connotation of spiritual life, as well as animal life, in the word.

Offline Deborah

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Re: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2021, 11:02:38 AM »
There is no verb present in Hebrew. The tense is implied, as the verb is implied. The Hebrew reads

...... Eve mother (construct state) alive (adjective accusative), (literally "...Eve mother of [those] alive").

I'm not clear  why "alive" is not in the genitive and why it is an adjective at all, as opposed to a noun. I am sure someone else will know. May be there is the implication of an implied pronoun, i.e. "those" which is just omitted.

It is interesting that the Hebrew word for "alive" ("ḥay") is the same word used for God himself being alive, as well as being used for animate life. So there is a connotation of spiritual life, as well as animal life, in the word.

Actually, there is a verb - but because it's Qal perfect feminine singular, it has exactly the same form as an adjective.

On this page is a complete breakdown of each individual verse in Genesis 3.
https://dailydoseofhebrew.com/genesis-3/
There's a detailed analysis of the question of translating the verb here ("was" or "would become"). As often in Hebrew, there's ambiguity and either translation (or both!) may be correct.

Hebrew doesn't have time-specific tenses, unlike most European languages. So the same verb can indeed mean "was" and "will be" - it all depends on the context.
https://dailydoseofhebrew.com/genesis-3/
"The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him, but His great anger is on all who forsake Him." (Ezra 8:22)

Offline eik

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Re: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2021, 11:44:09 AM »
Actually, there is a verb - but because it's Qal perfect feminine singular, it has exactly the same form as an adjective.

On this page is a complete breakdown of each individual verse in Genesis 3.
https://dailydoseofhebrew.com/genesis-3/
There's a detailed analysis of the question of translating the verb here ("was" or "would become"). As often in Hebrew, there's ambiguity and either translation (or both!) may be correct.

Hebrew doesn't have time-specific tenses, unlike most European languages. So the same verb can indeed mean "was" and "will be" - it all depends on the context.
My bad. I was mistakenly looking at the reverse interliner, not the interlinear.
https://dailydoseofhebrew.com/genesis-3/

Offline strobe

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Re: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2021, 05:28:01 PM »
Thank you for your replies. So would either of you favour one translation over the other? The difference is rather crucial to some of my understanding of the creation narrative.
To me, it seems to be saying, at the fall Eve became the mother of all living so there must have been people alive at the time other than her and her husband.
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Offline eik

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Re: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2021, 10:00:33 AM »
Thank you for your replies. So would either of you favour one translation over the other? The difference is rather crucial to some of my understanding of the creation narrative.
To me, it seems to be saying, at the fall Eve became the mother of all living so there must have been people alive at the time other than her and her husband.
To me Gen 3:20 is not related to the fall, but to the matter that Adam was the first man in the image of God, i.e. who could converse spiritually with God. Eve was to be the progenitor of a race of spiritual men in the type of Adam. The Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon shows that Eve's name is derived from a root word ḥāva meaning "to live, to breath out, to declare, to make known." That is, God himself would be revealed in and by Eve's descendants.

So this allows for other homosapiens to have been in existence. I think it is a mistake to see Gen 2 as about the scientific evolution of the human race, although it is historical in the sense that Adam was a potentate on earth in the region of Eden (an actual place between the Mediterranean and Caspian Sea), and not just some aboriginal spearman in a wilderness.

Offline Deborah

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Re: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2021, 02:33:05 PM »
Thank you for your replies. So would either of you favour one translation over the other? The difference is rather crucial to some of my understanding of the creation narrative.
To me, it seems to be saying, at the fall Eve became the mother of all living so there must have been people alive at the time other than her and her husband.

I don't think it's possible to favour either of the alternatives on purely linguistic/grammatical grounds. As so often, the translator has to go with which makes the best sense (which will factor in your assumptions as to how the text should be interpreted). And whichever you go for, you still need to be aware of the ambiguity.
"The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him, but His great anger is on all who forsake Him." (Ezra 8:22)

Offline davetaff

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Re: Genesis 3:20 The mother of all living
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2021, 05:21:44 PM »
Hi strobe
Looking at the big picture and the last Adam Jesus Christ his Eve the church is the mother of all those who will inherit eternal life so is God trying to tell us something in Genesis.

Love and Peace
Dave

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