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In Genesis 3:12, is the underlying Hebrew word, translated into English as "with me" (in the KJV), supposed to be Strong's H5978 as the HCSB and HiSB suggests, or Strong's H5973 as the KJV suggests?

Hebrew text:

וַיֹּאמֶר הָֽאָדָם הָֽאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה עִמָּדִי הִוא נָֽתְנָה־לִּי מִן־הָעֵץ וָאֹכֵֽל

English translation (KJV):

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest [to be] with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Should the underlying Hebrew word (in bold) translate into English as "with" as in "accompanying," or "with" as in "belonging to me" (cp. NLT, ISV)?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Function of "with me" in this phrase

The phrase הָֽאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה עִמָּדִי follows the relative pronoun (אֲשֶׁר), which is modifying the woman (הָֽאִשָּׁה ); and the verb (נָתַתָּה ) is 2nd person, God is the subject. In comparison with other uses in Genesis of this form (עִמָּדִי ), about half of which follow the relative pronoun, it appears that the emphasis of the verb is usually on a superiors action "with me". The place of "with me" appears to indicate the passive involvement or inclusion of the "me" in the action of verb of the superior as in Gen 29:19( אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲבֹד עִמָּדִי) cf. also "do with me steadfast love" (Gen 47:29). I.e., "with me" functions like an indirect object.

Looking at the verb and its meaning

Then, the question really becomes about the verb "thou gavest" in its use with God as the subject, the woman as the object of the verb and the man as the indirect object.

Having looked at all uses of נָתַתָּה in the pentateuch, I find the closest use cases to be in verses indicative of harvest blessing given to the people from the LORD, and the land itself given to the people by the LORD. An example of this use is found in Deut 26:10: וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה הֵבֵאתִי אֶת־רֵאשִׁית פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה **אֲשֶׁר־נָתַתָּה לִּי** יְהוָה וְהִנַּחְתֹּו לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוִיתָ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃; and another very close use is in Gen. 15:3, "you have given me no descendent" (לִי לֹא נָתַתָּה זָרַע). Gen 15:3 (just cited) is the only (other) place in the Pentateuch where a person is also indicated as gift.

It may also be reasoned that the source of the gift, "the giver" is really the benefactor to which everything belongs, when that "giver" is God.

I think it is interesting that most of the verb form's usage is in Exodus, in passages about the construction of the Tabernacle (ie, Ex 26:33, "you are to hang this curtain underneath the clasps" (וְנָתַתָּה אֶת־הַפָּרֹכֶת תַּחַת הַקְּרָסִים). This usage is really not like the one you mention. But it does flesh out the range of use we've already indicated.

Conclusion: beautiful accompaniment (?)

In light of the above, I would view "with me" as being closer to the interpretation "accompanying me" than "belonging to me". The woman is the greatest gift to man, a blessing, she is a person.

I find it an interesting thought of how the curtains were "given" in their places; and would be inclined to take up such an image in my mind of the woman. The woman who blesses man with a beauty and completeness, without which he himself is merely what we call today, "a tool".

Unfortunately, Adam gave fallen man his chief example of failing to be a good husband; he casts blame on the wife whom God had given him. In that light, Adam probably wasn't thinking she was all that beautiful at the time. He would not have been wanting any more responsibility for his wife here, so that weighs against interpreting "belonging to me".

Rather, it is God who gave him this woman, and right now, he is just the victim in his own complaint, as 3:12 continues - "she gave it from the tree to me and I ate it!"

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Can you say something about עִמָּדִי versus אםי (the word I would have expected for "with me") or אִתִּי (since it seems to be a direct object)? –  Gone Quiet Apr 2 '13 at 19:25
    
That's a good comment. Looking at עִמָּדִי versus אִתִּי in Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB), perhaps the former has more to do with spatial nearness, where as the later has more to do with relational nearness in differing contexts. That could shed further light on the answer I have written. Or, perhaps the distribution of usage changes across the books of the Hebrew Scriptures, I haven't looked at that. –  Qoheleth-Tech Apr 2 '13 at 19:26
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@MonicaCellio: I noticed the ה at the end of נָתַתָּה. That's not the actual 2ms form. It has a pronominal suffix at the end of it. The regular form is נתת. But, consider Deut. 26:10: הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר־נָתַתָּה לִּי ("of the land which You gave to me"). The feminine suffix at the end of נָתַתָּה corresponds back to הָאֲדָמָה. So, it is redundant, but that's Hebrew. Literally, it says, "...of the land which you gave it to me." We wouldn't say that in English, but it's a Semiticism. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Apr 2 '13 at 22:49
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Just butting in: As far as I know, 'immi and 'immadi are synonymous prepositions from עם, (the root is actually ayin-mem-mem), with a 1s suffix. The dalet is a prolonging form with no semantic value (that I know of) - similar to the energic nun (that gets inserted in forms like mimmeka instead of mimkha). If anything it's possibly for prosodic value, i.e. more syllables. נָתַתָּה is, as noted, the 2ms of n.t.n. "to give". The qametz-he is NOT a 3fs suffix - if so it would have a mappiq (diacritic dot) to indicate that. In this case it is simply a scribal oddity of an extra mater lectionis. –  Noam Sienna Apr 3 '13 at 2:41
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Well, that's a different situation because the base verb is וַיִּקַח, and so the הָ is clearly a suffix. A mappiq is only used in ambivalent situations as a differentiation to indicate that a final ה is to be pronounced - as in, for example, אַרְצָהּ, "her land", vs. אַרְצָה, "to the land". Joüon does list a few examples of "3rd f. ה without mappiq" as "rare forms with suffixes" but I do not believe this is one of them. –  Noam Sienna Apr 3 '13 at 2:59

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