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Genesis 9:5 begins:

"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. (NIV)
"Surely I will require your lifeblood;" (NASB)
"And surely your blood of your lives will I require;" (KJV)

The Pulpit Commentary says:

Will I require. Literally, search after, with a view to punishment; hence avenge.

The Message says: "But your own lifeblood I will avenge".

If I understand the commentaries correctly, the Hebrew word used in Gen 9:5 is the same as the word used in Gen 42:22, but "avenge" doesn't seem the best word for that context.

Is the Message rendering of Gen 9:5 an acceptable alternative to the NIV/NASB/KJV?

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1 Answer 1

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Yes, the Hebrew used for 'I will require' (אֶדְרֹ֔שׁ) can mean I will 'avenge'. The root meaning of the word דָּרַשׁ is 'to beat' or 'trample' and is used variously in the scripture to convey the idea of 'seeking', 'inquire', 'ask for' and 'demand', etc. It is where sin is being recompensed with judgment as God seeks restitution for a crime that 'avenge' fits well. God 'inquires' who is responsible for a crime 'beating a path' to the culprit. Then he seeks recompense for the crime.

The root (דָּרַשׁ) is explained by The Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon:

TO RUB, TO BEAT, TO TREAD, TO TRAMPLE with the feet, like the Syriac ܕܪܰܫ to tread or beat a path; Arab. درس to rub, to thresh [Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures.]

Lexicons recognise that avenge can be meant:

ask for, require, demand, c. acc. rei Ez 20:40; + מִן pers. Dt 23:22 Mi 6:8; exact, often with collat. idea of avenging, מֵעִם Dt 18:19, so with מִיַּד Ez 34:10, דָּרַשׁ דָּם מִיַּד Gn 9:5 (P) Ez 33:6; acc. only, דֹּרֵשׁ דמים ψ 9:13, ד׳ רִשְׁעוֹ 10:15; abs. v 4, 13 2 Ch 24:22. [Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon]

And another example:

to require (someone’s blood, life) Gn 95 Ps 913, מִיַּד Ezk 3410; God requires Ezk 2040 Mi 68 (מִן), cj. Ps 204 (rd. יִדְרְשֶׁנָּה); to require account Ps 104.13 2C 2422, with מֵעִם Dt 1819 2322, רֶשַׁע of the wickedness Ps 1015; with עַל to avenge upon 2C 246 3231; [Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. J., & Stamm, J. J. (1999). The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament. Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill.]

The word (דָּרַשׁ) is found in these passages as well, which is translated as 'avenge' in the ESV:

22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!” [The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Ch 24:22)]

12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. [The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 9:12)]

The LXX translates Genesis 9:5 with the Greek word (ἐκζητήσω) which is also used to translate avenge (וְנִקֵּ֖יתִי) in Joel 3:21

καὶ ἐκζητήσω τὸ αἷμα αὐτῶν καὶ ⌜οὐ μὴ⌝ ἀθῳώσω, καὶ Κύριος κατασκηνώσει ἐν Σειών (Joel 3:21 Tan, R. K., deSilva, D. A., & Hoogendyk, I. (2012). The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint: H.B. Swete Edition ,Vol. 3, p. 44)

ESV

I will avenge their blood, blood I have not avenged, for the LORD dwells in Zion.” [The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Joe 3:21)]

וְנִקֵּ֖יתִי דָּמָ֣ם לֹֽא־נִקֵּ֑יתִי וַֽיהוָ֖ה שֹׁכֵ֥ן בְּצִיּֽוֹן׃ [Van der Merwe, C. (2004). The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible ,Joe 4:21]

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