Genesis 4:1 states:

וְהָאָדָם, יָדַע אֶת-חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ; וַתַּהַר, וַתֵּלֶד אֶת-קַיִן, וַתֹּאמֶר, קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת-יְהוָה.

And Adam knew (אֶת־) Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare (אֶת־) Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from (אֶת־) the Lord. (Genesis 4:1 KJV)

The same word appears to be repeated. The first and second times it is not translated, the third time it is. In addition the two are treated as a different word, as Strong's #853 and #854.

What is the difference between the two?

  • I don't have time now to answer but I thought I would share this article. Very thorough, insightful, and scholarly. taylorterzek.wordpress.com/research-projects/…
    – JLB
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 2:02
  • It is a fascinating question, and with the answer below, should be looked into further. There must be thousands of examples of this in the Old Testament. I wonder if the distinction is always made completely or correctly in translation. I wonder if there is any equivalent in the New. Well asked, well answered.
    – user22542
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 13:21

4 Answers 4


This is not the "same word" repeated and used in different ways. These are homonyms, i.e., two different words:

  • the first אֶת־ is the sign of the definite direct object (= I. אֵת at link -- as discussed in relation to Genesis 1), which is untranslatable -- there is no English equivalent. When suffixes are added to it, it has the form ʾōt- or ʾôt-.
  • the second אֶת־ is the preposition "with" (= II. אֵת at link); when suffixes are added to it, it has the form ʾitt-.

These are two different words. By way of analogy, the English word "rock" might be a helpful example:

  • "rock" as a noun ("stone, solid mineral", like granite) comes from Old French rocque; but
  • "rock" as a verb ("move from side-to-side") comes from Middle Dutch rucken.

They might look the same, but they have different origins and different meanings

  • 1
    Would you comment on the translation in the question, “from”? Seems a bit different from your answer + BDB II.1.a.: Exceptionally, = with the help of: Gn 4:1 for I have gotten a man אֶת־י׳ with the help of י׳. Also, I assume this had something to do with another recent question where ‘et seemed to mean.....kə.... In any case, the meaning of the preposition here doesn’t seem to be entirely settled among translations.
    – Susan
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:39
  • 1
    @Susan - Your last sentence is surely correct, and I take it "from" here is a quirk of the KJV. To my mind, the BDB II.1.a falls within acceptable semantic range: cf. Waltke-O'Connor, IBHS, 11.2.4, p. 195 + their example ##2-4. English e.g. "With a following wind, we made the crossing in record time." FWIW!
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:54
  • 1
    @David - Thank you. The rock example is very helpful. When speaking to different origins of the two, is this derived from the first use (Genesis 1:1 for the first and Genesis 4:1 for the second) or from the language in general? Also I was curious if the verse supports understanding what Eve said in the context of a theophany - as in the LORD assisting/teaching on the delivery of the baby? Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 5:18
  • @RevelationLad Glad that was some help. I'm not sure what you have in mind in asking about what it is "derived from", but of those options, I would take the latter ("language in general")! How the preposition "with" is best understood -- what nuance it conveys -- in Gen 4:1 is a difficult and even contested question. I expect you've seen this Q&A? There's yet more to be said on that front, but some helpful comment there already.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 9:18

My Hebrew isn't great but as far as I can tell

וַתֵּ֣לֶד is translated as 'bare' in The JKV not אֶת־ which is untranslated in our English versions as it is functioning as a direct object marker, its purpose is therefore to indicate that the following nominal is the direct object of the clause אֶת־קַ֔יִן (Cain)

Later on the verse the same word (אֵת) is acting as a preposition with the sense of 'with' or 'along side' אֶת־יְהוָֽה׃


I agree with David's answer, but would like to add some more information.

Yes, "This is not the "same word repeated and used in different way". As a matter of fact, both are not words at all, but two letters. And those letters are the "FIRST", and the "LAST". For as the answer states, it is found in Genesis 1:1, it is the "Aleph" and the "Tav". That is, the "First" and the "Last", or the Beginning and the End.

When read left to right, this is referring to two beings, the Son, "End", and the "Father", "Beginning". This Aleph and Tav is represented by two symbols, a person with their hands raised. Both symbols refer to the two MEN/beings WITH THEIR HANDS RAISED UP. This is the Echad of God, who is "Lord", Tav, and "God", Aleph. There are more to these two words that meets the eyes, or here, in Scriptures.

Source: Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible.

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    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 23:54
  • 1
    Hello, @EmmittCooper Due to the nature of this site, cite evidence (primary and secondary), sources or references could be required in order to support your conclusions. Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 6:57

And Adam knew (אֶת־) Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare (אֶת־) Cain, and said, I have gotten a man (אֶת־) the Lord. (Genesis 4:1 KJV)

The correct translation is : " I have begotten a man, Jehovah "

Eve believed that she had brought forth the Messiah Who would mortally wound the head of Satan. Yeshua HaMaschiach did do this on the cross but His mother would be Miriam. Cain's action(s) proved his mother Eve to be wrong, and Yeshua's actions proved His mother to be the promised Almah of Isaiah 7:14. The Harpazo of those who are born again is utterly imminent. John 3:3 and 3:16

  • 1
    Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site functions. You haven't addressed the question, "What is the meaning of אֶת־ in Genesis 4:1?" Your answer implies that you are suggesting both instances of the word are the same, which is at odds with James Strong who says they are different: the first a particle H853, and the second a preposition (H854). If you have evidence to contest his assessment, then you need to provide it.
    – enegue
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 22:05
  • In agreement with this answer. We shy away from what is the obvious meaning (that it is functioning as the accusative marker and is not to be translated, like the other preceding two occurrences in the very same verse) due to the implications. Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 0:27

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