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Perhaps someone can explain why some translations of Genesis 3:8 refer to the "voice of the Lord" walking in the garden, and others simply state "the Lord."

KJV

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

Jubilee 2000

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Word English Bible

They heard the voice of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.


Now, compare those to:

NIV

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

ESV

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Possible that some translations are referencing the Memra of the Lord (as seen in the Aramaic Targum)? http://juchre.org/articles/word.htm

8

Perhaps someone can explain why some translations of Genesis 3:8 refer to the "voice of the Lord" walking in the garden, and others simply state "the Lord."

The difference at hand is between:

the voice of the LORD (KJV, etc.)

and

the sound of the LORD" (NIV, etc.).

The translators of the NIV and ESV presumably thought that "voice" was not an appropriate descriptor in English of the sound (Heb. qôl) that one (deity or otherwise) creates in the act of walking, and no speech of YHWH’s is yet reported in this verse.

The Hebrew qôl has a broader semantic range than voice and can refer to sounds more generally. It is commonly used to describe (non-human) natural phenomena:

sound: of instrument ... thunder-clap or peal ... stamping of hoofs ... of chariots ... of sea, and great waters ... earthquake ... a fall ... of a multitude ... din of war ... of wings ... flame ... crackling of thorns ... rustling of leaves ... millstones (excerpted from BDB, qôl)

For the most part, none of the above would normally be given a “voice” in prosaic English. The NIV and ESV were attempting to avoid confusion.1


1. It's (arguably) possible to read the syntax a bit differently: "the-voice-of / the-LORD-who-was-walking....", i.e. with the word qôl in a so-called "bound" construction with a relative clause which has as its subject YHWH. If this is accepted, the word "voice" no longer needs to describe the sound of the activity of walking as it otherwise seems to in our English translations. Regardless, the text does not tell us whether YHWH spoke prior to v. 9, and the term qôl is perfectly capable of describing non-verbal auditory stimuli.

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  • Good dictionaries distinguish between literal and figurative meanings. The literal meaning of "qol" is "voice". It comes from the verb "to speak". – fdb Dec 14 '15 at 20:48
  • @fdb Fair enough, but do you disagree that it's used more broadly than the English "voice"? – Susan Dec 14 '15 at 20:50
  • I think it depends on the register of English that you are using. You could find lots of quotations from good English authors which use "voice" figuratively. – fdb Dec 14 '15 at 20:55
  • 2
    Right, my reference to “prosaic” was attempting to get at that. In my own vernacular, though, in this context I would read “the voice of the LORD walking in the garden” (KJV) and assume that the reference was to his speech, which I’m not sure it is meant to be. – Susan Dec 14 '15 at 21:00

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