In Gen. 6:3, the Hebrew text states,
ג וַיֹּאמֶר יַהְוֶה לֹא יָדוֹן רוּחִי בָאָדָם לְעֹלָם בְּשַׁגַּם הוּא בָשָׂר וְהָיוּ יָמָיו מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה
which the King James Version translates into English as follows,
3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. KJV, 1769
Despite the variance in most English translations of Gen. 6:3, most consistently translate the Hebrew הוּא בָשָׂר as “he is flesh.” Adam was most certainly composed of flesh prior to Gen. 6:3, otherwise, he could not have said concerning Eve, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”1 Likewise, his descendants were all composed of flesh, for they died, just as men do today.
I wondered, then, if the Hebrew does not really concern man’s physical nature, but rather his ethical nature. As such, it would be understood as “he is carnal,” (“carnal”=adjective) rather than “he is flesh” (“flesh”=noun). As most know, the apostle Paul frequently uses the Greek word σαρκικός, an adjective related to the noun σάρξ (“flesh”), which the KJV translates into English as “carnal.” I did a brief search, but it does not appear that σαρκικός and related declensions ever occur in the LXX.
My question is this: is it possible to translate/understand the Hebrew הוּא בָשָׂר as “he is carnal (fleshly)”? What word or phrase would the Hebrew author have used to convey the idea of “he is carnal” if not הוּא בָשָׂר? Did biblical Hebrew have an adjective equivalent to “carnal”?
1 Gen. 2:23