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I have encountered the word פַּעַם before, specifically, in my textbook,1 and saw it translated as "time" or "occurrence". My textbook also noted that the word can mean "once". But in this specific usage, I struggle to come up with a good translation, as the previous choices don't fit.

וַיֹּאמֶר֮ הָֽאָדָם֒ זֹ֣את הַפַּ֗עַם עֶ֚צֶם מֵֽעֲצָמַ֔י וּבָשָׂ֖ר מִבְּשָׂרִ֑י לְזֹאת֙ יִקָּרֵ֣א אִשָּׁ֔ה כִּ֥י מֵאִ֖ישׁ לֻֽקֳחָה־זֹּֽאת׃

And the man said, "This is bone of my bones, and flesh from my flesh. For this it will be called woman, because from a man this was taken."

(Gn 2:23)

The above translation neglects הַפַּ֗עַם. How would you take it into account?

1 The First Hebrew Primer

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The literal translation of הַפַּעַם is "the time." Like the word הַיּוׂם which means both "the day" and "today" (e.g. Deut. 6:6), it can also mean "this time" even without the word זׂאת to modify it. This might leave some ambiguity as to the meaning of the words: זֹאת הַפַּעַם could be "this (woman) this time" or "this time."

Some of the English versions have it as "this is now" (KJV, NIV) or "this at last" (NRSV). This seems to go back to the Greek which uses the word νυν ("now"), which, according to this (quoting Thayer's lexicon) is usually the translation of עַתָּה. Apparently, these choose to translate it as "this (woman) this time."

Aramaic translations, however, choose to translate it as "this time" (Targum הדא זמנא, Syr. ܗܢܐ ܙܒܢܐ). (This could be related to the fact that this structure (where הדא/הדין preceded the noun, like "this" in English) was common in Aramaic (unlike Biblical Hebrew).

In any case, the word הַפַּעַם stresses something special about this time. God had brought all of the animals to the man to find a helper (עֵזֶר) for him. He named all of them, but found no helper (2:19-20). So now, when God brings him the woman who was created from his own flesh, he says that this time he found the helper, woman.

  • Thanks for the helpful answer! Hope to see more posts from you. – ktm5124 Oct 5 '17 at 2:43
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Unfortunately, Genesis 2:23 is not translatable in a single verse. It is so compact and laden with irony, subtle humor, and multiple meanings.

The choice that you make for translating הפעם depends on which nuance of the verse you think is most important.

If you read with the MT's readers marks (taamim), as does the targum attributed to Onkelos, and Rashi, then the reading is something like

And the person [adam] said, "This time, a bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh..."

similar to the use of הפעם in Judges 15:3 and Genesis 29:35.

If you read against the MT's readers marks, as does the targum attributed to Jonathan ben Uziel and the Sforno and some modern translations like the Cambridge New English Bible, then the reading is something like:

And the person [adam] said "This [the woman], at last, is a bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh..."

similar to the use of הפעם in Genesis 46:30 and Judges 16:18.

The MT reading makes it sound like Adam is saying "This time God got it right...", which makes Adam sound impudent and is ironic in juxtaposition with Adam blaming God in Genesis 3:12, "The woman that you gave me for a companion...". This appears to be a caustic comment about the way men commonly view women; bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, until something goes wrong, and then the woman and God are to blame.

Another problem with the MT reading is why Adam says "this time" at all. To what previous times is Adam referring? Rashi, who reads with the MT, answers this by referring to verse 20, and explaining (based on Midrashic sources,1) that Adam had tried to mate, unsuccessfully, with all of the animals prior God bringing Eve to him. This fanciful midrash is supported by the language of "bringing to" in verse 22, which is suggestive of the Hebrew euphemism for a meeting with a mating partner.

Other commentators following the targum of Jonathan ben Uziel suggest that the "this time" refers to the means of creation of Eve, that this time she was created from a person's (Adam's) rib, but next time an thereafter women would be created by normal procreation.

The reading against the MT reader's marks, in which זאת (this) refers to Eve, rather than "this time", gives הפעם the meaning of "at last". This reading makes Adam's apparent joy with his companion humorous or silly, in view of the events that are about to happen and Adam's sudden denial of responsibility.

Either way that you read the verse, הפעם is key to understanding the irony of the message.


1. Recorded in Babylonian Talmud tractate Yevamoth page 63 side a.

  • Thanks for the answer! Very helpful and informative. It was very difficult to decide which to accept. – ktm5124 Oct 5 '17 at 2:42

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