I noticed that the phrase "surely die" in Genesis 2:17 is different from 1 Kings 2:42

Look at the hebrew letters in both of them (I found it kinda difficult to copy past them here):



They are not exactly the same. Does that change their meaning? Or do both of them stil mean the same thing as the english translation?

  • 2
    Try changing 'interlinear' to 'text' in the URL. Thank me later. Mar 13, 2018 at 18:57
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    The words look exactly the same. We have מות תמות in both verses, with the same vowels. Where's the problem?
    – TK929
    Mar 13, 2018 at 19:02
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    Well, for example, in Genesis the left-most character of the word "die" is a semi-colon looking thing. And the vowels are slightly different in 3th character from the left.
    – WatchHat
    Mar 13, 2018 at 19:05
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    @WatchHat those are cantillation signs/notes, not vowelization/letters. While the cantillation notes are sometimes used to break up phrases, here they would not change the meaning.
    – user22655
    Mar 14, 2018 at 3:53
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    @רבותמחשבות - that sounds like the start of a good answer... Mar 16, 2018 at 21:33

1 Answer 1


Firstly, welcome to BH and thanks for the question!

In this case, although there are some visual differences, they do have the exact same Hebrew terms.

In Hebrew, the vowels are called Nikkud or Nekudot, and they play a very significant role in how we understand (and translate) a word. The Nekudot here are identical. You can see a list of Nekudot here. However, the Te'amim, or Cantillation notes are different. You can see a list here.

In Genesis 2:17, the verse shows:

מ֥וֹת תָּמֽוּת

In 1 Kings 2:42:

מ֣וֹת תָּמ֑וּת

There are 2 visible differences between these, the sign under the first letter (if we read right-to-left, the direction that Hebrew text is read in), and the sign under the third to last letter. Both are differences in the Te'amim (and you are welcome to match them up to the list linked above).

Some notes:

  • It should be noted that Te'amim can sometimes have an impact on the translation of the words, as they also show how to "break up" terms, as well as how to pronounce them, which can also change the tense of the words (past/present/future).
  • Technically speaking, this term does not technically mean "surely die", but rather both Hebrew words are from the root of death. (See Young's literal translation here.) See here for a nice explanation of this phenomenon.

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