Most commentators indicate that the words "with her" are an inaccurate rendering. Please resolve the conflicting opinions on the phrase "with her".

When God addressed Adam In Genesis 3:17 He did not indicate that Adam listened (shama) to the serpent but to His wife's voice. The Hebrew word "shama" (8085) seems to indicate that Adam could not have been present when the serpent tempted Eve.

Could someone more learned in Hebrew comment on the specific definition of the word "shama".

[Gen 3:6 NIV] 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

[Gen 3:17 NIV] 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

  • The word in Hebrew is 'immah "with her" and it is indeed hard to translate it otherwise. (Incidentally, it's the same root you might recognize in Immanuel.) The difficult part would be how it fits in the sentence. Two possibilities suggest themselves: we can read an implied copula and get "[who was] with her", or we can read "with her he ate" -- but the cantillation marks suggest that the Masoretes at least didn't read it this way (and I would say it's a less likely order in Biblical Hebrew too). Dec 26, 2018 at 15:42
  • Actually, I suppose one more reading would be "as well as her", but I don't know if there's precedent. Others save Adam by saying he arrived just at this moment. His being there would certainly alter our perspective, though, eh? Yet there are old readings of this episode that assign the ultimate blame to Adam for not overruling the woman in some kind of hierarchical understanding of gender, so perhaps he hasn't always been imagined to be absent. Dec 26, 2018 at 15:42
  • I asked because as the "last Adam" Christ's sacrifice was to redeem the bride. Similarly the "first Adam" could have (in one senario) partaken to prevent Eve's death or make a way for Her to be redeemed. The words "with her" seem to be pivotal.
    – brmicke
    Dec 26, 2018 at 16:03
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    interesting. Even though Eve gave Adam the fruit, Paul says Adam was culpable — which is consistent with his being absent if he recognized the fruit or knew better than to take a risk. Paul also says that Adam was not deceived but Eve was (1 Tim. 2). If he was with her yet wasn't deceived, he would have to have seen through the serpent but be willing to sin. (Interestingly, Milton in Paradise Lost resolves it by having Adam's fault start when he accepts Eve's suggestion to split up at all, and when Eve comes back with the fruit, Adam knowingly opts to be damned with her out of love!) Dec 26, 2018 at 16:46
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    Can you provide an example of an English Bible version that has such footnotes stating that “with her” is an inaccurate translation? Dec 26, 2018 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


In Gen 3:6 "with her" is a valid translation of the Hebrew word צמה (om-e). The issue here is what does this mean? I have discussed this with a number of people and some are certain that it means "beside her"; that is, standing next to her during the conversation with the serpent. However, while such a meaning is possible or even probable, it is not essential.

The word occurs numerous times in the OT.

  • Meaning immediately beside as during sex Gen 30:16, 39:10, Ex 22:16, Deut 22:23, 25, 28, 29, 2 Sam 11:4, 2 Sam 12:24.
  • Meaning near enough to be part of a conversation Judges 13:9, Ruth 1:7(?), 1 Sam 1:24 (?).
  • Meaning in the general company of but not immediately beside Ex 18:6, Ruth 1:22, 1 Kings 3:17, Est 2:13, Prov 10:22.

Thus, "with her" does not have to be "beside her". Thus, the Gen 3:6 could mean either that Adam was standing immediately beside Eve, or, he was in the garden somewhere but far enough away not to part of the conversation.

My personal preference is for the latter (ie, not immediately beside) for two reasons: (a) the conversation between Eve and the serpent completely excludes Adam, and (b) Eve took some fruit and gave it to Adam as if he were a little distance from her. However, one cannot be dogmatic here.

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