If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? (Gen. 4:7 KJV). This is the only time this Hebrew word is translated as "accepted" and I'm looking for some justification for doing so.


It is related to the verb נָשָׂא and used in antithesis to נָפְלוּ פָנֶיךָ in v. 6. It basically means “lifting up” or “rising.” That is, “If you do well, won’t there be a lifting up [of your face]?”—as opposed to a falling (cf. v. 5). The phrase “of your face” (פָנֶיךָ) is supplied by ellipsis from v. 5.

Keil wrote,1

“Why art thou wroth, and why is thy countenance fallen?” The answer to this is given in the further question, “Is there not, if thou art good, a lifting up” (sc., of the countenance)? It is evident from the context, and the antithesis of falling and lifting up (נפל and נשׂא), that פּנים must be supplied after שׂאת.


1 p. 111–112


Keil, Carl Friedrich. Commentary on the Old Testament. 1900. Reprint. Trans. Martin, James. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.

  • 1
    Thank you for that, but then why isn't it translated as "happy" or the opposite of a "falling face." The word "accepted" is passive and seems to shift the meaning to being accepted by someone. In otherwords I can't square the Hebrew with the English, in spite of your helpful insight.
    – Joseph O.
    Dec 29 '18 at 17:34
  • @JosephO.—You're right. I was being a bit too kind in my critique of the translation. Dec 29 '18 at 17:50
  • Here' a Jewish translation: "Surely, if you do right, There is uplift. But if you do not do right Sin couches at the door; Its urge is toward you, Yet you can be its master.” Jewish Publication Society. (1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Ge 4:7). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
    – Perry Webb
    Dec 30 '18 at 21:50
  • @PerryWebb ”There is uplift” - is that proper English? Dec 30 '18 at 22:20

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