Genesis 3:1 says

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made...

[The New King James Version. (1982). (Ge 3:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.]

In English, if God created the serpent, one would have to say, "Now the serpent was more cunning than any other beast..." Without specifically saying, "other", it would imply that the serpent was not a beast of the field which the LORD God had made.

As I don't know Hebrew, I'm wondering if Hebrew grammar works the same way where you would have to include the word "other." Does the lack of the word "other" imply that the serpent was not created by God, does it imply that it is simply not a "beast of the field," or does Hebrew grammar simply not require "other"?

  • Even in modern English it is not mandatory to use any other instead of simply any, let alone in King James' or Shakespeare's time. This question would probably have been better fitted elsewhere. – Lucian Feb 5 '19 at 2:01
  • @Lucian, English does require any other (see this question), but this question was more about whether Hebrew does or doesn't. That's why I asked it here. – ElliotThomas Feb 5 '19 at 17:37

It is a reasonable conclusion based on the English translation, but it is not justifiable by the Hebrew. The fact is, the biblical Hebrew authors didn’t need to include the Hebrew word אַחֵר (“other”) when making such comparisons.

Consider the example of Jacob and Esau (the two sons of Rebekah and Isaac) in Genesis 25:22–23.

22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it be so, why am I thus?” And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. KJV, ©1769

For the English phrase “and the one people shall be stronger than the other people,” the Hebrew text states, וּלְאֹם מִלְאֹם יֶאֱמָץ—which is literally, “and a people shall be stronger than a people.” The KJV italicizes “the one” and “the other,” indicating that the Hebrew text of Genesis 25:23 lacks such an equivalent. Nevertheless, the KJV’s interpretation of the Hebrew is quite appropriate.

  • 2
    Another example (with even more closely parallel wording) is in Numbers 12:3: "Moses was more humble than any man" doesn't mean Moses wasn't a man – b a Jan 22 '19 at 11:14

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