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Young's Literal Translation

Is there not, if thou dost well, acceptance? and if thou dost not well, at the opening a sin-offering is crouching, and unto thee its desire, and thou rulest over it.'

New International Version

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."

Every translation says "sin" while YLT says "sin-offering". What is the justification for YLT?

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  • Terrible false translation by Young. This is why I don't use such translations, I still don't know why many are obsessed with it.
    – Michael16
    Jun 26, 2022 at 12:24

3 Answers 3

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In Gen 4:7, the operative word is חַטָּ֣את (Chatat), lexical form: חַטָּאָה (Chatta'ah) which means: "sin, sin-offering". That is, it means either:

  • Sin itself, Gen 18:20, 31:36, 50:17, Ex 10:17, 32:30, 34,, 34:7, 7, etc.
  • A sin offering, Ex 29:14, 36, 30:10, Lev 4:3, 8, 14, 20, 21, etc.

The context usually determines the correct meaning.

In Gen 4:7, sin is personified as a beast waiting to pounce on Cain unless he made appropriate safeguards to resist and keep the beast of sin away. That is, חַטָּאָה (Chatta'ah) is personified temptation.

I am at a loss to understand YLT translating "sin-offering" in this instance.

Cambridge commentary notes this:

sin coucheth] The meaning is, “and, if thou doest not well and cherishest evil in thy heart, then, remember, sin, like a savage wild beast, is lying in ambush ready to spring out upon you.”

Ellicott is more descriptive:

We have in this verse proof of a struggle in Cain’s conscience. Abel was evidently outstripping him in wealth; his flocks were multiplying, and possibly his younger brothers were attaching themselves to him in greater numbers than to Cain. Moreover, there was a more marked moral growth in him, and his virtue and piety were more attractive than Cain’s harsher disposition. This had led to envy and malice on the part of Cain, increased, doubtless, by the favour of God shown to Abel’s sacrifice; but he seems to have resisted these evil feelings. Jehovah would not have remonstrated thus kindly with him had he been altogether reprobate. Possibly, too, for a time he prevailed over his evil tempers. It is a gratuitous assumption that the murder followed immediately upon the sacrifice. The words of the Almighty rather show that repentance was still possible, and that Cain might still recover the Divine favour, and thereby regain that pre-eminence which was his by right of primogeniture, but which he felt that he was rapidly losing by Abel’s prosperity and more loving ways.

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I answered this particular question within another thread response: so editors feel free to link it. Here is part of what I wrote there:

  1. "Hattat" as a root term can refer to "sin" (182 times) or "sin-offering" (116 times) in the OT. See "hattat" for "sin-offering" in Leviticus 4:3, 8, 14,20.

  2. "Hattat", whether translated as "sin" or "sin-offering", is a Hebrew feminine noun.

  3. The gender discrepancy between the "hattat" feminine noun and the following masculine pronouns that refer to it can be explained if the intended audience for this story were Isrealites familiar with Leviticus 4 on sin-offerings ("hattat"). Lev 4 states if the sinner was a priest (Leviticus 4:1-12), the congregation as a whole (Leviticus 4:13-21), or a ruler (Leviticus 4:22-26), a male sacrificial animal (masculine singular) was to be their sin-offering (hattat = feminine singular). The priest brought a bullock (masculine singular), the congregation brought a bullock (masculine singular), and the ruler brought a male kid goat (masculine singular). In all these cases, the term for sin-offering (hattat) remained in the femninine singular form but all subsequent pronouns referring to that offering changed to the masculine singular form to be consistent with the actual sex of the animal offered (Leviticus 4:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26). Here are two verses from that chapter with that explicit juxtaposition, Leviticus 4:21 "He (masculine singular) is a sin-offering (hattat - feminine singular) for the assembly" and Leviticus 4:24 "He (masculine singular) is a sin-offering (hattat - feminine singular)". Thus, there is no legitimate problem regarding the gender discrepancy if the hattat is translated as a sin-offering which aligns a feminine noun with masculine pronouns.

  4. The above then implies Cain is either a priest or ruler. Ruler is more likely as the verb for "rule" (mashal) ends the Genesis 4:7 verse, a ruler must rule. The moral question is how.

  5. In neither thread did I answer the identity of the door, will wait for a question on that to arise.

The question title for that other thread was:(Genesis 4:7) What is Cain Ruling Over? Sin? The Door?

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God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door of his flesh, but that he must have self control over it to overcome Satan.

Sin is like a demon crouching at the door of your body. Jesus said that when we sweep our body clean of a demon, more return in its place to assail our flesh and drag us back into darkness.

We must deny ourselves and walk in the Spirit of God by putting on Christ to prevent any unclean spiritual demons any control over our bodies which are loaded with sin and death.

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