I have tried to catch the meaning and nuances of 'leaders' 'captains' 'princes' and the like in the development of Israel's nationhood for many years. Is the preposition 'over' implicit in the original Hebrew or is that the result of reading our 'Gentile power structures' back into the text?

Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. (Genesis 1:16 NKJV) rule H4475 מֶמְשָׁלָה memshalah

and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:18 NKJV)

¶ To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 NKJV) rule H4910 מָשַׁל mashal

The NET seems particularly harsh here. ¶ To the woman he said, ¶ “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” (Genesis 3:16 NET)

1 Answer 1


They are 3 different Hebrew words in Genesis for the idea of ruling over.

New International Version Genesis 1:

16 God made two great lights--the greater light to govern [H4475] the day and the lesser light to govern [H4475] the night. He also made the stars. 17God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern [H4910] the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.

to rule
לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת (lə·mem·še·leṯ)
Preposition-l | Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's 4475: Rule, a realm, a ruler

Genesis 3:16

To the woman he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule [H4910] over you."

{will} rule
יִמְשָׁל־ (yim·šāl-)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's 4910: To rule, have dominion, reign

over you.”
בָּֽךְ׃ (bāḵ)
Preposition | second person feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew no number

Is the preposition 'over' implicit in the original Hebrew?

The preposition is explicit in Hebrew as a prefix to the noun.



1 human subject,rule, have dominion over ...

2 of heavenly bodies, with בְּ Genesis 1:18.

3 of God, with בְּ

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule [H7287] over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

to rule
וְיִרְדּוּ֩ (wə·yir·dū)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Conjunctive imperfect - third person masculine plural
Strong's 7287: To tread down, subjugate, to crumble off

over the fish
בִדְגַ֨ת (ḇiḏ·ḡaṯ)
Preposition-b | Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's 1710: A fish

  • The question does acknowledge that they are two different words. It's not obvious what the actual question is though, but I think it's about the word "over", as asked in the second sentence. Interestingly, the corresponding Hebrew word "בָּךְ׃" doesn't seem to be defined in the places I usually look. Commented May 26, 2021 at 18:11
  • Thank you Ray, Yes, I am aware that there are two words here, so I am also trying to find 'definitions' based on biblical usage for these words. I am familiar with the way in which Reformed writers focus on the changing relationship of Adam and Eve, but I can't get a 'feel' for what this change really does.
    – Ron Bailey
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 18:38
  • Good point. I added.
    – user35953
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 18:39

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