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Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Is this, the command here to leave father and mother, predicated on leaving when joining a wife or is it a separable expression of God's general will for a man reaching adulthood in preparation for joining a wife?

Is the implication of this verse that God's general will (allowing for exceptional circumstances of course) is that people only leave their parents household or domain of responsibility once they are married?

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  • I don't understand the question. Can you clarify please?
    – Rajesh
    Dec 31, 2021 at 17:18
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    There is nothing in the text that would indicate leaving a father and a mother other than to marry.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 31, 2021 at 17:28
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    Exactly, the whole point of marrying is so that you can loyally cling to the person you're marrying. If you leave your parents and you don't marry anyone, who are you supposed to cling to?
    – Rajesh
    Dec 31, 2021 at 17:47
  • @Nigel, perhaps you may leave Father and Mother as a marriageable man and prepare you life for a potential wife he may find and marry. I'm just curious if this is a possible implication or conversely is it God's general design is that a man never leaves his parents household unless he is married?
    – Austin
    Dec 31, 2021 at 18:05
  • @nigelj, please see edit.
    – Austin
    Dec 31, 2021 at 18:16

1 Answer 1

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The translation is very misleading.

The Massoretic text (MT) is:

על כן יעזב איש את אביו ואת אמו ודבק באשתו והיו לבשר אחד

The first to words על כן mean "For that (reason)" or "That's why". In Hebrew they convey no sense of obligation or judgement like "Therefore" does ("Therefore you must...)".

The verb יעזב is mistranslated as a third person future with the unfortunate use of "shall" (as in "shall"/"shall not", which has no counterpart in the Hebrew text), but it is in fact an indefinite form that refers to men leaving home to marry in the past, present and future.

So the meaning of this verse to someone who is literate in classical Hebrew is:

That's why a man leaves his father and mother and sticks with his wife and they become one body."

There is no hint of any obligation or commandment in the Hebrew of this verse. This verse explains that the reason for a man leaving his father and mother is given in the previous verse.

In general you can't draw inferences or implications from translations. The translations give you only a general idea of the meaning of the text. To draw the inferences you really need to have a good understanding of the language of the original text.

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  • I would say the translation is misleading only to someone who is either not a native english speaker and has no idea what "therefore" means in the english language, or someone who has enormous difficulties with reading comprehension even if they are a native speaker. E.g. your translation is exactly the same as the original translation.
    – Robert
    Aug 9, 2022 at 8:07
  • NIV translates as:"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" Nov 19, 2022 at 22:07
  • @IanRingrose Except that the Hebrew doesn't say "united", it says "sticks to", דבק. The NIV is translating using common English usage , but that's very far from the meaning of the Hebrew. The meaning of ''davel'', "sticks to" is more like "adheres to". The word carries no connotation of being united. Nov 19, 2022 at 22:27

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