Nigel J in answering a Question about Gen 3: 22 Translation said:

The big question is 'How does God live ? By the knowledge of good and evil ? '

This is answered by Young's Literal Translation (see his prefaces regarding the Waw conversive controversy)

Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil Gen 3:22. [YLT]

If the statement is rendered 'the man 'was' as one of us' then now he is no longer as one of us, he must be banished from the garden lends credence to the lie of the Serpent.

But God does not live by the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, man should not do so, either. Otherwise the lie of the serpent is truth.

However There is a Side that is missing, if we follow Young's then the "Was" should be applied to the both realities, a, That man has been one of us, b) that man had already known Good and Evil? How do we understand that?

How would we understand the phrase that Young translates that verse as?

And is this Translation correct? I would need answers from those with Hebrew understanding

Link to Nigels Quote Did the serpent lie in Genesis 3:5?

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    Not everything the serpent said was untrue - your question is based on the falcay that everything the serpent said was a lie. By eating the fruit, the serpent told them that they know good and evil - that is true - their innocence would vanish.
    – Dottard
    Nov 30, 2022 at 20:59
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    I have edited to indicate where Nigel J's quote starts, and where it ends. However, as you have not given the link to where you were quoting from, I am making an educated guess. It would help if you could add the link so that we can examine the full context of the quote you are asking about, and what question Nigel J was answering.
    – Anne
    Dec 1, 2022 at 16:08
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    Following Anne's notations, I have edited to "block" Nigel's entire quote. Hope this helps.
    – Nhi
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:24
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    Yes it does. Thanks Dec 2, 2022 at 20:00
  • 1
    Those downvoting "the comments should state the reason why it is downvoted " Dec 3, 2022 at 20:54

6 Answers 6


You want answers to two related questions: (1) How would we understand the phrase that Young translates that verse as? (2), Is this Translation correct? I wish to deal with (2) first.

Young himself explains why he translates various verses with particular tenses the way he does. I have his Literal Translation, the third and final edition of 1898, in front of me. In 1962 he finished his first edition, so he spent most of his life engrossed in biblical Hebrew and Greek. As you wish “answers from those with Hebrew understanding” you may be assured that Robert Young meets that requirement, therefore you could do no better than to study his Preface. He takes many A4 pages of small print to explain the writing style of biblical writers, and of his Translation. Then he begins to deal with problems (such as exemplified by his rendition of Gen. 3:22; while using dozens of individual verses in the O.T. as examples, that is not one of them, but this is what applies):

“Some of these forms of expression are preceded by the conjunction ‘and’ (waw, in Hebrew), and a very common opinion has been that the conjunction in these cases has a conversive power, and that the verb is not to be translated past (though so in grammatical form), but future. This is, of course, only an evasion of the supposed difficulty, not a solution, and requires to be supported by the equally untenable hypothesis that a (so-called) future tense, when, preceded by the same conjunction waw (‘and’) often becomes a past. Notwithstanding these two converting hypotheses, there are numerous passages which have no conjunction before them, which can only be explained by the principle stated above.” (page V of Young’s Preface)

Then he takes more A4 pages of small print to delve into “The Battle of the Hebrew Tenses” before a new heading, “Waw Conversive” A Fiction – Not a Fact, starting with this:

“The doctrine of the “Waw Conversive,” according to the common Hebrew Grammars, is:-

“The past tense with the prefix waw, expresses future time when preceded by a verb in the future or by an imperative.” And again:-

“The future tense, with the prefix waw, and dagesh in the following letter, is used to express the past.” [See the Grammars of Hurwitz, Gesenius, &c.] (Ibid. page VIII)

Young then details four particular objections to this doctrine of the Waw Conversive, using many OT texts as examples. Then he has a new heading, “The Waw Conversive – Imperfect”. Pages follow, including examination of tenses in 20 languages, leading to his summary conclusion:

The result of the whole is: That the Waw Conversive does not exist in the Hebrew Bible, and is Unneccessary, Imperfect, and Unexampled in any language.

“It has only a traditional existence, being the too hasty generalization of some ancient grammarians, who observed that the Septuagint Translators had – with the freedom which characterizes their whole work both in style and sentiments – deemed the Hebrew idioms too colloquial for the fastidious Greeks, and too simple for the dignity of literary composition; and as all succeeding translators, without an exception, were under the spell of the sacred character of that Version, it is no wonder, though much to be regretted, that their example was followed. Of late years there has been a very strong tendency in translators and expositors to adhere more than ever to the exact form of the Hebrew and Greek tenses, but the present Translation is the first and only one in which it is carried out systematically.” (Ibid. page XIV)

Now, it is the problem of inconsistency in many translations of the O.T. that needs to be flagged up because, whatever anyone thinks of Young’s translation of Genesis 3:22, he is being consistent. Compare the two occasions where the Hebrew word 'eie' is translated, first in verse 22 then elsewhere in Genesis. The AV translation 3:22 is as follows: ...the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil...

“The Hebrew from which this is translated is as follows: ...e'adm eie k'achd mm'nu... the man was as one of us... [literal]

Compare this with Genesis 3:1: ...u'e' nchsh eie orum m'kl chith ...and the serpent was crafty from all of animal... [literal] Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast... [AV]

The AV translators have decided to translate eie in Genesis 3:22, regarding the man, as the present tense - "is become". While they have chosen to translate eie in Genesis 3:1, regarding the serpent, as the past tense - "was".

Not only so, but they have chosen to translate eie as "was" in the following places also :- Genesis 4:20 ...was the father of such... Genesis 4:21 ...was the father of all such...

The AV translators have sided with one side of the controversy in Genesis 3:1, translating eie "was" with regard to the serpent, expressing a past tense from the point of view of the narrator, Moses, in a narration that introduces an as yet unknown character and describes that character's condition as he makes his appearance in the narrative.

Then, they have taken the other side of the controversy and translated the same word eie "is become" when treating of the matter of the man. Thus, in this case, they treat eie as a continuous present tense. However the narrator in this case is not Moses ! Moses is narrating the words which God uttered as God narrated the situation in question. And God, also, introduces a character, Adam, and describes his state - at the point of introduction.” (I have taken those points from Nigel J’s book ‘Knowledge and Life’ p.20, Belmont Publications)

Finally, your other question, as to How would we understand the phrase that Young translates that verse as? I take that to mean, What is the meaning of “Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil"

“...But let us look at the situation from a basic, logical point of view: The man was welcome in the garden. The man was told not to do something. The man did it. Then the man was not welcome. Then the man was banished. What the man did made him unacceptable to the host of the garden. Being unlike the host of the garden, he had to leave the garden. But before he did that thing, he was welcome. For, in that respect, he was like the host. As to the knowledge of good and evil, he was as the host. Afterwards, he was not like unto the host. So he had to go.

The AV translators have, by their rendering of Genesis 3:22, made it seem as though the suspicions of the serpent and the insinuations of the serpent - are true ! In their rendering, the man has become like the host of the garden. And now, the host of the garden desires to be rid of the man !

...If the [AV] translators are correct, then God has banished them for no other than being as he is. If that be the case, then the serpent was right. The serpent was right about his insinuation of what God's motives were. The AV translators make the serpent righteous and they make God to be unrighteous. And they do this by standing on one side of a controversy for one verse. Then taking the opposite side of the controversy for another verse... Mr Young's full literal rendering is thus : Lo, the man was as one of us, as to the knowledge of good and evil.

That is, he was - before he took of the tree !

And now, lest he put forth his hand... Now he must be banished.

Before taking of the tree, the man was as God - in that respect. The respect of his stance with regard to the knowledge of good and evil. Now, having taken, he is no longer as God - in that respect. The respect of his stance with regard to the knowledge of good and evil." (Ibid. pp 20-23) https://belmontpublications.co.uk/books/

Therefore, my answer points to the two people in question, and their explanations – Robert Young, and Nigel J. Whatever anyone thinks of those explanations, they face up to the problems of the Waw Conversive issue – and it remains an unresolved issue despite a huge cry today that there is no problem. Oh yes there is. Young is being consistent, which is more than can be said for many other translators.

  • Profound Answer! And Link to Nigel's Works? Dec 7, 2022 at 9:57
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    @Faith Mendel. The link to download in pdf form all of Nigel J's books, for free, no registration required, is belmontpublications.co.uk/books
    – Anne
    Dec 7, 2022 at 10:32

On Hebrew Verbs

The reason the translation to English from Hebrew is somewhat subjective is because Hebrew does not have time-based verb tenses like English does. For example, when God says "I am that I am," it could also be translated as "I will be what I will be." Time, in Hebrew, is not a function of grammar. It is contextual. Context, and context alone, will determine the appropriate verb tense for translation in many cases.

Hebrew has verbs that one might call "perfect" which address completed actions, information/facts, or states of being. It has "imperfect" verbs which describe continuing actions, moods (modal verbs), and subjunctive uses, including commands which Hebrew grammars tend to call cohortative, imperative, and jussive, depending on the person (first, second, or third person). Beyond establishing the relationship, i.e. the order, of events in a particular setting, Hebrew does not, and cannot, specify exact tenses, as English does, with past, present, and future tense. A "perfect" verb may often be translated in the past tense, but it must sometimes be applied to the present or even the future. An "imperfect" verb may be thought applicable more toward the future, but it is sometimes used to describe a past event. The only way to know whether it should be past, present, or future is from the context.

The context, however, is generally quite obvious and clear. In the majority of cases, there is no debate as to what tense (in translation) to assign to a Hebrew verb in a particular place (context).

Young's Translation

As Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim al Yahud posted earlier, Young's translation is nonsensical for Genesis 3:22, using verb tenses that are incompatible with each other. Young is trying too hard to maintain consistency at all costs. It cannot be done.

Experienced translators will understand, more than will others, the reason Young's translation is weak. For example, suppose we were to translate the following two English expressions into some other language:

  • the wooden chair
  • the department chair

The first "chair" would be the kind upon which one sits. The second would ordinarily denote a person at the head of the department--unless, of course, the context showed that it was a physical chair belonging to the department. To dogmatically uphold consistency in saying "chair" should always be something equivalent to a seat would mean to ignore the context of the expression, not acknowledging the need for a different translation of the same word in one context as compared to another.

In an ideal world, a translator might like to have a one-to-one equivalence of words between the source language and the target language. However, no language in the world is so ideal. It simply cannot be done. Young's translation is inaccurate in many places because he tries too hard to force his version of consistency in every expression. Consistency can be overdone, and comes with a price.

As a Bible translator, consistency is something I also have prized, and I feel that in many places the KJV is too inconsistent. I enjoy consulting Young's translation to see his interpretation, and compare it with other interpretations. In many cases, I like Young's translation. However, I have had to acknowledge that in many contexts, the "rules of consistency" simply must be broken. Human languages do not perfectly align with each other.

Genesis 3:22

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Genesis 3:22, KJV)

And Jehovah God saith, 'Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil; and now, lest he send forth his hand, and have taken also of the tree of life, and eaten, and lived to the age,' — (Genesis 3:22, YLT)

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The beginning of this verse is very ordinary, and common: "And said Yahweh God: behold, . . . ."

However, two points should be made clear about this portion of the verse: 1) The verb is a conjunctive consecutive (also called sequential) imperfect verb--meaning that it logically follows from what has just been said prior as the next thing to happen in the sequence of events; and 2) the verb is in masculine singular form, showing that the noun's apparently plural form is irregular, and the subject is actually singular. (Remember that for irregular nouns, if one is not sure, it is the verb or the adjective that will make the noun's status clear.)

The next verb is also not that difficult, but is at issue here: "Adam (the man) became . . . " The word "became" is usually translated as "was" or as "came" in the KJV in most other places that this exact form of the word occurs. However, Young maintained "hath been" in virtually every place. Yet even Young broke his own rule of consistency for this verb in Genesis 3:22, strangely reverting to "was."

Comparing הָיָה֙ Translations

A comparison list of the first eight verses (of 18) which use this exact Hebrew word form helps us understand what Young is doing.

Reference KJV translations of הָיָה֙ YLT translations of הָיָה֙
Gen. 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: And Jehovah God saith, 'Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil; and now, lest he send forth his hand, and have taken also of the tree of life, and eaten, and lived to the age,' —
Lev. 8:29 And Moses took the breast, and waved it for a wave offering before the LORD: for of the ram of consecration it was Moses' part; as the LORD commanded Moses. and Moses taketh the breast, and waveth it — a wave-offering before Jehovah; of the ram of the consecrations it hath been to Moses for a portion, as Jehovah hath commanded Moses.
Jos. 17:1 There [was] also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he [was] the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan. And the lot [is] for the tribe of Manasseh (for he [is] first-born of Joseph), for Machir first-born of Manasseh, father of Gilead, for he hath been a man of war, and his are Gilead and Bashan.
Jdg. 3:31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel. And after him hath been Shamgar son of Anath, and he smiteth the Philistines — six hundred men — with an ox-goad, and he saveth — he also — Israel.
Jdg. 11:1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, and he [was] the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Jephthah the Gileadite hath been a mighty man of valour, and he [is] son of a woman, a harlot; and Gilead begetteth Jephthah,
2 Sam. 24:11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, And David riseth in the morning, and the word of Jehovah hath been unto Gad the prophet, seer of David, saying,
1 Kings 8:18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart. and Jehovah saith unto David my father, Because that it hath been with thy heart to build a house for My name, thou hast done well that it hath been with thy heart;
1 Chr. 11:20 And Abishai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the three: for lifting up his spear against three hundred, he slew them, and had a name among the three. And Abishai brother of Joab, he hath been head of the three: and he {is} lifting up his spear against three hundred — wounded, and hath a name among three.

TABLE NOTES: Verbs in bold are from the identical Hebrew form, including its te'amim (accentuation), as found in Gen. 3:22; verbs in square brackets [] are supplied based on Hebrew grammar; and verbs in curly braces {} are not justified by the Hebrew.

With the exception of Ecclesiastes 4:16, where Young appears to translate rather strangely (and the Hebrew is difficult), Genesis 3:22 is the only text where Young translated this exact word form as "was" in place of as "hath been"...so much for consistency with respect to this verse, at least. But to say "hath been" would clearly not fit the context. This shows how Young was over-literalistic, yet even he could not maintain his literalism for this text.

It is not appropriate to rigidly maintain a one-to-one word-to-translation methodology. This method will never be correct given any two languages. Human languages simply do not conform to such practical ideologies. And the table shows how awkwardly his methodology results. The English rendered is far from idiomatic; it is not natural.

Further Parsing

Going on to parse the next important phrase:

". . . as one from [among] us . . ."

The "one" is the Hebrew "echad," literally the cardinal number one, which has the prepositional prefix that usually means "as" but could be translated as "like." The prefix "min" on the following word in Hebrew means "from," and the pronominal suffix is first-person plural, i.e. "us." It could perhaps be translated as "as one out from us," but English speakers would find it more understandable to say "as one from among us" instead.

". . . knowing . . ."

The verb here is Hebrew infinitive. It could also be translated as "to know," but in this context, "knowing" is more idiomatic, and carries the same meaning.

We'll stop parsing the Hebrew at this point of the text.


The message indicated by the Hebrew grammar is that Adam (or "the man"--singular) has now come into a knowledge of both good and evil. The Hebrew verbs indicate sequence, and this knowledge has come after the events depicted prior.

All of heaven (the "us" in the text) knows very well about good and evil, considering that it was in heaven that war first occurred, between Michael and the dragon (Satan), and between their angels on each side. This knowledge of evil pre-occurred in heaven, before being discovered by Adam also.

(Note that "Adam," though singular in Hebrew, may encompass Eve as well, considering that God calls "their name Adam" in Genesis 5:2.)


While not technically incorrect to translate the הָיָה֙ as "was" in Genesis 3:22, as it could have this meaning in some contexts, in this particular verse it seems an irresponsible translation because it ignores the sequence indicated by the Hebrew in the verb prior, and because it introduces an ambiguity of meaning that would allow for the baseless interpretation that Adam already had a knowledge of good and evil before even eating from that tree. In effect, Young's translation here is poor, and the KJV has a more accurate rendering of the sense of the Hebrew.

Young's reason for softening "hath been" to "was" appears to be based on his premise of "consistency," as maintaining a verb of being is still more similar to "hath been"--his one-to-one translation verb of choice--than switching to a verb like "came" or "became." Even Young could not justify maintaining "hath been" for this verse, yet "was" lends itself to the same possibility of meaning, although ambiguously so.

Resources for Further Study

The Hebrew Perfect Verb

The Hebrew Sequential Imperfect Verb

  • +1 for seeing the issue with Youngs Translation. Dec 7, 2022 at 20:57

If Young is correct, then "the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil," could mean that Adam was like God in the ability to choose good and reject evil. By disobeying the Commandment, he fell from grace and was no longer like God. We find a similar meaning in Isaiah 7:15-16:

He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.

Here, the discernment of good over evil indicates the age when a boy becomes a man (at puberty in Judaism), responsible for his own sins. Applying this principle to Adam, it would mean that Adam was old enough to be morally responsible at the time of his Fall. He resembled God in this, because God too is morally responsible, consistently refusing evil and choosing good.

{The OP's quotation that "God does not live by the knowledge of good and evil" is perhaps refuted by this argument, because in my view moral responsibility is one of the attributes of God. (But I'm not sure what the quotation means exactly.)}

So the answer to the question is that "was" should be applied to the both realities -- a) That man has been one of us, and b) that man had already known good and evil. However, 'knowing good and evil' in this case should be defined as moral responsibility, a godly state, from which Adam fell when he partook of the forbidden fruit.

Note: I do not know if Young's translation is correct or not. But if it IS correct, the above is how I would interpret its meaning.

  • Great answer Up voted +1 maybe I should add the question that touches if young is correct then Dec 2, 2022 at 14:53
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    It would also help to reformat the quotation from @NigelJ -- it took me some time to understand where his opinion ended and your question began. By the way, it's a great question... Making me rethink the meaning of what "like one of us." God is not a Taoist union of good and evil, but God indeed knows the difference between them, which Adam forget when he disobeyed. Dec 2, 2022 at 15:25
  • How do I do so? I am not so used to the sites formatting tools Dec 2, 2022 at 15:27

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the embodiment of God’s commandment. As such, it can be known at a theoretical or an experiential level. Even before his fall, the text shows that man knew and understood God’s will concerning the tree:

The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’"– Gen 3:2-3

When man broke God’s commandment and ate of the fruit of the tree, his knowledge of good and evil changed from one of theory to one that comes through personal experience. Compare the difference between knowing that a lie is wrong versus knowing what it means to lie through the experience/act of lying.

Barnes’ Commentary, biblehub.com

Nevertheless, the partaking of what was forbidden issued in the legal and actual privation of life. And it did not make them know good and evil altogether, as God knows it, but in an experimental sense, as the devil knows it. In point of knowledge, they became like God; in point of morality, like the tempter.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil presents man with a choice: to follow the commandment or will of God or to disobey God and follow his own will. When we live by the will of God, then we are as one with God in our relationship and relative position to the knowledge of good and evil. Such knowledge stands before us as a guide; it is not a part of us. However, knowledge that was once known from a distance becomes a part of us when we exert our own will in defiance of God’s. The eating of the fruit of the tree is a literal representation of the process whereby man assimilates the knowledge of good and evil. In this state, not only are we no longer one with God in our relationship to the knowledge of good and evil, we can no longer remain as one with God in spirit, for God cannot abide with evil (cf Ps 5:4, Ps 92:15).

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary, biblehub.com

For the knowledge of good and evil, which man obtains by going into evil, is as far removed from the true likeness of God, which he would have attained by avoiding it, as the imaginary liberty of a sinner, which leads into bondage to sin and ends in death, is from the true liberty of a life of fellowship with God.

Regarding the translation, Clarke’s commentary (biblehub.com) has this to say:

On all hands this text is allowed to be difficult, and the difficulty is increased by our translation, which is opposed to the original Hebrew and the most authentic versions. The Hebrew has היה hayah, which is the third person preterite tense, and signifies was, not is.

While the perfect conjugation of היה can indicate past action, it can also indicate other kinds of actions (source). Though I do not know enough to argue which translation is better, I think both the past and present tenses and the distinct meanings they impart work from a conceptual point of view. We have the one tree with two outcomes depending on the choice that man makes with regard to that tree: whether to remain as one in fellowship with God or to become as one who is separate from God. “The Targum of Onkelos, to avoid the phrase ‘as one of us,’ renders ‘is become one from himself’” (Cambridge commentary, biblehub.com).

  • Great Answer. Can you add Scriptural references to back up this answer. Dec 2, 2022 at 20:02
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    My thoughts here are heavily influenced by the epistles of Paul in the NT, especially Romans 7 where he lays out the complex relationship between God’s commandments and sin. He writes, “I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin came to life, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me” (Rom 7:9). It seems to me that these words, along with the rest of the chapter, capture the essential aspects of man’s fall in Genesis.
    – Nhi
    Dec 3, 2022 at 5:59

It is disappointing to see the phrase "the waw conversive controversy" used as if there is still some controversy where there generally isn't. This usage smacks as being "both sidism". There might have been such a controversy as late as the middle years of the last century, but there is no such controversy today, as explained in Waltke and O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax.

It is also disappointing to see a verse that Hebrew literates read as simple and clear rendered into such tortured English as the YLT's

And Jehovah God saith, `Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil; and now, lest he send forth his hand, and have taken also of the tree of life, and eaten, and lived to the age,' --

This translation beggars belief. To follow a conditional future form "lest he send forth his hand" with a past form "have taken also of the tree of life" makes no sense in English.

The translation of יהוה אלהים as "Jehovah God" and if Jehovah were an adjective is also unfortunate. It looks like "car wax" or "gentian violet", a type of God, Jehovah God, possibly among other Gods. The actual feel of the phrase in Hebrew is the opposite, like an assertion that Jehovah is the deity (אלהים). I would translate this phrase as YHVH, the deity", or "YHVH the supreme".

The entire verse in the MT is:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ לָדַעַת טוֹב וָרָע וְעַתָּה פֶּן יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים וְאָכַל וָחַי לְעֹלָם

A much more word-for-word translation than the YLT would read:

And YHVH the supreme said, "So, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now lest he reach out and take from the tree of life also, and eat, and live forever."

It is clear that the "us" in "like one of us" is not intended as a plural but as a pluralis majestatis.

It is also clear from the theological context of Genesis that this phrase is figurative and refers to only one aspect of God, distinguishing between good and evil, and even at that not necessarily perfectly (the כ in כאחד).

There is also a hint of denigration in this phrase, as if God is saying "So now you think you're so smart, look what I'm going to do.". This is God putting Adam in his place.

There is no reason to translate פֶּן יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וְלָקַח as "lest he send forth his hand". The simple meaning of this phrase is Hebrew is "reach out and take" in English. The overly literal translation of the idiom does a disservice to the non Hebrew-reading reader.

Same for "lived to the age", whatever that means in English. חי לעולם is just the Hebrew way of saying "live forever". Read the verse in either Hebrew or in English but don't mix the two.

  • Great Answer, can you proceed to the other questions asked? I would love an answer from you Dec 3, 2022 at 20:52
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    @FaithMendel I'm actually not sure I understand what the OP questions are. This is a really simple verse in Hebrew with no unusual words or grammatical constructions. The common English translations such as the NKJV and the NIV sound spot on to someone who has was born in the US but lived in a totally Hebrew environment in Israel for 46 out of the last 70 years. Dec 3, 2022 at 21:05

I deleted this yesterday after dwelling on the verse and spent an hour or so reviewing the genesis 3 and other uses of היה

And יהוה Elohim said, "Behold! The human has become as one from [among] us".

Prior stance (condensed): To answer the question bluntly, Young's translation is wrong.

After reviewing this, I believe siding with the majority rendering of his become/became is wrong, and not Young's, based on syntactical order. I also don't believe היה in this instance can be rendered in the present (in this case) as I suggested before. However, if "was" or "had existed" is the correct translation then the translation and understanding of כאחד is wrong in almost all translations. The meaning of אחד in this case would be in the sense of unique or alone. It will also force translating ממנו literally which I think should be done whenever possible as a personal opinion anyways, but if you can't see the Hebrew to see this construction then assuming it reads "of us" will leave you confused when alterations are suggested to the translation.

To summarize how I'm reading it after careful consideration it would read

יהוה elohim said, "Behold(now see here), the human existed as unique(alone) from us regarding the knowledge of good and evil, and now he may"

It must be noted that this was by no means exhaustive. I reviewed about 20 commentaries since 1900 none of which raised the issue of hayah and then reviewed every verse in Genesis and then up to Exodus 12 where hayah was used in the perfect and examined differences in meaning versus noun-verb word order and whether it was being used as speech or narration. There may be insights or examples I have missed or overlooked.

In verse 22 the human comparison to elohim is לדעת טוב ורע. Concerning or in regards to the knowledge of good and evil. This does not indicate that this is the only trait of the elohim, but the trait of the elohim that the human has acquired.

Prior edit (I'm not allowed to comment yet is why this is necessary): It's interesting here that it is האדם. This is specifically about Adam. Not Adam and Eve, yet both ate from that fruit. Just an observance worth sharing. It is not talking about humanity, nor does it include ואשתו, the human and his wife. Unless there is a presupposed idea that the wife can fall under his moniker as he I also an owner/possessor as a husband. I'd have to search this further and apologies in advance for drifting the topic.

  • Great proposition. I'd like to get the conclusion from this. IF young is Wrong. How has man become as one of us, by eating of the Tree of Good and Evil. Won't that make the serpent to be correct ? Dec 2, 2022 at 20:05
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    He's either mistranslating hayah or echad skewing interpretation. Regarding the serpent, I will review this again tonight, but I don't think the serpent lied. He played dumb in the opening, and I believe Eve caught it and played back. What he says in verse 5 isn't necessarily a lie, but a perverted perspective from the point of view of YHVH. Verse 5 also seems to imply to Eve that the knowledge of good and bad is "the" quality of him and not one quality of many that makes him Elohim. This would be the reason for the use of the lamed preposition in 3:22, absent in 3:5 Dec 2, 2022 at 20:49

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