In English we can use the word ‘with’ to mean sharing credentials or to mean aided by.

As an example if Rob says I co-authored a novel with James, they are both being credited for writing the novel but if Rob says I wrote a novel using an iPhone, it is clear that the author is exclusively Rob and the iPhone was merely a tool.

In the Hebrew Eve says

והאדם ידע את־חוה אשׁתו ותהר ותלד את־קין ותאמר קניתי אישׁ את־יהוה

Is the et translated ‘with’ denoting, the crediting of HaShem as a co-creator of Cain or is HaShem merely the tool so to speak and Eve is taking full credit for Cain’s “acquisition”?

ויעל אברם ממצרים הוא ואשׁתו וכל־אשׁר־לו ולוט עמו הנגבה

In G13:1 we see that Lot went with עמו Abram and both are equally credited to leaving Egypt. The im is used rather than the et.

Is there any significance that could be inferred by the et rather than the im to Eve’s statement in G4:1?

1 Answer 1


For what it is worth, here is my literal translation of Gen 4:1 -

And Adam knew [eth] Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore [eth] Cain, and said, "I acquired a man with/from [= eth] YHWH."

Note that the word אֶת (eth) occurs three times:

  • twice as a direct object marker and so is untranslatable
  • once as a preposition as highlighted above.

As a preposition, אֶת (eth) primarily means "with", ie, denoting physical proximity, ie, alongside, beside, together with, eg, in companionship, or with assistance from, walking together, etc. See BDB for many examples.

According to "Complete Word study Dictionary, OT" (Baker & Carpenter, AMG) this preposition "indicates a closer proximity than the Hebrew 'im' עִם.

However, as BDB also points out, the same word אֶת (eth) can also mean, "originating from", "proceeding from". (See BDB for the many examples it quotes.) The various versions are divided on how to translate this preposition:

  • most versions, NIV, ESV, BSB, NASB, LSB, CSB, CEV, ERV, etc, give "with". Note that the word "help" is absent in the Hebrew is an interpretation of some versions.
  • KJV, NKJV, NHEB, WBT, has "from".
  • YLT, LSV, GNT has "by".
  • LXX has διὰ (with genitive) = "through". Brenton translates this as "through"

Thus, we conclude that Gen 4:1 means either that:

  • Eve conceived a son (Cain) with the assistance of God
  • Eve conceived a son (Cain) as a gift from God

Now, Ellicott has a radical suggestion with a completely different basis. He suggests that אֶת (eth) should be read as a direct object marker as in the other two instances in the verse and thus, might be translated, "even", or, "indeed". Thus giving the following translation:

And Adam knew [eth] Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore [eth] Cain, and said, "I acquired a man, "indeed" [= eth] YHWH."

That is, Eve believed/hoped that her son was the promised Messiah. See https://biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/4-1.htm for more details. The Pulpit commentary arrives at a similar conclusion!

  • 1
    I was listening to a rabbi try to argue that Eve was ascribing full credit to herself for Cain by translating the et as even and making a rather dogmatic conclusion to support a particular traditional interpretation. It hinged heavily on the et as opposed to the im being used. Commented Jun 13 at 11:50
  • @NihilSineDeo That is a very informative comment. Perhaps it would be best suited for inclusion in the body of your question?
    – Anne
    Commented Jun 13 at 12:31
  • @Anne it’s actually irrelevant what someone’s interpretation is, the text itself should confirm or deny the claim since it is from the text that this claim originates. Some people believe God was talking to the angels when he said let us make man in our image, but the text does not say angels Commented Jun 13 at 14:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.