Genesis 2 -- a written account?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Helen, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. Helen

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    Aug 29, 2001
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    edit: my (Helen's) error -- we forgot to sign in as Barry and Helen, but Barry was very much the author of this as well as Helen!


    It may well have been written from the beginning. For the word used in Genesis 2:4a states that this is the BOOK of the generation of heaven and earth when they were created. It is absolutely reference to a written account. The word in the Greek is 'biblos' and is entirely absent in the King James. The word was translated from the Hebrew word 'toledot' which is in the Septuagint and other ancient manuscripts. Why it is absent in the material the King James translators used, we don't know. But the clear and definite meaning in Genesis 2:4a is that the account was written.

    The choice of translation in verse 6 is also interesting. The King James says that a mist went up from the ground. The NIV says streams came up from the earth. However the word the Hebrew scholars used to translate from the paleo-Hebrew was the word 'fountains.' It is 'ed' in the Hebrew, Strongs #108, meaning "the same as 181" which is "from an unused root meaning 'to rake together, a gathering together, a turning or gathering or enveloping.'"

    The choice of the Hebrew scholars in their translation to Greek was "pege", meaning "from the idea of gushing plumply, a fount, a source or supply of water, fountain, or well." Their choice, then, had to do with a more forceful expulsion of waters from the ground and not simply a mist or even streams.

    The same Greek word is used in 2 Peter 2:17, speaking of men who are springs without water, and in Rev. 7:17, "He will lead them to springs of living water..." In neither case is there any indication of 'mist' here, but rather of the concept of bubbling waters. In the King James, the Revelation verse there translates the word as 'fountains.'

    What is important, actually, is to note that these waters of Genesis 2 were coming out of the earth somewhat forcefully, and this would indicate they were under some kind of pressure and therefore probably warm. The pressure is also indicated by the fact that the headwaters of four rivers (that's a lot of water) began in Eden.

    The next different we found in this chapter between our translations today and the way the Hebrews translated their own Scriptures into Greek is in verse 7. We have the phrase indicating that God breathed into the newly-made man's nostrils. However the ancient text used the phrase 'breathed upon his face,' -- maybe not a radical difference, but interesting, nevertheless.

    In verse 9 we do see an interesting and important difference.

    King James: And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    NIV: And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground -- trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    And this is the way we all learned it.

    That is NOT what the Hebrews translated part of it as -- look for the subtle difference toward the end:

    Alexandrian LXX: And God made to spring up also out of the earth every tree beautiful to the eye and good for food, and the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of learning the knowledge of good and evil.

    How many times have folks been involved in arguments regarding whether God always wanted man to stay in a state of ignorance because it was the tree of 'knowledge' that they were not to eat from. But that is not the meaning at all. It was the tree of LEARNING THE KNOWLEDGE of good and evil, and that is a very different thing.

    There is an interesting difference regarding the course the rivers took once they left Eden. The most modern versions, such as the NIV, tend to use words indicating that these rivers wound through certain areas. However the King James is here the more accurate to the ancient choice of words when it uses 'encompasses'. The word the Hebrew scholars used meant 'encircled.' So there is evidence here, possibly, were defined by their river boundaries.

    A word about the jewels mentioned in verse 12: in the Greek the translations are 'emerald and carbuncle.' Carbuncle is deep red. Dare we say 'Christmas colors?' Nahhhhh.

    Verse 15 should be quoted in all three versions. There is a fascinating difference toward the end, and a phrase left out of the modern versions which the LXX has. Watch for it:

    King James: And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

    NIV: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

    LXX: And the Lord God took the man whom he had formed and placed him in the garden of Delight to cultivate and keep it.

    Here, the word for Eden is NOT used. It is the word for 'delight'. "Whom he had formed" is also absent from the modern translations.

    In verse 16, both the KJV and NIV used the verb 'commanded', while the Hebrew choice for translation to the Greek means 'gave a charge.' The same....but a little bit different, maybe?

    In verse 18, the LXX states "Let us make..." while the modern versions all state "I will make..." The Greek choice of words following was not a helper 'suitable' or 'meet' for him, but rather 'according to' -- meaning the woman would be made on the same plan as the man -- like him.

    When Adam is naming the animals, there is something not made clear in the English versions. The KJV says "every living creature," and the NIV says "all the beasts of the field" and the LXX states "living soul". Adam was naming those creatures with soul, also referred to as the breath of life, translations both of the word 'nephesh.' The Greek word chosen here was 'psyche.' Not what we would have expected, given our modern translations.

    At the end of verse 20, the modern versions (include the KJV in this) the indication is that no suitable or 'meet' helper was found for Adam among the animals with soul. But the choice of the Hebrew scholars in translating the word was a little different. What they chose translates into English as "not found a help like to himself." Thus it was not really that the animals were not suitable -- we have been using them ever since! -- but that none were like him. This was the point of the passage, according the the Hebrews themselves.

    Barry remembers a preacher whose first language was Spanish and who came to talk to folks in Adelaide some years ago, and this was also his point -- that the animals were not the same as Adam. So evidently the Spanish version of the Bible, or one of them, carries the same meaning the ancients intended.

    Interestingly, while the modern versions, in verse 21, say that God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, the Greek word chosen means 'trance'. In verse 22, when the Lord God forms the woman, the verb in the NIV is 'made' and in the KJV is 'made', but the Greek word chosen by the Hebrew scholars is 'built'!

    In verse 23, we read in the modern versions that Adam called the new creature 'woman' for she was taken out of 'man.'

    The words are not the common ones for woman and man, however. Woman was "issah", the primary meaning of which is 'wife', and usually implies marriage in all its uses. It is the normal word for 'woman,' interestingly, and may have some denotation that women were created to be married to men. She was called "issah" because she was taken out of "iysh", which means "a man, an individual, a male person" but is not the same word as Adam. The word "iysh" comes from an unused root meaning "to be extant, to exist, to be mortal."

    Just an interesting difference.

    And, finally, while the KJV says a man and his wife shall cleave together, and the NIV says they shall be united, the Greek word chosen is stronger than either, for it means 'cemented.'

    "And they shall become one flesh" -- that word "one" is extremely important here. It is the word "echad" in the Hebrew. It is the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God [thy elohim], the Lord is One [echad]."

    In other words, there is that in a marriage which is godly, which is a reflection of the Trinity itself. "Echad" means 'united'. It comes from a primitive root meaning 'to unify'.


    We are aware that there are parts of this which will disturb others. It is very easy to get hung up on one particular translation of the Bible and feel the others are all wrong. However, if we are going to make any mistake in that direction, let us make it in terms of what the Hebrews themselves chose in terms of their translations of words centuries before Christ. This is the Alexandrian LXX, which we are comparing modern versions to here right now. This translation was made by the Hebrews themselves -- Hebrew scholars of the Torah who traveled TO Alexandria (they were not from there) to do this work. This translation agrees fully with the documents found in the Dead Sea Scrolls which date from before 70 A.D. (there are two sets of documents, the later group dating from around 100 A.D.)
  2. Mercury

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    Dec 22, 2003
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    I'm curious how the LXX renders 2:19. The NIV says that "The LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts..." while the KJV says "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast...". Which tense did the LXX use to refer to the creation of animals?
  3. Helen

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    Aug 29, 2001
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    Hi Mercury, and welcome to Baptist Board! Go introduce yourself up at the top.

    There is no complex past tense in Hebrew, so we are 'stuck' with the simple past. Something either had been done, was being done, or would be done in the future. So the verb in 2:19 is simple past tense.

    It's not as simple as that, though, for the word being used for the past tense in the Masoretic Hebrew (and since we don't have the old paleo-Hebrew texts, this is as good as we can get with the Hebrew) is a combination word meaning "now-he-formed". And so the NIV translators, going for meaning (which is the aim of this translation, by the way) wrote "Now the Lord God had formed...." The KJV eliminated the 'now' and write "And...the Lord God formed....".

    The Alexandrian LXX, in the meantime, dealt with the verb another way, and it is not one which will eliminate some confusion! "And God formed yet farther out of the earth...."

    A good friend of ours is Dr. Bernard Northrup, a retired professor of Greek and Hebrew, who has been called on through the years to help with translations of the Bible into other languages -- he checks to make sure it is true to the oldest mss we have access to. He has not answered his emails lately, and this is not unusual, so we will call him a little later today (it is not yet nine a.m. here on the west coast) and ask him about this and a few of the other questions that have been brought up.

    Thank you for your patience.

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