The NET Bible® First Edition
A New Approach to Translation,
With 60,932 Notes
By The Translators and Editors
Copyright © 1996 – 2005
All Rights Reserved
by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.
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Electronic access to the NET Bible:
The NET Bible is available for use on the internet at:
The NET Bible is not a shareware program
or public domain document and may not be
duplicated without permission, however:
From our website at www.netbible.com, you may download the NET Bible and print it for others as long as you give it away and do not charge for it. In this case, free means free. It cannot be bundled with anything sold, nor can you charge for shipping, handling, or anything. It is provided for personal study or for use in preparation of sermons, Sunday school classes, or other noncommercial study. This release is also available to organizations like the Gideons, who may distribute millions of copies of the NET Bible text without royalty. This release does not apply to media other than paper. For free distribution of more than 1000 paper copies (or distribution in any other form, e.g. electronic), you must obtain written permission and comply with our guidelines for content control and include currently valid BSP copyright and organizational acknowledgments.
For permission, inquire by e-mail to email@example.com or call 888-997-6884.
You may not download the information and reprint any of it for commercial publication, except that the NET Bible verses may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio) up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses or less without written permission, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible, do not comprise 25% or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted, and the verses are not being quoted in a commentary or other biblical reference work. This permission is contingent upon an appropriate copyright acknowledgment. An appropriate copyright acknowledgment is shown below:
Scripture quoted by permission.
Quotations designated (NET) are from
The NET Bible®
Copyright © 2005 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.
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The NET Bible®
Preface to the First Edition
The NET Bible
The NET Bible is a completely new translation of the Bible with 60,932 translators’ notes! It was completed by more than 25 scholars—experts in the original biblical languages—who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Turn the pages and see the breadth of the translators’ notes, documenting their decisions and choices as they worked. The translators’ notes make the original languages far more accessible, allowing you to look over the translator’s shoulder at the very process of translation. This level of documentation is a first for a Bible translation, making transparent the textual basis and the rationale for key renderings (including major interpretive options and alternative translations). This unparalleled level of detail helps connect people to the Bible in the original languages in a way never before possible without years of study of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. It unlocks the riches of the Bible’s truth from entirely new perspectives.
Produced for ministry
Our ministry, bible.org, was created to be a source of trustworthy Bible study resources for the world, so that everyone is guaranteed free access to these high quality materials. In the second year of bible.org’s ministry (1995) it became clear that a free online Bible would be needed on the bible.org website since copyrighted Bibles can’t be quoted in a huge collection of online studies.
The NET Bible project was commissioned to create a faithful Bible translation that could be placed on the Internet, downloaded for free, and used around the world for ministry. The Bible is God’s gift to humanity—it should be free. (Go to www.bible.org and download your free copy.) Permission is available for the NET Bible to be printed royalty-free for organizations like the The Gideons International who print and distribute Bibles for charity. The NET Bible (with all the translators’ notes) has also been provided to Wycliffe Bible Translators to assist their field translators. The NET Bible Society is working with other groups and Bible Societies to provide the NET Bible translators’ notes to complement fresh translations in other languages. A Chinese translation team is currently at work on a new translation which incorporates the NET Bible translators’ notes in Chinese, making them available to an additional 1.5 billion people. Parallel projects involving other languages are also in progress.
Now serving individuals in 170 different countries on an average day, bible.org is the largest Bible study resource on the Internet with over 40,000 pages of Bible study materials currently available online for free. Also included are topical forums (www.bible.org/forum) where visitors to the site can dialogue and learn from each other. All this is done to support local church ministries and to build an effective online community of believers. Our passion is to see every person become mature in Christ and competent to teach and train others.
Accountability, transparency, and feedback
The NET Bible is the first Bible ever to be beta-tested on the Internet. In this beta-testing process all working drafts of the NET Bible were posted on www.bible.org for public review and comment. The significance of this is that the NET Bible team, from day one, has been listening to its readers. The purpose of the public review and comment was not to achieve a consensus translation, but to be accountable, to be transparent, and to request that millions of people provide feedback on the faithfulness and clarity of the translation as well as on the translators’ notes. Countless valuable suggestions have been made by scholars, by junior high school students, by college professors, and by lay Christians who speak English as a second language. Because of the open approach of the NET Bible team, the resulting product has been enriched immeasurably. Each one of us comes to the Bible from a different perspective; scholars need to listen to the person in the pew as much as the layperson needs to listen to scholars. The translation reflects the latest scholarship, and the sources are cited in the translators’ notes and documented in the appendices. The NET Bible is a truly symbiotic effort between the insights of biblical scholars and the needs of lay Christians. The combined effect of the notes and the nine year public review process has reinforced the translation’s primary goal of faithfulness to the original languages. By creating a translation environment that is responsible both to the world’s scholars and to lay readers, the NET Bible was read, studied, and checked by more eyes than any Bible translation in history.
The most important translation concept
The most important translation of the Bible is not from the original languages to English, but from the printed page into your life. If you have never read through a complete book of the Bible, we suggest you begin by reading the Gospel of John. We encourage you to recognize that the Bible is not merely a book. It is God’s message to us all, and God continues to speak through it today. There is, after all, a reason far more Bibles have been produced than any book in history. Read it and see.
Copyright Innovations—Toward a New Model
We don’t like the copyright notice on the second page of the NET Bible, but we don’t yet know the best way to fix it. The reason for this dilemma is that we stand at the beginning of a new era made possible by the Internet. New approaches to ministry, publishing, distribution, and collaboration are made possible by the Internet. When the first Bibles and books began to be printed rather than copied by hand, new issues emerged (plagiarism, author’s rights, freedom of the press versus censorship, copyright laws, etc.). It is now time to recognize that the copyright and permissions conventions carried over from printed books must now be upgraded for the Internet age. The innovations will create new opportunities for ministry while also providing new opportunities for authors to support themselves. We believe that 1 Tim 5:17–18 (the author has the right to be paid) and Lev 23:22 (allow the poor and foreigner free access) can be simultaneously satisfied far better with a new Internet model.
The Problem: It’s difficult to quote a modern Bible translation legally
Bible.org’s ministry objective is to be used by God to mature Christians worldwide. To accomplish this we needed to quote a modern Bible translation in the production of thousands of trustworthy Bible Study resources that could be offered on the Internet for free. We predicted in 1995 that the number of Bible verses quoted in these studies would soon surpass available legal permission limits. We tried for a year, but could not obtain the necessary permissions. Lack of a legal ability to quote the Bible online makes online Bible studies impossible and threatened bible.org’s “Ministry First” model. Quite simply the only way we could secure permission to quote a modern Bible was to sponsor a new translation—the NET Bible. We now want to ensure that other ministries and authors don’t experience the same roadblocks. The NET Bible is not just for bible.org, but for everyone.
You may ask (as we have): “Why not just make the NET Bible public domain? Wouldn’t that solve the problem?” It does solve the permission problem but stifles ministry another way. When a publisher prints a public domain KJV they pay no royalties to anyone, but they still make millions of dollars in revenue—and don’t have to spend any of that money on ministry or charity. We didn’t create the NET Bible to save royalties for such publishers. We think a better approach is to leverage copyright laws to ensure that anyone selling NET Bibles must support ministry.
How we intend to solve the problem
The first major step was taken 10 years ago when we posted the NET Bible on the Internet when no other major modern English Bible translations had done so. The other major Bible translations partially followed suit—all of them are now viewable on the Internet—but after 10 years, the NET Bible is still the only major modern translation that can be downloaded for free in its entirety and used seamlessly in presentations and documents.
We think it is time to take a few more steps. NET Bible study software will now be offered free to allow those who can’t afford Bible study tools to search the Bible electronically. We also will remove an important barrier for teachers, pastors, authors, and students of the Bible who plan to write and distribute their studies. Bible copyright policies typically require special permission before Internet posting, writing commentaries, allowing mission organizations to translate works into other languages, or when quotations exceed some verse limit. The result is that an author is forced to delay writing until permission is granted, use an old public domain text, or proceed illegally in order to serve missions. Other authors have found that a valuable work is simply not publishable because they lack permission for the Bible translation quoted in it. We want all authors to know that the NET Bible is a safe choice. We intend to make quoting the NET Bible easy for both commercial publications and ministry by making the vast majority of requests covered by an automatic “yes.” This new copyright permission policy, when implemented, will result in many more works being created for charitable use and Internet distribution. A second major historical reason used to justify prior written approval of papers, books, and commentaries quoting Bibles is to ensure that nothing embarrassing is written using a copyrighted Bible. We’d rather risk embarrassment than hamper thousands of worthwhile projects. We’ll let the Internet community label the rare bad works and bad authors. We’d rather remove barriers so that the other 99.9% of Christian authors can be more productive. We solicit your ideas for an optimal solution for Bible quotations in the Internet age.
Characteristics of a good solution
• By making permissions easier, it becomes far easier to post, share, and publish works which quote the Bible.
• It should be easy to say “yes” to all requests to quote and use the NET Bible (both charitable and commercial use).
• The “yes” should be automatic for the vast majority of requests, so our organization gets out of the way of ministries, teachers, pastors, and authors. We don’t want them to delay before authoring, sharing, and implementing the Great Commission of Matt 28:19—and we don’t want their works which quote the Bible to be held hostage based on copyright permissions.
• Incentives should be offered to authors who are willing to share their works for free, (even when they also sell books and software versions of the same title for income) while authors who only offer their works for sale should pay customary royalties. This encourages greater participation in the “ministry first” model.
It is time for ministry to be more free—and for a Bible which puts ministry first. The best way to encourage ministry is to give people the tools they need and remove barriers which encumber their work. Let us know how we can better serve your needs.
For the latest on “Ministry First” copyright innovations,
Introduction to the First Edition
Welcome to the First Edition of the NET Bible with all 60,932 translators’ notes! We want to thank the millions of online NET Bible users and the students, teachers, and churches who have made the NET Bible a part of their daily Bible study, reading, and worship. Their countless observations have been a valuable addition to the NET Bible team’s methodical editing of the translation during its 10-year development. More people from more countries have used and reviewed the NET Bible during its production than any Bible translation in history—and you are still invited to join that process! The First Edition signifies the transition from development and beta testing to official release of the translation. The NET Bible text (notes excluded) has now been frozen for 5 years. The next set of upgrades and improvements is planned for release in 2010. During the initial 10-year translation effort, the final 8 years were primarily spent editing and improving the translation of the biblical text. Consequently, the translators’ notes have not been edited to the same degree as the biblical text itself. Improvements and enhancements to the NET Bible’s notes therefore will be made on a continual basis.
What you have in your hands—or on your computer monitor, laptop, mobile phone or handheld6
—represents a new approach to Bible translation and a fresh approach to ministry for the new millennium. The NET Bible was planned from the very beginning to be available for free on the Internet.7
The decision to produce for the first time large quantities of Bibles on Gutenberg’s improved press in 1454–1455 sparked a revolution and provided a dramatic increase in the availability of Bibles and biblical study materials in many languages, but over five centuries later many people throughout the world cannot access Bibles and biblical study resources because of their high cost and because some governments attempt to prevent their citizens from ever encountering the Bible. The primary goal of the NET Bible project was to leverage the Internet to meet these two critical needs. The Internet represents the single best opportunity for ministry in history because electronic distribution via the Internet allows relatively8
free delivery of unlimited numbers of Bibles and unlimited amounts of biblical study resources to anyone worldwide who could otherwise not afford them or access them—for zero incremental cost. Organizations willing to share materials on the Internet will accomplish the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19–20 more efficiently than those which follow older ministry models alone. The impact of a publishing ministry can increase by leaps and bounds because it is no longer limited by the number of copies of materials it can afford to print and give away. The NET Bible was created to be the first major modern English translation available free on the Internet for download and use in Bible studies and other teaching materials so that the opportunities provided by the Internet could be maximized. Authors, teachers, pastors, and translators are now ensured that their life’s work can be offered anywhere—even shared freely on the Internet—using verses quoted from the NET Bible9
. They can now work to create high quality biblical study materials confident in knowing that permission has been granted for works of ministry that will be offered for free to others. We are pleased to be the first to do this, and we hope many others will join with us in this effort to put ministry first.
Read more on our model of ministry — go to www.bible.org/ministryfirst
Translators’ Notes—unprecedented transparency for serious Bible students
The 60,932 translators’ notes
included with the NET Bible are another result of our Internet focus. Bible readers are often not aware that every translation makes many interpretive decisions for them. One goal of the NET Bible project was to find a way to help the reader see the decisions and choices that went into the translation. The answer was to include notes produced by the translators while they worked through the issues and options confronting them as they did the work of translation—thus providing an unprecedented level of transparency for users. In fact, the nature of the Internet allows unlimited notes. These notes provide an extended dialogue between translator and reader about the alternatives for translation, options for interpretation, and finer nuances which are usually lost in translation. After the drafts and first rounds of editing were completed, we discovered that the thousands of notes we had accumulated could be made to fit on the printed page in addition to the electronic format. What you are now reading, on printed paper or on a digital screen is the First Edition of the NET Bible complete with all the translators’ notes. Never before in the history of the Bible has a translation been published which includes explanatory notes from the translators and editors as to why
the preferred translation was chosen and what the other alternatives are. Students of the Bible, future Bible translators,10
and biblical scholars will all benefit from these unparalleled translators’ notes.11
One of the goals of the NET Bible with the complete set of translators’ notesis to allow the general public—as well as Bible students, pastors, missionaries, and Bible translators in the field—to be able to know what the translators of the NET Bible were thinking when a phrase or verse was rendered in a particular way. Many times the translator will have made informed decisions based on facts about grammatical, lexical, historical, and textual data not readily available to English-speaking students of the Bible. This information is now easily accessible through the translators’ notes.
In short, the NET Bible that you now hold is different from all the Bible translations that have come before it. It represents a truly new departure in the way Bible translations are presented to the general public. With a translation as revolutionary as the NET Bible, you no doubt have some additional questions. The remainder of this Introduction addresses in question-and-answer format the most frequently asked questions, to help you understand what the NET Bible is about and how it differs from the many other Bible translations available to the English-speaking reader today.
What is the NET Bible?
The NET Bible is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version. It was completed by more than 25 biblical scholars—experts in the original biblical languages—who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Most of these scholars teach Old or New Testament exegesis in seminaries and graduate schools. Furthermore, the translator assigned to prepare the first draft of the translation and notes for each book of the Bible was chosen in every instance because of his or her extensive work in that particular book—not only involving teaching but writing and research as well, often extending over several decades. Many of the translators and editors have also participated in other translation projects. They have been assisted by doctoral students and advised by style consultants and Wycliffe field translators. Hence, the notes alone are the cumulative result of hundreds of thousands of hours of biblical and linguistic research applied to the particular problems of accurately translating and interpreting the text. The translators’ notes, most of which were created at the same time as the initial drafts of the translation itself, enable the reader of the NET Bible to “look over the shoulders” of the translators as they worked and gain insight into their decisions and choices to an extent never before possible in an English translation.
Why do we need yet another translation of the Bible?
With over 25 different English translations of the entire Bible and approximately forty of the New Testament, an obvious question is, why yet another one? As described above, the initial problem was that other modern translations have not been made available for free electronic distribution over the Internet. Electronic searchable versions of contemporary English translations tend to be very expensive. Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection is able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study, preaching, teaching, and training others. In addition, anyone who wants to give away the Bible can print up to 1,000 copies of the NET Bible and distribute them for free without the need for written permission. Pastors without extensive libraries, missionaries and Bible translators in the field, and people in countries where access to Bible study materials are restricted or prohibited will all benefit from access to a contemporary English translation with extensive notes available on the Internet. (The notes accompanying the NET Bible can even help you understand other translations better.) Ultimately what you have in your hands or on your computer monitor with this copy of the NET Bible is God’s word, and we believe it should be available to everyone everywhere to read and study in a version that is accurate, readable, and affordable.
It is not just the new electronic media that justifies this translation, however. A great deal of scholarly literature has been produced on biblical interpretation and translation in the last quarter century. While virtually all other translations produced in the last two decades of the twentieth century were revisions of earlier versions, the NET Bible translators felt that an entirely different kind of translation was needed. In particular, the extensive translators’ notes that display for the reader the decisions and choices behind the translation ultimately chosen are virtually unique among Bible translations, in all languages, in the history of translation. The resulting translation itself is intended to capture the best of several worlds: readable and accurate and elegant all at the same time.
What is the cornerstone and guiding principle of our ministry?
Bible.org is guided by the principle of “Ministry First.” Our translation team desires to follow the Bible’s teaching with regard to the distribution of God’s word versus the sales of printed Bibles for massive profits. The NET Bible team has reflected on the model described in Leviticus 23:22 and asked how Bible publishers ensure that they “not completely harvest the corner of their field…for the poor and the foreigner.” Our ‘crop’ is a Bible translation. Even though some for-profit Bible publishers have allowed Bible societies to print and give away millions of Bibles, the amount of funds available to all Bible societies and publishers in all of history does not come close to being able to actually give a free printed Bible to all of the two billion people who have some ability to read English. This is why we feel so strongly that the NET Bible must not only be available for viewing on the Internet, but also for free downloading and use by everyone, worldwide, for free, forever. It is a cornerstone and guiding principle of our ministry. This approach helps us come closer to fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19–20 by allowing all people of all nations on earth to learn what God has revealed in his word for them to understand and obey. Learning and following the Bible’s instructions must apply to Bible translators and publishers as well as Bible students. This is why we offer the NET Bible for free to the world—because we desire to offer Bibles and Bible study resources for free to those who cannot afford to pay for them. Now you know why the NET Bible is available for download and use in Bible studies free to all people, everywhere. These are exciting times, and while we are honored to have been the first modern English translation to do this, we are pleased to see that many other modern English translations are now posted on the Internet for free use as well. As a pioneer in this space, the NET Bible goes beyond just offering free online use and actually offers people around the world the ability to obtain a free download of the entire NET Bible in a popular word processing format as well as a searchable electronic NET Bible for free so that you can easily study for yourself and then write study materials quoting the NET Bible for use by others. We call this a “Ministry First” model, where ministry always takes priority.
Read more on our model of ministry — go to www.bible.org/ministryfirst
The NET Bible Society is working with other groups and Bible Societies to provide the NET Bible translators’ notes to complement fresh translations in other languages. A Chinese translation team is currently at work on a new translation which incorporates the NET Bible translators’ notes in Chinese, making them available to an additional 1.5 billion people. These notes are even more essential in Chinese (and other languages) because they incorporate citations and applications of critical biblical reference materials that are unlikely to be translated into Chinese (and other languages) in the foreseeable future. These tools are not simply to make the translation better, but also to provide a window into the original languages using resources otherwise unavailable. Refer to the List of Cited Works in the appendices and the translators’ notes for examples. Parallel projects involving other languages are also in progress.
What is the NET Bible’s place in the history of English Bible translation?
The history of the Bible’s translation into English is a long and complicated one, and can only be summarized briefly here. Parts of the Bible appear to have been translated into Old English by Alfred the Great (died a.d. 901), including the Ten Commandments, parts of Exodus 21–23 and Acts 15, and a number of Psalms. Later in the tenth century Abbot Aelfric and perhaps others translated significant parts of the Old Testament into English, as well as the Gospels and some other New Testament books.
Want to help create a NET Bible in your native language?
For information go to www.bible.org/translation
By around 1300 parts of the Psalms and the New Testament were being translated into Middle English. These were precursors of the famous versions associated with John Wycliffe (died a.d. 1384). The tradition that Wycliffe himself translated the Bible into English is founded on a statement by his follower Jan Hus. Whether he actually did the translation himself or it was carried out by his followers, he doubtless exerted a great influence over it. These translations were based on the Latin Vulgate, originally the work of Jerome, which was finished at the beginning of the fifth century a.d. and which became the standard Bible of the Western church throughout the Middle Ages.
Several other events in Europe had a significant impact on the history of the English Bible at this point. First was the general revival of learning in Europe known as the Renaissance, which brought about renewed interest in Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible. Second was the construction of an improved printing press with metal moveable type some time prior to 1450 by Johannes Gutenberg (the first volume book printed on this improved press was the Gutenberg Bible printed ca. 145512
). This innovation launched an explosion in the availability of Bibles, which spread to England when the first printing press for English Bibles was established in 1476. The third event occurred when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517, setting in motion the Protestant Reformation.13
These events combined to give considerable momentum to the translation of the Bible into everyday language. Luther’s New Testament, translated from the Greek into German, appeared in 1522, while William Tyndale’s, translated from the Greek into English, followed in 1525. Tyndale was arrested in Antwerp in 1535 and executed for translating the Bible into the vernacular, and his translation was vilified by the authorities. Yet almost every English translation for the next hundred years borrowed heavily from Tyndale’s work, including in particular the King James Version of 1611. Before this landmark in the history of English Bibles, however, there were other translations, like Coverdale’s in 1535 and the version called Matthew’s Bible in 1537. Both these Bibles received the royal license in 1537. The year 1539 saw the appearance of the so-called “Great Bible,” actually a revision of Matthew’s Bible by Coverdale, which by royal decree of Henry VIII was placed in every church in England.
The reign of Elizabeth I saw the production of two more English Bibles, the Geneva Bible (published in 1560 in Geneva, with a dedication to Elizabeth) and the Bishops’ Bible (1568, with a second edition in 1572). The former was the Bible used by Shakespeare, and was thoroughly Calvinistic in its translation and notes. It was so far superior in translation to the Great Bible that it became very popular, although the Anglican authorities were not pleased with its Calvinistic leanings. The Bishops’ Bible was prepared as a response, and as a result English-speaking Protestantism was left at the end of the sixteenth century with two competing Bibles. The problem was not resolved until the Hampton Court Conference of 1604, when King James authorized a new translation of the Bible and specifically prohibited the use of marginal notes commenting on doctrine (notes commenting on the sense of words were permitted, and the original King James Version contained thousands of these). Gradually this translation established itself as the English Bible par excellence, and the last edition of the Geneva Bible appeared in 1644.
Until 1885, when the Revised Version was published in England, the King James Version (known in England as the Authorized Version) reigned supreme. An American version of the revision, known as the American Standard Version, was published in 1901. The twentieth century saw the publication of a number of Bibles and New Testaments, among them James Moffatt’s (NT 1913; OT 1924) and E. J. Goodspeed’s (NT 1923), which combined with the Old Testament by A. Gordon, T. Meek, J. M. Powis Smith, and L. Waterman (1935) was published the same year as The Bible: An American Translation. One of the most important English translations of the twentieth century was the Revised Standard Version (NT 1946; complete Bible, 1952). This was a thoroughgoing revision of the KJV and ASV which many consider to be the first of the “modern” translations. The publication of the RSV was only the beginning of a flood of translations and paraphrases, including (among others) J. B. Phillips’ The New Testament in Modern English (1958), the Amplified Bible (1965), the Jerusalem Bible (1966), the New American Bible (1970), the New English Bible (1970), the New American Standard Bible (1971), The Living Bible (1971), and the New International Version (1973).
Over thirty years have passed since the release of the NIV New Testament.14
This major English translation is taken as a benchmark because (unlike many others) it was not a revision or update of an existing translation or a successor to a previous translation.15
During these thirty years neither biblical scholarship nor the English language itself has stood still.16
The NET Bible is the first completely new translation of the Bible to be produced in the age of the Internet with full computer networking support involving collaborative file sharing, data storage and retrieval, and the creation of task-specific databases. Biblical scholars exchanged not only e-mail but entire documents over computer networks and the Internet for constant editorial revision and correction. Electronic versions of standard lexical and grammatical reference works enabled translators and editors to work much more rapidly than if they were dependent on paper copies of these materials. Materials were posted on the Internet at www.bible.org from the very beginning, with seven complete books along with their accompanying translators’ notes available online in 1996, less than one full year after the beginning of the project. This allowed literally millions of people to “beta test” the translation and notes, making countless valuable suggestions to the translators and editors. The result was not a consensus translation (since all the comments and suggestions were carefully reviewed by the translators and editors), but a translation produced with an unparalleled level of transparency. This in turn created a high level of accountability, not to a particular group or denomination, but to the Church worldwide. The NET Bible truly is the first English translation for the next millennium, representing a step potentially more significant than the use of Gutenberg’s improved printing press for mass producing Bibles in 1455. The original authors of the Bible made the books and letters they had written available to everyone for free. That is what we are now doing electronically, and we believe that use of the Internet to distribute Bibles and Bible study resources globally represents the most efficient publishing and ministry model available in history. To a server on the Internet, distributing 6 billion copies—one for every person on earth!—costs almost nothing
, unlike all previous methods of distributing Bibles. The Internet represents the single best opportunity for ministry in the history of the world. The mission of bible.org is to leverage the power of the Internet to provide people and ministries worldwide with universal access to the NET Bible and other trustworthy Bible study resources at an affordable cost—free!
How did the NET Bible project begin?
The project began on a rainy night in November 1995 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. There a group of Old and New Testament scholars met over dinner at a fine Italian restaurant with the sponsor of the project. Later that same night in a hotel lobby they were joined by a larger group of scholars—to discuss at greather length a new translation of the Bible. The topic of conversation was the possibility of an English translation for electronic distribution over the Internet. A revision and update of some existing English translation was initially discussed, but in subsequent discussions the biblical scholars themselves insisted that a completely new translation was both possible and indeed preferable. The initial planning group was interdenominational and evangelical, although not made up of official representatives from church groups or denominations. A deliberate decision was made early on to devote special attention to the avoidance of doctrinal peculiarities or sectarian bias in the new translation.
What is unique and distinctive about the NET Bible?
Working with the format of electronic media, it soon became apparent to those of us involved in the translation project that we could do some things that had not been possible before, given the limitations of traditional print media.
• First, the NET Bible includes extensive notes with the translation, notes created by the original translators as they worked through the issues and options concerning the translation of the original language texts of the Bible. These notes operate on more than one level—a technical level for pastors, teachers, and students of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek who are interested in the grammatical, syntactical, and text-critical details of the translation, and a more popular level comparable to current study Bibles offering explanatory details of interest to lay Bible students. In electronic format the length of these notes, a considerable problem with conventional printed Bibles, is no longer a major limitation.
• Second, within the more technical notes the translation team has taken the opportunity to explain and give the rationale for the translation of a particular phrase or verse.
• Third, the translators and editors used the notes to show major interpretive options and/or textual options for difficult or disputed passages, so that the English reader knows at a glance what the alternatives are.
• Fourth, the translators and editors used the notes to give a translation that was formally equivalent,17
while placing a somewhat more functionally equivalent18
translation in the text itself to promote better readability and understandability.19
The longstanding tension between these two different approaches to Bible translation has thus been fundamentally solved.
• Finally, the use of electronic media gives the translators and editors of the NET Bible the possibility of continually updating and improving the translation and notes. The translation itself will be updated in five-year increments, while the notes will undergo a continual process of expansion and refinement.
In short, the notes allow a running commentary on the translators’ decisions to a degree never seen before in any translation of the Bible. The NET Bible with the complete set of translators’ notes is not just a very readable modern translation, but a copy of the Bible with its own commentary attached containing an average of two notes for each verse. Those who have years of expertise in the study of the original biblical languages can now communicate that information directly to the English-speaking Bible reader in a convenient, compact fashion that does not require the Bible student to read through a shelf of commentaries or spend years learning the original biblical languages.
In addition to format and content, the broad framework of the project is unique among translations. The NET Bible is not funded by any particular denomination, church, or special interest group. This has directly impacted the content: Translators and editors were left free to follow where the text leads and translate as they thought best. There has never been pressure to make sure the text reads a certain way or conforms to a particular doctrinal statement. The NET Bible is responsible and accountable to the universal body of Christ, the church worldwide. Through publication on the Internet and free distribution of the text, the editors and translators have submitted the NET Bible to their brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. The questions, comments, and feedback received from them are examined very carefully, and the translation and notes have been constantly reevaluated in response. This dynamic process has yielded a Bible that is honest to the original text of the Bible, yet valuable and acceptable to Bible readers everywhere.
How do you know something isn’t “lost in translation”?
How can you know for sure something wasn’t “lost in translation” in your Bible? As Acts 17:11 indicates, the Bereans “eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so.” Without firsthand competence in translating Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek or access to the minds of the translators and their decision-making processes, you can’t “see if these things were so” in order to know how accurate any translation is. The NET Bible assists readers in discerning biblical truth by offering 60,932 notes to explain and document the translators’ reasoning and the decisions they made throughout the lengthy process of translating and editing the NET Bible. The translators’ notes are intended to allow Bible students without extensive training in the original languages to be more confident in the English translation they use and to provide a new level of access and transparency into the text of the Bible.
What is the significance of the NET Bible’s name?
The name that was chosen reflects our goals to provide the Bible to the Internet audience in electronic form in addition to the more traditional printed media. Users of the Internet can easily relate to the name “NET Bible,” while the Internet itself provides the vehicle for access and distribution to the world.
How large was the NET Bible Translation Committee?
A major consideration during the initial planning stage was the size of the translation committee. More than one person should do the work of translation, to avoid the unintentional idiosyncrasies that inevitably result from a single individual working in isolation from a community of colleagues. At the same time, it was obvious to all of us that a smaller group of about 25 scholars who shared a number of basic assumptions and followed generally similar approaches to the biblical text in terms of interpretive method and general philosophy of translation would be able to work quickly and efficiently. This proved accurate and valuable and the time from the commencement of the project to the posting of the first complete New Testament on the Internet was a remarkable 32 months. The list of translators is included on page 26*.
How was the NET Bible actually made?
The procedure followed in the making of the NET Bible was to assign each book of the Old or New Testament to an individual scholar who was extremely familiar with the interpretation of that particular book and in most cases had years of experience in research, teaching, and writing about the book. These scholars produced an initial draft translation of the books assigned to them along with the initial set of translators’ notes (including some text-critical notes and study notes as well). This work was then submitted to the New Testament or Old Testament Editorial Committee for extensive editing and/or revision. In some cases revisions in form and content suggested by the respective committee were carried out by the original translator, while in other cases an editor reworked the draft translation as needed. The work was then resubmitted to the appropriate editorial committee for final approval. An English style consultant, working independently of the editorial committees, then reviewed the translation for smoothness, clarity, and elegance of contemporary English style. Changes suggested by the style consultant were checked against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek before final incorporation into the translation. Generally between three and five different individuals edited and revised each book of the Bible. In this way the NET Bible First Edition was checked and revised repeatedly at many different levels for accuracy, clarity, and English style. Finally it was proofread a number of times and field-tested in various settings. Countless hours of research, translation, revision, and interaction thus went into the production of the NET Bible.
The New Testament was released as a first beta version in three separate printings in March, April, and June of 1998. It was then revised and released again in October of 1998, again as a first beta edition. During this time, the Old Testament was edited and released as a first beta version, along with still another revision of the New Testament. This First Beta Edition of the entire NET Bible (Old and New Testaments together) was completed and E-mailed to the printer just after 2 a.m. on September 11, 2001 (coincidentally a day many will long remember). The Second Beta Edition was released to the printer on September 2, 2003. After an additional two years of use, extensive comments from users, and ongoing improvements from the NET Bible editorial staff, the First Edition of the NET Bible was released to the printer on August 30, 2005.
Who decided what kind of translation the NET Bible was going to be?
No denomination, church, agency, or publisher determined the nature of the NET Bible translation beforehand. It was a translation conceived and designed by biblical scholars themselves who were primarily specialists in the biblical languages and in the exegesis (interpretation) of the biblical text. At the beginning of the project the Executive Steering Committee, composed of members of both the Old and New Testament Editorial Committees plus the Project Director, held extensive discussions before approving the “Guidelines for Translators” (now known as the “NET Bible Principles of Translation” and included in the printed edition as the first item in the Appendices) which set forth the basic character of the NET Bible translation and notes. Faithfulness to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in which the biblical documents were originally written was the primary concern. This frequently extended even to the connectives (“for,” “then,” “so,” “now”) used to introduce clauses, sentences, and paragraphs in the original languages. These conjunctions are often omitted in contemporary English translations since current English style does not use them extensively to indicate transitions and argument flow. However, the Executive Steering Committee felt that in many cases it was important to preserve these connections so that the modern reader would understand the argument flow. (In some cases where this would result in awkward English style, these conjunctions have been indicated in the translators’ notes that accompany the text—another example of how the NET Bible text and translators’ notes work together to convey meaning.)
How would you characterize the NET Bible as a translation?
The ultimate objective of the NET Bible is to be accurate, readable, and elegant. Yet these three principles are all too often in conflict with one another. Even a universal taxonomy will not work, because some passages pose special problems (such as liturgical use, familiarity, connections with the Old Testament, theological richness, and the like) that would override any rigid taxonomy.
As an illustration20
of the complexity of competing principles, consider the Lord’s declaration in Mark 1:17: “I will make you fishers of men.” This wording, found in the KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, REB, and ultimately going back to Tyndale, is familiar to churchgoers. But in contemporary English it communicates a meaning that deviates slightly from the point: Jesus did not want his apostles to evangelize only adult males, but all people (the Greek is ἁλιε’ς ἀνθρρωώπων, halies anthrōpōn
). But there is a second problem with this verse: “fishers
of men” is archaic. The NRSV opts for “I will make you fish for people.” This resolves the two problems of the older translations, but introduces two others. First, it sounds as if Jesus will force
(“make”) the disciples to “fish for people”; second, the conversion of the objective genitive (“of men”) to an object of the preposition (“for people”) results in a subtle shift from a focus on a new occupation to a mere activity. The NLT and TEV get past the first problem but not the second (“I will show you how to fish for people”; “I will teach you to catch people”). So, how best to solve the dilemma? The full meaning of Jesus’ declaration includes both nonexclusive evangelism and implications of an occupational shift. It is too cumbersome to express this as “I will make you fishermen of people,” though the archaism is removed. Nor is it correct to translate this as “I will make you fishers of mankind” because that would imply a mission to Gentiles which the disciples could not have conceived of at that time in redemptive history. This text illustrates the clash of the translational objectives of accuracy, readability, and elegance. We believe that the great value of the NET Bible is its extensive translators’ notes that wrestle with such issues, for the notes become a way for us to “have our cake and eat it too.” But on this passage—for now—we have settled on the translation, “I will turn you into fishers of people.” We have retained an archaism both because of its familiarity and because the alternative “fishermen” was too inelegant. The object complement construction was rendered “turn you into fishers” instead of “make you fishers” both because of its clarity and the hint of the disciples’ conversion as a prerequisite to their new occupation. We chose not to go with the more natural but less accurate rendering of “I will teach you to catch people.” In this
passage, accuracy was more important than readability or elegance. But a decision was not easy; we are still open to suggestions.
Is a literal translation the best translation?
Although one of the general principles of this translation is to indicate in the notes a more literal rendering, not every departure from such is noted. For one thing, Greek (or Hebrew) and English are sufficiently different that to document every departure would be an exercise in futility. No translation is completely literal, nor should that be a desirable goal. A completely word-for-word literal translation would be unreadable. John 4:15, for example, would be rendered: “Says to him the woman, ‘Sir, give to me this the water that not I thirst nor I come here to draw.” Matthew 1:18 would say, “Of the but Jesus Christ the birth thus was. Being betrothed the mother of him, Mary, to Joseph, before of to come together them she was found in belly having from Spirit Holy.” Such examples are not isolated, but are the norm. Claims for a literal translation must necessarily have a lot of fine print.
Literal is also not necessarily faithful. The word order differences between English and Greek, the use of the article, case, infinitives, participles, voice, mood, and other grammatical features are often so different that gibberish is the result if an absolutely literal translation is attempted (as in the two examples cited above). Not only this, but the idioms of one language have to be converted into the receptor language. Thus, in Matthew 1:18, no English translation (not even the King James Version) would dare speak of Mary’s pregnancy as “she was having [it] in the belly.” Yet this is the literal Greek expression for pregnancy. But it is not English. Thus the real question in translation is not whether it is literal, but whether it is faithful. And fidelity requires converting the lexical, grammatical, idiomatic, and figurative elements (to mention but a few) of the original language into the corresponding package in the receptor language. At times this can be accomplished by maintaining an approximately literal force. At other times, a loose rendering is required if the sentence is to have any meaning in English at all. Of course, this can be overdone. There are two dangers to avoid in translation. First, a translation should not be so literal that it is not good English. The meaning of the original needs to be as faithfully rendered into good English as possible. Second, a translation should not be so loose that it becomes merely an interpretation or allows sectarian interests to overwhelm the resultant text. All translation is interpretation; it cannot be otherwise. But the issue is how much interpretation and how idiosyncratic an interpretation is.
Part of the problem is this: the more literal a translation is, the less readable it generally is; the more readable it is, the less faithful it is to the original meaning (at least in many cases). Some modern translations are quite readable but are not very faithful to the biblical author’s meaning. A major goal of good translation is of course readability—but not at the expense of the intended meaning. The philosophy of the NET Bible translators was to be interpretive when such an interpretation represents the best thinking of recent scholarship. Thus, for example, in Romans 6:4, the expression “newness of life” is taken to mean “new life” by grammarians and exegetes alike and is thus translated this way. But when an interpretive translation is unnecessary or might suggest sectarian bias, and when a more literal rendering results in good English, we have followed the latter course.
A major category of nonliteral translation involves certain conjunctions. For example, the Greek word καιί (kai), meaning generally “and, even, also, yet, but, indeed,” is often left untranslated at the beginning of a sentence. When such is the case, there is usually no note given. However, if the possibility exists that an interpretive issue is involved, a note is given.
An additional consideration of the translation team was faithfulness (as far as possible without violation of current English style) to the style of the individual biblical authors. Even within the New Testament, written over a short span of time in comparison with the Old Testament, the authors exhibit their own unique literary styles. Paul’s style differs from Peter’s, and both differ from John’s. The translators and editors attempted to give the modern reader an impression of these stylistic differences where it was possible to do so without sacrificing accuracy, clarity, or readability.
Is the NET Bible suitable for use as more than a study Bible?
Beyond the primary objective of faithfulness to the original, a second major objective for the NET Bible was the clarity of the translation for the modern reader. This concern for clarity extended to the literary quality and readability of the NET Bible, and individual translators were encouraged to have their translations read aloud so that such factors as assonance and rhythm could be considered. Thus, although originally conceived as a study Bible, the NET Bible is designed to be useful for reading aloud, memorizing, teaching, and preaching, as well as private reading and study. The NET Bible is now being released as audio files in mp3 format. To find out for yourself how striking it sounds when read aloud, go to www.bible.org for a sample.
Hear the NET Bible, visit www.bible.org/audio
What do you mean when you say the NET Bible was beta-tested?
Since the NET Bible is the first English translation done entirely in digital electronic form, an idea was borrowed from software developers—a beta test. How did we beta-test the Bible? Just like software is beta-tested—we let people try it and tell us where it could be improved.
working draft of the NET Bible has been posted on the Internet at www.bible.org from the very beginning of the project. More people have previewed, used and reviewed the working drafts of the NET Bible than any other Bible translation in history.21
These prepublication reviewers of the NET Bible have logged millions of review sessions and sent the translation committee countless comments. The committee always takes each of these comments from our readers seriously and many have led to substantial improvement in the translation and notes. Now the complete NET Bible is available in both electronic and printed form. You have the opportunity to learn from a truly detailed, totally new Bible translation, plus you have our invitation to help us continue to improve the NET Bible through its planned ongoing development. This is unique in history.
What other changes have our readers suggested?
Many readers of the First Beta Edition asked for a NET Bible that weighed less and was easier to carry. With the Second Beta Edition and now the First Edition this has been accomplished. The font size remains standard study Bible size, the font size for poetry sections has been increased, and the font style of the footnotes has been upgraded to support better readability. The First Edition also employs new footnote numbers that are much easier to read than in previous printings. Countless readers contacted us with suggestions about the translation and notes, and these have helped us improve the NET Bible in thousands of places.
The NET Bible was the first translation to be published in electronic form on the Internet before being published in traditional print media. The Old and New Testament Translation Committees have invited and received public comment on the NET Bible from laypersons, clergy, and biblical scholars. That process will continue even after this release of the First Edition. Editorial focus will now be shifted primarily toward the notes. We invite feedback from everyone to help us make the NET Bible even better (go to our online comments database at www.bible.org/comments).
What improvements were made during the beta process?
Many readers of the First Beta Edition asked for maps. In conjunction with RØHR Productions of Nicosia, Cyprus, we included maps of the Holy Land based on satellite imagery. We also introduced new “map” notes to locate places mentioned in the NET Bible text. An exciting combination of technologies was used to produce these incredible images and they represent a very interesting story in and of themselves.
Another major change introduced with the Second Beta Edition of the NET Bible was a significant update to the text-critical notes for the New Testament. After the printing of the First Beta Edition, it was suggested to the NET Bible team by the German Bible Society (Deutsche Bibelgesellchaft) in Stuttgart, Germany, that the information in the New Testament tc notes should be standardized to the Nestle-Aland 27th edition text which they publish in conjunction with the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, Germany. (Prior to this point, the textual evidence in the tc notes had been drawn from NA27, UBS4, and other sources.) Over the course of a year, part of which was spent in residence at the Institut in Münster, the Senior New Testament Editor revised all existing tc notes in the NET Bible New Testament and added scores more. In the Second Beta Edition all these tc notes were conformed to the Nestle-Aland 27th edition Greek New Testament (Novum Testamentum Graece), 8th revised printing including papyri 99–116. The changes to the notes are most noticeable with nomenclature for manuscript witnesses: All tc notes in the New Testament now use the same nomenclature as that used by NA27, including the siglum . The reader should consult NA27 for discussion on this nomenclature. In addition, a double dagger (‡) is used in tc notes to indicate the several hundred places where the Greek text underlying the NET Bible differs from NA27; at a glance the reader can now see when the text translated by the NET Bible New Testament differs from that of NA27. This conformity to NA27 increases the quality of the notes tremendously, as it aligns them with the standard critical text of the Greek New Testament used by scholars, pastors, and students all over the world. As a result NET Bible readers will be able to use NA27 more effectively, and readers who use NA27 will see more readily how the process of textual criticism is carried out. In 2004, a joint venture between the German Bible Society and bible.org produced the New English Translation—Novum Testamentum Graece New Testament which combines the full NA27 text with apparatus and appendices along with the NET Bible text and a special edition of the translators’ notes and text-critical notes optimized to assist students of the original Greek. Additional information on this publication is available from www.bible.org/diglot.
Another significant change to the translators’ notes (tn
) in the Second Beta Edition was the updating of all citations of BAGD to BDAG, thus keeping the NET Bible current with the most up-to-date reference materials.22
All of these changes have resulted in a better translation and an increase to 60,932 translators’ notes!
All of the biblical text was edited extensively for faithfulness to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, as well as for English wording and style. In the final edit between the Second Beta Edition and the First Edition, approximately 1,500 new translators’ notes were added. There were also cases in the Second Beta Editon where the same note applied multiple times within a short section of a book. To decrease redundancy, approximately 600 duplicate notes were consolidated and deleted. From the First Beta Edition to the First Edition over 3,500 new notes of various kinds were added. These include translators’ notes (tn), study notes (sn), text-critical notes (tc), and map notes (map). The “map notes” [map] indicate where the particular location can be found in the map sections included in the NET Bible, “The Old Testament,” “The Journeys of Paul,” and “The Holy Land from the Heavens.” (For the First Edition a new section of Old Testament maps have been included for the first time.) Preceding the maps is an index which contains every site marked on the maps (although the maps do not include every biblical site). The map coordinates in the notes and index first indicate the larger map and then the individual grid location; if a site is shown on more than one map, multiple sets of coordinates will be listed. For example, one of the coordinates for the city of Jerusalem is Map5-B1; this should be read as “The Holy Land from the Heavens”—map 5 – grid B1. Another coordinate for Jerusalem is JP1-F4; this should be read as “The Journeys of Paul”—map 1 – grid F4.
Can I still submit suggestions for improvements now that the First Edition has been released?
Absolutely. The goal of this translation is to be accurate, readable, and elegant. While we think we’ve done a good job achieving that, we know we have not yet achieved perfection. If you come across a phrase or verse you feel needs further improvement, you can let us know through our online comments database at www.bible.org/comments. The comments database will remain online and input will be used for the first planned revision of the translated biblical text in 2010 and for the ongoing development of the notes.
You can submit a comment on any aspect of the translation and notes, from the clarity and elegance of the English to specific points of Greek or Hebrew grammar, to interpretive issues discussed in the notes. We welcome any and all comments which would help us improve the NET Bible. To illustrate that we aren’t solely interested in just one type of comment, below is a sampling of the types of comments we welcome. These are by no means exhaustive and you need not reference which category applies to you. These are merely examples to encourage you to participate in the ongoing development process.
I’m not an expert in Hebrew or Greek, but I don’t understand the English meaning of this verse. It uses awkward grammar or words that aren’t in normal English usage. (Translation reflecting normal English usage was the primary goal of the original King James Bible.)
I’m a scholar in the Bible’s original languages, and (a) I really think you could better translate this verse this way…; (b) here’s what your translation incorrectly implies in English which was not a nuance of the original; (c) here’s why people of my background will interpret the English phrase in a strange fashion.
There is reasonable difference of opinion about this verse’s implications among honest Bible students; a more balanced note is needed. (Here you may specify the view you would like to see represented.)
Other comments and endorsements: We would also like to hear of specific passages where you particularly like what we have done, or other features of the NET Bible that impress you. Additionally, we would be very pleased to have your endorsement of the NET Bible. Comments of this type can be sent by E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Have suggestions and comments? Go to www.bible.org/comments
Will the NET Bible be updated on a regular basis?
Absolutely. No translation can achieve perfection, and even if it could, the English language itself would change and the translation would still become dated. The supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, the standard reference source for English vocabulary, contains over 85,000 entries of words that did not exist in the English language when the OED was published in 1924. No one has any idea of the number of words and phrases that have dropped out of English usage in the same period. No one reading the KJV who comes across expressions like “meteyard” in Leviticus 19:35, “vain jangling” in 1 Timothy 1:6, or the “mean man” in Isaiah 2:9, 5:15, and 31:8 can fail to see how words change in meaning over time. Even terms like “usury” (Nehemiah 5:10; Ezekiel 18:17) or “she-camel” (Jeremiah 2:23)—both found in the NIV—are not familiar to many modern readers. Other English words like “thong” have developed new meanings which are problematic for their use in Bible translations (e.g., Judges 16:7 in the NIV).
Additional research, additional discoveries of new manuscripts, and archaeological discoveries that shed additional light on first century history and culture also contribute to the need for revision. Attempts to produce notes better suited to the needs of users will also result in frequent revision of the notes accompanying the NET Bible. Thus the production of the NET Bible is not a one-time undertaking to be completed and put aside, but an ongoing project with planned improvement and revision. The biblical text of the NET Bible itself will be revised in five-year increments beginning in 2010, while the notes will undergo continual revision, improvement, and expansion.
What position does the NET Bible take on gender-inclusive language?
Much concern has recently been expressed by people unhappy about modern translations of the Bible which employ “gender-inclusive” language. Some of the changes causing such concern involve the inclusion of references to women in almost all places where the biblical text refers to men, the pluralization of singular references to avoid the use of masculine pronouns like “he” or “him,” and even, in extreme cases, the application of such inclusive language to God himself. (This last idea is one completely foreign to the original authors of the canonical texts in question.)
Having said this, it is also true that many of the ancient texts of the Bible are less gender-specific than English translations often suggest. In many cases an ancient reader encountering a masculine noun or pronoun would have recognized it to be generic without having to be told. Modern readers (accustomed to the tendency of current English style to use inclusive language wherever possible) often assume the opposite to be true: if both genders are not explicitly mentioned, an assumption of exclusivity is frequently the result.
It is important to distinguish two approaches to gender inclusivity in the history of the Bible’s translation into English. The first approach we might call “Ideological Gender Inclusivity,” since it attempts, on an ideological basis, to remove “objectionable” elements like patriarchalism or even male metaphors for God himself. No such radical approach has been followed with the NET Bible. The other approach could be called “Gender-Accurate Translation,” which simply means translating terms without respect to gender when the intended meaning or application is broad and not gender-specific. This type of translation has been around at least since the publication of William Tyndale’s New Testament in 1526, when he rendered the phrase υἱοὶ θεοῦ (huioi theou, “sons of God”) as “children of God,” a gender neutral translation. Along these same lines the KJV of 1611 rendered בֵּן (ben, “son”) or its plural 2,822 times as “son” or “sons” and 1,533 times as “child” or “children,” resulting in a gender-neutral translation 35% of the time. A further example of gender-neutral translation can be found in Hosea 2:4, which refers to Gomer’s three children, two sons and one daughter. The Hebrew text of Hosea 2:4 literally reads “Upon her sons also I will have no pity, because they are sons of whoredom.” Yet the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (LXX), uses the Greek term for children, τέκνα (tekna, Hosea 2:6 [LXX], which is neuter gender), and among English translations the KJV, ASV, NIV, and NRSV all employ “children.”
With the NET Bible our concern was to be gender-accurate rather than gender-inclusive, striving for faithfulness to the original biblical texts while at the same time seeking to attain accuracy in terms of current English style. The English language constantly undergoes change. Acceptable conventions for dealing with gender-related language have undergone a great deal of change in the last few decades, and more change in this area will certainly come in the future. As the conventions of the English language change, new translations and revisions of existing translations will have to take this into account. This is especially important when the goal of the translation (like that of the NET Bible) is faithfulness to the original.
At the same time, we do not employ “Ideological Gender Inclusivity,” since we do not believe the Bible should be rewritten to incorporate gender-inclusive language foreign to the original. The Bible is a historical document rooted in a particular set of cultures and languages, each with their own conventions in the area of gender-related language. In addition, these languages and cultures are separated from us not by mere decades, but by millennia. In all cases the goal for the NET Bible was to be as accurate as possible with regard to gender-related language, faithfully reproducing the meaning of the original text in clear contemporary English. In some instances this meant allowing gender distinctions found in the original-language texts to stand in the translation, as for example in a historical setting—like Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee with his disciples in a boat—when it is almost certain that only males were present. In other instances when a group of people are addressed by the Greek term anthrōpoi (literally, “men”) and it is clear from context that both men and women are addressed (with the term used in a generic sense), the translation “people” has been used. Here are some of the other typical features of the NET Bible’s handling of gender-related language:
• Adelphoi (traditionally “brothers” or “brethren”) has been rendered as “brothers and sisters” in the epistles where the church is addressed at large. Ample evidence for this usage can be found in nonbiblical (secular) documents as mentioned in standard lexical reference tools like BDAG. This evidence is typically mentioned in the notes.
• Participles have been translated “the one who” or (rarely) “the person who” with the following pronoun left as masculine, because English has yet to develop a gender-neutral pronoun for the third person. Only infrequently, when a participle refers to Deity, has it been translated “he who.”
• There are a very few instances where anēr, which typically means “man” (i.e., adult male) or “husband” in Greek, has been rendered as “someone” (e.g., James 1:23) or (very rarely) as a generic (e.g., Acts 17:34, where Damaris, a woman, is explicitly mentioned as a member of the group).
• In some cases in James, 1 John, and a few other places adelphos has been rendered as “fellow believer” or “fellow Christian” following usage outlined in standard lexical reference tools.
In most of these instances, further explanation of the way the gender-related language has been handled in the translation is given in a translators’ note.
Considerable time was spent discussing many significant New Testament texts with regard to gender issues. One example of such a text is 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and anthrōpoi (men / mankind / humankind), the anthrōpos (man / person / human) Christ Jesus.” The NET Bible New Testament translation team discussed this intriguing example at length. The basic question was, “Is the key to Jesus’ role as mediator that he mediates for males, or for both men and women?” There was also the need to be sensitive to the word play in both halves of the verse involving anthrōpos. Typically the objection has been that a rendering like “human” in the second half compromises Jesus’ maleness which is also involved here. But the translators had to ask, “Which rendering might cause more confusion, a use of “men” in a generic sense, or a rendering like “humanity”? Which point is more central to this particular context, the redemption of humanity, or Jesus’ maleness? Everyone knows Jesus was a male human, so his maleness is not in question here! Deciding that the redemption of humanity was the primary point in the context, and that Jesus’ participation in humanity was central to his mediatory role, the translators opted for the rendering, “For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human.”
Finally, with regard to the issue of translational gender inclusivity it is important to note the flexibility shown by the New Testament authors themselves when citing Old Testament texts. A few examples will suffice: in Isaiah 52:7 the prophet states “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news”; this was incorporated by Paul in Romans 10:15 as “the feet of those who proclaim the good news.” In Psalm 36:1 the psalmist writes, “There is no fear of God before his eyes,” while Paul quotes this in Romans 3:18 as “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Again, the psalmist writes in Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is he whose lawless deeds are forgiven, whose sins are covered,” while Paul in Romans 4:7 has “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Even more striking is the citation by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:18 of 2 Samuel 7:14, where God states, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me.” Paul renders this as “I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.” Furthermore, it cannot be claimed that Paul is simply following the common version of the Greek Old Testament (the LXX) here, since the LXX follows the Hebrew text closely at this point, literally, “I will be to him for a father, and he will be to me for a son.” Although considerable flexibility is shown in Paul’s handling of this text, hardly anyone would charge him with capitulating to a feminist agenda!
What is the story behind these incredible photographic maps?
“The Holy Land from the Heavens” map supplement was a new addition to the Second Beta Edition of the NET Bible. There are two types of images in this section. Several of these images are photographs of the Holy Land taken from aircraft. The second type are satellite maps of the Holy Land. How these satellite images came to exist may be an interesting story to many readers.
When you compare these images to other satellite imagery or photographs, you will immediately notice their unique resolution and quality. This gives you, the reader, a great deal of information—relative altitude, topography, vegetation, available mountain passes, travel routes, etc.—and this information is often vital to understanding the Bible. As we searched for maps to include in the NET Bible, we found that the high quality map lithographs included in 16th century Bibles had not been surpassed by the maps in contemporary study Bibles. Now they have. The images in “The Holy Land from the Heavens” are far better than any maps that have ever been included in any Bible.
What you see is essentially a photograph in the sense that all of the colors shown derive from a single satellite photograph, but it is so vastly improved that we feel we owe you an explanation. The process to create these images was quite complex. Every image began as a photograph taken by a U.S. LandSat 5 satellite on a cold, crystal clear morning in January. Every color is thus true and contextual, not a mixture of images from different days. It was a rare and specifically chosen day because there were virtually no clouds anywhere in the entire region. Because LandSat images are taken from directly above, contain no altitude data, and have only a 30 meter resolution—far worse than the result you see here—more needed to be done to make the images better. A resolution of 30 meters means is that a building which is 30 by 30 meters would appear as one single dot on the image, so objects smaller than this size would not be visible at this resolution.
To improve the images, data from a French SPOT satellite was integrated in order to increase the resolution to 10 meters, so that smaller features of the landscape could be seen. This was complicated because the SPOT satellite data is black and white, but has 10 meter resolution. Thus there are 9 pixels of data (9 dots) in the SPOT data for every single colored dot in the LandSat data. Since these two satellites took their pictures from different altitudes and different locations in the sky, combining the two images required continuous compensation for differences in altitude, focal length, and image skew—because these two images sources were never intended to be combined into a single image. Therefore it was required that the combined images be precisely aligned, that the edges of every mountain and valley be identical and not blurred, resulting in an extensive investment of money, love, time, and technology. Along the way, two photographic exposure settings were required so that the desert south was not overexposed and the vegetation of the north was not underexposed. So the base image had to be an integration of two exposure settings shot at the same time by the same satellite in order to achieve the photographic exposure perfection you see. Once the SPOT and LandSat photographs were integrated, the image was still a topographically boring look from above with no altitude data.
The next step was to “drape” these two-dimensional images over a 3-D relief model of the terrain which added topographical data. This required relatively complex math and a significant amount of computer time. On some maps, this kind of data is shown as contour lines overlaid onto the images and labeled with altitude numbers for each contour line. Using this approach, locations where the contour lines are very close represent steep slopes. This method is fine for hiking maps, but obscures a photographic image and certainly detracts from the beauty of high resolution color satellite images like these.
The final step, therefore, was to develop software which would remove the need for contour lines by rendering the entire image as if it had not been taken from directly above in space, but as if the observer was viewing the scene from the side window of a commercial airliner. In this manner, altitude information would appear photographically as height in a natural way rather than as numbers on a vertical view from above. One drawback of this oblique scene projection is that the opposite sides of large mountains and valleys are obscured. For this reason, there are two views presented for each scene to allow you to “see behind” each of the mountains—one looking from the southwest and another from the northeast. In this manner, none of the original data is lost in these photographs. You can see both sides of each mountain from 180 degree opposing photographs of each region. In addition, the natural distortion that occurs when projecting an oblique image is also accounted for by looking at the same region from two different perspectives.
Why these particular viewing perspectives (northeast and southwest)? Since the computer could have projected each image from any angle, these photographs could have been rendered as if shot looking in any compass direction—looking north or east for example. But these particular perspectives have been chosen for a specific reason. Depth perception and contour imaging clues interpreted in the brain are indicated by shadows in photographs. Although the original photographs were taken from above, the sun was not high overhead at the same time, so the shadows included in the original satellite photos dictate the optimum viewing angle of the scenes. Since the original photographs were taken early on a winter morning, the sun was low on the southeast horizon, casting long shadows to the northwest from the southeast. The eye understands an image best when viewed perpendicular to the direction of any shadows. Therefore, in order to produce the most illuminating three dimensional image, the observer must look at right angles to these shadows. These circumstances dictate that the best viewing perspectives for the reader will be looking northeast and southwest.
These images took more time and technology than have ever been used before in the creation of images for biblical studies. They are the result of over thirty years of diligent effort by RØHR Productions Ltd. whose goal is to create unsurpassed images of the Holy Land, images which enable the reader to better understand the land of the Bible—and provide teachers a far better than normal reference for guiding students through biblical narratives in their proper geographical context. Although we have modified these maps to suit the smaller format of the NET Bible they are all derived from the Holy Land Satellite Atlas: Volumes 1 and 2 (and the related 3-D Animation CD of the Holy Land), published by RØHR Productions Ltd. We are grateful for permission to use them in the NET Bible. The effort that went into the procurement and production of these images deserves your support. We encourage you to obtain RØHR’s family of imagery reference materials in order to support both your studies and RØHR’s ongoing efforts.
What are some of the distinctive characteristics of the NET Bible translation philosophy?
One distinctive characteristic is how the NET Bible strives for accuracy. The NET Bible seeks to be accurate by translating passages consistently and properly within their grammatical, historical, and theological context. The interplay and proper understanding of these three contexts has produced some distinctive translations within the NET Bible. By explaining these here we hope to help the Bible reader understand more fully the translation task undertaken to produce the NET Bible, but even more importantly to understand more fully the Bible itself.
As a translator approaches a passage there are a number of contexts which must be considered. They can be summed up under three broad terms: grammatical, historical, and theological. Grammatical context involves a natural, accurate understanding of the language of the original text which provides parameters for how language functions and which meanings are possible and probable for a given text. This is what most naturally comes to mind when translation work is done. It is the primary work of the translator to determine what meaning is expressed in the original language and how that can best be expressed in the target language. Understanding in this area has improved immensely over the last several years, especially with the advent of computer tools for language study. One of the primary goals of the NET Bible has been to stay abreast of current research in this area. The footnotes in the NET Bible often refer to recent articles, books, and dissertations which have new data regarding how biblical languages function. As our understanding of these languages improves, naturally it will affect the translation of particular passages.
Historical context involves an understanding of the peoples, cultures, customs, and history of the times in which the Bible was written. As with the grammatical context, the historical context provides parameters for understanding the meaning of passages in the Bible and how they should be translated. It looks at the historical background and events of the text to provide a good balance for possible interpretations and meanings of a text.
Theological context is the understanding of God and his work that a particular author would have at the time he wrote a particular passage of scripture. In a manner similar to historical context, theological context provides parameters for deciding upon the meaning of a text and the best way to translate it. The Bible was written over a period of about 2,500 years. During this time, theological understanding changed dramatically. Moses did not know and understand God the way Paul did. This does not mean that Moses knew God in a wrong way and that Paul knew him the right way; it simply means that God had revealed more about himself over time, so Paul had a fuller understanding of who God was and what he was doing in the world. When translating an earlier passage of scripture, the translator should take into account that the theological understanding of the author will be different from that of a later author.
As implied above, these three concepts form a limited hierarchy. Grammatical context is the most important because it deals with the nuts and bolts of the language which convey meaning which ultimately can be translated. For example, in English one cannot communicate to a reader that the sky is blue by writing “The tree is green.” The words and phrases which make up this sentence can only communicate a limited meaning, and this is defined by the grammar, the syntax of the phrases, the meanings of the individual words, and other similar considerations. Understanding the grammatical context is the most important task of the translator, for the meaning is found in these words and phrases. The translators and editors of the NET Bible translate a passage with precedence given to the grammatical context. The historical and theological context provide a reasonable system of checks and balances; they help the translator decide what is the most probable meaning of the original text and how that meaning should be translated. They do not drive the translation; instead they guide it so that the most probable meaning is conveyed.
A very important concept for understanding the translation philosophy of the NET Bible and how these three contexts work together is progressive revelation. Simply put, progressive revelation recognizes that God reveals himself—his nature as well as his word, plans, and purposes—over time. He did not reveal everything about himself and what he was doing in the world all at once; instead he graciously revealed more and more as time went on. Later revelation serves to complement and supplement what has come before. The relation of this reality to translation work creates a great deal of tension, especially as it relates to the theological context, because certain earlier passages are clarified by later ones. Does the translator translate the older passage with a view to the clarification that the later passage brings, or does the translator concentrate solely on the native context of the older passage? The translators and editors for the NET Bible have generally chosen to do the latter for a variety of reasons. A translation which takes into account the progress of revelation will be true to the three contexts discussed above. It is also very beneficial to the Bible reader to have the progress of revelation accurately represented in the translation of particular texts. This helps the reader see how God has worked through the centuries, and it helps the reader to stand more accurately in the place of the original recipients of the text. Both of these are very instructive and inspirational, and they help the reader to connect with the text in a more fulfilling way.
A discussion of particular passages in the NET Bible—how they have been translated and why—will illuminate these concepts. Explaining these examples will show how the translators and editors have put the aspects of the translation theory discussed above into practice. The translators and editors believe these issues are important for readers of the Bible to grasp, so all these passages have extensive notes regarding these issues. An example from both the Old and New Testaments will be given.
Isaiah 7:14. This verse has seen a great deal of discussion in the history of interpretation. The text of the verse from the NET Bible is as follows:
Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.
The most visible issue surrounding this verse is the translation of the Hebrew word עַלְמָה (’almah). The NET Bible uses the phrase “young woman,” while many translations use the word “virgin.” The arguments center upon two main points: the actual meaning of the term as it is used in Hebrew, and the use of this verse in the New Testament. There is a great deal of debate about the actual meaning of the Hebrew word. However, in the New Testament when this verse is cited in Matthew 1:23 the Greek word παρθένος (parthenos) is used, and this word can mean nothing but “virgin.” Therefore, many people see Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy about the virgin birth with Matthew 1:23 serving as a “divine commentary” on the Isaiah passage which establishes its meaning. The interplay of these issues makes a resolution quite complex. It is the opinion of the translators and editors that the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14 means “young woman” and actually carries no connotations of sexual experience, so the grammatical context of the verse in the Old Testament is in our opinion fairly straightforward. Neither does the historical context of Isaiah 7:14 point to any connection with the birth of the Messiah: in its original historical context, this verse was pointing to a sign for King Ahaz that the alliance between Syria and Israel which was threatening the land of Judah would come to nothing. The theological context of Isaiah 7:14 is also limited: it is a presentation of God’s divine power to show himself strong on behalf of his people. The role or birth of the Messiah does not come into view here. So the historical and theological contexts of the verse support the grammatical: the word עַלְמָה (’almah) means “young woman” and should be translated as such. Within the book of Isaiah itself, however, the author begins to develop the theological context of this verse, and this provides a connection to the use of the passage in Matthew. In Isaiah 8:9–10 the prophet delivers an announcement of future victory over Israel’s enemies; the special child Immanuel, alluded to in the last line of v. 10, is a guarantee that the covenant promises of God will result in future greatness. The child mentioned in Isaiah 7:14 is a pledge of God’s presence during the time of Ahaz, but he also is a promise of God’s presence in the future when he gives his people victory over all their enemies. This theological development progresses even further when another child is promised in Isaiah 9:6–7 who will be a perfect ruler over Israel, manifesting God’s presence perfectly and ultimately among his people. The New Testament author draws from this development and uses the original passage in Isaiah to make the connection between the child originally promised and the child who would be the ultimate fulfillment of that initial promise. The use of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 draws upon the theological development present in the book of Isaiah, but it does not change the meaning of Isaiah 7:14 in its original context.
Passages Involving πιίστις Χριστοῦ and Similar Expressions in Paul. The phrase πιίστις Χριστοῦ (pistis Christou) is a difficult one to translate. The issue centers on the relationship of the genitive noun Χριστοῦ to the head noun πιίστις: is the genitive subjective or objective? That is, is the emphasis of this phrase on Christ as the one who exercises faith (subjective) or on Christ as the one in whom others have faith (objective)? Traditionally these phrases have been interpreted emphasizing Christ as the object of faith; “faith in Jesus Christ” is the traditional translation. However, in recent years an increasing number of New Testament scholars are arguing from both the grammatical and theological contexts that πιίστις Χριστοῦ and similar phrases in Paul (Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and emphasize Christ as the one who exercises faith: “the faithfulness of Christ.” A wider glance at the use of the noun πιίστις in the rest of the New Testament shows that when it takes a personal genitive that genitive is almost never objective. Certainly faith in Christ is a Pauline concept, but Bible scholars have begun to see that in Paul’s theological thought there is also an emphasis on Christ as one who is faithful and therefore worthy of our faith. The grammatical and theological contexts are not decisive, and either translation is acceptable. The editors decided to follow the subjective genitive view because a decision had to be made—“faith of Christ,” a literal translation, communicates very little to the average reader in the context—and because scholarship in this area is now leaning toward this view. The question is certainly not closed, however, and if further research indicates that the grammatical or theological context proves decisive for the other view, the translation will be modified to reflect that.
In short, the translators and editors of the NET Bible are committed to following the text where it leads and translating it honestly. The translation philosophy leaves no other options: For the sake of Christ and the truth, the translators and editors are compelled to translate as they have done in the examples above and throughout the NET Bible. The 19th century conservative Christian scholar Henry Alford stated it best: “a translator of Holy Scripture must be…ready to sacrifice the choicest text, and the plainest proof of doctrine, if the words are not those of what he is constrained in his conscience to receive as God’s testimony.”
For the specific guidelines employed by the translators and editors of the NET Bible, see “NET Bible Principles of Translation” included as the first item in the Appendices.
What is the Hebrew text behind the NET Bible Old Testament?
The starting point for the Hebrew text23
translated to produce the NET Bible Old Testament was the standard edition known as Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
), which represents the text of the Leningrad Codex B19A
(L), still the oldest dated manuscript of the complete Hebrew Bible. Thus the Hebrew text on which the present translation of the Old Testament is based does not represent a critical, or reconstructed, text in the same way the standard critical editions of the Greek New Testament do. It is generally recognized that the Hebrew text represented by the Leningrad Codex occasionally needs to be corrected based on other Hebrew manuscripts, early versions, and the biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the case of the Old Testament such decisions were left up to the individual translators who prepared the initial drafts for consideration by the Old Testament Editorial Committee. The textual decisions made by the translators were then reviewed by the editors and a textual consultant, and in some cases were revised. Conjectural emendation was employed only where necessary to make sense of the Hebrew text in order to be able to translate it. Significant textual variants or emendations are noted in a text-critical note [tc
]. These notes frequently include references to principal versional evidence where relevant. The text-critical notes on the Old Testament are not intended to be exhaustive, but to provide the reader with basic information about the major textual issues affecting the translation.
How are the verses in the Old Testament arranged?
Some of the divisions found in copies of the Hebrew Bible were already established by the end of the Masoretic era (ca. a.d. 900). While it is generally understood that the division of the Old Testament text into verses goes back to the early centuries of the Christian era, the standard verse division which has continued in use up to the present was fixed by the Ben Asher family around a.d. 900.
In the places where the Hebrew versification differs from that of the English Bible, the NET Bible follows standard English practice, but a study note [sn
] gives the corresponding Hebrew versification. Unlike the Hebrew text, which treats the superscriptions to individual psalms as the first verse, the NET Bible follows most English Bibles24
in leaving the superscriptions unnumbered, and they are set in a slightly smaller font size to distinguish them from the text of the Psalm proper.
How is the Divine Name translated in the Old Testament?
The translation of the Divine Name represents special problems for all English Bibles. The most difficult issue is the handling of the so-called tetragrammaton, the four consonants which represent the name of God in the Old Testament. This was rendered traditionally as “Jehovah” in the King James Version, but it is generally recognized that this represents a combination of the consonants of the tetragrammaton, יהוה (YHWH), and the vowels from a completely different Hebrew word, אֲדֹנָי(̒adonai, “master”), which were substituted by the Masoretes so that pronunciation of the Divine Name could be avoided: Whenever יהוה (YHWH), appeared in the text, the presence of the vowels from the word אֲדֹנָי (̒adonai) signaled to the reader that the word אֲדֹנָי (̒adonai) was to be pronounced instead.
Today most Old Testament scholars agree that the vocalization of the Divine Name would originally have been something like Yahweh, and this has become the generally accepted rendering. The Executive Steering Committee of the NET Bible spent considerable time discussing whether or not to employ Yahweh in the translation. Several Old Testament editors and translators favored its use, reasoning that because of its use in the lyrics of contemporary Christian songs and its appearance in Bible study materials, the name Yahweh had gained more general acceptance. In spite of this, however, the Committee eventually decided to follow the usage of most English translations and render the Divine Name as “Lord” in small caps. Thus the frequent combination אֶלֹהִים יְהוָה (Yahweh ̒elohim) is rendered as Lord God.
Other combinations like יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת (Yahweh Tséva̒ot), traditionally rendered “Lord of hosts,” have been translated either as “the Lord who rules over all” or “the Lord who commands armies” depending on the context. Such instances are typically indicated by a translators’ note [tn].
What is the Greek text behind the NET Bible New Testament?
As for the Greek text used in the NET Bible New Testament, an eclectic text was followed, differing in several hundred places from the standard critical text as represented by the Nestle-Aland 27th edition (each of these differences are indicated by a double dagger [‡] preceding the text-critical note). The translators who prepared the initial drafts of individual New Testament books made preliminary decisions regarding textual variants, and these were then checked and discussed by editors and a textual consultant. Where there are significant variant readings, these are normally indicated in a text-critical note [tc], along with a few of the principal witnesses (Greek manuscripts, ancient versions, and patristic writers) supporting the variants. While this listing of manuscript evidence is not intended to be exhaustive, readers familiar with the major witnesses will find this feature useful in making brief evaluations for themselves, sometimes with the aid of the textual apparatus in Nestle-Aland 27th edition of the Greek New Testament.
How is the New Testament text arranged?
Divisions in the New Testament text like chapters, paragraphs, and verses were added later in the process of handing the text down from one generation to the next.25
Verse divisions were added to the New Testament, for example, in 1551. They are not part of the original documents, and in many cases give the appearance of being rather arbitrary. However, they have become accepted over time, and are useful to students of the Bible as “aids to navigation” when reading through or referring to the text. The text of the NET Bible itself has been arranged in paragraphs determined by the translators and editors. In almost all cases the verse divisions follow standard English practice. In the few instances where there is a difference between the versification of the standard critical editions of the Greek New Testament and most English versions,26
this is indicated by a translators’ note [tn
New Testament quotations from the Old Testament are indicated by a combination of boldface and italic type. Less direct allusions to Old Testament passages are indicated by italic type only. In both cases a study note [sn] gives the Old Testament reference.
What are the sectional headings in the Old and New Testaments?
As a further aid to readers and students of the Bible, descriptive sectional headings are given in italics. These were determined by the translators and editors in an attempt to be as helpful as possible, but should not be viewed as an integral part of the NET Bible text. They were not part of the original Hebrew and Greek texts that formed the basis for the translation.
How are quotation marks used?
Earlier printed editions of the Bible (the King James Version of 1611, for example) did not make use of quotation marks. Modern readers have come to expect them, however, so the NET Bible follows standard conventions of setting direct quotations with various combinations of single and double quotation marks. In cases where embedded quotations would require the use of more than three layers of quotation marks (instances are found in many of the Old Testament prophetic books which could run to five or more layers of embedded quotation), a more streamlined approach has been followed to eliminate excess layers of quotation marks by the use of colons and commas.
What types of notes are included in the NET Bible?
There are four basic kinds of notes employed in the NET Bible, “text-critical notes” [tc], “translators’ notes” [tn], “study notes” [sn], and “map notes” [map]. In the First Edition of the NET Bible the “translators’ notes” are generally more numerous and considerably more technical in nature than the “study notes” (although the latter will continue to be expanded and developed in future editions of the NET Bible).
The “text-critical notes” [tc] discuss alternate (variant) readings found in the various manuscripts and groups of manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. These notes can indicate historically important readings, exegetically significant readings, or readings accepted by the translation that are different from standard critical editions. The basic Hebrew text followed by the translators of the NET Bible is that of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS). For the New Testament, in cases where the translation follows a different reading than that found in NA27, a text-critical note [tc] preceded by a double dagger (‡) explains the major options and defends the reading followed in the translation.
The “translators’ notes” [tn] are the most numerous. They explain the rationale for the translation and give alternative translations, interpretive options, and other technical information. “Translators’ notes” generally fall into the following categories:
• Notes introduced by “Or” need no further explanation. They introduce alternative translations that (unless accompanied by additional discussion in the note) are regarded by the translators and editors as more or less equally viable alternatives to the translation used in the text, with the choice between them made for reasons of style, euphony, other characteristics of contemporary English usage, or slight exegetical preference.
• Notes introduced by “Heb,” “Aram,” or “Grk” give a gloss that approximates formal equivalence to the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text. This gloss was not employed in the translation, however, because it was inconsistent with English style or could possibly be misunderstood by the modern reader. Such glossses do not represent the “core” meaning of the word(s).
• Translators’ notes are also used to indicate major lexical, syntactical, and exegetical options for a given passage. In such cases the form of the note may vary, but in general the major options will be listed and in most cases a brief evaluation is included in the note. Standard reference materials and, on occasion, relevant periodical literature are frequently mentioned in the notes. Abbreviations for these materials, as well as abbreviations for both biblical books and nonbiblical literature, generally follow the standard abbreviations established by Patrick H. Alexander et al., eds., The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1999). Full bibliographic citations are given for periodical literature. Standard reference works and special studies, such as commentaries and monographs, are referenced by abbreviations or shortened citations; full bibliographic citations are given in the List of Cited Works.
• In some cases where a rather lengthy note occurs on multiple occasions within the same book, the note will be given in full only on its first occurrence in the book, while succeeding repetitions of the note will refer back to the first occurrence by phrase and verse. This is intended to conserve space by avoiding excessive repetition of identical notes within the same book.
The “study notes” [sn] are explanatory notes intended for the nonspecialist engaged in the reading or study of the Bible. This category includes comments about historical or cultural background, explanation of obscure phrases or brief discussions of context, discussions of the theological point made by the biblical author, cross-references and references to Old Testament quotations or allusions in the New Testament, or other miscellaneous information helpful to the modern reader.
The “map notes” [map] indicate for the reader where the particular location can be found in the map sections included in the NET Bible. Preceding the maps is an index which contains every site on the maps, although the maps do not include every biblical site. The map coordinates in the notes and index first indicate the larger map and then the individual grid location; if a site is shown on more than one map, multiple sets of coordinates will be listed. For example, one of the coordinates for the city of Jerusalem is Map5-B1; this should be read as “The Holy Land from the Heavens”—map 5 – grid B1. Another coordinate for Jerusalem is JP1-F4; this should be read as “The Journeys of Paul”—map 1 – grid F4.
What is the NET Bible team’s request?
No matter how bad or good a translation may be, it will do you no good at all unless you read and study it! The words of the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus27
(also known as Sirach) are appropriate here: “You are therefore urged to read with good will and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, in spite of our diligent labor in translating, we may appear to have rendered some phrases imperfectly.” As the NET Bible team it is our desire and earnest prayer that the Lord add his blessing to our endeavor at the translation of his word.
The NET Bible Project Director
for the Translators, Editors, and Sponsor of the NET Bible
The NET Bible® Team
First Edition Translators, Editors, and Consultants
Old Testament Translators and Editors
Richard E. Averbeck, Ph.D. (Dropsie College)28
Robert B. Chisholm, Th.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Dorian Coover-Cox, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Eugene H. Merrill, Ph.D. (Columbia University)
Allen P. Ross, Ph.D. (Cambridge University)
Robert B. Chisholm, Th.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Dorian Coover-Cox, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Gordon H. Johnston, Th.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Richard A. Taylor, Ph.D.
(Catholic University of America)
Robert B. Chisholm, Th.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Gordon H. Johnston, Th.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Allen P. Ross, Ph.D. (Cambridge University)
Steven H. Sanchez, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Major and Minor Prophets:
William D. Barrick, Th.D.
(Grace Theological Seminary)
M. Daniel Carroll R., Ph.D.
(University of Sheffield)
Robert B. Chisholm, Th.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Dorian Coover-Cox, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Donald R. Glenn, M.A. (Brandeis University)
Michael A. Grisanti, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D. (University of Sheffield)
Eugene H. Merrill, Ph.D. (Columbia University)
Steven H. Sanchez, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Brian L. Webster, Ph.D. (Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion)
New Testament Translators and Editors
Gospels and Acts:
Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D. (University of Aberdeen)
Michael H. Burer, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D. (University of Sheffield)
Gregory J. Herrick, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
David K. Lowery, Ph.D. (University of Aberdeen)
John D. Grassmick, Ph.D. (University of Glasgow)
W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D. (University of Sheffield)
Gregory J. Herrick, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Harold W. Hoehner, Ph.D. (Cambridge University)
David K. Lowery, Ph.D. (University of Aberdeen)
Jay E. Smith, Ph.D.
(Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
General Letters and Revelation:
Buist M. Fanning III, D.Phil. (Oxford University)
W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D. (University of Sheffield)
Gregory J. Herrick, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
David K. Lowery, Ph.D. (University of Aberdeen)
Daniel B. Wallace, Ph.D.
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Wayne Leman, M.A. (University of Kansas)
James Routt, Ph.D. (Cambridge University)
English Style Consultant
W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D. (University of Sheffield)
NET Bible Executive Steering Committee
W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D.,
Project Director and Managing Editor
Michael H. Burer, Ph.D.,
Editor and Assistant Project Director
Robert B. Chisholm, Th.D., Senior OT Editor
Daniel B. Wallace, Ph.D., Senior NT Editor
Buist M. Fanning, Ph.D., NT Editor
Donald R. Glenn, M.A., OT Editor
Gordon H. Johnston, Th.D., OT Editor
Steven H. Sanchez, Ph.D., OT Editor
Richard A. Taylor, Ph.D., OT Editor
Project Management and Production
W. Hall Harris III, Ph.D.,
Project Director and Managing Editor
Michael H. Burer, Ph.D.,
Editor and Assistant Project Director
J. Hampton Keathley IV, Th.M.,
Todd Lingren, M.A., Director of Publication
Due to the rapidly expanding list of endorsements of the NET Bible, a current list may be seen at www.bible.org/endorse.
The current list of editors and contributors may be seen at www.bible.org/editors.
The Creation of the World
In the beginning1
the heavens and the earth.4
was without shape and empty,7
was over the surface of the watery deep,9
but the Spirit of God10
over the surface12
of the water.131:3
“Let there be15
And there was light! 1:4
that the light was good,18
so God separated19
the light from the darkness. 1:5
the light “day” and the darkness21
“night.” There was evening, and there was morning, marking the first day.22
God said, “Let there be an expanse23
in the midst of the waters and let it separate water24
from water. 1:7
So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.25
It was so.26 1:8
God called the expanse “sky.”27
There was evening, and there was morning, a second day.
God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place28
and let dry ground appear.”29
It was so. 1:10
God called the dry ground “land”30
and the gathered waters he called “seas.” God saw that it was good.
God said, “Let the land produce vegetation:31
plants yielding seeds according to their kinds,32
trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” It was so. 1:12
The land produced vegetation – plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. God saw that it was good. 1:13
There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
God said, “Let there be lights34
in the expanse35
of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs36
to indicate seasons and days and years, 1:15
and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” It was so. 1:16
God made two great lights37
– the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night. He made the stars also.38 1:17
God placed the lights39
in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth, 1:18
to preside over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.40
God saw that it was good. 1:19
There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.
God said, “Let the water swarm with swarms41
of living creatures and let birds fly42
above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 1:21
God created the great sea creatures43
and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. 1:22
God blessed them44
and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”45 1:23
There was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.
God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals, each according to its kind.”46
It was so. 1:25
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the cattle according to their kinds, and all the creatures that creep along the ground according to their kinds. God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make47
in our image, after our likeness,49
so they may rule50
over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth,51
and over all the creatures that move52
on the earth.”
God created humankind53
in his own image,
in the image of God he created them,54
male and female he created them.55
them and said57
to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!58
Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.”59 1:29
Then God said, “I now60
give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.61 1:30
And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give62
every green plant for food.” It was so.
God saw all that he had made – and it was very good!63
There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.
The heavens and the earth1
were completed with everything that was in them.2 2:2
the seventh day God finished the work that he had been doing,4
and he ceased5
on the seventh day all the work that he had been doing. 2:3
God blessed the seventh day and made it holy6
because on it he ceased all the work that he7
had been doing in creation.8
The Creation of Man and Woman
This is the account9
of the heavens and the earth10
when they were created – when the Lord God11
made the earth and heavens.12
no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field14
had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.15 2:6
would well up17
from the earth and water18
the whole surface of the ground.19 2:7
The Lord God formed20
the man from the soil of the ground21
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,22
and the man became a living being.23
The Lord God planted an orchard24
in the east,25
and there he placed the man he had formed.27 2:9
The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil,28
every tree that was pleasing to look at29
and good for food. (Now30
the tree of life31
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil32
were in the middle of the orchard.)
a river flows34
to water the orchard, and from there it divides36
into four headstreams.37 2:11
The name of the first is Pishon; it runs through38
the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 2:12
(The gold of that land is pure;39
and lapis lazuli41
are also there). 2:13
The name of the second river is Gihon; it runs through42
the entire land of Cush.43 2:14
The name of the third river is Tigris; it runs along the east side of Assyria.44
The fourth river is the Euphrates.
The Lord God took the man and placed45
him in the orchard in46
Eden to care for it and to maintain it.47 2:16
Then the Lord God commanded48
the man, “You may freely eat49
from every tree of the orchard, 2:17
you must not eat52
from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when53
you eat from it you will surely die.”54
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.55
I will make a companion56
for him who corresponds to him.”57 2:19
The Lord God formed58
out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would59
name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 2:20
So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam60
no companion who corresponded to him was found.61 2:21
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep,62
and while he was asleep,63
he took part of the man’s side64
and closed up the place with flesh.65 2:22
Then the Lord God made66
a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 2:23
Then the man said,
“This one at last67
is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one will be called68
for she was taken out of69
That is why71
a man leaves72
his father and mother and unites with73
his wife, and they become a new family.74 2:25
The man and his wife were both naked,75
but they were not ashamed.76
The Temptation and the Fall
was more shrewd3
than any of the wild animals4
that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Is it really true that5
said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?”7 3:2
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat8
of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; 3:3
but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it,9
or else you will die.’”10 3:4
The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die,11 3:5
for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open12
and you will be like divine beings who know13
good and evil.”14
the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food,16
to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise,18
she took some of its fruit and ate it.19
She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.20 3:7
Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
The Judgment Oracles of God at the Fall
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about21
in the orchard at the breezy time22
of the day, and they hid23
from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard. 3:9
But the Lord God called to24
the man and said to him, “Where are you?”25 3:10
The man replied,26
“I heard you moving about27
in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” 3:11
And the Lord God28
said, “Who told you that you were naked?29
Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”30 3:12
The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave31
me some fruit32
from the tree and I ate it.” 3:13
So the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this33
you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent34
me, and I ate.”
The Lord God said to the serpent,36
“Because you have done this,
are you above all the wild beasts
and all the living creatures of the field!
On your belly you will crawl38
and dust you will eat39
all the days of your life.
And I will put hostility40
between you and the woman
and between your offspring and her offspring;41
her offspring will attack42
will attack her offspring’s heel.”45
3:16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase46
your labor pains;47
with pain you will give birth to children.
You will want to control your husband,48
but he will dominate49
But to Adam50
“Because you obeyed51
and ate from the tree about which I commanded you,
‘You must not eat from it,’
cursed is the ground52
thanks to you;53
in painful toil you will eat54
of it all the days of your life.
3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
but you will eat the grain55
of the field.
By the sweat of your brow56
you will eat food
until you return to the ground,57
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”58
named his wife Eve,60
she was the mother of all the living.62 3:21
The Lord God made garments from skin63
for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. 3:22
And the Lord God said, “Now64
that the man has become like one of us,65
good and evil, he must not be allowed67
to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 3:23
So the Lord God expelled him68
from the orchard in Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken. 3:24
When he drove69
the man out, he placed on the eastern side70
of the orchard in Eden angelic sentries71
who used the flame of a whirling sword72
to guard the way to the tree of life.
The Story of Cain and Abel
the man had marital relations with2
his wife Eve, and she became pregnant3
and gave birth to Cain. Then she said, “I have created4
a man just as the Lord did!”5 4:2
Then she gave birth6
to his brother Abel.7
Abel took care of the flocks, while Cain cultivated the ground.8
At the designated time9
Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground for an offering10
to the Lord. 4:4
But Abel brought11
some of the firstborn of his flock – even the fattest12
of them. And the Lord was pleased with13
Abel and his offering, 4:5
but with Cain and his offering he was not pleased.14
So Cain became very angry,15
and his expression was downcast.16
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast? 4:7
Is it not true17
that if you do what is right, you will be fine?18
But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching19
at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”20
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”21
While they were in the field, Cain attacked22
Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”24
And he replied, “I don’t know! Am I my brother’s guardian?”25 4:10
But the Lord said, “What have you done?26
of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 4:11
So now, you are banished28
from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 4:12
When you try to cultivate29
ground it will no longer yield30
for you. You will be a homeless wanderer32
on the earth.” 4:13
Then Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment33
is too great to endure!34 4:14
Look! You are driving me off the land35
today, and I must hide from your presence.36
I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth; whoever finds me will kill me.” 4:15
But the Lord said to him, “All right then,37
if anyone kills Cain, Cain will be avenged seven times as much.”38
Then the Lord put a special mark39
on Cain so that no one who found him would strike him down.40 4:16
So Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod,41
east of Eden.
The Beginning of Civilization
Cain had marital relations42
with his wife, and she became pregnant43
and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was building a city, and he named the city after44
his son Enoch. 4:18
To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father45
of Mehujael. Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.
Lamech took two wives for himself; the name of the first was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. 4:20
Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the first46
of those who live in tents and keep47
The name of his brother was Jubal; he was the first of all who play the harp and the flute. 4:22
Now Zillah also gave birth to Tubal-Cain, who heated metal and shaped48
all kinds of tools made of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.
4:23 Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah! Listen to me!
You wives of Lamech, hear my words!
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man49
for hurting me.
4:24 If Cain is to be avenged seven times as much,
then Lamech seventy-seven times!”50
And Adam had marital relations51
with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son. She named him Seth, saying, “God has given52
me another child53
in place of Abel because Cain killed him.” 4:26
And a son was also born to Seth, whom he named Enosh. At that time people54
began to worship55
From Adam to Noah
This is the record1
of the family line2
When God created humankind,3
he made them4
in the likeness of God. 5:2
He created them male and female; when they were created, he blessed them and named them “humankind.”5
Adam had lived 130 years he fathered a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and he named him Seth. 5:4
The length of time Adam lived7
after he became the father of Seth was 800 years; during this time he had8
sons and daughters. 5:5
The entire lifetime10
of Adam was 930 years, and then he died.11
When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father12
of Enosh. 5:7
Seth lived 807 years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had13
sons and daughters. 5:8
The entire lifetime of Seth was 912 years, and then he died.
5:9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. 5:10 Enosh lived 815 years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:11 The entire lifetime of Enosh was 905 years, and then he died.
5:12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel. 5:13 Kenan lived 840 years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:14 The entire lifetime of Kenan was 910 years, and then he died.
5:15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. 5:16 Mahalalel lived 830 years after he became the father of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:17 The entire lifetime of Mahalalel was 895 years, and then he died.
5:18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. 5:19 Jared lived 800 years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:20 The entire lifetime of Jared was 962 years, and then he died.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 5:22
After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God15
for 300 years,16
and he had other17
sons and daughters. 5:23
The entire lifetime of Enoch was 365 years. 5:24
Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared18
because God took19
When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 5:26
Methuselah lived 782 years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other20
sons and daughters. 5:27
The entire lifetime of Methuselah was 969 years, and then he died.
When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. 5:29
He named him Noah,21
saying, “This one will bring us comfort22
from our labor and from the painful toil of our hands because of the ground that the Lord has cursed.” 5:30
Lamech lived 595 years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other23
sons and daughters. 5:31
The entire lifetime of Lamech was 777 years, and then he died.
After Noah was 500 years old, he24
became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
God’s Grief over Humankind’s Wickedness
began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born2
to them,3 6:2
the sons of God4
Handheld computers supporting the NET Bible include palmtops, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and cell phones. The text of the NET Bible is available with readers in a number of common formats for these devices which run operating systems such as Palm OS and PocketPC. The verse and word search capabilities of these devices allows students to quickly search the Bible for topics, verses, and words in English, Greek, and Hebrew. See www.bible.org for availability.
For the first few months of the project the temporary working name of the translation was the Internet Study Bible.
The term relatively is used because while there are real and direct costs in the legal, technological and human efforts to provide the facilities, resources and formatting (e.g., language) to make these biblical resources available; when averaged across large numbers of users, the incremental costs for delivering materials over the Internet are fractions of their print counterparts.
A free electronic copy of the entire NET Bible is available for download from www.bible.org.
Wycliffe Bible Translators, for example, has included the NET Bible (with all the translators’ notes) in its standard reference software furnished to its field translators.
There is an average of two translators’ notes for each verse in the Bible.
Many of the dates surrounding Gutenberg’s development of the printing press are uncertain or speculative (for more information go to www.gutenberg.de).
Modern Luther scholars have questioned whether Luther actually posted his theses publicly on the Wittenberg church door; he may have circulated them privately. The famous story about the door was related by Melanchthon after Luther’s death; Luther himself never mentioned it.
The NIV New Testament was issued in 1973 and the entire Bible (with revised NT) published in 1978.
Bible translation has certainly not stood still in the interim, however, with the publication of Good News for Modern Man
(Today’s English Version, 1976), the New King James Version (1979) as the successor to the KJV, the Reader’s Digest Bible (1982) as a condensation of the RSV, the New Jerusalem Bible (1985) as a revision of the JB (1966), the NRSV (1989) as a significant revision of the RSV (1952), the Revised English Bible (1989) as a revision of the NEB (1970), the New Century Version (1991) as successor to the International Children’s Bible (1986), Eugene H. Peterson’s paraphrase The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary Language
(1993), the 21st
Century King James Version (1994) as another successor to the venerable KJV, the Contemporary English Version (1995), the NASB update edition (1995), the New International Reader’s Version (1995) based on the NIV, the New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version (1995) based on the NRSV, and the New Living Translation (1996), successor to The Living Bible
The English language changed enough within twenty
years to warrant the release of the Contemporary English Version (CEV) in 1995, although as a vernacular translation it was similar to the Good News Bible/TEV published in 1976. (A more vernacular translation must be revised more frequently to keep up with changes in the English language.)
With formal equivalence
each word of the original language is represented by a word in the receptor (target) language, and the word and clause order is kept as nearly identical to that of the original language as possible. This approach has been stated as a translation rule by J. B. Lightfoot: “the same English words to represent the same Greek words…as far as possible in the same order.” Thus this approach translates word for word. As a matter of fact, the King James Version itself did not subscribe to this approach, but used a variety of English words to translate the same Greek or Hebrew word on various occasions.
With functional equivalence
(sometimes called dynamic equivalence
) the goal is to render the original language text in the closest natural equivalent in the receptor language, both in meaning and style. This approach translates phrase for phrase or thought for thought.
There are, however, occasions in which a more formally equivalent translation is found in the translation; in such instances, the interpretive options are usually found in a footnote.
This illustration is taken from “An Open Letter regarding the NET Bible New Testament” by D. B. Wallace, Notes on Translation
The NET Bible website (www.bible.org) is used by millions of people each year. The public beta-testing process began in 1995 and spanned the 10-year development process of the translation and notes.
BAGD and BDAG are abbreviations which refer to the second and third editions respectively of the standard Greek-English lexicon used in New Testament studies. The third edition appeared in print after the text and notes of the NET Bible New Testament were largely completed.
This includes the brief portions of the Old Testament written in Aramaic.
There are some exceptions. The New American Bible, for example, follows the Hebrew versification and treats the superscription as verse 1 of the psalm.
Divisions of material in the New Testament (somewhat analogous to chapter divisions) date back to codex Vaticanus (B) in the 4th century a.d. The present chapter divisions in the English Bible are attributed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, around a.d. 1205. The first edition of the New Testament to be divided into verses was the fourth edition of Robertus Stephanus published in 1551. One of the first translations to be divided into paragraphs (as opposed to the individual verses of the King James Version) was the American Standard Version (1901).
For example, both the NA27
editions of the Greek text (along with the NRSV, which generally follows the versification of the critical editions of the Greek text in the New Testament) place the familiar phrase “I have been crucified with Christ” at the end of Galatians 2:19, while most other English versions place these words in Galatians 2:20. This is explained in a note in the NET Bible.
27 27 Ecclesiasticus
(also known as Sirach
) is a book of the Old Testament Apocrypha.
The institution listed in each case is the institution granting the degree.
1 tn The translation assumes that the form translated “beginning” is in the absolute state rather than the construct (“in the beginning of,” or “when God created”). In other words, the clause in v. 1 is a main clause, v. 2 has three clauses that are descriptive and supply background information, and v. 3 begins the narrative sequence proper. The referent of the word “beginning” has to be defined from the context since there is no beginning or ending with God.
sn In the beginning. The verse refers to the beginning of the world as we know it; it affirms that it is entirely the product of the creation of God. But there are two ways that this verse can be interpreted: (1) It may be taken to refer to the original act of creation with the rest of the events on the days of creation completing it. This would mean that the disjunctive clauses of v. 2 break the sequence of the creative work of the first day. (2) It may be taken as a summary statement of what the chapter will record, that is, vv. 3–31 are about God’s creating the world as we know it. If the first view is adopted, then we have a reference here to original creation; if the second view is taken, then Genesis itself does not account for the original creation of matter. To follow this view does not deny that the Bible teaches that God created everything out of nothing (cf. John 1:3) – it simply says that Genesis is not making that affirmation. This second view presupposes the existence of pre-existent matter, when God said, “Let there be light.” The first view includes the description of the primordial state as part of the events of day one. The following narrative strongly favors the second view, for the “heavens/sky” did not exist prior to the second day of creation (see v. 8) and “earth/dry land” did not exist, at least as we know it, prior to the third day of creation (see v. 10).
2 2 sn God
. This frequently used Hebrew name for God (אֱלֹהִים,’elohim
) is a plural form. When it refers to the one true God, the singular verb is normally used, as here. The plural form indicates majesty; the name stresses God’s sovereignty and incomparability – he is the “God of gods.”
3 3 tn
The English verb “create” captures well the meaning of the Hebrew term in this context. The verb בָּרָא (bara
’) always describes the divine activity of fashioning something new, fresh, and perfect. The verb does not necessarily describe creation out of nothing (see, for example, v. 27, where it refers to the creation of man); it often stresses forming anew, reforming, renewing (see Ps 51:10; Isa 43:15, 65:17).
4 4 tn
Or “the entire universe”; or “the sky and the dry land.” This phrase is often interpreted as a merism, referring to the entire ordered universe, including the heavens and the earth and everything in them. The “heavens and the earth” were completed in seven days (see Gen 2:1) and are characterized by fixed laws (see Jer 33:25). “Heavens” refers specifically to the sky, created on the second day (see v. 8), while “earth” refers specifically to the dry land, created on the third day (see v. 10). Both are distinct from the sea/seas (see v. 10 and Exod 20:11).
5 5 tn
The disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + verb) at the beginning of v. 2 gives background information for the following narrative, explaining the state of things when “God said…” (v. 3). Verse one is a title to the chapter, v. 2 provides information about the state of things when God spoke, and v. 3 begins the narrative per se with the typical narrative construction (vav
[ו] consecutive followed by the prefixed verbal form). (This literary structure is paralleled in the second portion of the book: Gen 2:4 provides the title or summary of what follows, 2:5–6 use disjunctive clause structures to give background information for the following narrative, and 2:7 begins the narrative with the vav
consecutive attached to a prefixed verbal form.) Some translate 1:2a “and the earth became,” arguing that v. 1 describes the original creation of the earth, while v. 2 refers to a judgment that reduced it to a chaotic condition. Verses 3ff. then describe the re-creation of the earth. However, the disjunctive clause at the beginning of v. 2 cannot be translated as if it were relating the next event in a sequence. If v. 2 were sequential to v. 1, the author would have used the vav
consecutive followed by a prefixed verbal form and the subject.
6 6 tn
That is, what we now call “the earth.” The creation of the earth as we know it is described in vv. 9–10. Prior to this the substance which became the earth (= dry land) lay dormant under the water.
7 7 tn
Traditional translations have followed a more literal rendering of “waste and void.” The words describe a condition that is without form and empty. What we now know as “the earth” was actually an unfilled mass covered by water and darkness. Later תֹהוּ (tohu
) and בֹּהוּ (bohu
), when used in proximity, describe a situation resulting from judgment (Isa 34:11; Jer 4:23). Both prophets may be picturing judgment as the reversal of creation in which God’s judgment causes the world to revert to its primordial condition. This later use of the terms has led some to conclude that Gen 1:2 presupposes the judgment of a prior world, but it is unsound method to read the later application of the imagery (in a context of judgment) back into Gen 1:2.
8 8 sn Darkness
. The Hebrew word simply means “darkness,” but in the Bible it has come to symbolize what opposes God, such as judgment (Exod 10:21), death (Ps 88:13), oppression (Isa 9:1), the wicked (1 Sam 2:9) and in general, sin. In Isa 45:7 it parallels “evil.” It is a fitting cover for the primeval waste, but it prepares the reader for the fact that God is about to reveal himself through his works.
9 tn The Hebrew term תְּהוֹם (téhom, “deep”) refers to the watery deep, the salty ocean – especially the primeval ocean that surrounds and underlies the earth (see Gen 7:11).
sn The watery deep. In the Babylonian account of creation Marduk killed the goddess Tiamat (the salty sea) and used her carcass to create heaven and earth. The form of the Hebrew word for “deep” is distinct enough from the name “Tiamat” to deny direct borrowing; however, it is possible that there is a polemical stress here. Ancient Israel does not see the ocean as a powerful deity to be destroyed in creation, only a force of nature that can be controlled by God.
10 10 tn
The traditional rendering “Spirit of God” is preserved here, as opposed to a translation like “wind from/breath of God” (cf. NRSV) or “mighty wind” (cf. NEB), taking the word “God” to represent the superlative. Elsewhere in the OT the phrase refers consistently to the divine spirit that empowers and energizes individuals (see Gen 41:38; Exod 31:3; 35:31; Num 24:2; 1 Sam 10:10; 11:6; 19:20, 23; Ezek 11:24; 2 Chr 15:1; 24:20).
11 11 tn
The Hebrew verb has been translated “hovering” or “moving” (as a bird over her young, see Deut 32:11). The Syriac cognate term means “to brood over; to incubate.” How much of that sense might be attached here is hard to say, but the verb does depict the presence of the Spirit of God moving about mysteriously over the waters, presumably preparing for the acts of creation to follow. If one reads “mighty wind” (cf. NEB) then the verse describes how the powerful wind begins to blow in preparation for the creative act described in vv. 9–10. (God also used a wind to drive back the flood waters in Noah’s day. See Gen 8:1.)
13 13 sn The water
. The text deliberately changes now from the term for the watery deep to the general word for water. The arena is now the life-giving water and not the chaotic abyss-like deep. The change may be merely stylistic, but it may also carry some significance. The deep carries with it the sense of the abyss, chaos, darkness – in short, that which is not good for life.
14 tn The prefixed verb form with the vav (ו) consecutive introduces the narrative sequence. Ten times in the chapter the decree of God in creation will be so expressed. For the power of the divine word in creation, see Ps 33:9, John 1:1–3, 1 Cor 8:6, and Col 1:16.
sn God said. By speaking, God brings the world into existence. The efficacious nature of the word of the Lord is a prominent theme in this chapter. It introduces the Law, the words and commandments from the Lord that must be obeyed. The ten decrees of God in this chapter anticipate the ten words in the Decalogue (Exod 20:2–17).
15 15 tn
“Let there be” is the short jussive form of the verb “to be”; the following expression “and there was” is the short preterite form of the same verb. As such, יְהִי (yéhi
) and וַיְהִי (vayéhi
) form a profound wordplay to express both the calling into existence and the complete fulfillment of the divine word.
16 16 sn Light
. The Hebrew word simply means “light,” but it is used often in scripture to convey the ideas of salvation, joy, knowledge, righteousness, and life. In this context one cannot ignore those connotations, for it is the antithesis of the darkness. The first thing God does is correct the darkness; without the light there is only chaos.
17 17 tn Heb
“And God saw the light, that it was good.” The verb “saw” in this passage carries the meaning “reflected on,” “surveyed,” “concluded,” “noted.” It is a description of reflection of the mind – it is God’s opinion.
18 18 tn
The Hebrew word טוֹב (tov
) in this context signifies whatever enhances, promotes, produces, or is conducive for life. It is the light that God considers “good,” not the darkness. Whatever is conducive to life in God’s creation is good, for God himself is good, and that goodness is reflected in all of his works.
19 tn The verb “separate, divide” here explains how God used the light to dispel the darkness. It did not do away with the darkness completely, but made a separation. The light came alongside the darkness, but they are mutually exclusive – a theme that will be developed in the Gospel of John (cf. John 1:5).
sn The idea of separation is critical to this chapter. God separated light from darkness, upper water from lower water, day from night, etc. The verb is important to the Law in general. In Leviticus God separates between clean and unclean, holy and profane (Lev 10:10, 11:47 and 20:24); in Exodus God separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Exod 26:33). There is a preference for the light over the darkness, just as there will be a preference for the upper waters, the rain water which is conducive to life, over the sea water.
20 tn Heb “he called to,” meaning “he named.”
sn God called. Seven times in this chapter naming or blessing follows some act of creation. There is clearly a point being made beyond the obvious idea of naming. In the Babylonian creation story Enuma Elish, naming is equal to creating. In the Bible the act of naming, like creating, can be an indication of sovereignty (see 2 Kgs 23:34). In this verse God is sovereign even over the darkness.
21 21 tn Heb
“and the darkness he called night.” The words “he called” have not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.
22 tn Another option is to translate, “Evening came, and then morning came.” This formula closes the six days of creation. It seems to follow the Jewish order of reckoning time: from evening to morning. Day one started with the dark, continued through the creation of light, and ended with nightfall. Another alternative would be to translate, “There was night and then there was day, one day.”
sn The first day. The exegetical evidence suggests the word “day” in this chapter refers to a literal twenty-four hour day. It is true that the word can refer to a longer period of time (see Isa 61:2, or the idiom in 2:4, “in the day,” that is, “when”). But this chapter uses “day,” “night,” “morning,” “evening,” “years,” and “seasons.” Consistency would require sorting out how all these terms could be used to express ages. Also, when the Hebrew word יוֹם (yom) is used with a numerical adjective, it refers to a literal day. Furthermore, the commandment to keep the sabbath clearly favors this interpretation. One is to work for six days and then rest on the seventh, just as God did when he worked at creation.
23 tn The Hebrew word refers to an expanse of air pressure between the surface of the sea and the clouds, separating water below from water above. In v. 8 it is called “sky.”
sn An expanse. In the poetic texts the writers envision, among other things, something rather strong and shiny, no doubt influencing the traditional translation “firmament” (cf. NRSV “dome”). Job 37:18 refers to the skies poured out like a molten mirror. Dan 12:3 and Ezek 1:22 portray it as shiny. The sky or atmosphere may have seemed like a glass dome. For a detailed study of the Hebrew conception of the heavens and sky, see L. I. J. Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World (AnBib), 37–60.
24 24 tn Heb
“the waters from the waters.”
25 25 tn Heb
26 26 tn
This statement indicates that it happened the way God designed it, underscoring the connection between word and event.
27 27 tn
Though the Hebrew word can mean “heaven,” it refers in this context to “the sky.”
28 28 sn Let the water…be gathered to one place
. In the beginning the water covered the whole earth; now the water was to be restricted to an area to form the ocean. The picture is one of the dry land as an island with the sea surrounding it. Again the sovereignty of God is revealed. Whereas the pagans saw the sea as a force to be reckoned with, God controls the boundaries of the sea. And in the judgment at the flood he will blur the boundaries so that chaos returns.
29 29 tn
When the waters are collected to one place, dry land emerges above the surface of the receding water.
30 30 tn Heb
“earth,” but here the term refers to the dry ground as opposed to the sea.
31 tn The Hebrew construction employs a cognate accusative, where the nominal object (“vegetation”) derives from the verbal root employed. It stresses the abundant productivity that God created.
sn Vegetation. The Hebrew word translated “vegetation” (דֶּשֶׁא, deshe’) normally means “grass,” but here it probably refers more generally to vegetation that includes many of the plants and trees. In the verse the plants and the trees are qualified as self-perpetuating with seeds, but not the word “vegetation,” indicating it is the general term and the other two terms are sub-categories of it. Moreover, in vv. 29 and 30 the word vegetation/grass does not appear. The Samaritan Pentateuch adds an “and” before the fruit trees, indicating it saw the arrangement as bipartite (The Samaritan Pentateuch tends to eliminate asyndetic constructions).
32 32 sn After their kinds
. The Hebrew word translated “kind” (מִין, min
) indicates again that God was concerned with defining and dividing time, space, and species. The point is that creation was with order, as opposed to chaos. And what God created and distinguished with boundaries was not to be confused (see Lev 19:19 and Deut 22:9–11).
33 33 tn
The conjunction “and” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation to clarify the relationship of the clauses.
34 34 sn Let there be lights
. Light itself was created before the light-bearers. The order would not seem strange to the ancient Hebrew mind that did not automatically link daylight with the sun (note that dawn and dusk appear to have light without the sun).
35 35 tn
The language describing the cosmos, which reflects a prescientific view of the world, must be interpreted as phenomenal, describing what appears to be the case. The sun and the moon are not in
the sky (below the clouds), but from the viewpoint of a person standing on the earth, they appear that way. Even today we use similar phenomenological expressions, such as “the sun is rising” or “the stars in the sky.”
36 tn The text has “for signs and for seasons and for days and years.” It seems likely from the meanings of the words involved that “signs” is the main idea, followed by two categories, “seasons” and “days and years.” This is the simplest explanation, and one that matches vv. 11–13. It could even be rendered “signs for the fixed seasons, that is [explicative vav (ו)] days and years.”
sn Let them be for signs. The point is that the sun and the moon were important to fix the days for the seasonal celebrations for the worshiping community.
37 37 sn Two great lights
. The text goes to great length to discuss the creation of these lights, suggesting that the subject was very important to the ancients. Since these “lights” were considered deities in the ancient world, the section serves as a strong polemic (see G. Hasel, “The Polemical Nature of the Genesis Cosmology,” EvQ
46 : 81-102). The Book of Genesis is affirming they are created entities, not deities. To underscore this the text does not even give them names. If used here, the usual names for the sun and moon [Shemesh
, respectively] might have carried pagan connotations, so they are simply described as greater and lesser lights. Moreover, they serve in the capacity that God gives them, which would not be the normal function the pagans ascribed to them. They merely divide, govern, and give light in God’s creation.
38 38 tn Heb
“and the stars.” Now the term “stars” is added as a third object of the verb “made.” Perhaps the language is phenomenological, meaning that the stars appeared in the sky from this time forward.
39 39 tn Heb
“them”; the referent (the lights mentioned in the preceding verses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
40 40 sn
In days one to three there is a naming by God; in days five and six there is a blessing by God. But on day four there is neither. It could be a mere stylistic variation. But it could also be a deliberate design to avoid naming “sun” and “moon” or promoting them beyond what they are, things that God made to serve in his creation.
41 41 tn
The Hebrew text again uses a cognate construction (“swarm with swarms”) to emphasize the abundant fertility. The idea of the verb is one of swift movement back and forth, literally swarming. This verb is used in Exod 1:7 to describe the rapid growth of the Israelite population in bondage.
42 42 tn
The Hebrew text uses the Polel form of the verb instead of the simple Qal; it stresses a swarming flight again to underscore the abundant fruitfulness.
43 43 tn
For the first time in the narrative proper the verb “create” (בָּרָא, bara
’) appears. (It is used in the summary statement of v. 1.) The author wishes to underscore that these creatures – even the great ones – are part of God’s perfect creation. The Hebrew term תַנִּינִם (tanninim
) is used for snakes (Exod 7:9), crocodiles (Ezek 29:3), or other powerful animals (Jer 51:34). In Isa 27:1 the word is used to describe a mythological sea creature that symbolizes God’s enemies.
44 44 tn
While the translation “blessed” has been retained here for the sake of simplicity, it would be most helpful to paraphrase it as “God endowed them with fruitfulness” or something similar, for here it refers to God’s giving the animals the capacity to reproduce. The expression “blessed” needs clarification in its different contexts, for it is one of the unifying themes of the Book of Genesis. The divine blessing occurs after works of creation and is intended to continue that work – the word of blessing guarantees success. The word means “to enrich; to endow,” and the most visible evidence of that enrichment is productivity or fruitfulness. See C. Westermann, Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church
45 45 sn
The instruction God gives to creation is properly a fuller expression of the statement just made (“God blessed them”), that he enriched them with the ability to reproduce. It is not saying that these were rational creatures who heard and obeyed the word; rather, it stresses that fruitfulness in the animal world is a result of the divine decree and not of some pagan cultic ritual for fruitfulness. The repeated emphasis of “be fruitful – multiply – fill” adds to this abundance God has given to life. The meaning is underscored by the similar sounds: בָּרָךְ (barakh
) with בָּרָא (bara
’), and פָּרָה (parah
) with רָבָה (ravah
46 46 tn
There are three groups of land animals here: the cattle or livestock (mostly domesticated), things that creep or move close to the ground (such as reptiles or rodents), and the wild animals (all animals of the field). The three terms are general classifications without specific details.
47 47 sn
The plural form of the verb has been the subject of much discussion through the years, and not surprisingly several suggestions have been put forward. Many Christian theologians interpret it as an early hint of plurality within the Godhead, but this view imposes later trinitarian concepts on the ancient text. Some have suggested the plural verb indicates majesty, but the plural of majesty is not used with verbs. C. Westermann (Genesis
, 1:145) argues for a plural of “deliberation” here, but his proposed examples of this use (2 Sam 24:14; Isa 6:8) do not actually support his theory. In 2 Sam 24:14 David uses the plural as representative of all Israel, and in Isa 6:8 the Lord speaks on behalf of his heavenly court. In its ancient Israelite context the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:19–22; Job 1:6–12; 2:1–6; Isa 6:1–8). (The most well-known members of this court are God’s messengers, or angels. In Gen 3:5 the serpent may refer to this group as “gods/divine beings.” See the note on the word “evil” in 3:5.) If this is the case, God invites the heavenly court to participate in the creation of humankind (perhaps in the role of offering praise, see Job 38:7), but he himself is the one who does the actual creative work (v. 27). Of course, this view does assume that the members of the heavenly court possess the divine “image” in some way. Since the image is closely associated with rulership, perhaps they share the divine image in that they, together with God and under his royal authority, are the executive authority over the world.
48 48 tn
The Hebrew word is אָדָם (’adam
), which can sometimes refer to man, as opposed to woman. The term refers here to humankind, comprised of male and female. The singular is clearly collective (see the plural verb, “[that] they may rule” in v. 26b) and the referent is defined specifically as “male and female” in v. 27. Usage elsewhere in Gen 1–11 supports this as well. In 5:2 we read: “Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and called their name ‘humankind’ (אָדָם).” The noun also refers to humankind in 6:1, 5–7 and in 9:5–6.
49 tn The two prepositions translated “in” and “according to” have overlapping fields of meaning and in this context seem to be virtually equivalent. In 5:3 they are reversed with the two words. The word צֶלֶם (tselem, “image”) is used frequently of statues, models, and images – replicas (see D. J. A. Clines, “The Etymology of Hebrew selem,” JNSL 3 : 19-25). The word דְּמוּת (démut, “likeness”) is an abstract noun; its verbal root means “to be like; to resemble.” In the Book of Genesis the two terms describe human beings who in some way reflect the form and the function of the creator. The form is more likely stressing the spiritual rather than the physical. The “image of God” would be the God-given mental and spiritual capacities that enable people to relate to God and to serve him by ruling over the created order as his earthly vice-regents.
sn In our image, after our likeness. Similar language is used in the instructions for building the tabernacle. Moses was told to make it “according to the pattern” he was shown on the mount (Exod 25:9, 10). Was he shown a form, a replica, of the spiritual sanctuary in the heavenly places? In any case, what was produced on earth functioned as the heavenly sanctuary does, but with limitations.
50 50 tn
Following the cohortative (“let us make”), the prefixed verb form with vav
(ו) conjunctive indicates purpose/result (see Gen 19:20; 34:23; 2 Sam 3:21). God’s purpose in giving humankind his image is that they might rule the created order on behalf of the heavenly king and his royal court. So the divine image, however it is defined, gives humankind the capacity and/or authority to rule over creation.
51 51 tc
The MT reads “earth”; the Syriac reads “wild animals” (cf. NRSV).
52 52 tn Heb
“creep” (also in v. 28).
53 53 tn
The Hebrew text has the article prefixed to the noun (הָאָדָם, ha
). The article does not distinguish man from woman here (“the man” as opposed to “the woman”), but rather indicates previous reference (see v. 26, where the noun appears without the article). It has the same function as English “the aforementioned.”
54 54 tn
The third person suffix on the particle אֵת (’et
) is singular here, but collective.
55 55 sn
The distinction of “humankind” as “male” and “female” is another point of separation in God’s creation. There is no possibility that the verse is teaching that humans were first androgynous (having both male and female physical characteristics) and afterward were separated. The mention of male and female prepares for the blessing to follow.
56 56 tn
As in v. 22 the verb “bless” here means “to endow with the capacity to reproduce and be fruitful,” as the following context indicates. As in v. 22, the statement directly precedes the command “be fruitful and multiply.” The verb carries this same nuance in Gen 17:16 (where God’s blessing of Sarai imparts to her the capacity to bear a child); Gen 48:16 (where God’s blessing of Joseph’s sons is closely associated with their having numerous descendants); and Deut 7:13 (where God’s blessing is associated with fertility in general, including numerous descendants). See also Gen 49:25 (where Jacob uses the noun derivative in referring to “blessings of the breast and womb,” an obvious reference to fertility) and Gen 27:27 (where the verb is used of a field to which God has given the capacity to produce vegetation).
57 57 tn Heb
“and God said.” For stylistic reasons “God” has not been repeated here in the translation.
58 58 tn
Elsewhere the Hebrew verb translated “subdue” means “to enslave” (2 Chr 28:10; Neh 5:5; Jer 34:11, 16), “to conquer,” (Num 32:22, 29; Josh 18:1; 2 Sam 8:11; 1 Chr 22:18; Zech 9:13; and probably Mic 7:19), and “to assault sexually” (Esth 7:8). None of these nuances adequately meets the demands of this context, for humankind is not viewed as having an adversarial relationship with the world. The general meaning of the verb appears to be “to bring under one’s control for one’s advantage.” In Gen 1:28 one might paraphrase it as follows: “harness its potential and use its resources for your benefit.” In an ancient Israelite context this would suggest cultivating its fields, mining its mineral riches, using its trees for construction, and domesticating its animals.
59 59 sn
The several imperatives addressed to both males and females together (plural imperative forms) actually form two commands: reproduce and rule. God’s word is not merely a form of blessing, but is now addressed to them personally; this is a distinct emphasis with the creation of human beings. But with the blessing comes the ability to be fruitful and to rule. In procreation they will share in the divine work of creating human life and passing on the divine image (see 5:1–3); in ruling they will serve as God’s vice-regents on earth. They together, the human race collectively, have the responsibility of seeing to the welfare of that which is put under them and the privilege of using it for their benefit.
60 60 tn
The text uses הִנֵּה (hinneh
), often archaically translated “behold.” It is often used to express the dramatic present, the immediacy of an event – “Look, this is what I am doing!”
61 61 sn
G. J. Wenham (Genesis
[WBC], 1:34) points out that there is nothing in the passage that prohibits the man and the woman from eating meat. He suggests that eating meat came after the fall. Gen 9:3 may then ratify the postfall practice of eating meat rather than inaugurate the practice, as is often understood.
62 62 tn
The phrase “I give” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied in the translation for clarification.
63 63 tn
The Hebrew text again uses הִנֵּה (hinneh
) for the sake of vividness. It is a particle that goes with the gesture of pointing, calling attention to something.
1 1 tn
See the note on the phrase “the heavens and the earth” in 1:1.
2 2 tn Heb
“and all the host of them.” Here the “host” refers to all the entities and creatures that God created to populate the world.
3 3 tn Heb
“on/in the seventh day.”
4 4 tn Heb
“his work which he did [or “made”].”
5 5 tn
The Hebrew term שָׁבַּת(shabbat
) can be translated “to rest” (“and he rested”) but it basically means “to cease.” This is not a rest from exhaustion; it is the cessation of the work of creation.
6 6 tn
The verb is usually translated “and sanctified it.” The Piel verb קִדֵּשׁ (qiddesh
) means “to make something holy; to set something apart; to distinguish it.” On the literal level the phrase means essentially that God made this day different. But within the context of the Law, it means that the day belonged to God; it was for rest from ordinary labor, worship, and spiritual service. The day belonged to God.
7 7 tn Heb
“God.” The pronoun (“he”) has been employed in the translation for stylistic reasons.
8 8 tn Heb
“for on it he ceased from all his work which God created to make.” The last infinitive construct and the verb before it form a verbal hendiadys, the infinitive becoming the modifier – “which God creatively made,” or “which God made in his creating.”
9 tn The Hebrew phrase אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת (’elle tolédot) is traditionally translated as “these are the generations of” because the noun was derived from the verb “beget.” Its usage, however, shows that it introduces more than genealogies; it begins a narrative that traces what became of the entity or individual mentioned in the heading. In fact, a good paraphrase of this heading would be: “This is what became of the heavens and the earth,” for what follows is not another account of creation but a tracing of events from creation through the fall and judgment (the section extends from 2:4 through 4:26). See M. H. Woudstra, “The Toledot of the Book of Genesis and Their Redemptive-Historical Significance,” CTJ 5 (1970): 184-89.
sn The expression this is the account of is an important title used throughout the Book of Genesis, serving as the organizing principle of the work. It is always a heading, introducing the subject matter that is to come. From the starting point of the title, the narrative traces the genealogy or the records or the particulars involved. Although some would make the heading in 2:4 a summary of creation (1:1–2:3), that goes against the usage in the book. As a heading it introduces the theme of the next section, the particulars about this creation that God made. Genesis 2 is not a simple parallel account of creation; rather, beginning with the account of the creation of man and women, the narrative tells what became of that creation. As a beginning, the construction of 2:4–7 forms a fine parallel to the construction of 1:1–3. The subject matter of each תּוֹלְדֹת (tolédot, “this is the account of”) section of the book traces a decline or a deterioration through to the next beginning point, and each is thereby a microcosm of the book which begins with divine blessing in the garden, and ends with a coffin in Egypt. So, what became of the creation? Gen 2:4–4:26 will explain that sin entered the world and all but destroyed God’s perfect creation.
10 tn See the note on the phrase “the heavens and the earth” in 1:1.
sn This is the only use of the Hebrew noun תּוֹלְדֹת (tolédot) in the book that is not followed by a personal name (e.g., “this is the account of Isaac”). The poetic parallelism reveals that even though the account may be about the creation, it is the creation the Lord God made.
11 11 sn
Advocates of the so-called documentary hypothesis of pentateuchal authorship argue that the introduction of the name Yahweh (Lord) here indicates that a new source (designated J), a parallel account of creation, begins here. In this scheme Gen 1:1–2:3 is understood as the priestly source (designated P) of creation. Critics of this approach often respond that the names, rather than indicating separate sources, were chosen to reflect the subject matter (see U. Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis
). Gen 1:1–2:3 is the grand prologue of the book, showing the sovereign God creating by decree. The narrative beginning in 2:4 is the account of what this God invested in his creation. Since it deals with the close, personal involvement of the covenant God, the narrative uses the covenantal name Yahweh (Lord) in combination with the name God. For a recent discussion of the documentary hypothesis from a theologically conservative perspective, see D. A. Garrett, Rethinking Genesis
. For an attempt by source critics to demonstrate the legitimacy of the source critical method on the basis of ancient Near Eastern parallels, see J. H. Tigay, ed., Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism
. For reaction to the source critical method by literary critics, see I. M. Kikawada and A. Quinn, Before Abraham Was
; R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative
, 131–54; and Adele Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative
12 12 tn
See the note on the phrase “the heavens and the earth” in 1:1; the order here is reversed, but the meaning is the same.
13 13 tn Heb
“Now every sprig of the field before it was.” The verb forms, although appearing to be imperfects, are technically preterites coming after the adverb טֶּרֶם (terem
). The word order (conjunction + subject + predicate) indicates a disjunctive clause, which provides background information for the following narrative (as in 1:2). Two negative clauses are given (“before any sprig…”, and “before any cultivated grain” existed), followed by two causal clauses explaining them, and then a positive circumstantial clause is given – again dealing with water as in 1:2 (water would well up).
14 14 tn
The first term, שִׂיחַ (siakh
), probably refers to the wild, uncultivated plants (see Gen 21:15; Job 30:4, 7); whereas the second, עֵשֶׂב (’esev
), refers to cultivated grains. It is a way of saying: “back before anything was growing.”
15 tn The two causal clauses explain the first two disjunctive clauses: There was no uncultivated, general growth because there was no rain, and there were no grains because there was no man to cultivate the soil.
sn The last clause in v. 5, “and there was no man to cultivate the ground,” anticipates the curse and the expulsion from the garden (Gen 3:23).
16 16 tn
The conjunction vav
(ו) introduces a third disjunctive clause. The Hebrew word אֵד (’ed
) was traditionally translated “mist” because of its use in Job 36:27. However, an Akkadian cognate edu
in Babylonian texts refers to subterranean springs or waterways. Such a spring would fit the description in this context, since this water “goes up” and waters the ground.
17 17 tn Heb
“was going up.” The verb is an imperfect form, which in this narrative context carries a customary nuance, indicating continual action in past time.
18 18 tn
The perfect with vav
(ו) consecutive carries the same nuance as the preceding verb. Whenever it would well up, it would water the ground.
19 tn The Hebrew word אֲדָמָה (’adamah) actually means “ground; fertile soil.”
sn Here is an indication of fertility. The water would well up from the earth (אֶרֶץ, ’erets) and water all the surface of the fertile soil (אֲדָמָה). It is from that soil that the man (אָדָם, ’adam) was made (Gen 2:7).
20 tn Or “fashioned.” The prefixed verb form with vav (ו) consecutive initiates narrative sequence. The Hebrew word יָצַר (yatsar) means “to form” or “to fashion,” usually by plan or design (see the related noun יֵצֶר [yetser] in Gen 6:5). It is the term for an artist’s work (the Hebrew term יוֹצֵר [yotser] refers to a potter; see Jer 18:2–4.)
sn Various traditions in the ancient Near East reflect this idea of creation. Egyptian drawings show a deity turning little people off of the potter’s wheel with another deity giving them life. In the Bible humans are related to the soil and return to it (see 3:19; see also Job 4:19, 20:9; and Isa 29:16).
21 21 tn
The line literally reads “And Yahweh God formed the man, soil, from the ground.” “Soil” is an adverbial accusative, identifying the material from which the man was made.
22 tn The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (néshamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of Néshama,” VT 11 : 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Prov 20:27).
sn Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way.
23 23 tn
The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh
, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phrase נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה (nefesh khayyah
, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19).
24 tn Traditionally “garden,” but the subsequent description of this “garden” makes it clear that it is an orchard of fruit trees.
sn The Lord God planted an orchard. Nothing is said of how the creation of this orchard took place. A harmonization with chap. 1 might lead to the conclusion that it was by decree, prior to the creation of human life. But the narrative sequence here in chap. 2 suggests the creation of the garden followed the creation of the man. Note also the past perfect use of the perfect in the relative clause in the following verse.
25 tn Heb “from the east” or “off east.”
sn One would assume this is east from the perspective of the land of Israel, particularly since the rivers in the area are identified as the rivers in those eastern regions.
26 26 sn
The name Eden
) means “pleasure” in Hebrew.
27 27 tn
The perfect verbal form here requires the past perfect translation since it describes an event that preceded the event described in the main clause.
28 28 tn Heb
“ground,” referring to the fertile soil.
29 29 tn Heb
“desirable of sight [or “appearance”].” The phrase describes the kinds of trees that are visually pleasing and yield fruit that is desirable to the appetite.
30 30 tn
The verse ends with a disjunctive clause providing a parenthetical bit of information about the existence of two special trees in the garden.
31 31 tn
In light of Gen 3:22, the construction “tree of life” should be interpreted to mean a tree that produces life-giving fruit (objective genitive) rather than a living tree (attributive genitive). See E. O. James, The Tree of Life
(SHR); and R. Marcus, “The Tree of Life in Proverbs,” JBL
62 (1943): 117-20.
32 32 tn
The expression “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” must be interpreted to mean that the tree would produce fruit which, when eaten, gives special knowledge of “good and evil.” Scholars debate what this phrase means here. For a survey of opinions, see G. J. Wenham, Genesis
(WBC), 1:62–64. One view is that “good” refers to that which enhances, promotes, and produces life, while “evil” refers to anything that hinders, interrupts or destroys life. So eating from this tree would change human nature – people would be able to alter life for better (in their thinking) or for worse. See D. J. A. Clines, “The Tree of Knowledge and the Law of Yahweh,” VT
24 (1974): 8-14; and I. Engnell, “‘Knowledge’ and ‘Life’ in the Creation Story,” Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East
[VTSup], 103–19. Another view understands the “knowledge of good and evil” as the capacity to discern between moral good and evil. The following context suggests the tree’s fruit gives one wisdom (see the phrase “capable of making one wise” in 3:6, as well as the note there on the word “wise”), which certainly includes the capacity to discern between good and evil. Such wisdom is characteristic of divine beings, as the serpent’s promise implies (3:5) and as 3:22 makes clear. (Note, however, that this capacity does not include the ability to do
what is right.) God prohibits man from eating of the tree. The prohibition becomes a test to see if man will be satisfied with his role and place, or if he will try to ascend to the divine level. There will be a time for man to possess moral discernment/wisdom, as God reveals and imparts it to him, but it is not something to be grasped at in an effort to become “a god.” In fact, the command to be obedient was the first lesson in moral discernment/wisdom. God was essentially saying: “Here is lesson one – respect my authority and commands. Disobey me and you will die.” When man disobeys, he decides he does not want to acquire moral wisdom God’s way, but instead tries to rise immediately to the divine level. Once man has acquired such divine wisdom by eating the tree’s fruit (3:22), he must be banned from the garden so that he will not be able to achieve his goal of being godlike and thus live forever, a divine characteristic (3:24). Ironically, man now has the capacity to discern good from evil (3:22), but he is morally corrupted and rebellious and will not consistently choose what is right.
33 33 tn
The disjunctive clause (note the construction conjunction + subject + predicate) introduces an entire paragraph about the richness of the region in the east.
34 34 tn
The Hebrew active participle may be translated here as indicating past durative action, “was flowing,” or as a present durative, “flows.” Since this river was the source of the rivers mentioned in vv. 11–14, which appear to describe a situation contemporary with the narrator, it is preferable to translate the participle in v. 10 with the present tense. This suggests that Eden and its orchard still existed in the narrator’s time. According to ancient Jewish tradition, Enoch was taken to the Garden of Eden, where his presence insulated the garden from the destructive waters of Noah’s flood. See Jub.
35 35 sn Eden
is portrayed here as a source of life-giving rivers (that is, perennial streams). This is no surprise because its orchard is where the tree of life is located. Eden is a source of life, but tragically its orchard is no longer accessible to humankind. The river flowing out of Eden is a tantalizing reminder of this. God continues to provide life-giving water to sustain physical existence on the earth, but immortality has been lost.
36 36 tn
The imperfect verb form has the same nuance as the preceding participle. (If the participle is taken as past durative, then the imperfect would be translated “was dividing.”)
37 37 tn
Or “branches”; Heb
“heads.” Cf. NEB “streams”; NASB “rivers.”
38 38 tn Heb
“it is that which goes around.”
40 40 tn
The Hebrew term translated “pearls” may be a reference to resin (cf. NIV “aromatic resin”) or another precious stone (cf. NEB, NASB, NRSV “bdellium”).
42 42 tn Heb
“it is that which goes around.”
43 43 sn Cush
. In the Bible the Hebrew word כּוּשׁ (kush
, “Kush”) often refers to Ethiopia (so KJV, CEV), but here it must refer to a region in Mesopotamia, the area of the later Cassite dynasty of Babylon. See Gen 10:8 as well as E. A. Speiser, Genesis
44 44 tn Heb
“Asshur” (so NEB, NIV).
45 45 tn
The Hebrew verb נוּחַ (nuakh
, translated here as “placed”) is a different verb than the one used in 2:8.
46 46 tn
Traditionally translated “the Garden of Eden,” the context makes it clear that the garden (or orchard) was in Eden (making “Eden” a genitive of location).
47 tn Heb “to work it and to keep it.”
sn Note that man’s task is to care for and maintain the trees of the orchard. Not until after the fall, when he is condemned to cultivate the soil, does this task change.
48 48 sn
This is the first time in the Bible that the verb tsavah
(צָוָה, “to command”) appears. Whatever the man had to do in the garden, the main focus of the narrative is on keeping God’s commandments. God created humans with the capacity to obey him and then tested them with commands.
49 49 tn
The imperfect verb form probably carries the nuance of permission (“you may eat”) since the man is not being commanded to eat from every tree. The accompanying infinitive absolute adds emphasis: “you may freely eat,” or “you may eat to your heart’s content.”
50 50 tn
The word “fruit” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied as the direct object of the verb “eat.” Presumably the only part of the tree the man would eat would be its fruit (cf. 3:2).
51 51 tn
The disjunctive clause here indicates contrast: “but from the tree of the knowledge….”
52 52 tn
The negated imperfect verb form indicates prohibition, “you must not eat.”
53 53 tn
Or “in the very day, as soon as.” If one understands the expression to have this more precise meaning, then the following narrative presents a problem, for the man does not die physically as soon as he eats from the tree. In this case one may argue that spiritual death is in view. If physical death is in view here, there are two options to explain the following narrative: (1) The following phrase “You will surely die” concerns mortality which ultimately results in death (a natural paraphrase would be, “You will become mortal”), or (2) God mercifully gave man a reprieve, allowing him to live longer than he deserved.
54 tn Heb “dying you will die.” The imperfect verb form here has the nuance of the specific future because it is introduced with the temporal clause, “when you eat…you will die.” That certainty is underscored with the infinitive absolute, “you will surely die.”
sn The Hebrew text (“dying you will die”) does not refer to two aspects of death (“dying spiritually, you will then die physically”). The construction simply emphasizes the certainty of death, however it is defined. Death is essentially separation. To die physically means separation from the land of the living, but not extinction. To die spiritually means to be separated from God. Both occur with sin, although the physical alienation is more gradual than instant, and the spiritual is immediate, although the effects of it continue the separation.
55 55 tn Heb
“The being of man by himself is not good.” The meaning of “good” must be defined contextually. Within the context of creation, in which God instructs humankind to be fruitful and multiply, the man alone cannot comply. Being alone prevents the man from fulfilling the design of creation and therefore is not good.
56 56 tn
Traditionally “helper.” The English word “helper,” because it can connote so many different ideas, does not accurately convey the connotation of the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (’ezer
). Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role, a connotation which English “helper” can have. In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.” The woman would supply what the man was lacking in the design of creation and logically it would follow that the man would supply what she was lacking, although that is not stated here. See further M. L. Rosenzweig, “A Helper Equal to Him,” Jud
139 (1986): 277-80.
57 57 tn
The Hebrew expression כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (kénegdo
) literally means “according to the opposite of him.” Translations such as “suitable [for]” (NASB, NIV), “matching,” “corresponding to” all capture the idea. (Translations that render the phrase simply “partner” [cf. NEB, NRSV], while not totally inaccurate, do not reflect the nuance of correspondence and/or suitability.) The man’s form and nature are matched by the woman’s as she reflects him and complements him. Together they correspond. In short, this prepositional phrase indicates that she has everything that God had invested in him.
58 58 tn
Or “fashioned.” To harmonize the order of events with the chronology of chapter one, some translate the prefixed verb form with vav
(ו) consecutive as a past perfect (“had formed,” cf. NIV) here. (In chapter one the creation of the animals preceded the creation of man; here the animals are created after the man.) However, it is unlikely that the Hebrew construction can be translated in this way in the middle of this pericope, for the criteria for unmarked temporal overlay are not present here. See S. R. Driver, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew
, 84–88, and especially R. Buth, “Methodological Collision between Source Criticism and Discourse Analysis,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics
, 138–54. For a contrary viewpoint see IBHS
552–53 §33.2.3 and C. J. Collins, “The Wayyiqtol
as ‘Pluperfect’: When and Why,” TynBul
46 (1995): 117-40.
59 59 tn
The imperfect verb form is future from the perspective of the past time narrative.
60 60 tn
Here for the first time the Hebrew word אָדָם (’adam
) appears without the article, suggesting that it might now be the name “Adam” rather than “[the] man.” Translations of the Bible differ as to where they make the change from “man” to “Adam” (e.g., NASB and NIV translate “Adam” here, while NEB and NRSV continue to use “the man”; the KJV uses “Adam” twice in v. 19).
61 61 tn Heb
“there was not found a companion who corresponded to him.” The subject of the third masculine singular verb form is indefinite. Without a formally expressed subject the verb may be translated as passive: “one did not find = there was not found.”
62 62 tn Heb
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man.”
63 63 tn Heb
“and he slept.” In the sequence the verb may be subordinated to the following verb to indicate a temporal clause (“while…”).
64 64 tn
Traditionally translated “rib,” the Hebrew word actually means “side.” The Hebrew text reads, “and he took one from his sides,” which could be rendered “part of his sides.” That idea may fit better the explanation by the man that the woman is his flesh and bone.
65 65 tn Heb
“closed up the flesh under it.”
66 66 tn
The Hebrew verb is בָּנָה (banah
, “to make, to build, to construct”). The text states that the Lord God built the rib into a woman. Again, the passage gives no indication of precisely how this was done.
67 67 tn
The Hebrew term הַפַּעַם (happa
) means “the [this] time, this place,” or “now, finally, at last.” The expression conveys the futility of the man while naming the animals and finding no one who corresponded to him.
68 tn The Hebrew text is very precise, stating: “of this one it will be said, ‘woman’.” The text is not necessarily saying that the man named his wife – that comes after the fall (Gen 3:20).
sn Some argue that naming implies the man’s authority or ownership over the woman here. Naming can indicate ownership or authority if one is calling someone or something by one’s name and/or calling a name over someone or something (see 2 Sam 12:28; 2 Chr 7:14; Isa 4:1; Jer 7:14; 15:16), especially if one is conquering and renaming a site. But the idiomatic construction used here (the Niphal of קָרָא, qara’, with preposition lamed [לְ, lé]) does not suggest such an idea. In each case where it is used, the one naming discerns something about the object being named and gives it an appropriate name (See 1 Sam 9:9; 2 Sam 18:18; Prov 16:21; Isa 1:26; 32:5; 35:8; 62:4, 12; Jer 19:6). Adam is not so much naming the woman as he is discerning her close relationship to him and referring to her accordingly. He may simply be anticipating that she will be given an appropriate name based on the discernible similarity.
69 69 tn
Or “from” (but see v. 22).
70 70 sn
This poetic section expresses the correspondence between the man and the woman. She is bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh. Note the wordplay (paronomasia) between “woman” (אִשָּׁה, ’ishah
) and “man” (אִישׁ, ’ish
). On the surface it appears that the word for woman is the feminine form of the word for man. But the two words are not etymologically related. The sound and the sense give that impression, however, and make for a more effective wordplay.
71 71 tn
This statement, introduced by the Hebrew phrase עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken
, “therefore” or “that is why”), is an editorial comment, not an extension of the quotation. The statement is describing what typically happens, not what will or should happen. It is saying, “This is why we do things the way we do.” It links a contemporary (with the narrator) practice with the historical event being narrated. The historical event narrated in v. 23 provides the basis for the contemporary practice described in v. 24. That is why the imperfect verb forms are translated with the present tense rather than future.
72 72 tn
The imperfect verb form has a habitual or characteristic nuance. For other examples of עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken
, “therefore, that is why”) with the imperfect in a narrative framework, see Gen 10:9; 32:32 (the phrase “to this day” indicates characteristic behavior is in view); Num 21:14, 27; 1 Sam 5:5 (note “to this day”); 19:24 (perhaps the imperfect is customary here, “were saying”); 2 Sam 5:8. The verb translated “leave” (עָזָב, ’azab
) normally means “to abandon, to forsake, to leave behind, to discard,” when used with human subject and object (see Josh 22:3; 1 Sam 30:13; Ps 27:10; Prov 2:17; Isa 54:6; 60:15; 62:4; Jer 49:11). Within the context of the ancient Israelite extended family structure, this cannot refer to emotional or geographical separation. The narrator is using hyperbole to emphasize the change in perspective that typically overtakes a young man when his thoughts turn to love and marriage.
73 73 tn
The perfect with vav
(ו) consecutive carries the same habitual or characteristic nuance as the preceding imperfect. The verb is traditionally translated “cleaves [to]”; it has the basic idea of “stick with/to” (e.g., it is used of Ruth resolutely staying with her mother-in-law in Ruth 1:14). In this passage it describes the inseparable
relationship between the man and the woman in marriage as God intended it.
74 74 tn Heb
“and they become one flesh.” The perfect with vav
consecutive carries the same habitual or characteristic nuance as the preceding verbs in the verse. The retention of the word “flesh” (בָּשָׂר, basar
) in the translation often leads to improper or incomplete interpretations. The Hebrew word refers to more than just a sexual union. When they unite in marriage, the man and woman bring into being a new family unit (הָיָה + לְ, hayah
preposition means “become”). The phrase “one flesh” occurs only here and must be interpreted in light of v. 23. There the man declares that the woman is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. To be one’s “bone and flesh” is to be related by blood to someone. For example, the phrase describes the relationship between Laban and Jacob (Gen 29:14); Abimelech and the Shechemites (Judg 9:2; his mother was a Shechemite); David and the Israelites (2 Sam 5:1); David and the elders of Judah (2 Sam 19:12); and David and his nephew Amasa (2 Sam 19:13, see 2 Sam 17:2; 1 Chr 2:16–17). The expression “one flesh” seems to indicate that they become, as it were, “kin,” at least legally (a new family unit is created) or metaphorically. In this first marriage in human history, the woman was literally formed from the man’s bone and flesh. Even though later marriages do not involve such a divine surgical operation, the first marriage sets the pattern for how later marriages are understood and explains why marriage supersedes the parent-child relationship.
75 tn Heb “And the two of them were naked, the man and his wife.”
sn Naked. The motif of nakedness is introduced here and plays an important role in the next chapter. In the Bible nakedness conveys different things. In this context it signifies either innocence or integrity, depending on how those terms are defined. There is no fear of exploitation, no sense of vulnerability. But after the entrance of sin into the race, nakedness takes on a negative sense. It is then usually connected with the sense of vulnerability, shame, exploitation, and exposure (such as the idea of “uncovering nakedness” either in sexual exploitation or in captivity in war).
76 76 tn
The imperfect verb form here has a customary nuance, indicating a continuing condition in past time. The meaning of the Hebrew term בּוֹשׁ (bosh
) is “to be ashamed, to put to shame,” but its meaning is stronger than “to be embarrassed.” The word conveys the fear of exploitation or evil – enemies are put to shame through military victory. It indicates the feeling of shame that approximates a fear of evil.
1 1 tn
The chapter begins with a disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + predicate) that introduces a new character and a new scene in the story.
2 2 sn
Many theologians identify or associate the serpent
with Satan. In this view Satan comes in the disguise of a serpent or speaks through a serpent. This explains the serpent’s capacity to speak. While later passages in the Bible may indicate there was a satanic presence behind the serpent (see, for example, Rev 12:9), the immediate context pictures the serpent as simply one of the animals of the field created by God (see vv. 1, 14). An ancient Jewish interpretation explains the reference to the serpent in a literal manner, attributing the capacity to speak to all the animals in the orchard. This text (Jub.
3:28) states, “On that day [the day the man and woman were expelled from the orchard] the mouth of all the beasts and cattle and birds and whatever walked or moved was stopped from speaking because all of them used to speak to one another with one speech and one language [presumed to be Hebrew, see 12:26].” Josephus, Ant.
1.1.4 (1.41) attributes the serpent’s actions to jealousy. He writes that “the serpent, living in the company of Adam and his wife, grew jealous of the blessings which he supposed were destined for them if they obeyed God’s behests, and, believing that disobedience would bring trouble on them, he maliciously persuaded the woman to taste of the tree of wisdom.”
3 tn The Hebrew word עָרוּם (’arum) basically means “clever.” This idea then polarizes into the nuances “cunning” (in a negative sense, see Job 5:12; 15:5), and “prudent” in a positive sense (Prov 12:16, 23; 13:16; 14:8, 15, 18; 22:3; 27:12). This same polarization of meaning can be detected in related words derived from the same root (see Exod 21:14; Josh 9:4; 1 Sam 23:22; Job 5:13; Ps 83:3). The negative nuance obviously applies in Gen 3, where the snake attempts to talk the woman into disobeying God by using half-truths and lies.
sn There is a wordplay in Hebrew between the words “naked” (עֲרוּמִּים, ’arummim) in 2:25 and “shrewd” (עָרוּם, ’arum) in 3:1. The point seems to be that the integrity of the man and the woman is the focus of the serpent’s craftiness. At the beginning they are naked and he is shrewd; afterward, they will be covered and he will be cursed.
4 4 tn Heb
“animals of the field.”
5 5 tn Heb
“Indeed that God said.” The beginning of the quotation is elliptical and therefore difficult to translate. One must supply a phrase like “is it true”: “Indeed, [is it true] that God said.”
6 6 sn God
. The serpent does not use the expression “Yahweh God” [Lord God] because there is no covenant relationship involved between God and the serpent. He only speaks of “God.” In the process the serpent draws the woman into his manner of speech so that she too only speaks of “God.”
7 7 tn Heb
“you must not eat from all the tree[s] of the orchard.” After the negated prohibitive verb, מִכֹּל (mikkol
, “from all”) has the meaning “from any.” Note the construction in Lev 18:26, where the statement “you must not do from all these abominable things” means “you must not do any
of these abominable things.” See Lev 22:25 and Deut 28:14 as well.
8 8 tn
There is a notable change between what the Lord God had said and what the woman says. God said “you may freely eat” (the imperfect with the infinitive absolute, see 2:16), but the woman omits the emphatic infinitive, saying simply “we may eat.” Her words do not reflect the sense of eating to her heart’s content.
9 9 sn And you must not touch it
. The woman adds to God’s prohibition, making it say more than God expressed. G. von Rad observes that it is as though she wanted to set a law for herself by means of this exaggeration (Genesis
10 10 tn
The Hebrew construction is פֶּן (pen
) with the imperfect tense, which conveys a negative purpose: “lest you die” = “in order that you not die.” By stating the warning in this way, the woman omits the emphatic infinitive used by God (“you shall surely die,” see 2:17).
11 tn The response of the serpent includes the infinitive absolute with a blatant negation equal to saying: “Not – you will surely die” (לֹא מוֹת תִּמֻתען, lo’ mot témutun). The construction makes this emphatic because normally the negative particle precedes the finite verb. The serpent is a liar, denying that there is a penalty for sin (see John 8:44).
sn Surely you will not die. Here the serpent is more aware of what the Lord God said than the woman was; he simply adds a blatant negation to what God said. In the account of Jesus’ temptation Jesus is victorious because he knows the scripture better than Satan (Matt 4:1–11).
12 12 tn
Or “you will have understanding.” This obviously refers to the acquisition of the “knowledge of good and evil,” as the next statement makes clear.
13 13 tn
Or perhaps “like God, knowing.” It is unclear how the plural participle translated “knowing” is functioning. On the one hand, יֹדְעֵי (yodé
) could be taken as a substantival participle functioning as a predicative adjective in the sentence. In this case one might translate: “You will be, like God himself, knowers of good and evil.” On the other hand, it could be taken as an attributive adjective modifying אֱלֹהִים (’elohim
). In this case אֱלֹהִים has to be taken as a numerical plural referring to “gods,” “divine beings,” for if the one true God were the intended referent, a singular form of the participle would almost certainly appear as a modifier. Following this line of interpretation, one could translate, “You will be like divine beings who know good and evil.” The following context may favor this translation, for in 3:22 God says to an unidentified group, “Look, the man has become like one of us
, knowing good and evil.” It is probable that God is addressing his heavenly court (see the note on the word “make” in 1:26), the members of which can be called “gods” or “divine beings” from the ancient Israelite perspective. (We know some of these beings as messengers or “angels.”) An examination of parallel constructions shows that a predicative understanding (“you will be, like God himself, knowers of good and evil,” cf. NIV, NRSV) is possible, but rare (see Gen 27:23, where “hairy” is predicative, complementing the verb “to be”). The statistical evidence strongly suggests that the participle is attributive, modifying “divine beings” (see Ps 31:12; Isa 1:30; 13:14; 16:2; 29:5; 58:11; Jer 14:9; 20:9; 23:9; 31:12; 48:41; 49:22; Hos 7:11; Amos 4:11). In all of these texts, where a comparative clause and accompanying adjective/participle follow a copulative (“to be”) verb, the adjective/participle is attributive after the noun in the comparative clause.
14 14 sn You will be like divine beings who know good and evil
. The serpent raises doubts about the integrity of God. He implies that the only reason for the prohibition was that God was protecting the divine domain. If the man and woman were to eat, they would enter into that domain. The temptation is to overstep divinely established boundaries. (See D. E. Gowan, When Man Becomes God
15 15 tn Heb
“And the woman saw.” The clause can be rendered as a temporal clause subordinate to the following verb in the sequence.
16 16 tn Heb
“that the tree was good for food.” The words “produced fruit that was” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.
17 tn The Hebrew word תַּאֲוָה (ta’avah, translated “attractive” here) actually means “desirable.” This term and the later term נֶחְמָד (nekhmad, “desirable”) are synonyms.
sn Attractive (Heb “desirable”)…desirable. These are different words in Hebrew. The verbal roots for both of these forms appear in Deut 5:21 in the prohibition against coveting. Strong desires usually lead to taking.
18 tn Heb “that good was the tree for food, and that desirable it was to the eyes, and desirable was the tree to make one wise.” On the connection between moral wisdom and the “knowledge of good and evil,” see the note on the word “evil” in 2:9.
sn Desirable for making one wise. The quest for wisdom can follow the wrong course, as indeed it does here. No one can become like God by disobeying God. It is that simple. The Book of Proverbs stresses that obtaining wisdom begins with the fear of God that is evidenced through obedience to his word. Here, in seeking wisdom, Eve disobeys God and ends up afraid of God.
19 tn The pronoun “it” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied (here and also after “ate” at the end of this verse) for stylistic reasons.
sn She took…and ate it. The critical word now discloses the disobedience: “[she] ate.” Since the Lord God had said, “You shall not eat,” the main point of the divine inquisition will be, “Did you eat,” meaning, “did you disobey the command?” The woman ate, being deceived by the serpent (1 Tim 2:14), but then the man ate, apparently willingly when the woman gave him the fruit (see Rom 5:12, 17–19).
20 20 sn
This pericope (3:1–7) is a fine example of Hebrew narrative structure. After an introductory disjunctive clause that introduces a new character and sets the stage (3:1), the narrative tension develops through dialogue, culminating in the action of the story. Once the dialogue is over, the action is told in a rapid sequence of verbs – she took, she ate, she gave, and he ate.
21 21 tn
The Hitpael participle of הָלָךְ (halakh
, “to walk, to go”) here has an iterative sense, “moving” or “going about.” While a translation of “walking about” is possible, it assumes a theophany, the presence of the Lord God in a human form. This is more than the text asserts.
22 22 tn
The expression is traditionally rendered “cool of the day,” because the Hebrew word רוּחַ (ruakh
) can mean “wind.” U. Cassuto (Genesis: From Adam to Noah
, 152–54) concludes after lengthy discussion that the expression refers to afternoon when it became hot and the sun was beginning to decline. J. J. Niehaus (God at Sinai
[SOTBT], 155–57) offers a different interpretation of the phrase, relating יוֹם (yom
, usually understood as “day”) to an Akkadian cognate umu
(“storm”) and translates the phrase “in the wind of the storm.” If Niehaus is correct, then God is not pictured as taking an afternoon stroll through the orchard, but as coming in a powerful windstorm to confront the man and woman with their rebellion. In this case קוֹל יְהוָה (qol yéhvah
, “sound of the Lord”) may refer to God’s thunderous roar, which typically accompanies his appearance in the storm to do battle or render judgment (e.g., see Ps 29).
23 23 tn
The verb used here is the Hitpael, giving the reflexive idea (“they hid themselves”). In v. 10, when Adam answers the Lord, the Niphal form is used with the same sense: “I hid.”
24 24 tn
The Hebrew verb קָרָא (qara
’, “to call”) followed by the preposition אֶל־ or לְ (’el-
, “to, unto”) often carries the connotation of “summon.”
25 25 sn Where are you?
The question is probably rhetorical (a figure of speech called erotesis) rather than literal, because it was spoken to the man, who answers it with an explanation of why
he was hiding rather than a location. The question has more the force of “Why are you hiding?”
26 26 tn Heb
“and he said.”
27 27 tn Heb
“your sound.” If one sees a storm theophany here (see the note on the word “time” in v. 8), then one could translate, “your powerful voice.”
28 28 tn Heb
“and he said.” The referent (the Lord God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
29 29 sn Who told you that you were naked?
This is another rhetorical question, asking more than what it appears to ask. The second question in the verse reveals the Lord God’s real concern.
30 30 sn
The Hebrew word order (“Did you from the tree – which I commanded you not to eat from it – eat?”) is arranged to emphasize that the man’s and the woman’s eating of the fruit was an act of disobedience. The relative clause inserted immediately after the reference to the tree brings out this point very well.
31 31 tn
The Hebrew construction in this sentence uses an independent nominative absolute (formerly known as a casus pendens
). “The woman” is the independent nominative absolute; it is picked up by the formal subject, the pronoun “she” written with the verb (“she gave”). The point of the construction is to throw the emphasis on “the woman.” But what makes this so striking is that a relative clause has been inserted to explain what is meant by the reference to the woman: “whom you gave me.” Ultimately, the man is blaming God for giving him the woman who (from the man’s viewpoint) caused him to sin.
32 32 tn
The words “some fruit” here and the pronoun “it” at the end of the sentence are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied for stylistic reasons.
33 33 tn
The use of the demonstrative pronoun is enclitic, serving as an undeclined particle for emphasis. It gives the sense of “What in the world have you done?” (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax
, 24, §118).
34 34 sn
The Hebrew word order puts the subject (“the serpent”) before the verb here, giving prominence to it.
35 35 tn
This verb (the Hiphil of נָשָׁא, nasha
) is used elsewhere of a king or god misleading his people into false confidence (2 Kgs 18:29 = 2 Chr 32:15 = Isa 36:14; 2 Kgs 19:10 = Isa 37:10), of an ally deceiving a partner (Obad 7), of God deceiving his sinful people as a form of judgment (Jer 4:10), of false prophets instilling their audience with false hope (Jer 29:8), and of pride and false confidence producing self-deception (Jer 37:9; 49:16; Obad 3).
36 36 sn
Note that God asks no question of the serpent, does not call for confession, as he did to the man and the woman; there is only the announcement of the curse. The order in this section is chiastic: The man is questioned, the woman is questioned, the serpent is cursed, sentence is passed on the woman, sentence is passed on the man.
37 37 tn
The Hebrew word translated “cursed,” a passive participle from אָרָר (’arar
), either means “punished” or “banished,” depending on how one interprets the following preposition. If the preposition is taken as comparative, then the idea is “cursed [i.e., punished] are you above [i.e., more than] all the wild beasts.” In this case the comparative preposition reflects the earlier comparison: The serpent was more shrewd than all others, and so more cursed than all others. If the preposition is taken as separative (see the note on the word “ground” in 4:11), then the idea is “cursed and banished from all the wild beasts.” In this case the serpent is condemned to isolation from all the other animals.
38 38 tn Heb
“go”; “walk,” but in English “crawl” or “slither” better describes a serpent’s movement.
39 39 sn Dust you will eat
. Being restricted to crawling on the ground would necessarily involve “eating dust,” although that is not the diet of the serpent. The idea of being brought low, of “eating dust” as it were, is a symbol of humiliation.
40 40 tn
The Hebrew word translated “hostility” is derived from the root אֵיב (’ev
, “to be hostile, to be an adversary [or enemy]”). The curse announces that there will be continuing hostility between the serpent and the woman. The serpent will now live in a “battle zone,” as it were.
41 41 sn
The Hebrew word translated “offspring” is a collective singular. The text anticipates the ongoing struggle between human beings (the woman’s offspring) and deadly poisonous snakes (the serpent’s offspring). An ancient Jewish interpretation of the passage states: “He made the serpent, cause of the deceit, press the earth with belly and flank, having bitterly driven him out. He aroused a dire enmity between them. The one guards his head to save it, the other his heel, for death is at hand in the proximity of men and malignant poisonous snakes.” See Sib. Or.
1:59–64. For a similar interpretation see Josephus, Ant.
42 42 tn Heb
“he will attack [or “bruise”] you [on] the head.” The singular pronoun and verb agree grammatically with the collective singular noun “offspring.” For other examples of singular verb and pronominal forms being used with the collective singular “offspring,” see Gen 16:10; 22:17; 24:60. The word “head” is an adverbial accusative, locating the blow. A crushing blow to the head would be potentially fatal.
43 43 tn
Or “but you will…”; or “as they attack your head, you will attack their heel.” The disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + verb) is understood as contrastive. Both clauses place the subject before the verb, a construction that is sometimes used to indicate synchronic action (see Judg 15:14).
44 44 sn You will attack her offspring’s heel
. Though the conflict will actually involve the serpent’s offspring (snakes) and the woman’s offspring (human beings), v. 15b for rhetorical effect depicts the conflict as being between the serpent and the woman’s offspring, as if the serpent will outlive the woman. The statement is personalized for the sake of the addressee (the serpent) and reflects the ancient Semitic concept of corporate solidarity, which emphasizes the close relationship between a progenitor and his offspring. Note Gen 28:14, where the Lord says to Jacob, “Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you [second masculine singular] will spread out in all directions.” Jacob will “spread out” in all directions through his offspring, but the text states the matter as if this will happen to him personally.
45 tn Heb “you will attack him [on] the heel.” The verb (translated “attack”) is repeated here, a fact that is obscured by some translations (e.g., NIV “crush…strike”). The singular pronoun agrees grammatically with the collective singular noun “offspring.” For other examples of singular verb and pronominal forms being used with the collective singular “offspring,” see Gen 16:10; 22:17; 24:60. The word “heel” is an adverbial accusative, locating the blow. A bite on the heel from a poisonous serpent is potentially fatal.
sn The etiological nature of v. 15 is apparent, though its relevance for modern western man is perhaps lost because we rarely come face to face with poisonous snakes. Ancient Israelites, who often encountered snakes in their daily activities (see, for example, Eccl 10:8; Amos 5:19), would find the statement quite meaningful as an explanation for the hostility between snakes and humans. (In the broader ancient Near Eastern context, compare the Mesopotamian serpent omens. See H. W. F. Saggs, The Greatness That Was Babylon, 309.) This ongoing struggle, when interpreted in light of v. 15, is a tangible reminder of the conflict introduced into the world by the first humans’ rebellion against God. Many Christian theologians (going back to Irenaeus) understand v. 15 as the so-called protevangelium, supposedly prophesying Christ’s victory over Satan (see W. Witfall, “Genesis 3:15 – a Protevangelium?” CBQ 36 : 361-65; and R. A. Martin, “The Earliest Messianic Interpretation of Genesis 3:15, ” JBL 84 : 425-27). In this allegorical approach, the woman’s offspring is initially Cain, then the whole human race, and ultimately Jesus Christ, the offspring (Heb “seed”) of the woman (see Gal 4:4). The offspring of the serpent includes the evil powers and demons of the spirit world, as well as those humans who are in the kingdom of darkness (see John 8:44). According to this view, the passage gives the first hint of the gospel. Satan delivers a crippling blow to the Seed of the woman (Jesus), who in turn delivers a fatal blow to the Serpent (first defeating him through the death and resurrection [1 Cor 15:55–57] and then destroying him in the judgment [Rev 12:7–9; 20:7–10]). However, the grammatical structure of Gen 3:15b does not suggest this view. The repetition of the verb “attack,” as well as the word order, suggests mutual hostility is being depicted, not the defeat of the serpent. If the serpent’s defeat were being portrayed, it is odd that the alleged description of his death comes first in the sentence. If he has already been crushed by the woman’s “Seed,” how can he bruise his heel? To sustain the allegorical view, v. 15b must be translated in one of the following ways: “he will crush your head, even though you attack his heel” (in which case the second clause is concessive) or “he will crush your head as you attack his heel” (the clauses, both of which place the subject before the verb, may indicate synchronic action).
46 46 tn
The imperfect verb form is emphasized and intensified by the infinitive absolute from the same verb.
47 47 tn Heb
“your pain and your conception,” suggesting to some interpreters that having a lot of children was a result of the judgment (probably to make up for the loss through death). But the next clause shows that the pain is associated with conception and childbirth. The two words form a hendiadys (where two words are joined to express one idea, like “good and angry” in English), the second explaining the first. “Conception,” if the correct meaning of the noun, must be figurative here since there is no pain in conception; it is a synecdoche, representing the entire process of childbirth and child rearing from the very start. However, recent etymological research suggests the noun is derived from a root הרר (hrr
), not הרה (hrh
), and means “trembling, pain” (see D. Tsumura, “A Note on הרוֹן (Gen 3, 16),” Bib
75 : 398-400). In this case “pain and trembling” refers to the physical effects of childbirth. The word עִצְּבוֹן (’itsévon
, “pain”), an abstract noun related to the verb (עָצַב, ’atsav
), includes more than physical pain. It is emotional distress as well as physical pain. The same word is used in v. 17 for the man’s painful toil in the field.
48 48 tn Heb
“and toward your husband [will be] your desire.” The nominal sentence does not have a verb; a future verb must be supplied, because the focus of the oracle is on the future struggle. The precise meaning of the noun תְּשׁוּקָה (téshuqah
, “desire”) is debated. Many interpreters conclude that it refers to sexual desire here, because the subject of the passage is the relationship between a wife and her husband, and because the word is used in a romantic sense in Song 7:11 HT (7:10 ET). However, this interpretation makes little sense in Gen 3:16. First, it does not fit well with the assertion “he will dominate you.” Second, it implies that sexual desire was not part of the original creation, even though the man and the woman were told to multiply. And third, it ignores the usage of the word in Gen 4:7 where it refers to sin’s desire to control and dominate Cain. (Even in Song of Songs it carries the basic idea of “control,” for it describes the young man’s desire to “have his way sexually” with the young woman.) In Gen 3:16 the Lord announces a struggle, a conflict between the man and the woman. She will desire to control him, but he will dominate her instead. This interpretation also fits the tone of the passage, which is a judgment oracle. See further Susan T. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” WTJ
37 (1975): 376-83.
49 tn The Hebrew verb מָשַׁל (mashal) means “to rule over,” but in a way that emphasizes powerful control, domination, or mastery. This also is part of the baser human nature. The translation assumes the imperfect verb form has an objective/indicative sense here. Another option is to understand it as having a modal, desiderative nuance, “but he will want to dominate you.” In this case, the Lord simply announces the struggle without indicating who will emerge victorious.
sn This passage is a judgment oracle. It announces that conflict between man and woman will become the norm in human society. It does not depict the NT ideal, where the husband sacrificially loves his wife, as Christ loved the church, and where the wife recognizes the husband’s loving
leadership in the family and voluntarily submits to it. Sin produces a conflict or power struggle between the man and the woman, but in Christ man and woman call a truce and live harmoniously (Eph 5:18–32).
50 50 tn
Since there is no article on the word, the personal name is used, rather than the generic “the man” (cf. NRSV).
51 51 tn
The idiom “listen to the voice of” often means “obey.” The man “obeyed” his wife and in the process disobeyed God.
52 52 sn
For the ground to be cursed
means that it will no longer yield its bounty as the blessing from God had promised. The whole creation, Paul writes in Rom 8:22, is still groaning under this curse, waiting for the day of redemption.
53 53 tn
The Hebrew phrase בַּעֲבוּרֶךָ (ba
) is more literally translated “on your account” or “because of you.” The idiomatic “thanks to you” in the translation tries to capture the point of this expression.
54 54 sn In painful toil you will eat
. The theme of eating is prominent throughout Gen 3. The prohibition was against eating from the tree of knowledge. The sin was in eating. The interrogation concerned the eating from the tree of knowledge. The serpent is condemned to eat the dust of the ground. The curse focuses on eating in a “measure for measure” justice. Because the man and the woman sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, God will forbid the ground to cooperate, and so it will be through painful toil that they will eat.
55 55 tn
The Hebrew term עֵשֶׂב (’esev
), when referring to human food, excludes grass (eaten by cattle) and woody plants like vines.
56 56 tn
The expression “the sweat of your brow” is a metonymy, the sweat being the result of painful toil in the fields.
57 57 sn Until you return to the ground
. The theme of humankind’s mortality is critical here in view of the temptation to be like God. Man will labor painfully to provide food, obviously not enjoying the bounty that creation promised. In place of the abundance of the orchard’s fruit trees, thorns and thistles will grow. Man will have to work the soil so that it will produce the grain to make bread. This will continue until he returns to the soil from which he was taken (recalling the creation in 2:7 with the wordplay on Adam and ground). In spite of the dreams of immortality and divinity, man is but dust (2:7), and will return to dust. So much for his pride.
58 58 sn
In general, the themes of the curse oracles are important in the NT teaching that Jesus became the cursed one hanging on the tree. In his suffering and death, all the motifs are drawn together: the tree, the sweat, the thorns, and the dust of death (see Ps 22:15). Jesus experienced it all, to have victory over it through the resurrection.
59 59 tn
Or “Adam”; however, the Hebrew term has the definite article here.
60 60 sn
The name Eve
means “Living one” or “Life-giver” in Hebrew.
61 61 tn
The explanatory clause gives the reason for the name. Where the one doing the naming gives the explanation, the text normally uses “saying”; where the narrator explains it, the explanatory clause is typically used.
62 62 tn
The explanation of the name forms a sound play (paronomasia) with the name. “Eve” is חַוָּה (khavvah
) and “living” is חַי (khay
). The name preserves the archaic form of the verb חָיָה (khayah
, “to live”) with the middle vav
(ו) instead of yod
(י). The form חַי (khay
) is derived from the normal form חַיָּה (khayyah
). Compare the name Yahweh
(יְהוָה) explained from הָיָה (hayah
, “to be”) rather than from הַוָה (havah
). The biblical account stands in contrast to the pagan material that presents a serpent goddess hawwat
who is the mother of life. See J. Heller, “Der Name Eva,” ArOr
26 (1958): 636-56; and A. F. Key, “The Giving of Proper Names in the OT,” JBL
83 (1964): 55-59.
63 63 sn The
Lord God made garments from skin
. The text gives no indication of how this was done, or how they came by the skins. Earlier in the narrative (v. 7) the attempt of the man and the woman to cover their nakedness with leaves expressed their sense of alienation from each other and from God. By giving them more substantial coverings, God indicates this alienation is greater than they realize. This divine action is also ominous; God is preparing them for the more hostile environment in which they will soon be living (v. 23). At the same time, there is a positive side to the story in that God makes provision for the man’s and woman’s condition.
64 64 tn
The particle הֵן (hen
) introduces a foundational clause, usually beginning with “since, because, now.”
65 65 sn The man has become like one of us
. See the notes on Gen 1:26 and 3:5.
66 66 tn
The infinitive explains in what way the man had become like God: “knowing good and evil.”
67 67 tn Heb
“and now, lest he stretch forth.” Following the foundational clause, this clause forms the main point. It is introduced with the particle פֶּן (pen
) which normally introduces a negative purpose, “lest….” The construction is elliptical; something must be done lest the man stretch forth his hand. The translation interprets the point intended.
68 68 tn
The verb is the Piel preterite of שָׁלַח (shalakh
), forming a wordplay with the use of the same verb (in the Qal stem) in v. 22: To prevent the man’s “sending out” his hand, the Lord “sends him out.”
69 69 tn
The verb with the vav
(ו) consecutive is made subordinate to the next verb forming a temporal clause. This avoids any tautology with the previous verse that already stated that the Lord expelled the man.
70 70 tn
Or “placed in front.” Directions in ancient Israel were given in relation to the east rather than the north.
71 tn The Hebrew word is traditionally transliterated “the cherubim.”
sn Angelic sentries (Heb “cherubim”). The cherubim in the Bible seem to be a class of angels that are composite in appearance. Their main task seems to be guarding. Here they guard the way to the tree of life. The curtain in the tabernacle was to be embroidered with cherubim as well, symbolically guarding the way to God. (See in addition A. S. Kapelrud, “The Gates of Hell and the Guardian Angels of Paradise,” JAOS 70 : 151-56; and D. N. Freedman and M. P. O’Connor, TDOT 7:307–19.)
72 72 tn Heb
“the flame of the sword that turns round and round.” The noun “flame” is qualified by the genitive of specification, “the sword,” which in turn is modified by the attributive participle “whirling.” The Hitpael of the verb “turn” has an iterative function here, indicating repeated action. The form is used in Job 37:12 of swirling clouds and in Judg 7:13 of a tumbling roll of bread. Verse 24 depicts the sword as moving from side to side to prevent anyone from passing or as whirling around, ready to cut to shreds anyone who tries to pass.
1 1 tn
The disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + verb) introduces a new episode in the ongoing narrative.
2 2 tn Heb
“the man knew,” a frequent euphemism for sexual relations.
3 3 tn
Or “she conceived.”
4 4 tn
Here is another sound play (paronomasia) on a name. The sound of the verb קָנִיתִי (qaniti
, “I have created”) reflects the sound of the name Cain in Hebrew (קַיִן, qayin
) and gives meaning to it. The saying uses the Qal perfect of קָנָה (qanah
). There are two homonymic verbs with this spelling, one meaning “obtain, acquire” and the other meaning “create” (see Gen 14:19, 22; Deut 32:6; Ps 139:13; Prov 8:22). The latter fits this context very well. Eve has created a man.
5 tn Heb “with the Lord.” The particle אֶת־ (’et) is not the accusative/object sign, but the preposition “with” as the ancient versions attest. Some take the preposition in the sense of “with the help of” (see BDB 85 s.v. אֵת; cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV), while others prefer “along with” in the sense of “like, equally with, in common with” (see Lev 26:39; Isa 45:9; Jer 23:28). Either works well in this context; the latter is reflected in the present translation. Some understand אֶת־ as the accusative/object sign and translate, “I have acquired a man – the Lord.” They suggest that the woman thought (mistakenly) that she had given birth to the incarnate Lord, the Messiah who would bruise the Serpent’s head. This fanciful suggestion is based on a questionable allegorical interpretation of Gen 3:15 (see the note there on the word “heel”).
sn Since Exod 6:3 seems to indicate that the name Yahweh (יְהוָה, yéhvah, translated Lord) was first revealed to Moses (see also Exod 3:14), it is odd to see it used in quotations in Genesis by people who lived long before Moses. This problem has been resolved in various ways: (1) Source critics propose that Exod 6:3 is part of the “P” (or priestly) tradition, which is at odds with the “J” (or Yahwistic) tradition. (2) Many propose that “name” in Exod 6:3 does not refer to the divine name per se, but to the character suggested by the name. God appeared to the patriarchs primarily in the role of El Shaddai, the giver of fertility, not as Yahweh, the one who fulfills his promises. In this case the patriarchs knew the name Yahweh, but had not experienced the full significance of the name. In this regard it is possible that Exod 6:3b should not be translated as a statement of denial, but as an affirmation followed by a rhetorical question implying that the patriarchs did indeed know God by the name of Yahweh, just as they knew him as El Shaddai. D. A. Garrett, following the lead of F. Andersen, sees Exod 6:2–3 as displaying a paneled A/B parallelism and translates them as follows: (A) “I am Yahweh.” (B) “And I made myself known to Abraham…as El Shaddai.” (A’) “And my name is Yahweh”; (B’) “Did I not make myself known to them?” (D. A. Garrett, Rethinking Genesis, 21). However, even if one translates the text this way, the Lord’s words do not necessarily mean that he made the name Yahweh known to the fathers. God is simply affirming that he now wants to be called Yahweh (see Exod 3:14–16) and that he revealed himself in prior times as El Shaddai. If we stress the parallelism with B, the implied answer to the concluding question might be: “Yes, you did make yourself known to them – as El Shaddai!” The main point of the verse would be that El Shaddai, the God of the fathers, and the God who has just revealed himself to Moses as Yahweh are one and the same. (3) G. J. Wenham suggests that pre-Mosaic references to Yahweh are the product of the author/editor of Genesis, who wanted to be sure that Yahweh was identified with the God of the fathers. In this regard, note how Yahweh is joined with another divine name or title in Gen 9:26–27; 14:22; 15:2, 8; 24:3, 7, 12, 27, 42, 48; 27:20; 32:9. The angel uses the name Yahweh when instructing Hagar concerning her child’s name, but the actual name (Ishma-el, “El hears”) suggests that El, not Yahweh, originally appeared in the angel’s statement (16:11). In her response to the angel Hagar calls God El, not Yahweh (16:13). In 22:14 Abraham names the place of sacrifice “Yahweh Will Provide” (cf. v. 16), but in v. 8 he declares, “God will provide.” God uses the name Yahweh when speaking to Jacob at Bethel (28:13) and Jacob also uses the name when he awakens from the dream (28:16). Nevertheless he names the place Beth-el (“house of El”). In 31:49 Laban prays, “May Yahweh keep watch,” but in v. 50 he declares, “God is a witness between you and me.” Yahweh’s use of the name in 15:7 and 18:14 may reflect theological idiom, while the use in 18:19 is within a soliloquy. (Other uses of Yahweh in quotations occur in 16:2, 5; 24:31, 35, 40, 42, 44, 48, 50, 51, 56; 26:22, 28–29; 27:7, 27; 29:32–35; 30:24, 30; 49:18. In these cases there is no contextual indication that a different name was originally used.) For a fuller discussion of this proposal, see G. J. Wenham, “The Religion of the Patriarchs,” Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, 189–93.
6 6 tn Heb
“And she again gave birth.”
7 7 sn
The name Abel
is not defined here in the text, but the tone is ominous. Abel’s name, the Hebrew word הֶבֶל (hevel
), means “breath, vapor, vanity,” foreshadowing Abel’s untimely and premature death.
8 8 tn Heb
“and Abel was a shepherd of the flock, and Cain was a worker of the ground.” The designations of the two occupations are expressed with active participles, רֹעֵה (ro
, “shepherd”) and עֹבֵד (’oved
, “worker”). Abel is occupied with sheep, whereas Cain is living under the curse, cultivating the ground.
9 9 tn Heb
“And it happened at the end of days.” The clause indicates the passing of a set period of time leading up to offering sacrifices.
10 10 tn
The Hebrew term מִנְחָה (minkhah
, “offering”) is a general word for tribute, a gift, or an offering. It is the main word used in Lev 2 for the dedication offering. This type of offering could be comprised of vegetables. The content of the offering (vegetables, as opposed to animals) was not the critical issue, but rather the attitude of the offerer.
11 11 tn Heb
“But Abel brought, also he….” The disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + verb) stresses the contrast between Cain’s offering and Abel’s.
12 tn Two prepositional phrases are used to qualify the kind of sacrifice that Abel brought: “from the firstborn” and “from the fattest of them.” These also could be interpreted as a hendiadys: “from the fattest of the firstborn of the flock.” Another option is to understand the second prepositional phrase as referring to the fat portions of the sacrificial sheep. In this case one may translate, “some of the firstborn of his flock, even some of their fat portions” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV).
sn Here are two types of worshipers – one (Cain) merely discharges a duty at the proper time, while the other (Abel) goes out of his way to please God with the first and the best.
13 13 tn
The Hebrew verb שָׁעָה (sha
) simply means “to gaze at, to have regard for, to look on with favor [or “with devotion”].” The text does not indicate how this was communicated, but it indicates that Cain and Abel knew immediately. Either there was some manifestation of divine pleasure given to Abel and withheld from Cain (fire consuming the sacrifice?), or there was an inner awareness of divine response.
14 14 sn
The Letter to the Hebrews explains the difference between the brothers as one of faith – Abel by faith
offered a better sacrifice. Cain’s offering as well as his reaction to God’s displeasure did not reflect faith. See further B. K. Waltke, “Cain and His Offering,” WTJ
48 (1986): 363-72.
15 15 tn Heb
“and it was hot to Cain.” This Hebrew idiom means that Cain “burned” with anger.
16 16 tn Heb
“And his face fell.” The idiom means that the inner anger is reflected in Cain’s facial expression. The fallen or downcast face expresses anger, dejection, or depression. Conversely, in Num 6 the high priestly blessing speaks of the Lord lifting up his face and giving peace.
17 17 tn
The introduction of the conditional clause with an interrogative particle prods the answer from Cain, as if he should have known this. It is not a condemnation, but an encouragement to do what is right.
18 18 tn
The Hebrew text is difficult, because only one word occurs, שְׂאֵת (sé
), which appears to be the infinitive construct from the verb “to lift up” (נָאָשׂ, na
). The sentence reads: “If you do well, uplifting.” On the surface it seems to be the opposite of the fallen face. Everything will be changed if he does well. God will show him favor, he will not be angry, and his face will reflect that. But more may be intended since the second half of the verse forms the contrast: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching….” Not doing well leads to sinful attack; doing well leads to victory and God’s blessing.
19 19 tn
The Hebrew term translated “crouching” (רֹבֵץ, rovets
) is an active participle. Sin is portrayed with animal imagery here as a beast crouching and ready to pounce (a figure of speech known as zoomorphism). An Akkadian cognate refers to a type of demon; in this case perhaps one could translate, “Sin is the demon at the door” (see E. A. Speiser, Genesis
[AB], 29, 32–33).
20 20 tn Heb
“and toward you [is] its desire, but you must rule over it.” As in Gen 3:16, the Hebrew noun “desire” refers to an urge to control or dominate. Here the desire is that which sin has for Cain, a desire to control for the sake of evil, but Cain must have mastery over it. The imperfect is understood as having an obligatory sense. Another option is to understand it as expressing potential (“you can have [or “are capable of having”] mastery over it.”). It will be a struggle, but sin can be defeated by righteousness. In addition to this connection to Gen 3, other linguistic and thematic links between chaps. 3 and 4 are discussed by A. J. Hauser, “Linguistic and Thematic Links Between Genesis 4:1–6 and Genesis 2–3, ” JETS
23 (1980): 297-306.
21 21 tc
The MT has simply “and Cain said to Abel his brother,” omitting Cain’s words to Abel. It is possible that the elliptical text is original. Perhaps the author uses the technique of aposiopesis,
“a sudden silence” to create tension. In the midst of the story the narrator suddenly rushes ahead to what happened in the field. It is more likely that the ancient versions (Samaritan Pentateuch, LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac), which include Cain’s words, “Let’s go out to the field,” preserve the original reading here. After writing אָחִיו (’akhiyv
, “his brother”), a scribe’s eye may have jumped to the end of the form בַּשָּׂדֶה (basadeh
, “to the field”) and accidentally omitted the quotation. This would be an error of virtual homoioteleuton. In older phases of the Hebrew script the sequence יו (yod-vav
) on אָחִיו is graphically similar to the final ה (he
) on בַּשָּׂדֶה.
22 22 tn Heb
“arose against” (in a hostile sense).
23 23 sn
The word “brother” appears six times in vv. 8–11, stressing the shocking nature of Cain’s fratricide (see 1 John 3:12).
24 24 sn Where is Abel your brother?
Again the Lord confronts a guilty sinner with a rhetorical question (see Gen 3:9–13), asking for an explanation of what has happened.
25 tn Heb “The one guarding my brother [am] I?”
sn Am I my brother’s guardian? Cain lies and then responds with a defiant rhetorical question of his own in which he repudiates any responsibility for his brother. But his question is ironic, for he is responsible for his brother’s fate, especially if he wanted to kill him. See P. A. Riemann, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” Int 24 (1970): 482-91.
26 26 sn What have you done?
Again the Lord’s question is rhetorical (see Gen 3:13), condemning Cain for his sin.
27 27 tn
The word “voice” is a personification; the evidence of Abel’s shed blood condemns Cain, just as a human eyewitness would testify in court. For helpful insights, see G. von Rad, Biblical Interpretations in Preaching
; and L. Morris, “The Biblical Use of the Term ‘Blood,’” JTS
6 (1955/56): 77-82.
28 28 tn Heb
“cursed are you from the ground.” As in Gen 3:14, the word “cursed,” a passive participle from אָרָר (’arar
), either means “punished” or “banished,” depending on how one interprets the following preposition. If the preposition is taken as indicating source, then the idea is “cursed (i.e., punished) are you from [i.e., “through the agency of”] the ground” (see v. 12a). If the preposition is taken as separative, then the idea is “cursed and banished from the ground.” In this case the ground rejects Cain’s efforts in such a way that he is banished from the ground and forced to become a fugitive out in the earth (see vv. 12b, 14).
30 30 tn Heb
“it will not again (תֹסֵף, tosef
) give (תֵּת, tet
),” meaning the ground will no longer yield. In translation the infinitive becomes the main verb, and the imperfect verb form becomes adverbial.
31 31 tn Heb
32 32 tn
Two similar sounding synonyms are used here: נָע וָנָד (na
, “a wanderer and a fugitive”). This juxtaposition of synonyms emphasizes the single idea. In translation one can serve as the main description, the other as a modifier. Other translation options include “a wandering fugitive” and a “ceaseless wanderer” (cf. NIV).
33 33 tn
The primary meaning of the Hebrew word עָוֹן (’avon
) is “sin, iniquity.” But by metonymy it can refer to the “guilt” of sin, or to “punishment” for sin. The third meaning applies here. Just before this the Lord announces the punishment for Cain’s actions, and right after this statement Cain complains of the severity of the punishment. Cain is not portrayed as repenting of his sin.
34 34 tn Heb
“great is my punishment from bearing.” The preposition מִן (min
, “from”) is used here in a comparative sense.
35 35 tn Heb
“from upon the surface of the ground.”
36 36 sn I must hide from your presence
. The motif of hiding from the Lord as a result of sin also appears in Gen 3:8–10.
37 37 tn
The Hebrew term לָכֵן (lakhen
, “therefore”) in this context carries the sense of “Okay,” or “in that case then I will do this.”
38 38 sn
The symbolic number seven
is used here to emphasize that the offender will receive severe punishment. For other rhetorical and hyperbolic uses of the expression “seven times over,” see Pss 12:6; 79:12; Prov 6:31; Isa 30:26.
39 39 tn Heb
“sign”; “reminder.” The term “sign” is not used in the translation because it might imply to an English reader that God hung a sign on Cain. The text does not identify what the “sign” was. It must have been some outward, visual reminder of Cain’s special protected status.
40 40 sn
God becomes Cain’s protector. Here is common grace – Cain and his community will live on under God’s care, but without salvation.
41 41 sn
The name Nod
means “wandering” in Hebrew (see vv. 12, 14).
42 42 tn Heb
“knew,” a frequent euphemism for sexual relations.
43 43 tn
Or “she conceived.”
44 44 tn Heb
“according to the name of.”
45 45 tn Heb
“and Irad fathered.”
46 46 tn Heb
“father.” In this passage the word “father” means “founder,” referring to the first to establish such lifestyles and occupations.
47 47 tn
The word “keep” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation. Other words that might be supplied instead are “tend,” “raise” (NIV), or “have” (NRSV).
48 48 tn
The traditional rendering here, “who forged” (or “a forger of”) is now more commonly associated with counterfeit or fraud (e.g., “forged copies” or “forged checks”) than with the forging of metal. The phrase “heated metal and shaped [it]” has been used in the translation instead.
49 49 tn
The Hebrew term יֶלֶד (yeled
) probably refers to a youthful warrior here, not a child.
50 50 sn Seventy-seven times
. Lamech seems to reason this way: If Cain, a murderer, is to be avenged seven times (see v. 15), then how much more one who has been unjustly wronged! Lamech misses the point of God’s merciful treatment of Cain. God was not establishing a principle of justice when he warned he would avenge Cain’s murder. In fact he was trying to limit the shedding of blood, something Lamech wants to multiply instead. The use of “seventy-seven,” a multiple of seven, is hyperbolic, emphasizing the extreme severity of the vengeance envisioned by Lamech.
51 51 tn Heb
“knew,” a frequent euphemism for sexual relations.
52 52 sn
The name Seth
probably means something like “placed”; “appointed”; “set”; “granted,” assuming it is actually related to the verb that is used in the sentiment. At any rate, the name שֵׁת (shet
) and the verb שָׁת (shat
, “to place, to appoint, to set, to grant”) form a wordplay (paronomasia).
53 53 tn Heb
54 54 tn
The word “people” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation. The construction uses a passive verb without an expressed subject. “To call was begun” can be interpreted to mean that people began to call.
55 55 tn Heb
“call in the name.” The expression refers to worshiping the Lord through prayer and sacrifice (see Gen 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25). See G. J. Wenham, Genesis
1 1 tn Heb
“book” or “roll.” Cf. NIV “written account”; NRSV “list.”
2 2 tn Heb
“generations.” See the note on the phrase “this is the account of” in 2:4.
3 3 tn
The Hebrew text has אָדָם (’adam
4 4 tn Heb
“him.” The Hebrew text uses the third masculine singular pronominal suffix on the accusative sign. The pronoun agrees grammatically with its antecedent אָדָם (’adam
). However, the next verse makes it clear that אָדָם is collective here and refers to “humankind,” so it is preferable to translate the pronoun with the English plural.
5 5 tn
The Hebrew word used here is אָדָם (’adam
6 6 tn Heb
“and Adam lived 130 years.” In the translation the verb is subordinated to the following verb, “and he fathered,” and rendered as a temporal clause.
7 7 tn Heb
“The days of Adam.”
8 8 tn Heb
9 9 tn
The word “other” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied for stylistic reasons.
10 10 tn Heb
“all the days of Adam which he lived”
11 11 sn
The genealogy traces the line from Adam to Noah and forms a bridge between the earlier accounts and the flood story. Its constant theme of the reign of death in the human race is broken once with the account of Enoch, but the genealogy ends with hope for the future through Noah. See further G. F. Hasel, “The Genealogies of Gen. 5 and 11 and their Alleged Babylonian Background,” AUSS
16 (1978): 361-74; idem, “Genesis 5 and 11, ” Origins
7 (1980): 23-37.
12 12 tn Heb
13 13 tn Heb
14 14 tn
Here and in vv. 10, 13, 16, 19 the word “other” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied for stylistic reasons.
15 15 sn
With the seventh panel there is a digression from the pattern. Instead of simply saying that Enoch lived, the text observes that he “walked with God.” The rare expression “walked with” (the Hitpael form of the verb הָלָךְ, halakh
, “to walk” collocated with the preposition אֶת, ’et
, “with”) is used in 1 Sam 25:15 to describe how David’s men maintained a cordial and cooperative relationship with Nabal’s men as they worked and lived side by side in the fields. In Gen 5:22 the phrase suggests that Enoch and God “got along.” This may imply that Enoch lived in close fellowship with God, leading a life of devotion and piety. An early Jewish tradition, preserved in 1 En.
1:9 and alluded to in Jude 14, says that Enoch preached about the coming judgment. See F. S. Parnham, “Walking with God,” EvQ
46 (1974): 117-18.
16 16 tn Heb
“and Enoch walked with God, after he became the father of Methuselah, [for] 300 years.”
17 17 tn
The word “other” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied for stylistic reasons.
18 18 tn
The Hebrew construction has the negative particle אֵין (’en
, “there is not,” “there was not”) with a pronominal suffix, “he was not.” Instead of saying that Enoch died, the text says he no longer was present.
19 19 sn
The text simply states that God took
Enoch. Similar language is used of Elijah’s departure from this world (see 2 Kgs 2:10). The text implies that God overruled death for this man who walked with him.
20 20 tn
The word “other” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied for stylistic reasons.
21 21 sn
The name Noah
appears to be related to the Hebrew word נוּחַ (nuakh
, “to rest”). There are several wordplays on the name “Noah” in the story of the flood.
22 22 tn
The Hebrew verb יְנַחֲמֵנוּ (yénakhamenu
) is from the root נָחָם (nakham
), which means “to comfort” in the Piel verbal stem. The letters ן (nun
) and ח (heth
) pick up the sounds in the name “Noah,” forming a paronomasia on the name. They are not from the same verbal root, and so the connection is only by sound. Lamech’s sentiment reflects the oppression of living under the curse on the ground, but also expresses the hope for relief in some way through the birth of Noah. His words proved to be ironic but prophetic. The relief would come with a new beginning after the flood. See E. G. Kraeling, “The Interpretations of the Name Noah in Genesis 5:29, ” JBL
48 (1929): 138-43.
23 23 tn
The word “other” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied for stylistic reasons.
24 24 tn Heb
“Noah.” The pronoun (“he”) has been employed in the translation for stylistic reasons.
1 1 tn
The Hebrew text has the article prefixed to the noun. Here the article indicates the generic use of the word אָדָם (’adam
2 2 tn
This disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + verb) is circumstantial to the initial temporal clause. It could be rendered, “with daughters being born to them.” For another example of such a disjunctive clause following the construction וַיְהִיכִּי (vayéhiki
, “and it came to pass when”), see 2 Sam 7:1.
3 3 tn
The pronominal suffix is third masculine plural, indicating that the antecedent “humankind” is collective.
4 4 sn
The Hebrew phrase translated “sons of God” (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, béne-ha
) occurs only here (Gen 6:2, 4) and in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7. There are three major interpretations of the phrase here. (1) In the Book of Job the phrase clearly refers to angelic beings. In Gen 6 the “sons of God” are distinct from “humankind,” suggesting they were not human. This is consistent with the use of the phrase in Job. Since the passage speaks of these beings cohabiting with women, they must have taken physical form or possessed the bodies of men. An early Jewish tradition preserved in 1 En.
6–7 elaborates on this angelic revolt and even names the ringleaders. (2) Not all scholars accept the angelic interpretation of the “sons of God,” however. Some argue that the “sons of God” were members of Seth’s line, traced back to God through Adam in Gen 5, while the “daughters of humankind” were descendants of Cain. But, as noted above, the text distinguishes the “sons of God” from humankind (which would include the Sethites as well as the Cainites) and suggests that the “daughters of humankind” are human women in general, not just Cainites. (3) Others identify the “sons of God” as powerful tyrants, perhaps demon-possessed, who viewed themselves as divine and, following the example of Lamech (see Gen 4:19), practiced polygamy. But usage of the phrase “sons of God” in Job militates against this view. For literature on the subject see G. J. Wenham, Genesis
Biblical Studies Press: The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006; 2006, S. Gen 1,1-Mal 3,2 ….
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