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Blaming Eve Alone: Translation, Omission, and Implications of עמה in Genesis 3:6b

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 132, Number 4, 2013
pp. 729-747 | 10.1353/jbl.2013.0050

Abstract

Abstract:

Interpreters tend to blame only Eve for succumbing to temptation in the garden, even though Adam is present in Gen 3:1–6 and shares responsibility for disobedience. This article reveals how English translations of Gen 3:6b (“and she gave also to her husband with her and he ate”) frequently isolate the woman by failing to translate עמה (“with her”) in this verse. The Hebrew word עמה is undisputed in the MT. Ancient textual witnesses, except the Vulgate, consistently include some version of this phrase. Grammatical reference works agree on the function and importance of עמה. Especially in English, עמה provides critical information, yet many translations of Gen 3:6 (including the RSV and NJPS) do not say that Eve’s husband is “with her.” This discussion looks at the biblical text, Hebrew grammars, commentaries, ancient sources, fifty English translations of Gen 3:6b, and translation committee notes to explore the history, implications, and motivations of translators’ decisions regarding עמה. While some translators consider עמה insignificant in Gen 3:6, this article argues that neglecting to translate this word has important ramifications. Bibles that do not mention that Adam was “with her” facilitate interpretations that excuse the man and condemn the woman.



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