Gen 2:17: Dying thou shalt die

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Sun Aug 20 23:31:39 EDT 2000

> <Bill>
> The literal of Gen 2:17 seems to be:
> ...dying thou shalt die...
> which is generally translated "thou shalt surely die"
> * is this a fairly certain translation? could it be taken unidiomatically?

I'm not sure what you mean by "unidiomatically" since it's a 
common Hebrew idiom; "going you shall go," "dying you shall die," 
"loving you shall love" etc.  It's a Hebrew way of emphasizing the 
sureness of something: "this will most definitely happen" or "you 
will most certainly do this."  We see a similar construction in 
Jonah 1 where the sailors "feared a great fear."  As my first-year 
Hebrew teacher said so many many years ago, "feared a fear" is 
emphatic enough, but when you add "great" it probably means 
some of them had to go change their underwear.  Using cognate 
forms like this was a "normal" (whatever that word means) way that 
Hebrew strengthened the force of something like "die."

> * does the construct appear elsewhere in Scripture?

All over the place.

> * does anyone respectable champion another reading?

Not that I am aware of.  No one unrespectable that I've seen either 

Dave Washburn
"Éist le glór Dé."

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