[b-hebrew] Gen. 2:16-17 :: idiom or clumsy lie

YODAN yodanco at yodanco.com
Wed Nov 29 23:14:43 EST 2006

Karl, you wrote:

"Adam didn't realize he was mortal, because he wasn't mortal. Mortality came
about because of disobedience. Disobedience was expressed by eating the


It seems to me that this is an interpretation of what's said (or not said)
in the text.  Because:

How do we know that he was not mortal before eating the fruit?  

How do we know that it is the disobedience that CAUSED his mortality?  

Might he have been mortal all along but wasn't aware of it? Is there a clear
proof (not belief, not interpretation) in the text that this is not the
case? Does it say anywhere anything that he was immortal before eating the

Was God's announcement about Adam's mortality actually an explanation of why
Adam is mortal (made of dust, etc.)?


However, regardless of the above, whether he was mortal to begin with or
mortality was a result of his disobedience, it is possible that only after
eating the fruit he realized (or God made him realize) that he is mortal
(regardless of the reason for him becoming mortal). Therefore, one may
understand the verse as meaning that the awareness of his mortality WAS his
death. I'm not saying that this is THE (ONLY) WAY to understand the issue.
I'm saying that this is one way to understand what's going on here, and is
as valid as stating that this may be a "clumsy lie" (by God) and certainly
no more of an "interpretation" than the latter.


In any event, let's face it, many of what's discussed on this list is
interpretation of the Biblical text, even by those who know Hebrew.
Furthermore, there is no way to read the Biblical text and not interpret
what we read when it comes to the content (and sometimes even to the
grammatical/language issues).  So what's wrong with an interpretation if it
doesn't stray far from the text?  Thinking that mortality resulted from
eating the fruit is an interpretation as well (unless there is text to show
otherwise - and I don't recall such text, but will be happy to learn about
it if you can point it out). Considering that this is a "clumsy lie" is
surely an interpretation.  What's this sensitivity all of a sudden to avoid
interpretation, when most of the discussion on this list are exactly this -
interpretations of the Biblical text.  


Or are some explanations/arguments/interpretations (especially those that
are not in line with certain doctrines) not "Kosher" on this list because
they don't fit someone's beliefs?  I don't quite understand this.  This (and
some offensive emails I received privately) make me wonder what kind of a
list this is supposed to be. 


All the best. 


-----Original Message-----
From: K Randolph [mailto:kwrandolph at gmail.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 7:42 PM
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: RE: [b-hebrew] Gen. 2:16-17 :: idiom or clumsy lie




I was not trying to impose any particular midrash that you might have.

I just caution that we ought not read our own biases and beliefs into

the text, otherwise called eisegesis.


On 11/29/06, YODAN <yodanco at yodanco.com> wrote:

> I completely disagree with the concept you state.  What does it mean

> "correctly understand" -- does anyone today know what "correctly

> means when it comes to Biblical (or another ancient) text?  True, some

> interpretations are very far from the text - they are called midrashim.

> interpreting a text written in Biblical Hebrew (and I mean by this not

> the technical/grammatical aspects of the language) -- why isn't the

> understanding I offered a valid one?  Surely you are not saying that I

> understand the Hebrew meaning of the verse.


What I say is that what you offered is midrash, not text. You add

something that the text does not have. It is not necessarily wrong,

just not there in the original.


> Think about this -- if one is told today that they are terminally ill

> (usually this is accompanies by some time-frame prognosis), isn't this the

> beginning of death itself?  Isn't this even worse than death?  Sure, we

> know that we will die.  But only when one is told that they have a

> disease it is when they become aware of this fact at a different level

> before.  Adam apparently wasn't even aware that he is mortal. The

> he is can mean death.


Adam didn't realize he was mortal, because he wasn't mortal. Mortality

came about because of disobedience. Disobedience was expressed by

eating the fruit.


> Anyway, you may agree or disagree -- I'm not planning to argue this. I

> offered my understanding of the text and consider am baffled why anyone

> would consider THIS  Biblical phrase to possibly a clumsy lie. But this is

> free country and each person can interpret anything in any way they wish.


Please understand that I in no way am trying to restrict your freedom

to interpret any way you wish, whatever midrash you want to add. All I

discussed is what the words themselves mean.


Karl W. Randolph.

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