[b-hebrew] dying you will die

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 5 16:53:34 EDT 2007

Dear Scott, David, and Isaac,
> David,
>    I appreciate your response, and the quote.   I have heard this 
> explanation of �in the day� before, and I think it is a good one.  And 
> it may be all that was intended by what God said.  But I don�t think 
> we can escape the fact that they were also banned from the one tree 
> which God said would give them eternal life, were they to eat from 
> it.  And if you lose access to life, you either gain death, or 
> maintain your course with it(as I have proposed).  And as far as we 
> know, the banishment happened in the same 24 hour day.  So perhaps 
> both were intended.  It wouldn�t be the last time in scripture where 
> there would be dual meanings.  Either way, I think either one or both 
> of these are very acceptable explanations, and I am confused as to why 
> the verse causes a conflict in believing that God does what he says he 
> will do.
> My commentary here is indirectly related to your inquiry and you may 
> or may not consider it as you evaluate the more specific replies to 
> your query. Anton Chekov wrote, “No psychologist should pretend to 
> understand what he does not understand... Only fools and charlatans 
> know everything and understand nothing.” I contend Chekov's quote is 
> analogous to the "experts" you allude to. At any rate, I will await 
> the responses you seek with interest but in the mean time let me 
> suggest that a day is 1000 years for Hashem and 1000 years is a day. 
> Thus, Adam & Hawaah (Eve) did die within a "day" as neither reached 
> 100 years of life. Neither do we know at what age Hashem created them.

HH: I hesitate to multiply theories, but an idea I had was that the 
force of the infinitive absolute might suggest certification. In other 
words, we often think that if Adam and Eve had refrained from eating of 
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would have been home 
free. Yet they could have obeyed at that point but disobeyed at some 
other. Since the work of the law is written on our heart, they could 
have murdered, disobeying their conscience and sinning against God like 
Cain did. So perhaps not eating from the tree would not guarantee their 
not dying. Dying could still have been a possibility. But eating from 
the forbidden fruit made death certain. On the day that they ate, they 
would certainly die. Up until that time, death was a possibility, and it 
still could have been possible if they had not eaten, but it was certain 
when they did eat:

Gen. 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good 
and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Isaac Fried doesn't like "surely," but that seems partially due to the 
associations he has with the word and not to the force of the Hebrew, 
since many, many sources validate this to be the force of the Hebrew not 
only here but as a general possibility valid for many texts. The ideas 
above would eliminate the idea of redundancy in the use of the 
infinitive absolute while retaining a word like surely or certainly. 
However, it is just a thought.

Harold Holmyard

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