Gen. 3:6 Was Adam with Eve? 3

I was teaching Gen. 3 today and made a point of the fact that the text says “she also gave some to her husband, who was with her” וַתִּתֵּ֧ן גַּם־לְאִישָׁ֛הּ עִמָּ֖הּ I suggested that one could read the text as implying that Adam was there next to Eve during the entire episode or, if one wants to see a gap between her conversation with the serpent and her looking at the fruit, at least with her when she ate of the fruit. In other words Adam is culpable.

Now here is the curious thing. I had ordered copies of the Bible in the Revised Standard Version this year. One of the students asked why some translations do not include “who was with her” (omitting עִמָּ֖הּ). I was surprised, admitted my ignorance and started checking translations. The RSV does indeed omit that phrase as does JPS. All other English translations I checked do, however, include it from the KJV to the NIV. The phrase is present in the MT as found in BHS and the apparatus does not give any indication of manuscript variants. I do not have any commentaries handy to check right now, so I am not sure what (if anything) others have said about this.

So, what is up with the RSV and the JPS? Any suggestions?

UPDATE: Ian Slater sent me a nice long email with all sorts of useful and thoughtful comments. His hunch seems the most likely to me:

My immediate, perhaps uninformed, suspicion was that “gam l’ishah imah” was being taken as just meaning “to the man-with-her,” i.e., “to her husband,” rather than “to her man (= husband) next to her.” This would be typical of the NJPS tendency to replace the longer and usually more concrete with the shorter but slightly more abstract, supposedly in the interests of escaping a “mechanical” translation. (I personally think that mid-twentieth-century “officialese” was too often their answer to Margolis’ problem with dignified language and stylistic decorum.)

And, if so, it also would have been following the then-recent RSV reading. As it happens, Harry Orlinsky participated in both projects, so what, if anything, he had to say would be interesting from the perspective as well.

I promise to follow up on Monday after I have been able to get back into my office and at my commentaries. Thanks again Ian!


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3 thoughts on “Gen. 3:6 Was Adam with Eve?

  • Cb

    More good comments from Ian so I thought I would (with his permission) put them here. I will get back to the exegetical questions on Monday, hopefully with a glance to of the ancient commentaries. Barring any unforeseen committee meetings that is. So, without further ado, Ian’s comments:

    I managed to clear away a couple of boxes from in front of a bookcase
    (which I should have done a long time ago,) and was able to get to out
    Richard Elliott Friedman’s “Commentary on the Torah: With a New English
    Translation” (2001), which is the most recent such treatment I own.

    It turns out that Friedman in fact translates “and gave to her man with
    her” at 3:6. (No trace of “husband.”)

    And Friedman actually has a note on whether this “may suggest that he
    should be pictured as having been there while the snake was speaking to
    her.” Friedman discounts 3:17 “you listened to your woman’s voice” as a
    specific response to the excuse that “she gave me from the tree, and I
    ate,” treating it as a commentary on his words, not his previous
    actions. Well, maybe.

    The perhaps delayed mention of “her man,” and whether this means that
    “her man” was present, reminds me of a similar problem (with genders
    reversed) raised in Meir Sternberg’s “The Poetics of Biblical
    Narrative.” It has a fairly extended discussion of whether we are
    intended to reconsider the whole Dinah narrative in the light of 34:26,
    “and they took Dinah from Shechem’s house.” Which could imply that she
    had never been consulted by her father and brothers in the preceding
    narrative because in fact she had never returned home; putting the
    whole decision to attack the people of Shechem into a new perspective,
    as well.

    Sternberg points out that the usual procedure in Genesis is to drop in
    a piece of information somewhat *before* we know that we need it: as in
    the appearance of Rebeccah in the middle of a list in 22:20-24. Modern
    readers, with little patience for, or skill in, reading genealogies,
    may be surprised when she appears, with a short reminder, as a known
    relative, in 24:15. So, he suggests, a reversal of such expectations
    also might be a deliberate device.

    I don’t think Sternberg mentions this as a possibility in the Eden
    narrative — but I don’t remember what he has to say about it!