Gen 3:6 – Oh yeah. He was there.

On Friday we began a discussion of Gen. 3:6 and whether or Eve’s husband was “with her” when she gave him the fruit. This morning I have access to my commentaries and can give a quick run down on their thoughts on the relevant passage, including their lack of comments on the phrase וַתִּתֵּ֧ן גַּם־לְאִישָׁ֛הּ עִמָּ֖הּ

Exegetical Issue
This all began because I was suggesting that the text implied that Adam was there with Eve during the entire encounter with the serpent. I admit(ed) that one could easily argue that there is a gap between the conversation of Eve/serpent and “when the woman saw that the tree was good for eatings and a delight to the eyes.” Of course the first thing I should have done is to go back and read the entire passage in Hebrew. Had I done so I would have noted that the serpent consistently uses the plural when questioning the woman.
וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־הָ֣אִשָּׁ֔ה ֚אַף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֔ים לֹ֣א תֹֽאכְל֔וּ מִכֹּ֖ל עֵ֥ץ הַגָּֽן׃

Nahum Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis (1989), p. 25, notes this as well. “This suggests that the man was all the time within ear’s reach of the conversation and was equally seduced by its persuasiveness.” Sarna, who is of course working with the JPS that translates the passage “She also gave some to her husband, and he ate,” goes on to say, “In fact, the Hebrew text her literally means, ‘She also gave to her husband with her (‘immah),’ suggesting that he was a full participant in the sin, thereby refuting in advance his later excuse.” It is not surprise that my reading was preceded by Sarna’s and in fact may well have been informed by his since I read his works years ago. So credit where credit is due!

Modern Commentary Round Up
On the question of translation you have already seen Ian’s excellent comments. I will simply note that other than Sarna other commentaries on my shelf make little or no comment on עמה. Now, to those commentaries that I have on my shelf:

Hamilton, Victor P. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17. The translation appears to be his own and he renders the phrase “she also gave to her husband with her and he ate,” p. 186. He does not comment on the language but notes,

The woman does not try to tempt the man. She simply gives and he takes. He neither challenges nor raises questions. The woman allows her mind and her own judgment to be her guide; the man neither approves nor rebukes. Hers is a sin of initiative. His is a sin of acquiescence. (pp. 190-191)

Wenham, Gordon J. Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1-15 does not offer a complete translation (nor indicates a reliance upon a particular one) but will provide one to our passage. Wenham has a very few comments on this passage.

She “gave it to her husband with her”: this last phrase emphasizes the man’s association with the woman in the eating (cf. 6:18; 7:7; 13:1). Indeed, his eating is the last and decisive act of disobedience, for immediately the consequences of their sin are described. (pp. 75-76)

von Rad, Gerhard, Genesis: A Commentary (revised edition) is using the Revised Standard Version (p. 9). von Rad offers a different view from Hamilton regarding Eve.

The one who has been led astray now becomes a temptress. That is meant to indicate that the woman confronts the obscure allurements and mysteries that beset our limited life more directly that the man does. In the history of Yahweh-religion it has always been the women who have shown an inclination for obscure astrological cults. (p. 90)

The almost non sequitur of the last sentences indicates von Rad’s view of the woman in this story. The man is completely passive and the woman quite active. I do not think this is the same reading as Hamilton, nor my own. It seems to me that the Hebrew text implies the man’s presence and his own willingness to eat without undue persuasion or duress.

I hope to look into the ancient commentaries later this week. I cannot tell you all how good teaching and research feels after our own mabbul! This is fun again! 🙂

UPDATE: J. P. van de Giessen has blogged on this thread as well! I promise, more to come. (So far, Rashi and Ramban have little to say on this aspect in their commentaries.)

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