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DID EVE ACTUALLY THINK SHE WAS GIVING BIRTH TO YHWH? An Examination of CMI's "Out of the Ordinary" Claim

Introduction

I came across Creation Ministry International’s Christmas posting the other day, authored by Jonathan Sarfati, and was shocked to read the following:

 

When Eve bore Cain, she said something so apparently out of the ordinary that many Bible translators can’t believe she said it. The Hebrew literally says, ‘I have gotten a man: the LORD (YHWH)’, or ‘I have received a man, namely Jehovah’, as Martin Luther put it. The Hebrew Christian scholar Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum believes that Eve’s actual statement shows that she understood that the seed would be both God and man, but she was grossly mistaken in believing that Cain was the seed in question. Rather, the seed of the woman would be born about 4000 years later, to the virgin Mary in Bethlehem. I.e. Eve’s theology was accurate; it was only her application that was faulty.¹

 

For a moment, I had to wonder if this was the April Fool’s Day posting rather than the Christmas posting, but it was dated December 21.  As hard as it may be to believe, then, it seems that Sarfati is making this claim seriously.  But is there any possible viable rationale for this risible assertion?

 

Sarfati states that Eve “said something so apparently out of the ordinary that many Bible translators can’t believe she said it. The Hebrew literally says, ‘I have gotten a man: the LORD (YHWH)’.”  One wonders why Sarfati qualified “out of the ordinary” with “apparently,” as if what he claims Eve said wasn’t really “out of the ordinary.”  Is that so?  Or is it orders of magnitude beyond simply being “out of the ordinary”?


Let’s see: Eve was the first woman created.  Prior to the fall, she had face-to-face interaction with God, whose personal name is YHWH, the all-powerful Being who had created the world and all things in it, including her.  It was an “I-thou” relationship; YHWH clearly existed separate from Eve as an independent Entity.  And YHWH was the One who cursed her and her husband and banished them from the darkness.  But now, as Sarfati would have us believe, Eve gets pregnant and gives birth and thinks that the tiny human coming out of her birth canal is YHWH?  The independent, personal Being that created her and cursed her and banished her from the garden was now coming out her birth canal?  Oh, and she took it upon herself to rename YHWH to Cain?  And YHWH was a “man”?  This is not “apparently out of the ordinary”; it seems more apt to call it deranged lunacy.

 

How does Sarfati try to justify his claim?  He appeals to “Hebrew Christian scholar Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum,”² saying,

 

Fruchtenbaum supports the interpretation referred to in the main text (that Eve believed she was giving birth to the promised divine seed) by pointing out that the word YHWH is preceded by the untranslated accusative particle את (et), which marks the object of the verb, in this case ‘gotten’. Genesis 4:1 reads, ‘And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man: the LORD (YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah).’³

 

Now, it should be noted that hundreds of Hebrew experts who translated the myriad English versions we have disagree with Fruchentbaum on this. Sarfati’s apparent attempt to head off this point by saying “many Bible translators can’t believe she said it” is disturbing, as it seems to imply that these translators did not translate what they read in the Hebrew text, and did not do so simply because they did not believe it.

 

Now, it is theoretically possible that one scholar may be correct and all the others wrong, so let’s look at Fruchtenbaum’s argument and see whether it stands up.  According to Sarfati, “Fruchtenbaum supports the interpretation …. by pointing out that the word YHWH is preceded by the untranslated accusative particle את (et), which marks the object of the verb, in this case ‘gotten’”

 

Sarfati tries to buttress this by comparing the verse to the very next verse, Genesis 4:2:

 

Compare the last few words of this, and the Hebrew, with the account of Abel’s birth in the next verse


‘… and said, I have gotten a man: YHWH’ וַתּאמֶר קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת־יהוה׃


‘And she again bare his brother: Abel.’ וַתּסֶף לָלֶדֶת אֶת־אָחִיו אֶת־הָבֶל


There is no doubt that brother and Abel are one and the same. But the same exact Hebrew construction implies that likewise, man and the LORD were one and the same.


This analysis is fatally flawed, however; in fact, it seems that whoever did it either did not read the Hebrew carefully or did not read it at all, as the Hebrew construction is not “the exact same” in the two passages.  Follow:

  • In Genesis 4:1, the verb is “acquired,” the direct object is “a man”, and that is followed by the proper name YHWH.

  • In Genesis 4:2, the verb is “bore,” the direct object is “his brother,” and that is followed by the proper name Abel.

  • The immediate direct object in Genesis 4:1 is “a man” and in 4:2 is “his brother.”

  • In Genesis 4:2, the particle את (et), which marks the object of the verb, is indeed attached to the immediate direct object “his brother,” as it should be, and also to “Abel,” making Abel stand in apposition to “his brother,” so that both refer to the same entity.

  • But in Genesis 4:1, there is no את (et) attached to “a man,” but only to YHWH, so we do NOT have the “exact same Hebrew construction.”  On the contrary, since את (et) is not attached to the immediate direct object, את (et) here is not being used to “mark the object of the verb.”


In Genesis 4:2, then, the את (et) is not being used to “mark the object of the verb” but serves a different function.  Herein is Sarfati’s second fundamental error.  His first was to say, erroneously, that the Hebrew construction in 4:1 is the “exact same” as in 4:2, which, as we have seen, is not so.

 

The second is his claim that את (et) “marks the object of the verb.”  That is only one function of את (et); it is not the only function, and is not, as we have seen, the function it is serving here.  Sarfati should have consulted the industry-standard Hebrew lexicons HALOT, DCH, and BDB¹⁰, instead of merely relying on Fruchtenbaum, to determine what function את (et) is serving in this passage, as indicated by the context.  A check of those sources reveals that the obvious, correct choice is “with the help of”; HALOT actually lists Genesis 4:1 as an example of this usage¹¹, which is why all of those hundreds of Hebrew scholars who contributed to the myriad English translations translate Genesis 4:1 as “I have acquired a man with the help of YHWH” or something with the same sense¹².

 

So:  Did Eve actually think she was giving birth to YHWH?  Absolutely not; the idea is utterly unhinged.  One wonders if Sarfati and CMI will issue a retraction.  Regrettably, I do not recommend holding one’s breath in anticipation.

 

Sources

1. Sarfati, Jonathan.  “Christmas and Genesis.”  Posted for December 21, 2023, at https://creation.com/christmas-and-genesis

2. ibid.

3. ibid.

4. Of the fifty-six English Bible translations on Bible Gateway, only the ISV sides with Fruchtenbaum.

5. Sarfati, op.cit.

6. ibid.

7. Ibid, bolding and underlining added.  It is unclear whether this analysis is Sarfati’s or Fruchtenbaum’s.

8. Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, and Johann J. Stamm. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Translated and edited under the supervision of Mervyn E. J. Richardson. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill, 2001

9. Clines, David J. A., ed. The Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2009,

10. Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon, 1907

11. HALOT, p.101

12. It should be noted that even without a marker of the direct object, “man” is clearly the direct object in Eve’s statement.  According to HALOT (op.cit., p.100, bolding added), את (et) is used as an “acc. particle in prose and later language … very often preceding the direct object.”  Direct objects do not have to have the את (et) marker.


 

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