Genesis 2:19-20a

Translation

וַיִּצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִן־הָֽאֲדָמָה כָּל־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְאֵת כָּל־עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיָּבֵא אֶל־הָאָדָם לִרְאוֹת מַה־יִּקְרָא־ל֑וֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא־לוֹ הָֽאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה הוּא שְׁמֽוֹ וַיִּקְרָא הָֽאָדָם שֵׁמוֹת לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה וּלְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּלְכֹל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה

(But the LORD God had already formed out of the ground all the living animals of the field and all the flying things of the air. Moreover, He had brought each of them before the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that became its name. Thus the man had given names to all the beasts, and to the birds of the sky, and to all the wild beasts.)

Commentary

Here I follow the NIV’s translation is rendering the first word, vayyitzer (and-formed), as a past perfect (and-he-had-formed). In other words, the creative activity referenced in this verse (19) occurred sometime before God warned the man of the consequences of eating from the tree of knowledge.

Apart from this, my translation is not substantively different that most conventional translations apart from the claim that the animals and other living creatures were created earlier in the story.

(but the LORD God had already formed…): grammatically, this verse should be understood as a parenthetical statement (see previous comment for Genesis 2:10-14 and a more extensive description of parenthetical statements in Hebrew here).

Thus the man had given names: One of the dominant themes running throughout the Hebrew Bible is the human condition and why it is as it is. One aspect of the Bible’s view of the human condition is the human’s dominion over the animals (Gen 1:26, 28). In this story, mankind’s position relative to other living things is symbolically represented by the man’s naming of them. In the cultures of the ANE those who named were privileged above those named.

Preliminary Translations

My translation conventions can be found here.

Mechanical

And-had-formed, the LORD God, from-the-ground all-the-living-of the-field and all-the-flying-of the-skies. And-He-had-brought before-the-man to-see what-he-will-call-it and-every which he-will-call-it the-man a-living-being life it his-name

Literal

And had already formed, the LORD God, from the ground all the living things of the field and all the flying things of the skies. Then, He brought before the man each thing to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living thing was its name.

Commercial Bible Translations

  • (nas) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
  • (kjv) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
  • (niv) Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
  • (net) he LORD God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

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