Genesis 2:23

Translation

וַיֹּאמֶר הָֽאָדָם זֹאת הַפַּעַם עֶצֶם מֵֽעֲצָמַי וּבָשָׂר מִבְּשָׂרִ֑י לְזֹאת יִקָּרֵא אִשָּׁה כִּי מֵאִישׁ לֻֽקֳחָה־זֹּֽאת׃

And the man said, “At last, this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. For this reason this will be called woman because from man this was taken.”

Commentary

In this verse, the author breaks into song with a very elegant (and complex) Hebrew poem. To appreciate its structure I’ve included a recording of the verse along with a word-for-word mechanical translation and transcription. When you listen to the recording try to hear the sounds /zot/ (rhymes with goat) and /eesh/ (rhymes with leash)

at last, this is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh. For this will be named woman because from man was taken this.

vayyomer ha’adam zo’t happa‘am `etzem mai `atzamay uvasar mibbəsari ləzo’t yiqqare’ ‘ishshah ki me’ish luqachah zo’t

 

This verse illustrates the use of a number of Hebrew poetic forms: parallelism (lines 2-3 and 4-5), assonance and word play (woman (/eeshshah/) and man (/eesh/); chiasmus (ABC / C’B’A’); and especially repetition (this (/zot/) which serves to bring focus to the woman.

At last: Also translated as “now” and “finally”, in the Hebrew this phrase (happa’am) is often used as a cry of elation. It is noteworthy that the first recorded speech in the Bible is an expression of ecstacy when the man sees his wife for the first time.

Woman … man: There’s a lot going on here. Up till now, the author has used the word  הָֽאָדָם  (ha’adam) to mean “the man” and simply אָדָם (‘adam) for his name (Adam). In this verse, however, the author uses the word אִישׁ (ish — rhymes with quiche) for man, which is also means husband. At the same time, the author uses the Hebrew word for wife,  אִשָּׁה  (ishshah).

It is no coincidence that vocabulary changes when “the man” becomes the husband (ish) by virtue of being presented, by God, with his wife (ishshah).

Preliminary Translations

My translation conventions can be found here.

Mechanical

and-said the-man, “this [is] at-last bone from-my-bone and-flesh from-my-flesh”. for-this will be named woman because from-man this-was-taken

Literal

And said the man, “at last, this is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh. For this will be named woman because from man was taken this.

Commercial Bible Translations

  • (nas) And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
  • (kjv)  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
  • (niv)  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”
  • (nlt) At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.'”

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