Genesis 4:7

Translation

הֲלוֹא אִם־תֵּיטִיב שְׂאֵת וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל־בּוֹ

If you do well, will you not be honored? But, if you do not do well, sin blocks the door and anger’s desire is for you. Therefore, you must master your emotions.

Commentary

The key to the exegesis of this verse is to recognize that the word for sin,  חַטָּאת (chattat) is feminine and the indefinite pronouns in this verse (colored red as in the NRS translation below) refer to the masculine noun, פָּנִים (paneem) in verse 4:6. See the commentary for 4:5-6 for further information, but the adjective used to describe ‘face’ is ‘fallen’ which, in biblical Hebrew is an idiom meaning deep anger and disappointment.

(NRS)  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

honored: the reward for doing well. The verb here, שְׂאֵת, derives from a root meaning to lift up. In this form, however, (Qal, infinitive construct) it is usually translated as exalted or dignified (c.f., Genesis 49:3).

sin blocks the door:  is translated from the Hebrew phrase  לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ the literal meaning of which is “regarding the door, sin [is] lying down“. Cassuto points out that the door is symbolic of temptation and represents decisions with which are faced in our day-to-day living.

anger’s desire is for you: English translations usually use “its desire is for you”. However, the antecedent of ‘its’ is Qayin’s anger expressed in the previous two verses, not ‘sin’.

your emotions: the antecedent of ‘it’.

See this article for an in depth exegesis of this verse.

Word-for-Word Translation

My translation conventions can be found here.

<In Progress>

Commercial Bible Translations

  • (nrs)  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
  • (kjv) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
  • (niv)  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
  • (nlt)  Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

 

 

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