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“Adam and English Translations”

This article is from a series of articles that I wrote and posted Last year and deals with the recognition that the Jews in the OT used Adam to specify the covenant man and had other words for generic mankind. The previous article was "Jews and Gentile Animals"

I want to add a little more to my previous conversation concerning the Jew and Gentile and especially how to recognize OT language dealing exclusively with Adam as a covenant word designating the Jews through the Seed lineage. It starts with the recognition that the word adam or aw-dawm has two differing applications in scripture. You will typically find that word applied 541 times in the OT designating plural mankind. You will find the singular usage of that word used 22 times and almost entirely from Gen 2:19 through Gen 5:5 describing typically a specific individual Adam. The plural application of Adam as man starts in Gen 1:26 where we note that if is often translated as generic man or mankind.

Here are some interesting facts on the usage of aw-dawm from strongs number H120.

It is used 95 times in the five books of the Torah

35 times in Genesis

14 times in Exodus

15 times in Leviticus

24 times in Numbers

7 times in Deuteronomy

It seems obvious that aw-dawm is used strategically in Scripture as the Hebrews writers were sticklers for word counts in their literature demonstrating a theological purpose. Notice the number 7, 12 and 5 as multipliers within the Torah concerning the word count of plural aw-dawm. Umberto Cassuto and James Jordan have investigated these Hebrew word count strategies and their works often point these out as important in the overall design of Hebrew literature.

The translation as man in the OT in the KJV is found 1829 times with 541 of those times being aw-dawm. That leaves nearly 1300 times that other Hebrew words are translated as man. In the YLT there is a lesser propensity to translate words as man as we find it only 1509 times in that version of the OT.

You may start to recognize that by reading an English translation we would most often not know what the underlying Hebrew word concerning man was being transcribed into English for us. This has enormous effect upon our understanding of the context where these words are applied.

In my previous post I demonstrated that aw-dawm in an indicator of Israel and the Jewish man and not Gentile men and without knowing which word is translated as man the reader would often remain ignorant of the covenant application to the text. James Jordan in some of his Genesis works recognizes this specifically in the book of Leviticus and deals with this very issue by explaining to his readers the reason for understanding the difference. What I emphasize is that you cannot just apply it to Leviticus but must carry the Jewish connotation with it throughout the Bible. I have gone through and marked these specific words in some of the biblical test that I deal with so that I will be aware of the context relating to Israel. After one does this for a while it will become noticeable by the context of the verses in question whether man is typically Jewish or a more generic term. You will start to see Hebrew patterns of application and learn to recognize them.

Here is what James Jordan had to say in the following excerpt.

Begin quote. 1.

“Adam” is used when there is some kind of association with the ground (‘adamah) from which human beings (‘adam) were made. Genesis 2:7 reads, “And Yahweh God formed the man (‘adam) of dust from the ground (‘adamah); and He breathed into his nostrils breath of life, and the man (‘adam) became a living soul.” 1 Corinthians 15:47 reads, “The first man is from the ground, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.” ‘Adam as used in the Hebrew scriptures seems to connote mankind as considered united to Adam: human beings in their first phase of existence, and often connotes human beings as sinners united to fallen Adam. It does not quite mean “human beings in general.” To avoid an awkward translation, such as human beings in their first and fallen phase,” I have simply put the word into English as adam and adams.

End quote.

Here is the link to the full article by Jordan.

The study of Hebrew literature construction and how precise they were with their words remains one of the little secrets of scholars that don’t always filter down to the typical bible student. Being aware that aw-dawm as it is translated “man” in Gen 1:26 helps provide the exegete with the knowledge that in OT scripture one is most often dealing with a plural application relating to a covenant Jewish application. That is why it is not difficult to pickup on the fact that Gen 1:26-31 is dealing with a Jewish and Gentile relationship with the language. This is further verified by scriptures that I posted and referred to in my previous blog such as Eze 38:19-20 and Zep 1:3 which differentiate the Jew (man) and the Gentile (animals) explicitly just as Gen 1:26-31 does.

Eze 38:19-20 Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; (20) so that the fishes of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep (moveth nv) upon the earth, and all the men (adam/aw-dawm) that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence,

Zep 1:3 I will consume man (Adam/Jew/aw-dawm) and beast (Gentiles); I will consume the birds of the heavens, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man (Adam/Jews/aw-dawm) from off the face of the ground, saith Jehovah.

Gen 1:27-28 So God created man (Adam/aw-dawm) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (28) And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Norm Voss

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