Genesis 2:23 uses both 'adam and 'ish to refer to the same individual.
Since Hebrew poetry is based on parallelism, often saying much the same
thing in two parallel lines, the occurrence of two different words or
phrases in corresponding places in parallel lines does not make the two
concepts mutually exclusive. The lexicons I have seen tend to indicate
that 'adam usually (but not always) means human being, and 'ish usually
(but not always) refers to an adult male human.
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395
On Wed, 1 May 2002, Dick Fischer wrote:
> Psalm 8:4 is another case in point: "What is man, that thou art
> mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" How are
> men different from sons of men? Why the redundancy? Aren't all men
> sons of men? Yes, but not all men are sons of Adam! God is
> "mindful" of "man" ('ish), but it is the sons of Adam ('adam) that He
> visits." This verse reflects the special relationship Israel enjoyed.
> In Psalm 80:17, "Let thy hand be upon the man ['ish] of thy right
> hand, upon the son of Adam [it should read] whom thou madest strong
> for thyself." See what a clarification it makes in Numbers 23:19:
> "God is not a man [generic man], that He should lie; neither the son
> of man [Adam!], that He should repent ..." All men are capable of
> lying, only sons of Adam repent and receive forgiveness.
> The prophet Jeremiah likens the fall of Babylon to the destruction of
> Sodom and Gomorrah. By way of translation, in one sentence he
> appears to say the same thing twice: "... so shall no man abide
> there, neither doth any son of man dwell therein" (Jer. 50:40). Here
> again 'ish and 'adam are both translated "man." Had the translators
> let 'adam be "Adam" instead of "man" we would know that neither
> Adamites nor Non-Adamites live there.
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