'Ish List (was Antiquity and Unity of the Human Race)

From: Dick Fischer (dickfischer@earthlink.net)
Date: Sat May 04 2002 - 23:01:46 EDT

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    Gordon Brown wrote:

    Here is a partial list of Old Testament characters descended from Adam
    and referred to as 'ish.

    Adam (Gen. 2:23)
    Cain (Gen. 4:1)
    Noah (Gen. 6:9)
    Abram (Gen. 16:3)
    Jacob (Gen. 25:27)
    Esau (Gen. 27:11)
    Moses (Num. 12:3)
    Elimelech (Ruth 1:2)
    Jeroboam (I Kings 11:28)
    Elijah (II Kings 1:8)
    Elisha (II Kings 5:8)
    David (Nehemiah 12:24)
    Mordecai (Esther 9:4)
    Daniel (Dan. 10:11)

    I don't think this list says anything one way or the other about the
    existence of pre-Adamites, but it calls into question one particular
    apologetic for such a view.

    In general, the word for Adam or Adamite (had the translators
    recognized it) is 'adam. Also, 'adam can mean mankind, man, or human
    being in some instances. I maintain translators used "man" in many
    instances where "Adam" or "in the covenant line of Adam" or "Adamite"
    was intended by the original writer.

    The Hebrew 'ish is a general term for generic man, male (in contrast
    to woman, female), husband, human being, or person (in contrast to
    God). The Hebrew 'ish is not used per se to designate "Adam" or "a
    descendant of Adam" or "an "Adamite." Man and woman, even when the
    woman is unspoken, is always 'ish and 'ishah. Man and beast is
    always 'adam, wherever he came from. If "man" is the subject
    modified by an adjective the entire phrase normally ends with 'ish.
    So where the phrase is "one man," "any man," etc., normally the word
    for "man" will be 'ish.

    Here are the verses you listed.

    Genesis 2:23: "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh
    of my flesh: she shall be called Woman ('ishah), because she was
    taken out of Man ('ish)." - Man and woman, even when the woman is
    unspoken, is always 'ish and 'ishah.

    Genesis 4:1: "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare
    Cain, and said, I have gotten a man ('ish) from the Lord."
    Either falls in the 'ish and 'ishah rule as Eve could have had either
    a man or a woman, or Cain was considered outside the covenant line
    from Adam because he murdered his brother.

    Genesis 6:9: "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man
    ('ish) and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."
    Still falls generally within the 'ish and 'ishah rule in my
    estimation. The object is to tell us that Noah was a particular kind
    of man. Of all men, whether they be descended from Adam or not, Noah
    was just. He wasn't simply "just" among the Adamites, all of whom
    would soon be destroyed due to their sin (except for his sons), he
    was "just" among all men.

    Genesis 16:3: "And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the
    Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and
    gave her to her husband ('ish) Abram to be his wife ('ishah)." - 'ish
    and 'ishah - husband and wife.

    Genesis 25:27: "And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a
    man ('ish) of the field; and Jacob was a plain man ('ish), dwelling
    in tents." Again, both were men not women, generally in the 'ish and
    'ishah rule. Also, in both these phrases "man" is the subject.
    Among all men, Adamites and non-Adamites who did various things, Esau
    was a farmer, a man of the soil, and Jacob was among all men
    "perfect, complete, wholesome, innocent, morally and ethically pure,

    Genesis 27:11: "And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my
    brother is a hairy man ('ish), and I am a smooth man ('ish) ..."
    Same as in Gen. 25:27. The intent is not to tell us that Esau was a
    hairy son of Adam, but that he was considered "hairy" compared to all
    men regardless of pedigree.

    Numbers 12:3: "(Now the man ('ish) Moses was very meek, above all the
    men ('adam) which were upon the face of the earth.)" Man once again
    is the subject (as opposed to woman). He was poor, humble, meek
    above all the Israelites (adam) who were descended from Adam.
    "...upon the face of the land" would have made better sense.

    Ruth 1:2: "And the name of the man ('ish) was Elimelech, and the name
    of his wife ('ishah) Naomi ..." Man and wife is always 'ish and

    1 Kings 11:28: "And the man ('ish) Jeroboam was a mighty man
    (gibbowr) of valor: and Solomon seeing the young man (na`ar)
    that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the
    house of Joseph." Once again the subject is "man" not a woman, and
    not concerned with ancestry. Jeroboam was a mighty man among all
    men, not simply mighty among the covenant race. Gibbowr implies
    strong man, brave man, mighty man. Na`ar is a boy, lad, servant,
    youth, retainer.

    2 Kings 1:8: "And they answered him, He was a hairy man ('ish) ..."
    Same stuff, not a hairy woman, man is the subject, etc.

    2 Kings 5:8: "And it was so, when Elisha the man ('ish) of God had
    heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes ..." "Man" is the
    subject - man, male (in contrast to woman, female).

    Nehemiah 12:24: "And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah,
    and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them,
    to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David
    the man ('ish) of God, ward over against ward." Using 'adam in this
    phrase would be a contradiction in terms. It would say literally
    "man of Adam of God." Also, "woman" is unspoken in this phrase,
    David was a "man." That's the subject - not that he was Adam's

    Esther 9:4: "For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his
    fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man ('ish)
    Mordecai waxed greater and greater." See same explanation as 2 Kings
    5:8, Num.12:3.

    Daniel 10:11: "And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man ('ish) greatly
    beloved ..." No different than the above - man is the subject, not a

    Now let's look at a few examples where 'adam as Adam or Adamite makes sense:

    Genesis 6:7: "And the Lord said, I will destroy man ('adam) whom I
    have created from the face of the earth ..." Who was destroyed,
    American Indians, or Adamites? Judgment was against those who were
    accountable and sinned against the Lord.

    Numbers 9:6: "And there were certain men, who were defiled by the
    dead body of a man ('adam), that they could not keep the passover on
    that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day."
    The dead man was an Israelite, a descendant of Adam

    1 Kings 8:46: "If they sin against thee, (for there is no man ('adam)
    that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to
    the enemy ..." These are Israelites who sin, and Israelites are

    Nehemiah 9:29: "And testified against them, that thou mightest bring
    them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not
    unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a
    man ('adam) do, he shall live in them;) ..." Should be no question
    these men who hearkened not to God's commandments, and sinned against
    His judgments were Israelites/Adamites. Note that only Adamites
    could hearken unto God's commandments and live in them.

    Daniel 8:17: "So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was
    afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son
    of man ('adam) ..." Daniel is addressed by his pedigree - son of

    In conclusion, where Genesis is concerned, the distinction is easy to
    see. Some OT phrases make good sense when the distinction is
    applied. But there are many OT authors, and "man" is used in many
    phrases where the exact intention of the author may not be totally
    clear. So, I would consider that there are established guidelines if
    not hard and fast rules. Or there may be rules, but it would take
    one more astute than I to define them all. If we all worked at it,
    we probably could devise a set of rules based on usage.

    Yours in Christ,

    Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution - www.orisol.com
    "The answer we should have known about 150 years ago"

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