Thank you for the clarification of your understanding of 'adam and 'ish.
With all the exceptions you have listed you can make their meanings agree
with the commonly accepted meanings whenever you have to, and so your
thesis is probably almost impossible to falsify. It appears to me that
with all the multiple meanings you allow for these words you have left the
Hebrew writers no way to clearly indicate non-Adamites.
The translators of the Septuagint generally understood 'ish to mean aner
and 'adam to mean anthropos. (Gen. 2:24 is an exception to this.) You can
see examples of this in the LXX translation of some verses in which both
words occur (Psalm 80:17, Isa. 31:8 & 44:13, Jer. 2:6 & 50:40).
If we accept your view, then apparently the dire pronouncement in Genesis
9:6 does not apply to the killing of non-Adamites since they weren't
created in God's image.
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395
On Sat, 4 May 2002, Dick Fischer wrote:
> 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.
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