on Genesis 2 :4
In the day that the Lord God made, etc. - The word יהוה Yehovah is for the first time mentioned here. What it signifies see the note on Exodus 34:5, Exodus 34:6. Wherever this word occurs in the sacred writings we translate it Lord, which word is, through respect and reverence, always printed in capitals. Though our English term Lord does not give the particular meaning of the original word, yet it conveys a strong and noble sense. Lord is a contraction of the Anglo-Saxon, Hlaford, afterwards written Loverd, and lastly Lord, from bread; hence our word loaf, and ford, to supply, to give out. The word, therefore, implies the giver of bread, i.e., he who deals out all the necessaries of life. Our ancient English noblemen were accustomed to keep a continual open house, where all their vassals, and all strangers, had full liberty to enter and eat as much as they would; and hence those noblemen had the honorable name of lords, i.e., the dispensers of bread. There are about three of the ancient nobility who still keep up this honorable custom, from which the very name of their nobility is derived. We have already seen, Genesis 1:1, with what judgment our Saxon ancestors expressed Deus, the Supreme Being, by the term God; and we see the same judgment consulted by their use of the term Lord to express the word Dominus, by which terms the Vulgate version, which they used, expresses Elohim and Jehovah, which we translate Lord God. God is the good Being, and Lord is the dispenser of bread, the giver of every good and perfect gift, who liberally affords the bread that perisheth to every man, and has amply provided the bread that endures unto eternal life for every human soul. With what propriety then does this word apply to the Lord Jesus, who is emphatically called the bread of life; the bread of God which cometh down from heaven, and which is given for the life of the world! John 6:33, John 6:48, John 6:51. What a pity that this most impressive and instructive meaning of a word in such general use were not more extensively known, and more particularly regarded! See the postscript to the general preface. I know that Mr. H. Tooke has endeavored to render this derivation contemptible; but this has little weight with me. I have traced it through the most accredited writers in Saxony and on Saxon affairs, and I am satisfied that this and this only, is its proper etymology and derivation.
on Genesis 2 :4
- Part II. The development
- Section II-- The Man
- X. The Field
4. תולדות tôledôt "generations, products, developments." That which comes from any source, as the child from the parent, the record of which is history.
יהוה yehovâh. This word occurs about six thousand times in Scripture. It is obvious from its use that it is, so to speak, the proper name of God. It never has the article. It is never changed for construction with another noun. It is never accompanied with a suffix. It is never applied to any but the true God. This sacred exclusiveness of application, indeed, led the Jews to read always in place of it אדוני 'adônāy, or, if this preceded it, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, to intimate which the vowel points of one of these terms were subscribed to it. The root of this name is חוה chāvâh, an older variety of היה hāyâh, which, as we have seen, has three meanings, - "be" in the sense of coming into existence, "be" in that of becoming, and "be" in that of merely existing. The first of these meanings has no application to God, who had no beginning of existence.
The last applies to God, but affords no distinctive characteristic, as it belongs equally to all objects that have existence. The second is proper to God in the sense, not of acquiring any new attribute, but of becoming active from a state of repose. But he becomes active to the eye of man only by causing some new effect to be, which makes its appearance in the world of sensible things. He becomes, then, only by causing to be or to become. Hence, he that becomes, when applied to the Creator, is really he that causes to be. This name, therefore, involves the active or causative force of the root from which it springs, and designates God in relation with the system of things he has called into being, and especially with man, the only intelligent observer of him or of his works in this nether world. It distinguishes him as the Author of being, and therefore the Creator, the worker of miracles, the performer of promise, the keeper of covenant. Beginning with the י (y) of personality, it points out God as the person whose habitual character it has become to cause his purpose to take place. Hence, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym designates God as the Everlasting, the Almighty, in his unchangeable essence, as he is before as well as after creation. יהוה .noitaer yehvâh distinguishes him as the personal Self-existent, and Author of all existing things, who gives expression and effect to his purpose, manifests himself thereby as existing, and maintains a spiritual intercourse with his intelligent creatures.
The vowel marks usually placed under the consonants of this word are said to belong to אדוני 'adonāy; and its real pronunciation, which is supposed to be lost, is conjectured to have been יהוה yehovâh. This conjecture is supported by the analogy of the supposed antique third singular masculine imperfect of the verb הוה hāvâh, and by the Greek forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE which are found in certain authors (Diod. Sic. i. 19; Macrob. Saturn i. 18; Theodoret, Quaest. xv. ad Exod.). It is true, indeed, when it has a prefix all its vowels coincide with those of אדדי 'adonāy. But otherwise the vowel under the first letter is different, and the qamets at the end is as usual in proper names ending in the Hebrew letter ה (h) as in others. יהוה yehovâh also finds an anology in the word ירחם yerochām. In the forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE the Greek vowels doubtless represent the Hebrew consonants, and not any vowel points. The Hebrew letter ה (h) is often represented by the Greek letter α (a). From יהוה yaheovâh we may obtain רהוּ yehû at the end of compounds, and therefore, expect יהוּ yehû at the beginning. But the form at the beginning is יהו yehô or יו yô, which indicates the pronunciation יהוה yehovâh as current with the punctuators. All this countenances the suggestion that the casual agreement of the two nouns Yahweh and Adonai in the principal vowels was the circumstance that facilitated the Jewish endeavor to avoid uttering the proper name of God except on the most solemn occasions. יהוה yehovâh, moreover, rests on precarious grounds. The Hebrew analogy would give יהוה yı̂hveh not יהוה yehovâh for the verbal form. The middle vowel cholem (o) may indicate the intensive or active force of the root, but we lay no stress on the mode of pronunciation, since it cannot be positively ascertained.
5. שׂדה śādeh "plain, country, field," for pasture or tillage, in opposition to גן gan, "garden, park."
7. נשׂמה neśāmâh "breath," applied to God and man only.
We meet with no division again in the text till we come to Genesis 3:15, when the first minor break in the narrative occurs. This is noted by the intervening space being less than the remainder of the line. The narrative is therefore so far regarded as continuous.
We are now entering upon a new plan of narrative, and have therefore to notice particularly that law of Hebrew composition by which one line of events is carried on without interruption to its natural resting-point; after which the writer returns to take up a collateral train of incidents, that are equally requisite for the elucidation of his main purpose, though their insertion in the order of time would have marred the symmetry and perspicuity of the previous narrative. The relation now about to be given is posterior, as a whole, to that already given as a whole; but the first incident now to be recorded is some time prior to the last of the preceding document.
Hitherto we have adhered closely to the form of the original in our rendering, and so have made use of some inversions which are foreign to our prose style. Hereafter we shall deviate as little as possible from the King James Version.
The document upon which we are now entering extends from Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4. In the second and third chapters the author uses the combination אלהים יהוה yehovâh 'ĕlohı̂ym "the Lord God," to designate the Supreme Being; in the fourth he drops אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym "God," and employs יהוה yehovâh "the Lord," alone. So far, then, as the divine appellation is concerned, the fourth chapter is as clearly separable from the second and third as the first document is from the present. If diversity of the divine name were a proof of diversity of authorship, we should here have two documents due to different authors, each of them different also from the author of the first document. The second and third chapters, though agreeing in the designation of God, are clearly distinguishable in style.
The general subject of this document is the history of man to the close of the line of Cain and the birth of Enosh. This falls into three clearly marked sections - the origin, the fall, and the family of Adam. The difference of style and phraseology in its several parts will be found to correspond with the diversity in the topics of which it treats. It reverts to an earlier point of time than that at which we had arrived in the former document, and proceeds upon a new plan, exactly adapted to the new occasion.
on Genesis 2 :4