The Messianic Expectation of Gen. 4:1 (Part 3)

THE DIVINITY OF THE MESSIAH IN GEN. 3:15

Fruchtenbaum notes major significance in the link of the messiah to the seed of the woman, the mother and not the father. The connotations beckon distinction in the messiah’s birth. Since the father has no genealogical influence in his birth, the natural deduction corresponding with Scripture is that the messiah will be born of a virgin (cf. Isaiah 7:14). Matthews asserts that several commentators saw allusions to the virgin birth in Gen. 3:15 because “some Old Latin texts and the Vulgate… had the feminine pronoun ‘she [ipsa] shall crush’ rather than the masculine.”[1] It is this virgin birth – free of a human male patron – that causes some to reason that Gen. 3:15 is the first indicator of the messiah’s divinity.

Some might argue, rightfully so, that this inference is only possible given retrospective analysis.  The reader is simply taking an explicit truth formed from the progressive revelation of God in history, and inserting it as an implicit reading of the text in Genesis. This is a subject for another examination. Gen. 4:1, however, may provide some valuable insight into understanding how those who first heard the prophecy comprehended its meaning. Kaiser agrees, “Some hint of what these early mortals may have understood from [Gen. 3:15] is evident in Eve’s response after she had given birth to her first son (Gen. 4:1).”[2] Utley states, “The closing phrase of [Gen. 4:1]…implies that this was a statement of faith by Eve based on Gen. 3:15.”[3]

Translation History of Eve’s Expectation (Gen. 4:1)

‘I have gotten a man: Yahweh’ is the literal translation of the Hebrew provided by Fruchtenbaum. “Apparently [Eve] connected the birth of her son with the immediate fulfillment of the promise concerning the Seed, who was to bruise the head of the serpent.”[4] Fruchtenbaum claims that only a minority of “Bible translators really understand what Eve is saying here, which is why our English translations do not read as given above.”[5] Translators have had their difficulties with this verse, yet the English versions consistently represent a non-messianic interpretation.

The [authorized version] translators inferred, very properly, that Eve could not have supposed she had given birth to God, and so they introduced the word ‘from.’ The [revised version] translators, knowing that there was no such word as ‘from,’ introduced ‘with the help of’ (in italics). But neither from, nor with, nor any other preposition, is in the text.[6]

NASB, ESV, HCSB, and the NIV all translate קָנִ֥יתִי אִ֖ישׁ אֶת־יְהוָֽה with the Lord’s ‘helping’ Eve’s birth. The NKJV and KJV interpret the child as ‘from the Lord.’ It is supposed that these English translations are based on the LXX and Vulgate, which read ‘through God.’[7]

The next part of the analysis will reveal the reasoning behind these differing translations.


[1] Mathews, Genesis 1-11, 247

[2] Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 42.

[3] Robert James Utley, How It All Began: Genesis 1–11, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 2001), 72.

[4] Alfred Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament (Oak Harbor: Logos Bible Software, 1997), Gen 4:1.

[5] Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology, 15.

[6] Joseph D. Wilson, “Jehovah,” Bibliotheca Sacra 76, no. 302 (1919): 222-223.

[7] The LXX reads ἐκτησάμην ἂνθρωπον διὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ (I have gained a man through God) and the Vulgate similarly reads “per deum.” The NET Bible Notes strongly hold and support a prepositional rendering by alluding to such ‘ancient versions’: “The particle (’et) is not the accusative/object sign, but the preposition “with” as the ancient versions attest.” Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Gen 4:1. The Dead Sea Scrolls do not note Gen. 4:1. It reads beginning with v. 2 ‘[And a]gain [she] gave birth to his brother A[bel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain wa]s a tiller of the ground;’ 4QGenb: 4:2-11.

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