Moving a Hebrew consonant from one word to another adjacent to it can change meaning as illustrated here with a portion of a verse from Genesis 4:7 regarding Cain’s sin. Read in the conventional way the words are as follows:



lying down (masc.)

sin (fem.)
at the opening

Two scholars translate the passage as follows:

For E.A. Speiser;1 a concerned YHWH warns Cain, “Sin is the demon at the door, whose urge is toward you; yet you can be his master.”

For Everett Fox,2 an austere YHWH admonishes Cain, “At the entrance is sin, a crouching-demon, toward you his lust—but you can rule over him.”

Because word separations are uncertain in biblical Hebrew,a the last letter “sin” may be shifted to the, beginning of the word, “lying down,” Then the following reading is possible:



you (masc.)will lie down

of sin (masc.)
at the entry

For Adrien Bledstein, who shifts the tov to the left, the passage now presents a kindly yet firm YHWH who cautions Cain lest he become a predator:

At an entry of sin you stretch out; it is attractive (wtqyvt, teásûuÆqaµtoÆ) to you; yet you can rule over it.”

The Hebrew word teásûuÆqaÆ, translated urge, lust or attractive in the passages above, is also in Genesis 3:16 about Eve. Following are two conventional translations which condemn Eve to perpetual yearning for her husband and domination by him (the translations of tesuqa are italicized).

E.A. Speiser: “Yet your urge shall be for your husband, And he shall be your master.”

Everett Fox: “Toward your husband will be your lust, yet he will rule over you.”

In translations of the Cain episode, the man “can” master sin, admitting an element of choice. Inconsistently, the translators say the man “shall” or “will” master the woman. But Bledstein—using the meaning of teásûuÆqaÆ she finds in the Cain passage—proposes an Eve and Adam who retain the possibility of choice: “You are attractive to your man; yet he can rule over you.”