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Hiding in a tree or hiding among the trees?

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As I was reading Beresheet 3:8 today ("וַיִּתְחַבֵּא הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ מִפְּנֵי ה' אֱלֹוקים בְּתוֹךְ עֵץ הַגָּן"), it suddenly occurred to me that though I had never thought about the term "בתוך עץ הגן" (inside/among the tree(s) of the garden), my mind probably usually understood it like it's translated into English: that Adam and Chavah hid among the trees, yet perhaps the term should be understood as singular, which means Adam and Chavah hid inside a tree (one of those trees that have a hole in them). As hiding places go, it seems to make more sense than just randomly running around the trees...

Is this interpretation even possible, grammar-wise? Are there any sources that suggest this interpretation?

Why should this post be closed?

2 comments

Or climbing a tree and hiding among its leaves? That would still be one tree but doesn't require a hollow trunk large enough to fit two people. ‭Monica Cellio‭ 14 days ago

@MonicaCellio I suppose that could work too. :) ‭Harel13‭ 14 days ago

1 answer

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Rav Hirsch does tranlate בְּתוֹךְ עֵץ הַגָּן as amongst the trees of the garden because he considers this the appropriate idiom required by the term וַיִּתְחַבֵּא. That is, it is not a matter of direct translation, but an idiom based on the meaning that the Garden was now treated as the singular Tree of Knowledge which encompassed the whole. While he translates it as hid themselves ... amongst his commentary explains that it is actually a matter of creeping away to lose themselves among all the other creatures of the Garden.

וַיִּתְחַבֵּא The man and woman crept away. They no longer stood upright before Hashem, לפני, but מפני, they feared His proximity. Now they felt all sorts of contrasts and differences themselves. They had already felt the first discord, their body being at variance with their spirit and had made aprons for themselves. At once now they feel themselves - no longer materng their senses, no longer pure in body and spirit - at variance with Hashem. They felt they had lost their worthy status of human beings and slunk away and hid themselves amongst the other creatures.

Thus the idiom of the tree while expressed in the singular in used to mean the entire corpus of the Garden as expressed by Tree of Knowledge which from being only one of the trees (and somewhere on the periphery) had now expanded (in their minds) to be the central focus and then to encompass the whole.

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