There are four principal Hebrew words rendered "man", and these must be carefully discriminated. Every occurrence is noted in the margin of The Companion Bible. They represent him from four different points of view :-
- 'Adam, denotes his origin, as being made from the "dust of the Adamah" ground (Latin homo).
- 'Ish, has regard to sex, a male (Latin vir).
- 'Enosh, has regard to his infirmities, as physically mortal, and as to character, incurable.
- Geber, has respect to his strength, a mighty man.
I. 'Adam, without the article, denotes man or mankind in general (Genesis 1:26; 2:5; 5:1, followed by plural pronoun). With the article, it denotes the man, Adam, though rendered "man" in Genesis 1:27; 2:7 (twice) 8,15,16,19 (margin), 22 (twice); 3:12,22,24; 5:1; 6:1 (rendered "men"), 2,3,4. After this, the Hebrew 'Adam = man or men, is used of the descendants of Adam. Hence, Christ is called "the son of Adam", not a son of Enosh.
With the particle 'eth in addition to the article it is very emphatic, and means self, very, this same, this very,. See Genesis 2:7 (first occurrence), 8,15.
Rendered in the Septuagint anthropos 411 times; aner eighteen times (fifteen in Proverbs); once thnetos, Proverbs 20:24 = dying; four times brotos, mortal (all in Job); once gegenes, earth-born, Jeremiah 32:20.
II. 'Ish. First occurrence in feminine, Genesis 2:23, 'ishah = woman. Therefore, 'ish = male, or husband ; a man, in contrast with a woman. A great man in contrast with ordinary men (Psalm 49:2, where "low" are called the children of Adam, and the "high" = children of 'ish. So Psalm 62:9 and Isaiah 2:9; 5:15; 31:8). When God is spoken of as man, it is 'ish (Exodus 15:3. So Joshua 5:13. Daniel 9:21; 10:5; 12:6,7. Zechariah 1:8, etc.). Also, in such expressions as "man of God", "man of understanding", etc. In the early chapters of Genesis we have it in chapters 3:22,24 and 4:1.
Translated in Septuagint 1,083 times by aner, Latin vir, and only 450 by anthropos, Latin homo.
It is rendered "husband" sixty-nine times, "person" twelve times, and once or twice each in thirty-nine different ways.
III. 'Enosh. First occurrence Genesis 6:4, men of name. Always in a bad sense (Isaiah 5:22; 45:14. Judges 18:25). Morally = depraved, and physically = frail, weak. It is from 'anash, to be sick, wretched, weak, and denotes inability, for strength, physically; and for good, morally (compare 2Samuel 12:15. Job 34:6. Jeremiah 15:18; 17:9; 30:12,15. Micah 1:9). Note the contrasts, Isaiah 2:11 and 17, "The lofty looks of man ('Adam) shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men ('Enosh) shall be bowed down" (compare Isaiah 13:12. Job 25:6. Psalms 8:4; 90:3; 144:3. Job 4:17; 10:5; 7:17. Daniel 4:16). Other instructive passages are Isaiah 8:1; 66:24. Ezekiel 24:17 (afflicted, or mourners. Compare Jeremiah 17:16, "day of man"). In 1Samuel 4:9 it is probably plural of 'Ish (so probably Genesis 18 and 19, where the indefinite plural must be interpreted by the context, because 'Adam would have denoted human, and 'Ish, males).
It is rendered "man" 518 times, "certain" eleven times, and once or twice each in twenty-four other and different ways.
IV. Geber. first occurrence in Genesis 6:4 1, mighty men, and denotes man in respect of his physical strength, as 'Enosh does in respect of the depravity of his nature. It is rendered "man" sixty-seven times, "mighty" twice, "man child" once, "every one" once. In the Septuagint rendered fourteen times anthropos and the rest by aner.
For illustrative passages see Exodus 10:11; 12:37. 1Samuel 16:18. 2Samuel 23:1. Numbers 24:3,15. 1Chronicles 26:12; 28:1. 2Chronicles 13:3. Ezra 4:21; 5:4,10; 6:8.
V. Methim (plural) = adults as distinguished from children, and males as distinguished from females. Occurs Genesis 34:30. Deuteronomy 2:34; 3:6; 4:27; 26:5; 28:62; 33:6. 1Chronicles 16:19. Job 11:3,11; 19:19; 22:15; 24:12; 31:31. Psalm 17:14; 26:4; 105:12. Isaiah 3:25; 5:13; 41:14. Jeremiah 44:28.
NOTE 1 In Genesis 6:4, we have three out of the above four words: "daughters of men" (= daughters of [the man] 'Adam); "mighty men" = (geber); "men of renown" = Hebrew men ('Enosh) of name, that is to say, renowned for their moral depravity.