When the Bible is translated into English, most Hebrew names are simply transliterated into Roman characters.

In a few cases though, a completely different name is used.

In the case of Hadassah/Esther, the scripture explicitly gives both names, and thereafter consistently uses one and not the other.

But "חַוָּ֑ה", for instance, isn't transliterated into "Chavah". It is instead given only as "Eve", even in Jewish-sponsored translations of Genesis.

And the man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all life.

וַיִּקְרָ֧א הָֽאָדָ֛ם שֵׁם אִשְׁתּ֖וֹ חַוָּה כִּי הִ֥וא הָֽיְתָ֖ה אֵ֥ם כָּל־חָֽי

Bereishit - Genesis - Chapter 3 (Parshah Bereishit) - Tanakh Online - Torah - Bible

Is there a technical or historical reason why it was done this way?

  • 1
    In Greek there is no Chet
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 5:36
  • 1
    Cf. Yechezkel / Ezekiel
    – Joel K
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 5:59
  • Possible dupe or related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65134/7303 Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 13:47
  • 1
    "most Hebrew names are simply transliterated into Roman characters" This is not true as far as I know. Most English translations use English translations of names consistently. Your linked edition also uses Abram, Noah, Moses, Aaron, Pharoh, Balaam, Phinehas, etc.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 17:34
  • 1
    @YaacovDeane, it's not really a duplicate, but about when she received the name. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


From here:

"The Septuagint renders חַוָּה as Ζωή (Zo-ay or Zoe -- literally meaning "life" חיּה ). But the name became Ἕυα (Evah or Eve) in other Greek translations. The Tyndale uses Heua, which is related to Eua -- where we get Eve. Eue or Euan in Greek could either be a simple mis-transliteration, or perhaps the Eu- prefix could hint at the Greek meaning "good." The Vulgate uses "Hava". The letter "ח" in Hebrew is often softened to an English "H" by people who cannot pronounce the harsher KH sound with their throat."

The Vulgate was authored by Jerome, one of only two Church Fathers who knew Hebrew, therefore he was able to suggest a transliteration that was much more closer to the original. However, the reason Eve became the more popular version is likely because most people, not knowing Hebrew like Jerome, had difficulty even with his version, necessitating a further softening of the H to an E. From Eva it somehow became Eve.

  • I feel like there should be a mention that the letter vav used to be waw and there was a consonant shift in greek and latin from v to w in a lot of cases. Somehow Esau stayed Esau and didn't shift to Esav
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 1:14
  • 1
    The Septuagint gives Ἕυα in Gen 4. It presumably gives Ζωή in Gen 3 so that ὅτι αὕτη μήτηρ πάντων τῶν ζώντων makes sense.
    – magicker72
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 2:42
  • @Aaron I think you mean /w/ to /v/. That is, the letter "v" used to make a /w/ sound, and it shifted. Similarly, the upsilon υ shifted in certain contexts (often in the diphthong ευ) to a fricative.
    – magicker72
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 2:47
  • 2
    Ἕυα is not a mis-transliteration. The rough breathing at the beginning adds an /h/ sound, and vav ו was contemporaneously pronounced /w/. So /ħawwɔ/ in Hebrew becomes /hɛwa/. This eventually becomes /ɛβa/ or /eβa/ as the rough breathing is lost (just like word-initial ה was lost in many dialects of Hebrew) and as /ew/ became /eβ/.
    – magicker72
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 3:27
  • @magicker72 I didn't understand how you get from an "ah" sound in Chava to an "ee" sound in Cheeva. It dies in fact sound like a mistranslation.
    – Harel13
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 6:18

The standard seems to be set by the fact that the name has a commonly accepted translated version.

Indeed Artscroll writes this explicitly in their "Translation And Commentary" introduction to the Stone chumash. First they point out how they blended Sephardi vowel and Ashkenazi pronunciations resulting in Akeidas Yitzchak and not Akeidat Izhak or Akeidas Yitzchok. Afterwards, at the very end of that introduction they write:

In the translation of the Text, however, we have generally followed the commonly accepted English usage, such as Abraham, Moses, Methuselah, and so on.

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