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In Genesis 3:13, while Eve is answering God, she says:

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (NIV)

Rabbi Manis Friedman mentions in this video (14:00) that the word הִשִּׁיאַ֖נִי (hish'iyani) can mean "tricked me" or "advised me, guided me".

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים לָאִשָּׁה מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂית וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה הַנָּחָשׁ הִשִּׁיאַנִי וָאֹכֵל׃ (BHS)

According to Bible Hub the word הִשִּׁיאַ֖נִי (hish'iyani) comes from the word נָשָׁא (nasha).

According to "A Complete Hebrew English Pocket Dictionary to the Old Testament" by Prof. Karl Feyerabend, the word נָשָׁא (nasha) means "to be deceived, to lead astray, to mislead, to deceive, to seduce; to surprise, to oppress." (p. 224)

My question is can the word הִשִּׁיאַ֖נִי (hish'iyani) mean "advised me" or "guided me"?

If so, how can it mean it from the language standpoint? Are there any other sources (rabbis, scholars, commentaries) that backup the same view Rabbi Manis Friedman expresses on Genesis 3:13?

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  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Mark, and thanks for this excellent first question
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jul 18, 2023 at 9:11
  • Onkelos renders it "אַטְעַיָנִי וַאֲכָלִית" i.e., the serpent deceived. As does targum Yonatan.
    – bondonk
    Jul 18, 2023 at 11:16
  • Is it deceit if I advise you to take lots of morphine for your severe temporary pain, while knowing that you have an addictive personality?
    – RonJohn
    Jul 19, 2023 at 19:20

3 Answers 3

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Source:

Rabbi Friedman is basing this lecture on many Chassidic discourses. The most general and basic source is a ma'amar from the Rebbe Rayatz in ד״ה על כן יאמרו המושלים תרצ״א, and explained at length in באתי לגני תשל״א. See also Likkutei Sichos Vol. 25 Bereshit Sicha 3, p.g. 14-18.


The words:

Joel has given a good drash, and I'd say it's not even "mishnaic hebrew" but a very common usage even in modern hebrew: "השיאני עצה" means "gave me advice".

There are a few commentaries that bring up the word "advise", from the verse and word in question:

Ramban:

ולא אמר באשה "ותאכלי מן העץ" כי היא נענשה על אכילתה ועל עצתה כאשר נענש הנחש

[Hashem] did not say to the woman "and you ate from the tree", because she was punished both for eating, and for her advice [she gave Adam], as was the snake [punished for the advice]

Aderet Eliyahu:

שהנחש .. יועץ אותי לטובתי

[Chava said the snake] ... advised me, for my own good

See also Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh.

What they are all saying is that Chava is not saying that the snake lied to her (deceive), but rather the snake told her basically true - if twisted - information, and she convinced herself to eat. I.e. advice.


Further information:

There is a split in the sources if the word נָשָׁא here is coming to mean הסתה/פתוי i.e. "incitement/deception", or is it more giving a dazzling argument (beguiling), which is what Rabbi Friedman was alluding to when he said "guiding" (as opposed to "misguiding"). Rashi holds by the latter (i.e. beguiling, rather than deceiving):

הִטְעַנִי, כְּמוֹ אַל יַשִּׁיא אֶתְכֶם חִזְקִיָּהוּ (דברי הימים ב' ל"ב):

Had me make a mistake, as in "Now therefore let not Hezekiah beguile you" (Divrei Hayamim 2:32:15) (based off of Genesis Rabbah 19).

Gur Aryeh on this Rashi says:

לא לשון הסתה

[Rashi is demonstrating that הִשִּׁיאַנִי is] not the language of incitement/deception.

The midrash Rashi brings states:

וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה הַנָּחָשׁ הִשִּׁיאַנִי וָאֹכֵל, גֵּירַנִי, חִיְּבַנִי, וְהִטְעַנִי. גֵירַנִי,... הִטְעַנִי, כְּמָה דְאַתְּ אָמַר (דברי הימים ב לב, טו): אַל יַשִּׁיא אֶתְכֶם חִזְקִיָּהוּ.

And the woman said 'He beguiled me and I ate', which means he aroused me [to eat], and endeared me [to the idea of eating the fruit], and had me make a mistake...."Had me make a mistake", like it is written "Now therefore let not Hezekiah beguile you" (Divrei Hayamim 2:32:15)

This appears to be the dividing line; deception vs. beguiling, and those who hold the latter tend to bring up that she perceived the snake as having given her some advice, but she was never tricked (which would render her blameless by being forced into her predicament).

The midrash quoted does bring up other translations of the word נָשָׁא, other than deceive, including to "act as a creditor" (based on Devarim 24:10, where it is used in a very positive sense: כִּי־תַשֶּׁה בְרֵעֲךָ, "when you lend to your friend"), in this case, "lent me some advice".

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  • The Ramban seems to suggest that it is not "advice" but deception. Deceptive advice, which in english we would call 'advice' (albeit deceptive), is more deception than advice i.e., often translated as beguiling. In hebrew it is 'hishiyani' which seems to read as deception. The Ramban finishes with saying that the deceptive "advice" was akin to a stumbling block. Although the word and form is uncommon, hence the discussion as to what it means.
    – bondonk
    Jul 18, 2023 at 13:18
  • Can you please provide titles for ד״ה על כן יאמרו המושלים תרצ״א and באתי לגני תשל״א in English? I'm having some trouble finding these sources. Jul 18, 2023 at 13:26
  • @bondonk see the part of the answer dealing with הסתה/פתוי. I think reading the english word "deceive" into the Ramban is begging the question (same with Onkelos' אַטְעַיָנִי). Certainly the Ramban holds the snake did something wrong though.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jul 18, 2023 at 13:27
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    @MarkBrowning The second one is Basi Legani 5731 (1971) and is the only one I could find anything in english on: theyeshiva.net/jewish/c662/torah/other-chassidus-texts/… (I haven't listened so I don't know if he does the whole thing and covers these points). The other is Al Ken Yomru Hamoshelim 5691 (1931), and it's only in hebrew at the moment: lahak.org/templates/lahak/article_cdo/aid/2997763/jewish/-.htm
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jul 18, 2023 at 13:54
  • I was just looking at the Ramban. Advice + doing something wrong regarding that advice = deception.
    – bondonk
    Jul 18, 2023 at 15:02
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If you listen carefully to what Rabbi Friedman is saying, I think he is engaging in a form of derush.

The word in Genesis is הִשִּׁיאַנִי. Note the second letter is a shin, thus the word is pronounced hish'iyani, and means, as you note, "he deceived me" or "he tricked me" or "he led me astray".

However, as the biblical text was classically written without vowel points, one could also read it as הִשִּׂיאַנִי, with a sin, and therefore pronounced hisi'yani. This is indeed how R. Friedman pronounces the word in the video.

What does hisi'yani mean?

Well, literally it would mean something like "he picked me up." But the word is also used in Mishnaic Hebrew in the context of giving (good) advice:

בָּא הוּא וִיבִמְתּוֹ לְבֵית דִּין, וְהֵן מַשִּׂיאִין לוֹ עֵצָה הַהוֹגֶנֶת לוֹ

He and his sister-in-law come to the court, and they give him advice appropriate for him

(Yevamot 12:6)

I haven't found another source that reads the verse this way, but I'm fairly confident that this is what Rabbi Friedman is doing.

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  • Very good Joel!! Here's another drush that could explain why the word "deceive" is used in the first instance. Chava had never seen deception before, and when the caught the snake trying to deceive her (or, she became aware of deception from the fact that the snake tried to tell her that Adam/Hashem were lying), she took that as "advice" that yes, there is a lower world than this, which clearly needs fixing...
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jul 18, 2023 at 9:06
  • 2
    Just to be crystal clear, the root "nasa" in your Yevamot quote means "lift up", and in this connotation it means "lifted up my awareness to a higher level"
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jul 18, 2023 at 9:17
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The Hebrew root to הִשִּׁיאַ֖נִי also has a connotation of marriage (אירוסין ונישואין) as in the Nachash seduced me into having marital relations with him.

And this is the teaching that is brought by Abarbanel's commentary to the Torah, Midrash Chemdat Yamim, Seder HaDorot and many other sources, that prior to Adam and Chava having marital relations, Chava had marital relations, meaning sexual intercourse with the Nachash.

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