Was Jacob "Plain" or "Perfect" in Genesis 25:27?
"And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents." (Genesis 25:27, KJV)
Some critics say the Hebrew word "תם" (tam) should not be translated "plain" because the word means "perfect", "complete", "morally innocent" or "having integrity" (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions). However, the word also means "an ordinary, quiet sort of person" (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions). Such a person is a "plain man". Some other translations convey the same sense as the KJV rendering:
NIV 2011: "The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents."
ESV: "When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents."
Context-wise, Genesis 25:27 would not make sense unless the word is translated into English conveying the nuance of being plain. The verse makes a connection between Jacob's inner trait and his outer appearance as a person dwelling in a tent. The act of dwelling in a tent is not indicative of moral uprightness but it is indicative of plainness.
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