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By the sweat of your angry face

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you will eat food, until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;

for dust you are

and to dust you shall return.


Getting food to eat will require sweat on your angry face, this struggle will be your lot until you die and return to the ground, from which you were taken. Remember that you are made of dust, and when your life is over you will return to being nothing but dust.


1: “angry face”

In Hebrew there is only one word here, and it means “nose, nostrils, face, or anger.” The context points away from the meaning of “nose,” so we can rule that out. I think it is a play on words utilizing the two meanings “face and anger.” Many translators have translated it “brow” because it is part of the face and that is what we wipe the sweat off of. But “brow” is not really what the word means. I think the original readers, when reading this in Hebrew would have known it refers to the “face,” and they would have also known it means “angry,” and they would have understood that both of those ideas fit the context. There are at least a couple other ways to say “forehead” in Hebrew, one of them being very specific; I see the use of this obscure word as a way to bring in the other meaning, that of “anger.”