The King James version says this – it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt though not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin... Then I got a copy of the American Standard bible... And it was different in this passage. It says, “Do Thou rule over him.” Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order... The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ – it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’
I really think this might be one of the most brilliant moments in all of literature. Thou mayest. The way is open.
You know, I've always thought timshel would make a good tattoo. And I turn 18 on Tuesday. Just saying.