So this portion of scripture is very famous and important, its called the "proto-evangelum". It is often counted as the first spoken promise of salvation from God to man.

Here is the verse in a modern english version

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[a] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (ESV)

I was reading another question on this site, https://christianity.stackexchange.com/a/64450/36043

This question quoted this very familiar verse, but with a minor, but serious difference.

"I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. " Genesis 3:15 (Douay-Rheims)

This version says that "SHE" shall crush the serpents head, while every version I have seen always says "he".

This is a very serious discrepancy. The post referenced included a painting of Mary, a song about Mary, a prayer to Mary, and the poster mentioned he/she liked the song included because "The song also emphasize Mary's role in salvation beuatifully in a very simple way."

So, if one is coming from that perspective, this verse would certainly lend some credence to Mary veneration. So I see why someone who holds that disposition would like this translation.

As for a criterium for the answer to this question, answering any of these questions will be enough.

  • Why does this translation use "She"?
  • Do other reliable translations render it this way?
  • If not, why the discrepency?
  • Any related historical information, or tie in to catholic/protestent doctrines about Mary would be a fun plus.
  • 1
    Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but Wikipedia covers this reasonably well: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seed_of_the_woman Jul 13, 2018 at 18:13
  • 5
    The textual variation presumably comes from the Old Latin version from which the Vulgate was originally taken in the 4th century. The English variation is not peculiar to the Douay-Rheims as The Wycliffe translation also has the same.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 14, 2018 at 6:42
  • Wait @NigelJ are you saying that the Vulgate was was taken from another latin version? I had just assumed it was a greek=>latin translation. thats interesting
    – L1R
    Jul 16, 2018 at 16:23
  • 1
    @L1R One of Jerome's main sources was the Vetus Latina. It is older than the Vulgate.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 18, 2018 at 12:09

2 Answers 2


From an edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible online I found this:

[15]I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

[15] "She shall crush": Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz., the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent's head.

And from the same source we have the Latin...

[15] Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius : ipsa conteret caput tuum, et tu insidiaberis calcaneo ejus.

So, it says "she" because of the Latin "ipsa" which according to Google translate means "she."

I have a favorite metaphor when talking about things like the Holy Ghost and Jesus Christ. Who delivers your mail? The post office or the postman? The answer is "yes" because both do, the former having the authority and responsibility to ensure the mail is delivered and the later the duty to put it in your mailbox.

From the perspective of Eve, the only woman standing on the planet at that time, whether you specify "he" in relation to her Son or "she" in relation to her, the consequence remains the same: the defeat of Lucifer.

  • This doesn't really answer why the DR has "she", just that some some fathers read it one way and others the other, and that it isn't of any major consequence.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 15, 2018 at 5:00
  • @curiousdannii, OK, I included the Latin from the same site, which shows the original word "ipsa," which according to Google translate means "she."
    – JBH
    Jul 15, 2018 at 5:36
  • Better, although now it's just moving the question to why the Vulgate has ipsa ;)
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 15, 2018 at 5:44
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    Prudence will lead us to believe St. Jerome was guided by the Holy Spirit and translating the bible under the Authority of the Church carry with it the Name of God. So, the tranalation other than Latin Vulgate who are closest to the Apostolic times must reign supreme.St. Jerome holds the infallibilty of the Church in his hands by virtue of the Church to bind & loose teaching with regards to the Truth of Divine. Revelation.(1Timothy3:15).while other translation is acted upon with unclear authority and God's anointing. Godbless Jul 15, 2018 at 23:40

In Genesis 3, specifically, verse 15, it is obvious of what is being spoken about here, the seed of the woman, for this seed is to be understood as either one individual/or group of people who is to make an appearance some time in the future - a promise.

Now as for why SHE is used instead of HE, The Vulgate version of the Old Testament is quite unfortunate in translation regarding verse 15 in Genesis 3.

It is unknown as to why such a change was made, but it is certain that the seed of the woman seed is Jesus Christ, who has been anointed by means of the holy spirit, in addition to those chosen for Priesthood, those who are born again from water and spirit, those who are heirs to be by the Christ's side, are a part of that seed that has been promised.

Other than that, because of what you have posted, I will begin research on this translation even further.

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