When reading on Biblical Prophecies, a big one is Genesis 3:15. The Douay-Rheims translation says

"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."

When it says "She shall crush thy head..." is it refering to Mary, Jesus, or the both of them doing so? Growing up as a Methodist, the Bible has always said "He shall..." and not "She shall..". Why is it translated the way it is?

  • 1
    Young's Literal Translation has and enmity I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he doth bruise thee -- the head, and thou dost bruise him -- the heel. Since this is an issue of the correct translation of the Hebrew I suggest it be answered on SE-BH rather than here. But it may already be answered Is Genesis 3:15 correctly translated ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 20:16
  • 1
    The Douay-Rheims contains an error at this location. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/55520/… Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


Some manuscripts have female pronouns and some have male. Some Catholic translations are based upon the ones with the female pronouns and thus see a foreshadowing of Mary (while still acknowledging Christ's roles).

Protestant translations generally favor reading the male pronoun there and focus on Christ's role.


St. Jerome, in translating the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts into the Latin Vulgate bible, translated a pronoun typically regarded as male in the Hebrew as a female pronoun in the Latin. So, typically, "she" is thought to be a translation error here.

  • If you say St.Jerome committed an error in translation, it would mean the Magisterium who approved it under the Pope also committed an error. This will mean, the Holy Spirit failed to guide the Apostles united to Peter in John16:12-14 and Jesus Himself failed on His powerful promise of protection, that the Magisterium under Peter can err. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 8:53
  • I didn't say Jerome made an error. I said "she" is typically thought to be a translation error here. I personally don't know enough about it. I just know what different scholars have said. I believe everything the Church requires of me, and have faith that even those things I don't understand are true.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 15:25
  • @jongricafort "it would mean the Magisterium who approved it under the Pope also committed an error". That's a fact that all non-Catholics would agree with. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 17:11
  • @jongricafort your comment prompted me to do some digging. Best I can tell, the Church proclaimed the "old vulgate edition" to be the authentic Latin text of the bible at the [council of Trent](thecounciloftrent.com/ch4.htm ), and furthermore barred anyone from interpreting that edition contrary to the sense which she has propagated. It seems to me that the Church did not declare the vulgate translation by Jerome free from translational error. Did that happen somewhere else?
    – jaredad7
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 18:21
  • @jongricafort this question and answer is probably also relevant: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/80995/…
    – jaredad7
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 18:36

St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation of Genesis3:15 is superior to all biblical translation as it was approved by Church Magisterium, and Church Magisterium under the Pope is guided by the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, they cannot err in judgement and teaching with regards to faith and morals.

John 16:12-14 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition

12 I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now.

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you.

14 He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you.

Here are the words of Pope Benedict XV on St. Jerome, upholding his great contribution to the Church, and the Catholic Church reveres him as the "Greatest Doctor".


Pope Benedict XV

Encyclical of Pope Benedict XV promulgated on 15 September 1920

To all the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Ordinaries in Union with the Apostolic See.

Since the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, had bestowed the Scriptures on the human race for their instruction in Divine things, He also raised up in successive ages saintly and learned men whose task it should be to develop that treasure and so provide for the faithful plenteous "consolation from the Scriptures."*** Foremost among these teachers stands St. Jerome. Him the Catholic Church acclaims and reveres as her "Greatest Doctor," divinely given her for the understanding of the Bible.*** And now that the fifteenth centenary of his death is approaching we would not willingly let pass so favorable an opportunity of addressing you on the debt we owe him. For the responsibility of our Apostolic office impels us to set before you his wonderful example and so promote the study of Holy Scripture in accordance with the teaching of our predecessors, Leo XIII and Pius X, which we desire to apply more precisely still to the present needs of the Church. For St. Jerome - "strenuous Catholic, learned in the Scriptures," "teacher of Catholics," "model of virtue, world's teacher" - has by his earnest and illuminative defense of Catholic doctrine on Holy Scripture left us most precious instructions. These we propose to set before you and so promote among the children of the Church, and especially among the clergy, assiduous and reverent study of the Bible.

Why St. Jerome translated Genesis3:15 as "She" carries the oral Tradition of the Church with regards to the role of Mary, whom the early Church Fathers like St. Ireneaus, St. Justin Martyr, St. John Chrysostom play a special role in the salvation of man.

What the Early Church Believed: Mary is the Mother of God

But, the most clear explanation why Genesis 3:15 must be a "She" and not "He or Jesus" can be seen At the Foot of the Cross. Jesus defeated Satan but did not crush him, as Satan still vey much active after Jesus resurrection.

In Catholicsm and in Mary's approved apparition, the Catholic Church approved Fatima apparition which claimed the victory of Mary the chosen Woman over Satan with these concluding words...

"In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph". - Fatima message.

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