Meaning of "Adam"

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  1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
    AshtonFireflyposted 6 years ago

    I created this thread because discussion in the Answers section was proving to be too limiting. Hopefully the other Hubber will show up smile

    I was attempting to explain the nature and source of the English translation "Adam," and how the meaning is ambiguous in the context of Genesis, and how "Adam" may or may not have been used as a proper name or to designate a singular person in Genesis.

    There are two forms of the word typically translated as either  "Adam," or "mankind," in Genesis: אָדָם and האיש. When translating, this gets tricky. In order to properly determine how a Hebrew word is to be used, we have to look at the context. So we look at Genesis. 

    The typical translation is as follows: "26: Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. 27: So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

    In Gen. 1: 26, the form "adam" (אָדָם) is used, and this is translated into "mankind." In verse 27, the form "ha-adam" ( האיש ) is used, which is also translated into mankind. Why is this so? Because God said " that THEY may rule over the fish..." Therefore we can pretty confidently say it means "mankind." Also in verse 27: "...male and female he created THEM." Same concept right? So we have to forms of the same word, which appear to mean the same thing: mankind, or more than one man. In other words not one man or the man to whom we ascribe the name "Adam."

    So what's the problem? The problem is that in the later verses, suddenly both forms of "adam" begin to be translated as the NAME "Adam," or "THE man," in translations, instead of "mankind," as has been previously done.

    Example: Genesis 2:7. "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Form used here: ha-adam. Interestingly enough, translations differ on how to translate this as either "the man (Adam)" OR "mankind." Translations differ and disagree. Herein lies the first ambiguity.

    Then later:

    Genesis 2:19 is typically translated as follows: "Out of the ground...brought them to see what HE could call them." The word used here is "ha-adam." The same in Genesis 2:7, but which now is translated to designate a single man or in some translations, "Adam." Most translators believe this to designate ONE man because of the singular form of "he" attached to the verb "would call." So is the BIble referring to a single man now, or is it referring to a group of people (per Genesis 1) and referring to them as a single unit? Most translations choose the former.

    Let's move on. In Genesis 3:17 and Genesis 3:21, we have not "ha-adam," but "adam," which translators ALSO translate as "Adam" or "the man," with the verb forms associated being in singular form, validating this translation to be ONE man.

    So in other words, the translation developed from a general sense to a more specific one, based upon verb and noun usage, as well as context. However, at no point was "the man," if it should even be translated as such, given an actual name, or called "Adam." This was the main point of discussion in the forum: whether or not the meaning of אָדָם was singular or even an actual proper name, or if it was vague and plural in nature, suggesting more than one person.

    Verb usage would suggest that the meaning changed, but why the ambiguity? Why not maintain a consistent form of "adam," if you wanted to designate the same thing?

    Hence ambiguity

    My claim was that the meaning was ambiguous, which led to her request for a more detailed explanation of why it was ambiguous, so now here is this article.

    I hope this was properly presented, as it's 2:10 a.m. and my writing skills may leave something to be desired.

    1. dianetrotter profile image64
      dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      AF, I read a couple of Christians sources that pretty much agree with your explanation.   Man could be 1) the first man, 2) all men or 3) rulers, etc.

      It appears that the name Adam (man) was used in Genesis 3 on to talk about the "first man."  Man means mankind in others contexts.  I don't know of formal use of "man" for any leaders.   However, I have heard people say, "He's the man!" to signify some importance.

      I can't disagree with you.  I just see that Adam is used in the Bible to talk about the first man.

      1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
        AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Yes I have no objection to its being properly used to mean "the man" or he is called arbitrarily, "Adam." However, the ambiguity in Genesis does require some thought about both how we translate it and how the entire story should be interpreted.

          Since both ha-adam and adam were used to refer to this first man, why is he called "Adam" and not "Hadam?" For Adam is quite simply the Transliteration of  אָדָם So why Adam? If his name were Adam, why call him both Hadam AND Adam? So inherently this does not seem to be the name God "gave" him. To me, this means that it was either translated as "the man," (and we called him Adam) or "mankind" or "group of people."

          Because these terms (adam) and (ha-adam) were used interchangeably literally once verse after the other, and the very FIRST usage was to refer to mankind, I'm wondering if Adam may have also represented one family or a clan? Further reading, the concept of it meaning ONLY mankind becomes very difficult because of course, Adam had children, Cain and Abel.
          However, here also is my question. We're looking at God talking about all of mankind. Now progressively, Adam is referred to in a singular manner, suggesting that he is indeed "singular" in some sense. So what about Cain and Abel? The Bible also claims that he went out and married a wife. Well if Adam and Eve were the first people, then how the heck did he go out and find a wife? Those wives would have to have mothers and fathers, right? or possibly be "first people." So is Genesis perhaps discussing the fact that he made ALL of mankind, and not just Adam and Eve. Most Christians emphasize through other Scripture, that the geneology of Jesus is typically emphasized in later references to Adam and Eve. So it may be possible that, although God made ALL of mankind, perhaps Moses is referencing a clan or family from which Jesus came. But still that creates a problem. The use of ha-adam and adam continues without a beat from meaning "mankind" to mean "one man," or "one unit." Let's also remember the historical context in which Moses is writing (at the direction of God) these Scriptures.
          The Bible is known for using parables and metaphors (mostly Jesus). He did so to the extent that even his disciples got frustrated and asked him why he was so cryptic. He spoke in parables and cryptics. I don't need to point out every single metaphor the Bible uses to create a message. So is it so far fetched that this is also true?
          Some scholars argue that although Genesis does establish that God created the earth, that the account of Adam and Eve was GENERAL retelling of creation, but mostly a parable of the fall of man from being close to God, to falling away from God, and that all events concerning Adam and Eve were symbolic. In other word, it's emphasis is not on providing a detailed account of events, but of a general story of the creation of mankind, with emphasis on the fall.  In later Scriptures, Adam is even used as a symbol of man's fall; he is compared to Jesus, who represents the salvation of the fallen people. Let's take the story of the Garden of Eden for example.
          At no point in the Hebrew account of the Garden of Eden was Satan or Lucifer referenced. Only "serpent." וְהַנָּחָשׁ֙  if the Bible has been literal up to this point, why suddenly take a symbolic turn? why not just say Satan? The Bible seems to further emphasize that this was NOT a Satan because it says clearly: "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman: 'Yea, hath God said: Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?" So serpent is specifically referred to as a beast of the field. So why is this not translated as part of the literal story?

          I realize that I have deviated quite heavily from the meaning of Adam, but every meaning of every word must be defined through context. And without a clear context of what interpretation to approach, how must "ha-adam" and "adam" be interpreted? Does this require information we do not have?
          I realize that the entire story of Genesis must be taken in its entire context, and there are Scriptures that seem to point to both a literal and symbolic interpretation, not just in Genesis. I argue for neither, but the concept of literal translation causes problems not only in its translation, but also in the inconsistency of approach (literal translation of Adam and Eve, symbolic translation of the serpent), and leaves some things making absolutely no sense. I also realize that sometimes the Bible may USE the story of Adam and Eve in a metaphor, but that does not mean that is its ONLY use.
          Endless questions. So is there something we're missing about Adam and Eve, or is it truly just a literal translation of a world where things were much different than they are now?

        1. dianetrotter profile image64
          dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          Hi!  Too much for me to look at at once

          People married relatives (very common back in the day)
          . We're looking at God talking about all of mankind. Now progressively, Adam is referred to in a singular manner, suggesting that he is indeed "singular" in some sense. So what about Cain and Abel? The Bible also claims that he went out and married a wife

          Lots daughter had sex with him.  Genesis 19:30-38
          v34 34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

          Christian answer:  Adam and Eve had more than three children.  The boys were named.  Adam lived 930 years.

          Genesis 5:5  And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

          All we are told about Adam's offspring is that the first son was named Cain, the second son named Abel [Genesis 4:1-2 ], then after Abel's murder, another son named Seth was "begotten when Adam was 130 years old."

          The Bible doesn't tell us everything thing that happened.  It tells us important things to lay the history.  I can't find anything that says when Eve died.

          1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
            AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            Most of the women in Genesis are not emphasized at all.

            Yes I realize people married relatives back then. Eve could have theoretically had daughters. Would this not, however, create a huge family of increasingly more inbred people? It has been proven that this causes severe genetic defects. Would this problem have not gotten worse?

            Genesis also says that Nephilim lived among people, and there was a disctinction between "the sons of God" and the "daughters of men." What does this mean?

            Genesis 5 states the following:
            1. This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;
            ב  זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, בְּרָאָם; וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם, וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמָם אָדָם, בְּיוֹם, הִבָּרְאָם.    2 male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

            He called THEIR name Adam, BUT
            ג  וַיְחִי אָדָם, שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה, וַיּוֹלֶד בִּדְמוּתוֹ, כְּצַלְמוֹ; וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ, שֵׁת.    3 And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.

            He begat a son.

            I feel like we're missing some critical information here.

            1. dianetrotter profile image64
              dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              We have discussed a lot of these issues in different Bible studies.  I don't remember the details on all.  One heavy discussion was the sons of God sons of angels(?) I think.

              Most of the things that I see people bring up - I'm aware of and we have had studied on quite a few issues people bring up.

              There are many, many things that I haven't heard of before but it is interesting to hear about them.

            2. dianetrotter profile image64
              dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              I don't know whether or not information is missing.  I accept the Bible by faith and don't worry about it.  If someone brought something that sounded important, I would study it.

              Has anyone come up with something that they think should be there?

              You covered so much that I can only take baby bites.  Thank you for dissecting.

              1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
                AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                It doesn't ultimately change the foundations of Christianity, so I'm sure no one is too much bothered by it.

                Yes I know you accept it by faith, but it's impossible for me to accept things which contradict themselves.
                I'm just insanely curious because it involves apparent contradictions in word translation and meaning,

                1. dianetrotter profile image64
                  dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                  It is so strange.  I don't see it as a contradiction. 

                  1 Corinthians 1:21
                  For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

                  BTW, I've got to work on underlining.  It didn't work on one of my posts.

                  1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
                    AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                    It's more a translation contradiction. If you already believe it, it can be explained away of course.

                    to underline:

                    You forgot the " / " in front of the last U, in brackets:


        2. pennyofheaven profile image61
          pennyofheavenposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          I am not sure about original translation?

          If I recall correctly, in the english version which I realise is subject to misinterpretation, It appears Genesis creates man twice. One in the image of God. God was referred to as spirit earlier on in Genesis 1 and it did say God created man in Gods image but then God called man female and male. So therefore, was God both femine and masculine energy of spirit perhapsl? Then God creates man from the dust in Genesis 2 (thereabouts cannot remember) and this seemed to be man only. Woman was then deemed to have been created from Adams rib a little later..

          As an aside;

          The earlier versions of Genesis 1 also refer to day and night being one day however the greater and the lesser light had not been created and it is highly possible God was still creating the universe which has  no time as we know time to be. Time as we know it would not have existed until the sun and the moon were created. Genesis 1 seems to be trying to describe the beginning processes of the universe before moving on to the beginning of earth and man.

  2. profile image0
    JG Hemlockposted 6 years ago

    The usage of the name Adam has a two-fold meaning, a name as well as 'mankind.' He is the representation of all men.  Adamah =  ground or soil. Adam was made from the dust by Hashem.

    Who we call Eve, her given name was actually Chavah. She was made by the Fire of Hashem. She is the Mother of all living, with the fire inside her.

    Many people are translating and interpreting scripture not by the Holy Spirit. I often hear people calling the Holy Spirit a "He" when in fact it is a feminine spirit of "She" and it was removed and changed to 'He' in most of the Bibles. Nobody can negate the fact that in Hebrew original text that  She "The Holy Spirit' was there with the other Creators in Genesis. "Wisdom" is the Holy Spirit and "She" is not a He.

    1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
      AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Yes the usage has been to define Adam as a name or a single person also, per most translations. Genesis was rather ambiguous on this, as translations both mankind and "the man" are the same word. Even the differences in translation show this; and some Bible scholars think it should ALL be translated as "mankind."

  3. profile image0
    JG Hemlockposted 6 years ago

    The Bible scholars are not all filled with the Holy Spirit. These original scriptures were written by Hashem through His prophets and apostles and they were written very cryptic and in such an amazing supernatural way for a Hashem's reason. Those we call 'mankind' can not have it revealed to them, no matter how badly they know theology if they do not have the Holy Spirit. I think that is spectacular!

    The human intellect can not attempt to interpret, assume, guess, rationalize and regardless of having a Hebrew translation book next to them as they read. Only 'She' can reveal it. That is why She is called Wisdom. smile 

    Many believe that they have the HS but even their interpretations are wrong and they run around *pharisees* claiming this or that as the truth but they continue to say He instead of "She." and then they go 'nutty-butty' and call a person blasphemous and a devil when they hear the truth about "She" being the Holy Spirit, Mother Wisdom....the Comforter just as a feminine spirit would be nurturing, loving, chastising yet full of great wisdom.

    You are correct in not assuming that it means 'mankind' only because it does not.

  4. dianetrotter profile image64
    dianetrotterposted 6 years ago

    Hi AF!  It's weird how this page showed up.  I walked to the computer and it was there!  This looks like deep stew for me.  I will read discussion and Google some stuff.  It may be a couple of days before I can say anything.


    1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
      AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Hi! smile you found it!

      I look forward to your input.

  5. aware profile image67
    awareposted 6 years ago

    Red was the clay
    the sculpture first made.

  6. aware profile image67
    awareposted 6 years ago

    A figurine in the form of a human

  7. Paul Wingert profile image60
    Paul Wingertposted 6 years ago

    Who cares? This is like debating the meaning of "Bugs" in Bugs Bunny.

    1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
      AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Translators and those who are interested in ancient manuscripts and authors.

    2. dianetrotter profile image64
      dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      It really doesn't matter to me.  If there is disagreement, usually researchers will highlight what goes along with their beliefs.

      AshtonFirefly is a languages buff so she is able to address those differences.  I have no idea.

      1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
        AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        yikes *gasps, clutches chest*

        I can't imagine not wanting to study manuscripts and languages. But It's okay. That's what makes us all unique smile

        1. dianetrotter profile image64
          dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          I am doing family tree on Ancestry and trying to get family to do dna.  It's exciting to me and I can't understand why I can't get cooperation.

          We all have our passions!

          1. AshtonFirefly profile image74
            AshtonFireflyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            Yep that pretty much sounds about as exciting as watching dust accumulate. Have fun with that! tongue

            1. dianetrotter profile image64
              dianetrotterposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              I was bored about a year and a half ago so I just started.  It is so exciting.  I had documents of my ancestors being on property inventory lists.  My great, great grandfather was murdered.  On October 7, 1873 a man hit him in the head with a 2 x 4.  Colored people couldn't go to the hospital.  They took him home and his brain swelled.  He died November 7, 1873.  His murderer, Cambyses Hunter, was hung on April 10, 1874.

              I'm in communication with about 20 discovered relatives.  We have a network across the US.  Last summer I went to South Carolina to colored graveyards and saw graves of my ancestors.

              OMG!  Just had an idea.  I'm going to try to get a forum going on family research!


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