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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Adam, in the Old Testament And the Apocrypha

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ad´am , (אדם , 'ādhām ; Septuagint Ἀδάμ , Adám ).

1. Usage and Etymology

The Hebrew word occurs some 560 times in the Old Testament with the meaning "man," "mankind." Outside Gen 1 through 5 the only case where it is unquestionably a proper name is 1 Chronicles 1:1 . Ambiguous are Deuteronomy 32:8 , the King James Version "sons of Adam," the Revised Version (British and American) "children of men"; Job 31:33 the King James Version "as" the Revised Version (British and American) "like Adam," but margin "after the manner of men"; Hosea 6:7 the King James Version "like men," the Revised Version (British and American) "like Adam," and vice versa in the margin. In Gen 1 the word occurs only twice, Genesis 1:26 , Genesis 1:27 . In Gen 2 through 4 it is found 26 times, and in Genesis 5:1 , Genesis 5:3 , Genesis 5:4 , Genesis 5:5 . In the last four cases and in Genesis 4:25 it is obviously intended as a proper name; but the versions show considerable uncertainty as to the rendering in the other cases. Most modern interpreters would restore a vowel point to the Hebrew text in Genesis 2:20 ; Genesis 3:17 , Genesis 3:21 , thus introducing the definite article, and read uniformly "the man" up to Genesis 4:25 , where the absence of the article may be taken as an indication that "the man" of the previous narrative is to be identified with "Adam," the head of the genealogy found in Genesis 5:1 . Several conjectures have been put forth as to the root-meaning of the Hebrew word: (1) creature; (2) ruddy one; (3) earthborn. Less probable are (4) pleasant - to sight - and (5) social gregarious.

2. Adam in the Narrative of Genesis

Many argue from the context that the language of Genesis 1:26 , Genesis 1:27 is general, that it is the creation of the human species , not of any particular individual or individuals, that is in the described. But (1) The context does not even descend to a species , but arranges created things according to the most general possible classification: light and darkness; firmament and waters; land and seas; plants; sun, moon, stars; swimming and flying creatures; land animals. No possible parallel to this classification remains in the case of mankind. (2) In the narrative of Gen 1 the recurrence of identical expressions is almost rigidly uniform, but in the case of man the unique statement occurs (Genesis 1:27 ), "Male and female created he them." Although Dillmann is here in the minority among interpreters, it would be difficult to show that he is wrong in interpreting this as referring to one male and one female, the first pair. In this case we have a point of contact and of agreement with the narrative of chapter 2. Man, created in God's image, is given dominion over every animal, is allowed every herb and fruit tree for his sustenance, and is bidden multiply and fill the earth. In Gen 2:4 through 5:5 the first man is made of the dust, becomes a living creature by the breath of God, is placed in the garden of Eden to till it, gives names to the animals, receives as his counterpart and helper a woman formed from part of his own body, and at the woman's behest eats of the forbidden fruit of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." With her he is then driven from the garden, under the curse of brief life and heavy labor, since should he eat - or continue to eat? - of the fruit of the "tree of life," not previously forbidden, he might go on living forever. He becomes the father of Cain and of Abel, and of Seth at a time after the murder of Abel. According to Genesis 5:3 , Genesis 5:5 Adam is aged 130 years at the birth of Seth and lives to the age of 930 years.

3. Teachings of the Narrative

That man was meant by the Creator to be in a peculiar sense His own "image"; that he is the divinely appointed ruler over all his fellow-creatures on earth; and that he enjoys, together with them, God's blessing upon a creature fit to serve the ends for which it was created - these things lie upon the surface of Genesis 1:26-31 . In like manner 2 through 4 tell us that the gift of a blessed immortality was within man's reach; that his Creator ordained that his moral development should come through an inward trial, not as a mere gift; and that the presence of suffering in the world is due to sin, the presence of sin to the machinations of a subtle tempter. The development of the doctrine of the fall belongs to the New Testament. See ADAM IN NEW TESTAMENT ; FALL , THE .

4. Adam in Apocrypha

Allusions to the narrative of the creation and the fall of man, covering most points of the narrative of Gen 1 through 4, are found in 2 Esdras 3:4-7, 10, 21, 26; 4:30; 6:54-56; 7:11, 46-48; Tobit 8:6, The Wisdom of Solomon 2:23f; 9:2f; 10:1f, Ecclesiasticus 15:14; 17:1-4; 25:24; 40:1; 49:16. In both 2 Esdras and The Wisdom of Solomon we read that death came upon all men through Adam's sin, while 2 Esdras 4:30 declares that "a grain of evil seed was sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning." Aside from this doctrinal development the Apocrypha offers no additions to the Old Testament narrative.


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Adam, in the Old Testament And the Apocrypha'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/a/adam-in-the-old-testament-and-the-apocrypha.html. 1915.

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