Adam

Adam [N] [E] [H] [S]

"Adam" is both the proper name of the first human and a designation for humankind. God himself gave this appellation to Adam and Eve ( Gen 5:1-2 ). The color red lies behind the Hebrew root adam [; 'a]. This may reflect the red soil from which he was made.

Adam was formed from the ground ( Gen 2:7 ). Word play between "Adam" and "ground" (adama [h'm'd}a]) is unmistakable. It is important that Adam is identified with humankind rather than any particular nationality. The country from which the dust was taken is not specified. Rabbis believed it came from all over the earth so no one could say, "My father is greater than yours."

The word "formed" suggests the careful work of a potter making an exquisite art-piece. Into this earthen vessel God breathed the breath of life ( Gen 2:7 ). These words describe vivid intimacy between God and man not shared by animals.

Adam was made a little lower than "angels" (or "God") at his creation and "crowned with glory and honor" ( Psalm 8:5 ). (Rabbis speculated the glory of Adam's heel outshone the sun.) He was commissioned as a vassal king to rule over God's creation. The words "subdue, " "rule, " "under his feet" ( Gen 1:28 ; Psalm 8:6 ) suggest kingship over nature but not over his fellow man.

Many elements present in Mesopotamian creation stories like Enuma Elish are absent. There is nothing about autocratic king ship lowered from heaven. No brick mold is given. Adam is not laden with the task of building temples and cities. He was not created to relieve Gods of tedious labor but to reflect God's care of the world of nature. God did not appoint death for Adam and keep life exclusively for himself as in the Gilgameth epic.

No shrub or cultivated plant had yet grown where Adam was created. He awoke to a barren landscape ( Gen 2:5-7 ). His first sight may have been God planting a garden for him. He could clearly see that all good and perfect gifts come from the Lord God.

Man was placed into this beauty to "work it and take care of it" ( Gen 2:15 ). Unlike the Sumerian garden story of Enki and Ninhursag, there was no gardener working for Adam. Meaningful, productive activity was always part of paradise. Adam was not placed there to be a vegetable but to grow them. Man was not created to be waited on but to join God in preserving and propagating creation.

Man was furnished with every pleasant, nourishing experience God could provide. He was warned about the tree of knowledge of good and evil (2:17). The Hebrew word for "know" includes the idea of knowing by experience. The forbidden tree contained the option of experiencing the opposite of what comes from the hand of God. God wished to spare Adam from pain and death but at the same time left him freedom of choice for options beyond the sphere of his provision.

Adam was not only a laborer but a thinker. God brought him all the animals to see what he would call them. Included in ancient ideas of naming would also be sovereignty over the item named. (Note that Hebrews brought before the king are renamed in Dan 1:7 ).

The first lesson Adam learned was that his work was too big to do alone. His inspection of the animal kingdom revealed no suitable helper. The one who would make his life complete came from his own rib. They would become one flesh ( Gen 2:18-24 ). This is a far different scenario from the sexual escapades of Enki (= "lord of the earth") in the Sumerian garden story.

The most intelligent animal confronted humankind under whose feet he had been placed ( Gen 1:28 ; 3:1 ). Was Eve selected because she would in some way be easier to deceive? Or was the more difficult subject taken first? It is noteworthy that no special efforts to persuade Adam are recorded. He seems to eat what he is offered without objection ( 3:6 ). It is, however, important to observe that Adam was called first as the one whose position of leadership made him responsible for the act ( 3:9 ).

The anticipation of being like God never materialized. Adam and Eve's state of existence was not enhanced but filled with misery and death. They would have to leave the garden to experience what life would be outside God's perfect will.

Paul Ferguson

See also Eve; Fall, the; Genesis, Theology of

Bibliography. W. Brueggemann, Genesis; J. Davis, Paradise to Prison; L. Harris, ManGod's Eternal Creation; A Ross, Creation and Blessing.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Adam'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology". . 1997.

Adam [N] [B] [H] [S]

red, a Babylonian word, the generic name for man, having the same meaning in the Hebrew and the Assyrian languages. It was the name given to the first man, whose creation, fall, and subsequent history and that of his descendants are detailed in the first book of Moses (Gen ( Genesis 5 ). "God created man [Heb., Adam] in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

Adam was absolutely the first man whom God created. He was formed out of the dust of the earth (and hence his name), and God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and gave him dominion over all the lower creatures ( Genesis 1:26 ; 2:7 ). He was placed after his creation in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate it, and to enjoy its fruits under this one prohibition: "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

The first recorded act of Adam was his giving names to the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, which God brought to him for this end. Thereafter the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and while in an unconscious state took one of his ribs, and closed up his flesh again; and of this rib he made a woman, whom he presented to him when he awoke. Adam received her as his wife, and said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." He called her Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Being induced by the tempter in the form of a serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, Eve persuaded Adam, and he also did eat. Thus man fell, and brought upon himself and his posterity all the sad consequences of his transgression. The narrative of the Fall comprehends in it the great promise of a Deliverer ( Genesis 3:15 ), the "first gospel" message to man. They were expelled from Eden, and at the east of the garden God placed a flame, which turned every way, to prevent access to the tree of life ( Genesis 3 ). How long they were in Paradise is matter of mere conjecture.

Shortly after their expulsion Eve brought forth her first-born, and called him Cain. Although we have the names of only three of Adam's sons, viz., Cain, Abel, and Seth, yet it is obvious that he had several sons and daughters ( Genesis 5:4 ). He died aged 930 years.

Adam and Eve were the progenitors of the whole human race. Evidences of varied kinds are abundant in proving the unity of the human race. The investigations of science, altogether independent of historical evidence, lead to the conclusion that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" ( Acts 17:26 . Compare Romans 5:12-12 ; 1 Corinthians 15:22-49 ).

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Adam". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

Adam [N] [B] [E] [S]

earthy; red
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Adam'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

Adam [N] [B] [E] [H]

(red earth ), the name given in Scripture to the first man. It apparently has reference to the ground from which he was formed, which is called in Hebrew Adamah . The idea of redness of color seems to be inherent in either word. The creation of man was the work of the sixth day--the last and crowning act of creation. Adam was created (not born) a perfect man in body and spirit, but as innocent and completely inexperienced as a child. The man Adam was placed in a garden which the Lord God had planted "eastward in Eden," for the purpose of dressing it and keeping it. [EDEN] Adam was permitted to eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden but one, which was called ("the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," because it was the test of Adams obedience. By it Adam could know good and evil int he divine way, through obedience; thus knowing good by experience in resisting temptation and forming a strong and holy character, while he knew evil only by observation and inference. Or he could "know good and evil," in Satans way, be experiencing the evil and knowing good only by contrast. -ED.) The prohibition to taste the fruit of this tree was enforced by the menace of death. There was also another tree which was called "the tree of life." While Adam was in the garden of Eden, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air were brought to him to be named. After this the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and took one of his ribs from him, which he fashioned into a woman and brought her to the man. At this time they were both described as being naked without the consciousness of shame. By the subtlety of the serpent the woman who was given to be with Adam was beguiled into a violation of the one command which had been imposed upon them. She took of the fruit of the forbidden tree and gave it to her husband. The propriety of its name was immediately shown in the results which followed; self-consciousness was the first-fruits of sin their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked. Though the curse of Adams rebellion of necessity fell upon him, yet the very prohibition to eat of the tree of life after his transgression was probably a manifestation of divine mercy, because the greatest malediction of all would have been to have the gift of indestructible life super-added to a state of wretchedness and sin. The divine mercy was also shown in the promise of a deliverer given at the very promise of a deliverer given at the very time the curse was imposed, ( Genesis 3:15 ) and opening a door of hope to Paradise, regained for him and his descendants. Adam is stated to have lived 930 years. His sons mentioned in Scripture are Cain, Abel and Seth; it is implied, however, that he had others.


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Adam'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

Adam. [N] [B] [E] [H]

Man , generically, for the name Adam was not confined to the father of the human race, but like homo was applicable to woman as well as to man . ( Genesis 5:2 )


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Adam'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

Adam, [N] [B] [E] [H]

a city on the Jordan, "beside Zaretan," in the time of Joshua. ( Joshua 3:16 )


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Adam,'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.