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Meaning: Red; to blush or turn rosy

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 1:27). "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 (Gen 1:26; Gen 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 married to::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 (Gen 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 (Gen. 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 parent of::Cain. Although we have the names of only three of Adam's sons, viz., parent of::Cain, parent of::Abel, and parent of::Seth, yet it is obvious that he had several sons and daughters (Gen 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. Comp. Rom 5:12; 1Cor 15:22).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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The first man and the father of the human race.



There is not a little divergence of opinion among Semitic scholars when they attempt to explain the etymological signification of the Hebrew word adam (which in all probability was originally used as a common rather than a proper name), and so far no theory appears to be fully satisfactory. One cause of uncertainty in the matter is the fact that the root adam as signifying "man" or "mankind" is not common to all the Semitic tongues, though of course the name is adopted by them in translations of the Old Testament. As an indigenous term with the above signification, it occurs only in Phoenician and Sabean, and probably also in Assyrian. In Gen 2:7, the name seems to be connected with the word ha-adamah ("the ground"), in which case the value of the term would be to represent man (ratione materiæ) as earthborn, much the same as in Latin, where the word homo is supposed to be kindred with humus. It is a generally recognized fact that the etymologies proposed in the narratives which make up the Book of Genesis are often divergent and not always philologically correct, and though the theory (founded on Gen 2:7) that connects adam with adamah has been defended by some scholars, it is at present generally abandoned. Others explain the term as signifying "to be red", a sense which the root bears in various passages of the Old Testament (e.g. Gen 25:50), as also in Arabic and Ethiopic. In this hypothesis the name would seem to have been originally applied to a distinctively red or ruddy race. In this connection Gesenius (Thesaurus, s.v., p. 25) remarks that on the ancient monuments of Egypt the human figures representing Egyptians are constantly depicted in red, while those standing for other races are black or of some other colour. Something analogous to this explanation is revealed in the Assyrian expression çalmât qaqqadi, i.e. "the black-headed", which is often used to denote men in general. (Cf. Delitsch, Assyr. Handwörterbuch, Leipzig, 1896, p. 25.) Some writers combine this explanation with the preceding one, and assign to the word adam the twofold signification of "red earth", thus adding to the notion of man's material origin a connotation of the color of the ground from which he was formed. A third theory, which seems to be the prevailing one at present (cf. Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, 1903, pp. 78, 793), explains the root adam as signifying "to make", "to produce", connecting it with the Assyrian adamu, the meaning of which is probably "to build", "to construct", whence adam would signify "man" either in the passive sense, as made, produced, created, or in the active sense, as a producer.

In the Old Testament the word is used both as a common and a proper noun, and in the former acceptation it has different meanings. Thus in Genesis ii, 5, it is employed to signify a human being, man or woman; rarely, as in Gen 2:22, it signifies man as opposed to woman, and, finally, it sometimes stands for mankind collectively, as in Gen 1:26. The use of the term, as a proper as well as a common noun, is common to both the sources designated in critical circles as P and J. Thus in the first narrative of the Creation (P) the word is used with reference to the production of mankind in both sexes, but in Gen 5:14, which belongs to the same source, it is also taken as a proper name. In like manner the second account of the creation (J) speaks of "the man" (ha-adam), but later on (Gen 4:25) the same document employs the word as a proper name without the article.


Practically all the Old Testament information concerning Adam and the beginnings of the human race is contained in the opening chapters of Genesis. To what extent these chapters should be considered as strictly historical is a much disputed question, the discussion of which does not come within the scope of the present article. Attention, however, must be called to the fact that the story of the Creation is told twice, viz. in the first chapter and in the second, and that while there is a substantial agreement between the two accounts there is, nevertheless, a considerable divergence as regards the setting of the narrative and the details. It has been the custom of writers who were loath to recognize the presence of independent sources or documents in the Pentateuch to explain the fact of this twofold narrative by saying that the sacred writer, having set forth systematically in the first chapter the successive phases of the Creation, returns to the same topic in the second chapter in order to add some further special details with regard to the origin of man. It must be granted, however, that very few scholars of the present day, even among Catholics, are satisfied with this explanation, and that among critics of every school there is a strong preponderance of opinion to the effect that we are here in presence of a phenomenon common enough in Oriental historical compositions, viz. the combination or juxtaposition of two or more independent documents more or less closely welded together by the historiographer, who among the Semites is essentially a compiler. (See Guidi, L'historiographie chez les Sémites in the Revue biblique, October, 1906.) The reasons on which this view is based, as well as the arguments of those who oppose it, may be found in Dr. Gigot's Special Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament, Pt. I. Suffice it to mention here that a similar repetition of the principal events narrated is plainly discernible throughout all the historic portions of the Pentateuch, and even of the later books, such as Samuel and Kings, and that the inference drawn from this constant phenomenon is confirmed not only by the difference of style and viewpoint characteristic of the duplicate narratives, but also by the divergences and antinomies which they generally exhibit. Be that as it may, it will be pertinent to the purpose of the present article to examine the main features of the twofold Creation narrative with special reference to the origin of man.

In the first account (Ch. i, ii, 4a) Elohim is represented as creating different categories of beings on successive days. Thus the vegetable kingdom is produced on the third day, and, having set the sun and moon in the firmament of heaven on the fourth, God on the fifth day creates the living things of the water and the fowls of the air which receive a special blessing, with the command to increase and multiply. On the sixth day Elohim creates, first, all the living creatures and beasts of the earth; then, in the words of the sacred narrative,
he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.
Then follows the blessing accompanied by the command to increase and fill the earth, and finally the vegetable kingdom is assigned to them for food. Considered independently, this account of the Creation would leave room for doubt as to whether the word adam, "man", here employed was understood by the writer as designating an individual or the species. Certain indications would seem to favour the latter, e.g. the context, since the creations previously recorded refer doubtless to the production not of an individual or of a pair, but of vast numbers of individuals pertaining to the various species, and the same in case of man might further be inferred from the expression, "male and female he created them." However, another passage (Gen 5:15), which belongs to the same source as this first narrative and in part repeats it, supplements the information contained in the latter and affords a key to its interpretation. In this passage which contains the last reference of the so-called priestly document to Adam, we read that God
created them male and female . . . and called their name adam, in the day when they were created.
And the writer continues:
And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son to his own image and likeness, and called his name Seth. And the days of Adam, after he begot Seth, were eight hundred years and he begot sons and daughters. And all the time that Adam lived came to nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.
Here evidently the adam or man of the Creation narrative is identified with a particular individual, and consequently the plural forms which might otherwise cause doubt are to be understood with reference to the first pair of human beings.

In Genesis, ii, 4b-25 we have what is apparently a new and independent narrative of the Creation, not a mere amplification of the account already given. The writer indeed, without seeming to presuppose anything previously recorded, goes back to the time when there was yet no rain, no plant or beast of the field; and, while the earth is still a barren, lifeless waste, man is formed from the dust by Yahweh, who animates him by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. How far these terms are to be interpreted literally or figuratively, and whether the Creation of the first man was direct or indirect, see GENESIS, CREATION, MAN. Thus the creation of man, instead of occupying the last place, as it does in the ascending scale of the first account, is placed before the creation of the plants and animals, and these are represented as having been produced subsequently in order to satisfy man's needs. Man is not commissioned to dominate the whole earth, as in the first narrative, but is set to take care of the Garden of Eden with permission to eat of its fruit, except that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the formation of woman as a helpmeet for man is represented as an afterthought on the part of Yahweh in recognition of man's inability to find suitable companionship in the brute creation. In the preceding account, after each progressive step "God saw that it was good", but here Yahweh perceives, as it were, that it is not good for man to be alone, and he proceeds to supply the deficiency by fashioning the woman Eve from the rib of the man while he is in a deep sleep. According to the same narrative, they live in childlike innocence until Eve is tempted by the serpent, and they both partake of the forbidden fruit. They thereby become conscious of sin, incur the displeasure of Yahweh, and lest they should eat of the tree of life and become immortal, they are expelled from the garden of Eden. Henceforth their lot is to be one of pain and hardship, and man is condemned to the toilsome task of winning his sustenance from a soil which on his account has been cursed with barrenness. The same document gives us a few details connected with our first parents after the Fall, viz.: the birth of Cain and Abel the fratricide, and the birth of Seth. The other narrative, which seems to know nothing of Cain or Abel, mentions Seth (Chap. v, 3) as if he were the first born, and adds that during the eight hundred years following the birth of Seth Adam begat sons and daughters.

Notwithstanding the differences and discrepancies noticeable in the two accounts of the origin of, mankind, the narratives are nevertheless in substantial agreement, and in the esteem of the majority of scholars they are easiest explained and reconciled if considered as representing two varying traditions among the Hebrews -- traditions which in different form and setting embodied the selfsame central historic facts, together with a presentation more or less symbolical of certain moral and religious truths. Thus in both accounts man is clearly distinguished from, and made dependent upon, God the Creator; yet he is directly connected with Him through the creative act, to the exclusion of all intermediary beings or demigods such as are found in the various heathen mythologies. That man beyond all the other creatures partakes of the perfection of God is made manifest in the first narrative, in that he is created in the, image of God, to which corresponds in the other account the equally significant figure of man receiving his life from the breath of Yahweh. That man on the other hand has something in common with the animals is implied in the one case in his creation on the same day, and in the other by his attempt, though ineffectual, to find among them a suitable companion. He is the lord and the crown of creation, as is clearly expressed in the first account, where the creation of man is the climax of God's successive works, and where his supremacy is explicitly stated, but the same is implied no less clearly in the second narrative. Such indeed may be the significance of placing man's creation before that of the animals and plants, but, however that may be, the animals and plants are plainly created for his utility and benefit. Woman is introduced as secondary and subordinate to man, though identical with him in nature, and the formation of a single woman for a single man implies the doctrine of monogamy. Moreover, man was created innocent and good; sin came to him from without, and it was quickly followed by a severe punishment affecting not only the guilty pair, but their descendants and other beings as well. (Cf. Bennett in Hastings, Dict. of the Bible, s.v.) The two accounts, therefore, are practically at one with regard to didactic purpose and illustration, and it is doubtless to this feature that we should attach their chief significance. It is hardly necessary to remark in passing that the loftiness of the doctrinal and ethical truths here set forth place the biblical narrative immeasurably above the extravagant Creation stories current among the pagan nations of antiquity, though some of these, particularly the Babylonian, bear a more or less striking resemblance to it in form. In the light of this doctrinal and moral excellence, the question of the strict historical character of the narrative, as regards the framework and details, becomes of relatively slight importance, especially when we recall that in history as conceived by the other biblical authors, as well as by Semitic writers generally, the presentation and arrangement of facts -- and indeed their entire role -- is habitually made subordinate to the exigencies of a didactic preoccupation.

As regards extra-biblical sources which throw light upon the Old Testament narrative, it is well known that the Hebrew account of the Creation finds a parallel in the Babylonian tradition as revealed by the cuneiform writings. It is beyond the scope of the present article to discuss the relations of historical dependence generally admitted to exist between the two cosmogonies. Suffice it to say with regard to the origin of man, that though the fragment of the "Creation Epic", which is supposed to contain it, has not been found, there are nevertheless good independent grounds for assuming that it belonged originally to the tradition embodied in the poem, and that it must have occupied a place in the latter just after the account given of the production of the plants and the animals, as in the first chapter of Genesis. Among the reasons for this assumption are:

  • the Divine admonitions addressed to men after their creation, towards the end of the poem;
  • the account of Berosus, who mentions the creation of man by one of the gods, who mixed with clay the blood which flowed from the severed head of Tiamat;
  • a non-Semitic (or pre-Semitic) account translated by Pinches from a bilingual text, and in which Marduk is said to have made mankind, with the cooperation of the goddess Aruru. (Cf. Encyclopedia Biblica, art. "Creation", also Davis, Genesis and Semitic Tradition, pp. 36-47.) As regards the creation of Eve, no parallel has so far been discovered among the fragmentary records of the Babylonian creation story. That the account, as it stands in Genesis, is not to be taken literally as descriptive of historic fact was the opinion of Origen, of Cajetan, and it is now maintained by such scholars as Hoberg (Die Genesis, Freiburg, 1899, p. 36) and von Hummelauer (Comm. in Genesim, pp. 149 sqq.). These and other writers see in this narrative the record of a vision symbolical of the future and analogous to the one vouchsafed to Abraham (Gen 15:12 sqq.), and to St. Peter in Joppe (Acts 10:10 sqq.). (See Gigot, Special Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament, pt. I, p. 165, sqq.)

References to Adam as an individual in the later Old Testament books are very few, and they add nothing to the information contained in Genesis. Thus the name stands without comment at the head of the genealogies at the beginning of I Paralipomenon; it is mentioned likewise in Tobias, viii, 8; Osee, vi, 7; Sir 35:24, etc. The Hebrew word adam occurs in various other passages, but in the sense of man or mankind. The mention of Adam in Zacharias, xiii, 5, according to the Douay version and the Vulgate, is due to a mistranslation of the original.


In the New Testament references to Adam as an historical personage occur only in a few passages. Thus in the third chapter of St. Luke's Gospel the genealogy of the Saviour is traced back to "Adam who was of God". This prolongation of the earthly lineage of [[Jesus Christ (Catholic Encyclopedia)|Jesus]] beyond Abraham, who forms the starting point in St. Matthew, is doubtless due to the more universal spirit and sympathy characteristic of our third Evangelist, who writes not so much from the viewpoint of Jewish prophecy and expectation as for the instruction of the Gentile recruits to Christianity. Another mention of the historic father of the race is found in the Epistle of Jude (verse 14), where a quotation is inserted from the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which, rather strange to say, is attributed to the antediluvian patriarch of that name, "the seventh from Adam." But the most important references to Adam are found in the Epistles of St. Paul. Thus in 1 Tim 2:11-14, the Apostle, after laying down certain practical rules referring to the conduct of women, particularly as regards public worship, and inculcating the duty of subordination to the other sex, makes use of an argument the weight of which rests more upon the logical methods current at the time than upon its intrinsic value as appreciated by the modern mind:
For Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced; but the woman being seduced, was in the transgression.
A similar line of argument is pursued in 1Cor 11:8, 9. More important is the theological doctrine formulated by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, v, 12-21, and in 1Cor 15:22-45. In the latter passage [[Jesus Christ (Catholic Encyclopedia)|Jesus Christ]] is called by analogy and contrast the new or "last Adam." This is understood in the sense that as the original Adam was the head of all mankind, the father of all according to the flesh, so also [[Jesus Christ (Catholic Encyclopedia)|Jesus Christ]] was constituted chief and head of the spiritual family of the elect, and potentially of all mankind, since all are invited to partake of His salvation. Thus the first Adam is a type of the second, but while the former transmits to his progeny a legacy of death, the latter, on the contrary, becomes the vivifying principle of restored righteousness. Christ is the "last Adam" inasmuch as "there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12); no other chief or father of the race is to be expected. Both the first and the second Adam occupy the position of head with regard to humanity, but whereas the first through his disobedience vitiated, as it were, in himself the stirps of the entire race, and left to his posterity an inheritance of death, sin, and misery, the other through his obedience merits for all those who become his members a new life of holiness and an everlasting reward. It may be said that the contrast thus formulated expresses a fundamental tenet of the Christian religion and embodies in a nutshell the entire doctrine of the economy of salvation. It is principally on these and passages of similar import (e.g. Mt 18:11) that is based the fundamental doctrine that our first parents were raised by the Creator to a state of supernatural righteousness, the restoration of which was the object of the Incarnation. It need hardly be said that the fact of this elevation could not be so clearly inferred from the Old Testament account taken independently.


It is a well-known fact that, partly from a desire to satisfy pious curiosity by adding details to the too meagre biblical accounts, and partly with ethical intent, there grew up in later Jewish as well as in early Christian and Mohammedan tradition a luxuriant crop of legendary lore around the names of all the important personages of the Old Testament. It was therefore only natural that the story of Adam and Eve should receive special attention and be largely developed by this process of embellishment. These additions, some of which are extravagant and puerile, are chiefly imaginary, or at best based on a fanciful understanding of some slight detail of the sacred narrative. Needless to say that they do not embody any real historic information, and their chief utility is to afford an example of the pious popular credulity of the times as well as of the slight value to be attached to the so-called Jewish traditions when they are invoked as an argument in critical discussion. Many rabbinical legends concerning our first parents are found in the Talmud, and many others were contained in the apocryphal Book of Adam now lost, but of which extracts have come down to us in other works of a similar character (see MAN). The most important of these legends, which it is not the scope of the present article to reproduce, may be found in the Jewish Encyclopedia, I, art. "Adam", and as regards the Christian legends, in Smith and Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography, s.v.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

==Biblical Data==

The Hebrew and Biblical name for man, and also for the progenitor of the human race. In the account of the Creation given in Gen. i. man was brought into being at the close of the sixth creative day, "made in the image of God," and invested with dominion over the rest of the animate world. Man was thus created, male and female, charged to replenish the earth with his own kind and to subdue it to his own uses. In Gen.ii. a more particular account of man's creation is given. The scene is in Babylonia, near the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, in the country of Eden. After the soil had been prepared by moisture "God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen 2:7). He was then placed in a garden planted for him in Eden, to "till and tend it." Of all that grew in the garden he was permitted to eat freely, except "the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Man next made the acquaintance of all the lower animals, learning their qualities, and giving them names. But among these he found no fit companion. Hence God, by express creative act, made for him a mate, by taking a rib from his side and constructing it into a woman.

Curse of Disobedience.

In Gen. iii. the first chapter in the moral history of mankind is given. The woman was tempted by the serpent, who told her that if she and her husband would partake of the forbidden fruit their eyes would be opened, and they "would be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen 3:5). She ate of the fruit, and gave to her husband, who also ate of it. This act of disobedience was followed by a divine judgment. The serpent was cursed because he had tempted the woman, and between his and her descendants there was to be perpetual enmity. The woman was condemned to the pangs of child-bearing and to subjection to her husband. As a punishment for the man the ground was cursed: thorns and thistles were to spring up; hard labor would be needed to insure the production of human food; and toil would be the lot of man from childhood to the grave. Finally, the man and his wife were expelled from the garden "to till the ground from which he was taken." Of Adam and his wife, now called "Eve" (hebrew) because she was the mother of all living (hebrew) it is only known that after their exile from the garden they had children born to them (see Gen 5:3, 4).

—In Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature:

While the generic character that the name of Adam has in the older parts of Scripture, where it appears with the article ("the man"), was gradually lost sight of, his typical character as the representative of the unity of mankind was constantly emphasized (compare Sanh. iv. 5; the correct reading in Tosef., Sanh. viii. 4-9):

"Why was only a single specimen of man created first? To teach us that he who destroys a single soul destroys a whole world and that he who saves a single soul saves a whole world; furthermore, in order that no race or class may claim a nobler ancestry, saying, 'Our father was born first'; and, finally, to give testimony to the greatness of the Lord, who caused the wonderful diversity of mankind to emanate from one type. And why was Adam created last of all beings? To teach him humility; for if he be overbearing, let him remember that the little fly preceded him in the order of creation."

In a dispute, therefore, as to which Biblical verse expresses the fundamental principle of the Law, Simon ben 'Azkai maintained against R. Akiba—who, following Hillel, had singled out the Golden Rule (Lev 19:18)—that the principle of love must have as its basis Gen 5:1, which teaches that all men are the offspring of him who was made in the image of God (Sifra, Ḳedoshim, iv.; Yer. Ned. ix. 41c; Gen. R. 24). This idea, expressed also by Paul in his speech at Athens, "[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26), found expression in many characteristic forms. According to Targ. Yer. to Gen 2:7, God took dust from the holy place (as "the center of the earth"; compare Pirḳe R. Eliezer xi., xx.) and the four parts of the world, mingling it with the water of all the seas, and made him red, black, and white (probably more correctly Pirḳe R. El. xi. and Chronicle of Jerahmeel, vi. 7: "White, black, red, and green—bones and sinews white; intestines black; blood red; skin of body or liver green"); compare Philo, "Creation of the World," xlvii.; Abulfeda, "Historia Ante-Islámica." The Sibylline Oracles (iii. 24-26) and, following the same, the Slavonian Book of Enoch find the cosmopolitan nature of Adam, his origin from the four regions of the earth, expressed in the four letters of his name: Anatole (East), Dysis (West), Arktos (North), and Mesembria (South). R. Johanan interprets as being an acrostic of (ashes), (blood), and (gall; see Soṭah, 5a). But this interpretation seems to have originated in other circles; for we find Isidor of Seville ("De Natura Rerum," ix.) declare that Adam was made of blood (sanguis), gall (cholē), black gall (melancholia), and phlegm: the four parts constituting the temperaments, which correspond to the four elements of nature, as does the microcosm to the macrocosm (see Piper, "Symbolik der Christlichen Kirche," 90, 469). R. Meir (second century) has the tradition that God made Adam of the dust gathered from the whole world; and Rab (third century) says: "His head was made of earth from the Holy Land; his main body, from Babylonia; and the various members from different lands" (Sanh. 38a et seq.; compare Gen. R. viii.; Midr. Teh. cxxxix. 5; and Tan., Peḳude, 3, end).

Two Natures in Adam.

There are, however, two points of view regarding man's nature presented in the two Biblical stories of man's creation; and they are brought out more forcibly in the Haggadah, and still more so in the older Hellenistic literature. "Both worlds, heaven and earth, were to have a share in man's creation; hence the host of angels were consulted by the Lord when He said, 'Let us make man'" (Gen 1:26, Gen. R. viii.). But the old haggadists loved especially to dwell on the glory of God's first-created before his fall. He was "like one of the angels" (Slavonic Book of Enoch 30:11; compare Christian Book of Adam, i. 10; also Papias in Gen. R. xxi.; Pirḳe R. El. xii.; Ex. R. xxxii.; Targ. Yer. Gen 3:22). "His body reached from earth to heaven [or from one end of the world to the other] before sin caused him to sink" (Ḥag. 12a, Sanh. 38b; compare also Philo, "Creation of the World," ed. Mangey, i. 33, 47). "He was of extreme beauty and sunlike brightness" (B. B. 58a). "His skin was a bright garment, shining like his nails; when he sinned this brightness vanished, and he appeared naked" (Targ. Yer. Gen 3:7; Gen. R. xi.; Adam and Eve, xxxvii.). When God said: "Let us make man in our image," the angels in heaven, filled with jealousy, said: "What is man that Thou thinkest of him? A creature full of falsehood, hatred, and strife!" But Love pleaded in his favor; and the Lord spoke: "Let truth spring forth from the earth!" (Gen. R. viii.; Midr. Teh. viii.). Far older, and blended with Babylonian mythology (Isa 14:12), is the story preserved in Adam and Eve, the Slavonic Book of Enoch 31:3-6 (compare Bereshit Rabbati, ed. Epstein, p. 17; Pirḳe R. El. xiii.; Chronicle of Jerahmeel, xxii.; and Koran, sura ii. 34; xv. 30), according to which all the angels were commanded by Michael the archangel to pay homage to the image of God; whereupon all bowed before Adam except Satan, who, in punishment for his rebelliousness, was hurled from his heavenly heights to the depth of the abyss, while his vacant throne was reserved for Adam, to be given to him at the time of the future resurrection. Henceforth, Satan became the enemy of man, appearing to him in the guise of an angel of light to seduce him (compare 2Cor 11:14). A somewhat modified midrashic legend (Gen. R. viii.) relates that the angels were so filled with wonder and awe at the sight of Adam, the image of God, that they wanted to pay homage to him and cry "Holy!" But the Lord caused sleep to fall upon him so that he lay like a corpse, and the Lord said: "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Isa 2:22). Another version (Pirḳe R. El. xi.; Tan., Peḳude, 3) is that all other creatures, marveling at Adam's greatness, prostrated themselves before him, taking him to be their creator; whereon he pointed upward to God, exclaiming: "The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty!" (Ps 93:1). Still, the Book of Wisdom (ii. 23, 24) seems to allude to the older legend when saying, "God created man for immortality, but through the envy of Satan death entered the world" (compare Josephus, "Ant." i. 1, § 4; Ab. R. N. i.; Gen. R. xviii., where the serpent is represented as moved by jealousy).

=== The Fall. === Adam in paradise had angels (agathodæmons or serpents) to wait upon and dance before him (Sanh. 59b, B. B. 75a, Pirḳe R. El. xii.). He ate "angel's bread" (compare Ps 73:26; Yoma, 75b; Vita Adæ et Evæ, § 4). All creation bowed before him in awe. He was the light of the world (Yer. Shab. ii. 5b); but sin deprived him of all glory. The earth and the heavenly bodies lost their brightness, which will come back only in the Messianic time (Gen. R. xii.; Vita Adæ et Evæ, § 21; Philo, "Creation of the World," p. 60; Zohar, iii. 83b). Death came upon Adam and all creation. God's day being a thousand years (Ps 90:4), Adam was permitted to live 930 years—threescore and ten less than one thousand (Book of Jubilees, iv. 28, and Gen. R. xix.), so that the statement "in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die" might be fulfilled. The brutes no longer stood in awe of man as their ruler; instead, they attacked him. But while sin was of fatal consequence, and the effect of the poison of the serpent is still felt by all following generations, unless they should be released from it by the covenant of Sinai ('Ab. Zarah, 22b; IV Book of Esdras; Apoc. Mosis, xx.; see articles Sin and Fall), the Jewish haggadists emphasize one point not mentioned in the Bible, but of great doctrinal importance in comparison with the teachings of Paul and his followers. The deadly effect of sin can be removed by repentance. Hence, Adam is represented as a type of a penitent sinner. Thus, he is described in Vita Adæ et Evæ, as well as by the rabbis of the second century ('Er. 18b; 'Ab. Zarah, 8a; Ab. R. N. i.; Pirḳe R. El.), as undergoing a terrible ordeal while fasting, praying, and bathing in the river for seven and forty days (seven weeks, Pirḳe R. El.), or twice seven weeks—the shortening of the days after Tishri being taken by Adam as a sign of God's wrath, until after the winter solstice the days again grew longer, when he brought a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Another view is that when the sun rose the following morning he offered his thanksgiving, in which the angels joined him, singing the Sabbath Psalm (Ps. xcii.). About Adam and the one-horned ox (the Persian gaiomarth), see Kohut, in "Z. D. M. G." xxv. 78, n. 6.

On account of the Sabbath the sun retained its brightness for the day; but as darkness set in Adam was seized with fear, thinking of his sin. Then the Lord taught him how to make fire by striking stones together. Thenceforth the fire is greeted with a blessing at the close of each Sabbath day (Pesiḳ. R. xxiii.; Pirḳe R. El. xx.; similarly, Pes. 54a).

When Adam heard the curse, "Thou shalt eat of the herbs of the earth," he staggered, saying: "O Lord, must I and my ass eat out of the same manger?" Then the voice of God came reassuringly: "With the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread!" There is comfort in work. The angels taught Adam the work of agriculture, all the trades, and also how to work in iron (Book of Jubilees, iii. 12; Gen. R. xxiv.; Pes. 54a). The invention of writing was ascribed to Adam.

Adam in the Future World.

On the day Adam covered his naked body for the first time, he beheld in clothing a mark of human dignity, and offered God a thanksgiving of incense (Book of Jubilees, iii. 22). The garments made by God were not of skin, but of light (Gen. R. xx.), and robes of glory were made of the serpent's skin (Targ. Yer. Gen 3:21).

Adam, "the first to enter Hades" (Sibylline Oracles, i. 81), was also the first to receive the promise ofresurrection (Gen. R. xxi. 7, after Ps 17:15). According to the Testament of Abraham, Adam sits at the gates, watching with tears the multitude of souls passing through the wide gate to meet their punishment, and with joy the few entering the narrow gate to receive their reward.

The Jewish view concerning Adam's sin is best expressed by Ammi (Shab. 55a, based upon Ezek 18:20): "No man dies without a sin of his own. Accordingly, all the pious, being permitted to behold the Shekinah (glory of God) before their death, reproach Adam (as they pass him by at the gate) for having brought death upon them; to which he replies: 'I died with but one sin, but you have committed many: on account of these you have died; not on my account'" (Tan., Ḥuḳḳat, 16).

To Adam are ascribed Ps. v., xix., xxiv., and xcii. (Midr. Teh. v. 3; Gen. R. xxii., end; Pesiḳ. R. xlvi.; see Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." ii. 337 et seq.). His body, made an object of worship by some semi-pagan Melchisedician sect, according to the Christian Book of Adam, was shown in Talmudic times at Hebron, in the cave of Machpelah (B. B. 58a, Gen. R. lviii.), while Christian tradition placed it in Golgotha near Jerusalem (Origen, tract 35 in Matt., and article Golgotha). It is a beautiful and certainly an original idea of the rabbis that "Adam was created from the dust of the place where the sanctuary was to rise for the atonement of all human sin," so that sin should never be a permanent or inherent part of man's nature (Gen. R. xiv., Yer. Naz. vii. 56b). The corresponding Christian legend of Golgotha was formed after the Jewish one.


  • Ginzberg, Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvätern, in Monatsschrift, 1899;
  • Kohut, in Z. D. M. G. xxv. 59-94;
  • Grünbaum, Neue Beiträge zur Semitischen Sagenkunde, pp. 54,79;
  • Dillman, Das Christliche Adambuch;
  • Malan, Book of Adam and Eve, 1882;
  • Bezold, Die Schatzhöhle, 1883, 1888;
  • Siegfried, Philo von Alexandrien.
  • For further bibliographical references see Schürer, Geschichte, 3d ed. iii. 288-289.

In Mohammedan Literature:

No mention is made of Adam in the early suras of the Koran. Though Mohammed speaks of the creation of man in general from a "clot of blood" or a "drop of water" (suras lxxv. 34, lxxvii. 20, xcvi. 1), it is only in the later Meccan suras that the original creation of man is connected with a particular individual. But in these suras the theory is already developed that Satan's designs against man are consequent upon the expulsion of the former from paradise at the time of man's creation. Geiger has incorrectly remarked ("Was Hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume Aufgenommen?" p. 100) that this is not a Jewish idea (see Vita Adæ et Evæ, § 16). It belongs also to the cycle of the Christian-Syriac Midrash (see Budge, "The Book of the Bee," p. 21, trans.; Bezold, "Die Schatzhöhle," pp. 5, 6, trans.). In the earliest account the name Adam does not occur; nor does Iblis vow vengeance upon a single individual, but rather upon the whole race of mankind:

Iblis, the Devil, Respited.

"When thy Lord said to the angels, 'Verily, I am about to create a mortal out of clay; and when I have fashioned him, and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall ye down before him adoring.' And the angels adored, all of them save Iblis, who was too big with pride, and was of the misbelievers. Said He, 'O Iblis! what prevents thee from adoring what I have created with My two hands? Art thou too big with pride? or art thou amongst the exalted?' Said he, 'I am better than he; Thou hast created me from fire, and him Thou hast created from clay.' Said He, 'Then go forth therefrom; for verily thou art pelted, and verily upon thee is My curse unto the day of judgment.' Said he, 'My Lord! then respite me until the day when they are raised.' Said He, 'Then thou art amongst the respited until the day of the stated time.' Said he, 'Then, by Thy might, I will surely seduce them all together, except Thy servants amongst them who are sincere!' Said He, 'It is the truth, and the truth I speak; I will surely fill hell with thee and with those who follow thee amongst them all together'" (sura xxxviii. 70-85).

At a later period Mohammed develops the personal character of the first man and his direct relationship to God, whose vicegerent (khalifah, calif) he is to be on earth. At the same time Satan is represented as being the one who drove Adam from paradise:

Adam as Vicegerent of God.

"And when thy Lord said unto the angels, 'I am about to place a vicegerent in the earth,' they said, 'Wilt Thou place therein one who will do evil therein and shed blood? We celebrate Thy praise and hallow Thee.' Said [the Lord], 'I know what ye know not.' And He taught Adam the names, all of them; then He propounded them to the angels and said, 'Declare to Me the names of these, if ye are truthful.' They said, 'Glory be to Thee! no knowledge is ours but what Thou Thyself hast taught us; verily, Thou art the knowing, the wise.' Said the Lord, 'O Adam, declare to them their names'; and when he had declared to them their names He said, 'Did I not say to you, I know the secrets of the heavens and of the earth, and I know what ye show and what ye are hiding?' And when He said to the angels, 'Adore Adam,' they adored him save only Iblis, who refused and was too proud, and became one of the misbelievers.

"And He said, 'O Adam, dwell, thou and thy wife, in paradise, and eat therefrom amply as you wish; but do not draw near this tree or ye will be of the transgressors.' And Satan made them backslide therefrom, and drove them out from what they were in, and He said, 'Go down, one of you the enemy of the other; and in the earth there are an abode and a provision for a time.' And Adam caught certain words from his Lord, and He turned toward him; for He is the Compassionate One easily turned. He said, 'Go down therefrom altogether, and haply there may come from Me a guidance, and whoso follows My guidance no fear is theirs, nor shall they grieve'" (sura ii. 29-36).

In sura vii. 10 et seq. the same story is repeated, though with several additions. In particular, Mohammed has now learned the manner in which Satan tempted Adam:

Satan Beguiles Adam.

"But Satan whispered to them to display to them what was kept back from them of their shame, and he said, 'Your Lord has only forbidden you this tree lest ye should be twain angels or should become of the immortals'; and he swore to them both, 'Verily, I am unto you a sincere adviser'; and he beguiled them by deceit, and when they twain tasted of the tree their shame was shown them, and they began to stitch upon themselves the leaves of the garden. And their Lord called unto them, 'Did I not forbid you from that tree there, and say to you, Verily, Satan is to you an open foe?' They said, 'O our Lord, we have wronged ourselves—and if Thou dost not forgive us and have mercy on us, we shall surely be of those who are lost!' He said, 'Go ye down, one of you to the other a foe; but for you in the earth there are an abode and a provision for a season.' He said, 'Therein shall ye live and therein shall ye die; from it shall ye be brought forth'" (sura vii. 19-24).In suras xvii. 63, xviii. 48, references are also made to the refusal of Iblis to worship Adam. The latter was created from earth (iii. 51) or from clay (xxxii. 5).

That Adam is the first of the prophets is only hinted at in the Koran. In the passage (ii. 35) cited above, "And Adam caught certain words [kalimat] from his Lord," the reference may be to a supposed revelation to Adam. For this reason, in iii. 30, Mohammed says, "Verily, God has chosen Adam, and Noah, and Abraham's people, and Imram's people [the Christians]"; making Adam the representative of the antediluvian period.

Adam's Creation.

To these somewhat meager accounts later Arabic writers and commentators have added various details which find their parallel in the Jewish and Christian Midrash. Ḥamzah al-Ispahani expressly says that a Jewish rabbi in Bagdad, Zedekiah by name, told him, among other things, that Adam was created in the third hour of the sixth day, and Eve in the sixth hour; that they were made to dwell in Gan-Eden, from which they were expelled after the ninth hour; that God sent an angel to them, who taught Adam how to sow and to perform all the other work connected with agriculture. The same angel instructed Eve how to perform all manner of household duties. The historians Tabari, Masudi, Al-Athir, etc., have evidently culled from similar sources. They tell us that when God wished to form Adam He sent first Gabriel, then Michael, to fetch soil for that purpose. The earth, however, refused to give the soil, and yielded only to the Angel of Death, who brought three kinds of soil, black, white, and red. Adam's descendants, therefore, belong either to the white, the black, or the red race.

The soul of Adam had been created thousands of years previously, and at first refused to enter the body of clay. God forced it violently through Adam's nose, which caused him to sneeze. As it descended into his mouth, he commenced to utter the praises of God. He tried to rise; but the soul had not yet descended into his feet. When he did stand upright, he reached from earth up to the throne of God, and had to shade his eyes with his hand because of the brilliancy of God's throne. His height was gradually diminished, partly as a punishment for his sin, and partly through grieving at the death of Abel.

The Future Unveiled to Him.

Adam wished to see the generations which were to come from him. God drew them all from out of his back; they stood in two rows—one of the righteous, the other of the sinners. When God told Adam the span of life given to each, he was surprised to find that only a small number of years had been allotted to David, and made him a present of forty years; of which present, says the Mohammedan Midrash, a formal document was drawn up and signed.

When Adam was driven from paradise, he first alighted on the island of Sarandib (Ceylon). Here his footprint (seventy ells long) is still to be seen, as is that of Abraham in Mecca. From Ceylon Adam journeyed to the holy city in Arabia, where he built the Kaaba, having through fasting and silence gained the partial forgiveness of God.

Another legend connects the building of the Kaaba with Abraham. When the time came for Adam to die, he had forgotten the gift of forty years to David, and had to be reminded of it by the Angel of Death. He is said to have been buried in the "Cave of Treasures"—a Christian, rather than a Jewish, idea. Several of these peculiar features are found again in the Pirḳe de-Rabbi Eliezer, a work that was compiled under Arabic influence (Zunz, "G. V." 2d ed., pp. 289 et seq.).


  • Koran, suras xxxviii. 71-86. ii. 28-32, vii. 10-18, xv. 28-44, xvii. 63-68, xviii. 48, xx. 115, and the commentaries on these passages;
  • Gottwaldt, HamzœIspahanensis Annalium Libri x. pp. 84 et seq.;
  • Tabari, Annales, ii. 115 et seq.;
  • Ibn al-Athir, Chronicon, ed. Tornberg, i. 19 et seq.;
  • Al-Nawawi, Biographical Dict. of Illustrious Men, ed. Wüstenfeld, pp. 123 et seq.;
  • Yakut, Geographisches Wörterbuch, ed. Wüstenfeld, vi. 255 (index). Compare Geiger, Was Hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume Aufgenommen ? pp. 100 et seq.;
  • Weil, Biblische Legenden der Muselmänner, pp. 12 et seq.;
  • Grünbaum, Neue Beiträge zur Semitischen Sagenkunde, pp. 54 et seq., where a large number of rabbinical parallels will be found.G.

Critical View:

According to modern critics, the story of the creation of man is presented in two sources. One of these forms the beginning of the document known as the Priestly Code (P), and the other is written by the so-called Jahvist (J). The former makes the Creation to be the first of a series of stages in the development of the history of Israel and the theocracy, which is the great end of the divine government. Each event is to man a gradation leading up to a final act of Providence. This first stage fitly ends with the making of man in the image of God, which follows upon the creation of light, the sky, the earth, and the sea; of plants, and of animals of the water, the air, and the land. This narrative as found in the final form of the Hexateuch is interrupted in Gen 2:4 by the second narrator, and is not resumed till Gen 5:1, where the second stage begins with the "generations [toledot] of Adam."

The second narrative (Gen 2:4-iv.) is the beginning of a history written much earlier than the priestly document. Its interest centers in Adam not as the first link in the chain of the history of Israel, but as the founder of the human race. The descriptions are naive and anthropomorphic, telling of man's home in Eden, his divinely given mate, his progress in knowledge, his sin, his banishment from paradise, and the fate of his children.

Etymology of "Adam."

The etymology of the word "Adam" is of importance. The writer of Gen 2:7 gives his own explanation when he says: "God formed man of dust of the ground." That is to say, the man was called "Man" or "Adam" because he was formed from the ground (adamah). Compare Gen 3:19. This association of ideas is more than an explanation of the word: it is also suggestive of the primitive conception of human life. According to the oldest Semitic notions, all nature was instinct with life; so that men not only came from and returned to the earth, but actually partook of its substance. The same notion declares itself in the Latin homo and humanus, as compared with humus and the Greek χαμαί, in the German gam (in Bräutigam), and the English groom; also in the Greek έπιχθόνιος and similar expressions. Modern critics are the less inclined to ridicule this as a mere barbaric fancy now that the doctrine of evolution has made them familiar with the unity of nature. This view of the word implies that it was originally not a proper name; for names of persons (for which fanciful etymologies are often given by the sacred writers) are not made up after such a fashion.

A closer examination of the narrative will show that the word is primarily used in a generic sense, and not as the name of an individual. In Gen. i. its use is wholly generic. In Gen. ii. and iii. the writer weaves together the generic and the personal senses of the word. In all that pertains to the first man as the passive subject of creative and providential action the reference is exclusively generic.Indeed, it is doubtful whether "Adam" as a proper name is used at all before Gen 4:25 (J) and v. 3 (P). Here the same usage is manifest: for in the two opening verses of chap. v. the word is used generically. It may also be observed that the writer in Gen. ii., iii. always says "the man" instead of "Adam," even when the personal reference is intended, except after a preposition, where, however, a vowel has probably been dropped from the text. The explanation of the variation of usage apparently is that, as in the case of most of the early stories of Genesis, the material of popular tradition, which started with the forming of man out of the earth, was taken up and worked over for higher religious uses by thinkers of the prophetic school. Adam is not referred to in the later Old Testament books, except in the genealogy of I Chron.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
This article needs to be merged with ADAM (Jewish Encyclopedia).
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