the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
Click here to learn more!
The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
The Hebrew and Biblical name for man, and also for the progenitor of the human race. In the account of the Creation given in Genesis 1 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. 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" (Genesis 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 Genesis 3 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" (Genesis 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" () because she was the mother of all living () it is only known that after their exile from the garden they had children born to them (see Genesis 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. 4:5; the correct reading in Tosef., Sanh. 8:4-9):
"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 (Leviticus 19:18)—that the principle of love must have as its basis Genesis 5:1, which teaches that all men are the offspring of him who was made in the image of God (Sifra, Ḳedoshim,; Yer. Ned. 9:41c; 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 Genesis 2:7, God took dust from the holy place (as "the center of the earth"; compare Pirḳe R. Eliezer , ) 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. and Chronicle of Jerahmeel, 6:7: "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,"; Abulfeda, "Historia Ante-Islámica." The Sibylline Oracles (3:24-26) 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," ) 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.; Midr. Teh. 139:5; 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'" (Genesis 1:26, Gen. R. ). 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, 1:10; also Papias in Gen. R.; Pirḳe R. El.; Ex. R.; Targ. Yer. Genesis 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, 1:33,47). "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. Genesis 3:7; Gen. R.; Adam and Eve, ). 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.; Midr. Teh. ). Far older, and blended with Babylonian mythology (Isaiah 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.; Chronicle of Jerahmeel,; and Koran, sura 2:34; 15:30), 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 2 Corinthians 11:14). A somewhat modified midrashic legend (Gen. R. ) 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?" (Isaiah 2:22). Another version (Pirḳe R. El.; 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!" (Psalms 93:1). Still, the Book of Wisdom (2:23,24) 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." 1:1, § 4; Ab. R. N.; Gen. R. , where the serpent is represented as moved by jealousy).
Adam in paradise had angels (agathodæmons or serpents) to wait upon and dance before him (Sanh. 59b, B. B. 75a, Pirḳe R. El. ). He ate "angel's bread" (compare Psalms 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. 2:5b); 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.; Vita Adæ et Evæ, § 21; Philo, "Creation of the World," p. 60; Zohar, 3:83b). Death came upon Adam and all creation. God's day being a thousand years (Ps. xc. 4), Adam was permitted to live 930 years—threescore and ten less than one thousand (Book of Jubilees, 4:28, and Gen. R. ), 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,; see articles SIN (3) 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.; 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 (Psalms 92). About Adam and the one-horned ox (the Persian gaiomarth), see Kohut, in "Z. D. M. G." 25:78, 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.; Pirḳe R. El.; 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, 3:12; Gen. R.; 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, 3:22). The garments made by God were not of skin, but of light (Gen. R. ), and robes of glory were made of the serpent's skin (Targ. Yer. Genesis 3:21).
Adam, "the first to enter Hades" (Sibylline Oracles, 1:81), was also the first to receive the promise ofresurrection (Gen. R. 21:7, after Psalms 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 Ezekiel 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 Psalms 5, , , and (Midr. Teh. 5:3; Gen. R. , end; Pesiḳ. R.; see Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." 2:337 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. ), 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. , Yer. Naz. 7:56b). 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. 25:59-94;
- 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. 3:288-289.
—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 75:34, 77:20, 96:1), 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 38:70-85).
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 2:29-36).
In sura 7:10 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 7:19-24).
In suras 17:63, 18:48, references are also made to the refusal of Iblis to worship Adam. The latter was created from earth (3:51) or from clay (32:5).
That Adam is the first of the prophets is only hinted at in the Koran. In the passage (2:35) 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 3:30, 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.
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 38:71-86. 2:28-32, 7:10-18, 15:28-44, 17:63-68, 18:48, 20:115, and the commentaries on these passages;
- Gottwaldt, HamzœIspahanensis Annalium Libri pp. 84 et seq.;
- Tabari, Annales, 2:115 et seq.;
- Ibn al-Athir, Chronicon, ed. Tornberg, 1:19 et seq.;
- Al-Nawawi, Biographical Dict. of Illustrious Men, ed. Wüstenfeld, pp. 123 et seq.;
- Yakut, Geographisches Wörterbuch, ed. Wüstenfeld, 6:255 (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.
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 Genesis 2:4 by the second narrator, and is not resumed till Genesis 5:1, where the second stage begins with the "generations [toledot] of Adam."
The second narrative (Genesis 2:4-) 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 Genesis 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 Genesis 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 Genesis 1 its use is wholly generic. In Genesis 2 and 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 Genesis 4:25 (J) and 5:3 (P). Here the same usage is manifest: for in the two opening verses of chap. the word is used generically. It may also be observed that the writer in Genesis 2, 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
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Adam'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​a/adam.html. 1901.