Adam (Hebrew: אָדָם; Greek: Αδάμ Aramaic/Syriac: ܐܕܡ; Arabic: آدم) is a figure from the Book of Genesis who is also mentioned in the New Testament, the deuterocanonical books, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Iqan. According to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, he was the first human.
In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by God. Christian churches differ on how they view Adam's subsequent behavior of disobeying God (often called the Fall of man), and to the consequences that those actions had on the rest of humanity. Christian and Jewish teachings sometimes hold Adam and Eve (the first woman) to a different level of responsibility for the Fall, though Islamic teaching holds both equally responsible. In addition, Islam holds that Adam was eventually forgiven, while Christianity holds that redemption occurred only later through the sacrifice of Jesus. The Bahá'í Faith, Islam and some Christian denominations consider Adam to be the first prophet.
Adam (Hebrew: אָדָם) means "human"; coupled with the definite article, it becomes "the human". Its root is אָדָם (a-d-m), meaning "red". As a masculine noun, 'adam means "man", "mankind" usually in a collective context as in humankind. The noun 'adam is also the masculine form of the word adamah which means "ground" or "earth" or "clay", and is related to the words: adom (red), admoni (ruddy), and dam (blood). In the Book of Genesis, the Hebrew word ׳āḏām is often rendered "mankind" in the most generic sense, which is similar to its usage in other Canaanite languages. The use of "mankind" in Genesis, gives the sense that Adam was the ancestor of all men.
Adam in Genesis
In the first five chapters of Genesis the word אָדָם ( 'adam ) is used in all of its senses: collectively ("mankind"),[1:27] individually (a "man"),[2:7] gender nonspecific, ("man and woman")[5:1,2] and male.[2:23–24] According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, its use in Genesis 1 is generic, while in Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 the generic and personal usages are mixed.
In Genesis 1:27 "adam" is used in the collective sense, whereby not only the individual Adam, but all humans, are created on the sixth day. The interplay between the individual "Adam" and the collective "humankind" is a main literary component to the events that occur in the Garden of Eden, the ambiguous meanings embedded throughout the moral, sexual, and spiritual terms of the narrative reflecting the complexity of the human condition. Genesis 2:7 is the first verse where "Adam" takes on the sense of an individual man (the first man): the context of sex and gender, prior to these verses, is absent. The gender distinction of "adam" is then reiterated in Genesis 5:1–2 by defining "male and female".
A recurring literary motif that occurs (in Gen. 1–8), is the bond between Adam and the earth ("adamah"). Adam is made from the earth, and it is from this "adamah" that Adam gets his name. God's cursing of Adam also results in the ground being cursed, causing him to have to labour for food,[3:17] and Adam returns to the earth from which he was taken.[3:19] This "earthly" aspect is a component of Adam's identity, and Adam's curse of estrangement from the earth seems to render humankind's divided identity of being earthly yet separated from nature.[8:21]
According to Genesis 1, God (Elohim) created human beings. "Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam ..." (Genesis 5:2). Here "Adam" is a general term for "mankind" and refers to the whole of humankind. God blesses "mankind" to "be fruitful and multiply" and ordains that they should have "dominion" (but the exact meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain and disputed) "over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Genesis 1.26-27).
In Genesis 2 God forms "Adam" (this time meaning a single male human) out of "the dust of the ground" and then "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life", causing him to "become a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). God then placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, giving him the commandment that "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But 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" (Genesis 2:16-17).
God then noted that "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). He then brought every "beast of the field and every fowl of the air" (Genesis 2:19) before Adam and had Adam name all the animals. However, among all the animals, there was not found "a helper suitable for" Adam (Genesis 2:20), so God caused "a deep sleep to fall upon Adam" and took one of his ribs, and from that rib, formed a woman (Genesis 2:21-22), subsequently named Eve.
Expulsion from Eden
In Genesis 3, A man named Adam is found in the expulsion from Eden account which is used as a parable or wisdom tale in the wisdom tradition. The documentary hypothesis for this narrative portion is attributed to Yahwist (J), due to the use of YHWH.
In the expulsion from Eden narrative, the woman is lured into dialogue on the serpent's terms, which directly disputes Yahweh's command (3:1-5). Adam and the woman sin (3:6-8). Yahweh then questions Adam and the woman (3:9-13) initiating a dialogue. Yahweh calls out to Adam using a rhetorical question that is designed to prompt him to consider his wrongdoing. Adam explains that he hid out of fear because he realized his nakedness. This is followed by two more rhetorical questions designed to show awareness of a defiance of Yahweh's command. Adam then points to the woman as the real offender, then accuses Yahweh for the tragedy.
After a series of blaming occurs, Yahweh initiates judgement on all culprits involved (3:14-19). A judgement oracle and the nature of the crime is first laid upon the serpent, then the woman, and finally Adam. In Adam's punishment, Yahweh curses the ground from which he came, and then receives a death oracle.
The chiasmus structure of the death oracle given to Adam in 3:19, is a link between man's creation from "dust" (2:7) to the "return" of his beginnings.
- A you return
- B to the ground
- C since (kî ) from it you were taken
- C' for (kî ) dust you are
- B' and to dust
- B to the ground
- A' you will return
The reaction of Adam, the naming of Eve, and Yahweh making skin garments are described in a concise account (3:20-21). The garden account ends with an intradivine monologue, determining Adam and the woman's expulsion, and the execution of that deliberation (3:22-24).
After his expulsion from Eden, Adam was forced to work hard for his food for the first time. According to the Book of Genesis, he had several sons and daughters with Eve, three of whom are named: Cain, Abel, and Seth.
According to the genealogies of Genesis, Adam died at the age of 930, making him the third longest living person next to Noah and Methuselah. With such numbers, calculations such as those of Archbishop Ussher would suggest that Adam would have died only about 127 years before the birth of Noah, nine generations after Adam. In other words, Adam's lifespan would have overlapped with that of Noah's father Lamech by at least fifty years. Ussher and a group of theologians and scholars in 1630 performed calculations and created a study that reported the creation of Adam on October 23, 4004 BC at 9:00 am and lived until 3074 BC.
Adam in other works
- The Life of Adam and Eve, and its Greek version Apocalypse of Moses, is a group of Jewish pseudepigraphical writings that recount the lives of Adam and Eve after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden to their deaths.
- The Book of Joshua mentions a City of Adam at the time that the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on entering Canaan, but doesn't suggest any relationship between this city and the Adam of Genesis.
- The Book of Jubilees, a second century BC text which is not considered canonical by most Abrahamic faiths, states that Adam had two daughters: Azûrâ and Awân who were born after Seth, Cain, Abel, and nine other sons. Cain later marries Awân and Seth married Azûrâ, thus, accounting for their descendants.
- In the Quran, God creates Adam out of clay and commands the angels to bow to this human. After Iblis refuses, he lures Adam and Eve into disobeying God. As a punishment, Adam and Eve are sent out into the rest of the earth where they conceive Cain and Abel.
In rabbinic writings and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Adam is a perfect human before his exile from Eden, but is diminished in stature when exiled. A traditional Jewish belief is that after Adam died, he was buried in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron.
In Jewish folklore, Lilith is the name of Adam's first wife, who was created at the same time and from the same earth as Adam. She left Adam after she refused to become subservient to Adam and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with archangel Samael. Her story was greatly developed, during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar and Jewish mysticism. The resulting Lilith legend is still commonly used as source material in modern culture, literature, occultism, fantasy and horror.
In the book Kav ha-Yashar the author warns not to talk negatively about Adam, he writes that those who talk positively about Adam will be blessed with a long life. A similar warning can be found in The Zohar.
Sefer Raziel HaMalakh
Sefer Raziel HaMalakh (רזיאל המלאך) (Raziel the Angel) is a collection of esoteric writings, probably compiled and edited by the same hand, but originally not the work of one author. Zunz ("G. V." 2d ed., p. 176) distinguishes three main parts: (1) the Book Ha-Malbush; (2) the Great Raziel; (3) the Book of Secrets, or the Book of Noah. These three parts are still distinguishable — 2b-7a, 7b-33b, 34a and b. After these follow two shorter parts entitled "Creation" and "Shi'ur Ḳomah," and after 41a come formulas for amulets and incantations.
The book cannot be shown to predate the 13th century, but may in parts date back to Late Antiquity. Like other obscure ancient texts such as the Bahir and Sefer Yetzirah, the work has been extant in a number of versions. The tradition around the book attributes it to have been revealed to Adam by the angel Raziel.
Adam arguably plays the more important role in Christianity than he does in any of the other Abrahamic religions. Christians believe that because Adam disobeyed God, sin and death entered into the world resulting in the fall of man and passing original sin onto all of his descendants. Adam's sin separated man from God, but through Christ, who is sometimes referred to as the "Second Adam", sacrifice atoned for the sins of the world and reconciled man to God. Debate continues within Christian circles as to what degree Adam's sin affected humanity. Some Protestants, such as Calvinist, believe in original guilt, teaching that man shares in the same guilt as Adam. But both Catholics and Orthodox reject this; though there is disagreement among Catholics and Orthodox over the nature of sin.
Irenaeus taught that Adam's sin had grave consequences for humanity, and that the Fall of man was the source of human sinfulness, mortality and enslavement to sin, and that all human beings participate in his sin and share his guilt. Irenaeus promoted this concept in his struggle to counter the doctrines of Gnosticism. Subsequently, the doctrine of original sin was formalized by Irenaeus in the 2nd-century.
Augustine of Hippo (354–430) furthered the teaching of original sin by concluding that Adam's sin is transmitted by concupiscence. This is the concept that sin is inherited, so that original sin is passed from parent to child, resulting in humanity becoming a massa damnata (mass of perdition, condemned crowd). By Adam and Eve's sexual reproduction, all their descendants now live in sin (STh Iª–IIae q. 82 a. 4 ad 3). Augustine also promoted the view that all of humanity was really present in Adam's guilt when he sinned, and therefore all descendant humans inherit that guilt.
Jehovah's Witnesses view Adam and Eve as the ones who brought sin, and thus death, into the world by committing the original sin, by disobeying Jehovah's clear command not to eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.
Eve's sin is counted as deliberate disobedience, as she did know that Jehovah had commanded them not to eat, but she is held to have been deceived by the Serpent. (She was deceived only about the effect of their disobedience, not about the will of God on the matter.) Adam's sin is considered even more reproachable, as he had not been deceived. Rather, when confronted with his sin, he attempted to blame both his wife Eve, and Jehovah himself. By his sin, he forfeited human perfection and was therefore unable to pass it on to his offspring.
The Latter-day Saint movement holds that Adam and Michael the archangel are the same individual. Michael the archangel fought against and cast out Lucifer (who became Satan) and his followers at the conclusion of the War of Heaven during the pre-mortal existence (see Book of Revelation 12:7-9). Michael was born into this mortal existence as the man "Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the Ancient of Days" (see Doctrine and Covenants 27:11 and 107:54). Mormons also consider Adam to have been the first prophet on earth.
The Latter-day Saints hold the belief that the "Fall" was not a tragedy, but rather a necessary part of God's plan. They believe that Adam and Eve had to partake of the forbidden fruit in order to fulfill God's plan so that humans would be able to have free agency.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the importance of the literal creation time-line is pivotal to the story of humanity, their relationship to God, and the plan of salvation and atonement for Adam and Eve's transgression (fall), by which all their descendants are under subjugation. The Bible states, "Since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Jesus the Christ) came also the resurrection ... (I Cor. 15:21)." To disavow a literal creation and our first parents (Adam and Eve) nearly 6,000 years ago negates a fundamental, orthodox doctrine and the supremacy of the Holy Bible that the sovereign, triune God – "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth," (Genesis 1:26 NASB)—according to His own purpose and counsel and for His own glory, created humanity in the Biblical/Torah account.
In Islam, Âdam (Adem; Arabic: آدم) is believed to be the first human being and someone to whom God spoke directly, and thus viewed as the first prophet of Islam. Muslims also see Adam as the first Muslim, as the Qurʼān says that all the prophets preached the same faith of submission to God.
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, an early Islamic commentator on hadiths and Isrāʼīlīyāt, wrote that when it came time to create Adam, God sent Gabriel (Jibrīl), then Michael (Mikāʼīl), to fetch clay from the earth; but the earth complained, saying I take refuge in God from you, if you have come to diminish or deform me, so the angels returned empty-handed. God then uses Azrael who brings clay from all regions, an explanation used for the variety of human races. According to Tabari, after receiving the breath of God, Adam remained a dry body for 40 days, then gradually came to life from the head downward. He came to life saying All praise be to God, the Lord of all beings. Having been created, Adam, the first man, is given domination over all the lower creatures, which he proceeds to name after being taught by God [Quran 2:31].
Abu Hurayrah referred to a hadith of Muhammad where he reportedly said, "God created Adam, making him 60 cubits tall" and, "Any person who will enter Paradise will resemble Adam (in appearance and figure)". A popular Islamic belief is that people have been decreasing in stature since Adam's creation. There is an Islamic legend of a younger son of Adam; named Rocail; who created a palace and sepulcher containing autonomous statues that lived out the lives of men so realistically they were mistaken for having souls.
According to the Ahmadiyya view, Adam was not the first human being on earth. According to Ahmadis, the Qur'an shows that there were humans in existence before Adam."I am about to place a Khalifa in the earth"[Quran 2:30] In view of this, Ahmadis further claim that it is not necessary that the Adam mentioned in the Qur'an was the first Prophet of God, but merely the first Prophet in a long line of Prophets. When the human race came into existence, and spread all over the world into branches and sub-branches, and had developed the ability to receive revelation, God sent Adam to each and every branches and civilizations. According to a revelation received by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the community, the Adam mentioned in the Qur'an was born 4,598 years before Muhammad.
In the Bahá'í view, Adam was the first Manifestation of God in recorded history. He is believed by Bahá'ís to have started the Adamic cycle 6000 years ago, which has culminated with Bahá'u'lláh. The biblical story of Adam and Eve, according to Bahá'í belief, is allegorical and is explained by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Some Answered Questions. Táhirih, an influential poet and theologian of the Bábí Faith, wrote a lengthy poem called Adam's Wish, about the desire of Adam and all other past prophets to witness humanity's coming of age.
In the Sikh religion, Adam is mentioned once in the Guru Granth Sahib on Ang (Limb) 1161. This hymn describes the greatness of his God that he has seven thousand angels, one hundred and twenty five thousand Prophets, etc.; and that God lives in the Seventh Sky above Earth..
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- Adam Kadmon
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- Paradise Lost
- Table of prophets of Abrahamic religions
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According to the Ancient Gnostic Wisdom, Adam and Eve stand for The Wholly Mind and The Wholly Soul – the spiritual parents from where Adamic souls derive their identities.
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