(1/2) You had a great post on early Genesis and gender, and you mainly talked about Genesis 1:27-28. I found it interesting that throughout the entire creation story, this first of the adam was never named- in my translation he's just called "the human" whereas Eve is named after their expulsion from the Garden (3:20). I was looking to see if Adam was ever named, and I found he was in Chapter 5- "This is the record of Adam's descendants. On the day God created humanity, he made them to resemble
(2/2) God and created them male and female. He blessed them and called them humanity (adam) when they were created.“ (Ch. 5:1-2) Do you have anything to say or any notes on the original Hebrew text and/or meaning of this passage, and what that would mean for your interpretation?
Oh thank you for this ask! While writing that post I was trying to remember if Adam was ever actually called Adam as his name rather than to mean “the human” and I guess I didn’t look far enough ahead – there it is at the start of chapter 5 indeed.
I’ll pull apart the Hebrew of 5:1-2 now and let’s see what we find.
My translation: “This is the book of the begettings [generations/descendants] of Adam. On the day God created adam, in the likeness of God he made them; male and female he created them and blessed them and called their name adam on the day they were created.”
[Spoilers: I find that the most interesting bullet point is the last one, so feel free to skip to that.]
- “…of Adam.” – This is indeed a usage of the noun adam as a proper name rather than as “the human;” we know this because the article ha (“the”) is not used with it – as well as common sense given that it’s used with the word “descendants” and genealogies are always of specific people. (There are no capital letters in Hebrew so that wouldn’t help us know it’s a name.)
- “On the day God created adam” – here I suppose adam could be the name Adam since it doesn’t have the article ha with it, but it’s more likely to mean humanity since in the next verse it’s going to refer back to this use of adam with a plural verb (which we’ll get to in a second).
- “in the likeness of God he made them” – here we have the singular masculine (or default neutral by English reckoning) pronoun used in Genesis 1:27 to refer to the collective plural implied in adam.
- “male and female he created them” – here the pronoun is plural.
- “and blessed them and called their name adam” – here’s the most interesting part interpretively I’d say.
First of all, we have the same idea found in 1:28, that God blesses not just the “male” but the “female,” so yay for that.
Then, for something new (not super revelational but as a supplement to what we discovered in Genesis 1 and 2), we have the specific naming of these first humans as simply adam by God. More on that below.
So to me these couple of verses further bolster what I discussed in the previous post, with a little bit extra to add to the interpretation.
Things that 5:1-2 re-affirms from the Genesis 1 and 2 verses of the previous post without adding much new:
- that God made “male and female” (with the possibility that this is not a binary “and”) in general, but with no mention of God labeling individual humans as either male or female (or neither, etc.). So the possibility that God allows humans to gender themselves after having created those genders (or sexes? or simply physical differences that humans will then try to make sense of through coming up with gender??), rather than “selecting” a gender for each of us, still stands.
Things that are iterated in new ways here in 5:1-2:
- The word adam being used as the proper name for that first human, Adam, which doesn’t have much to do with the gender interpretation but is good to note since he’s called that in other places in scripture so it’s clearly part of the tradition that the first person’s name was Adam.
- The idea that God named these new beings adam, or humanity/humankind. In Genesis 1 and 2 we could imply that adam is what God called them – rather than ish (man) and/or ishah (woman) – since that is the word used in the text while God makes them, sets the first adam in the Garden, and so on. But here we learn for sure that God calls them adam as their name. Again, this isn’t some huge revelation, but to me it further bolsters the idea that God did not “name” their gender for them – God simply named them all human, with male and female (the “and” holding a whole spectrum of gender) as part of collective humanity but not imposed by God onto individual persons, if that makes sense.
If anyone has more commentary on gender in early Genesis, I’d love to hear it!