The word ‘Adam’ in our English Bibles is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that is spelled very similarly and sounds very nearly the same: אָדָם
According to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, the English work ‘Adam’ means:
AD’AM, n. In Heb., Man; primarily, the name of the human species, mankind; appropriately, the first Man, the progenitor of the human race…
According to Strong’s Concordance, the definition of the Hebrew word אָדָם is:
a) man, human being
b) man, mankind (much more frequently intended sense in OT)
c) Adam, first man
d) city in Jordan valley
In summary, ‘Adam’ very simply means ‘man’. Our father Adam was not only the first man, prototype, and progenitor of our race, but was also the representative head of ‘all mankind’. Adam embodied within himself both physically (seed) and Federally (in representation) all men.
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam 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.
The woman was specifically designed for the man – not to rule over him, but to be a help to him. In a passage touching on authority and the origin and relation of men and women, the Apostle Paul stated –
1 Cor 11:8-12
For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. …Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
The human race is perpetuated by birth through women, yet the first woman was taken from the man.
Life in the Garden
Adam was placed in God’s garden temple to serve as God’s image bearer – His royal vice regent over His Earthly Kingdom. Adam named all the animals and ruled and subdued the earth to suit his own purposes – “let them [humans] have dominion 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” (1:26).
In the Garden, God (1) instituted marriage, (2) gave human beings authority to exercise dominion over all creation, and (3) subjected man to one simple rule.
And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. ...Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Note the following when Jesus was questioned about marriage and divorce…
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
From what Moses reveals to us above, and based on the exposition given by our Savior, we can state the following about the institution of marriage which was instated in the garden:
- It is not good for a man to be alone
- A woman is to be a helper to the man
- The husband/wife relationship constitutes the closest intimacy that can exist amongst humans
- A marriage is a bond between one man and one woman only
- The marriage bond is created by God only
- The marriage bond is indissoluble
Often marriage is referred to as a ‘sacrament.’ In Roman Catholic theology, this act ‘merits’ the grace of God – a use foreign to the pages of Scripture. In legal jargon, the word sacrament means (according to 1828 Webster) an “oath; a ceremony producing an obligation”, and this use is far closer to its Scriptural background.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Families have been given the responsibility to increase numbers (‘…be fruitful and multiply…’) and spread out over the Earth.
Additionally, human beings are not only the top of the food chain, they are to be rulers of the Earth. Man’s responsibility to God is to exercise dominion over all creation and to subdue it for man’s purpose and use.
"...the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."
According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word translated ‘dress’ here means:
עָבַד `abad (aw-bad’) v.
1. to work (in any sense)
2. (by implication) to serve, till
3. (causatively) to enslave, etc
Some of the words used in the KJV to translate this word are: “keep in bondage, be bondmen, bond-service, compel, do, dress, keep, labour, serve, till, be wrought”. The word conveys a meaning of working the land – subduing it for human use. God has created a beautiful domain and put man in the middle of it to rule it, subdue it, and to exercise kingly dominion.
Strong gives the following definition for ‘keep’:
שָׁמַר shamar (shaw-mar’) v.
1. (properly) to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard
2. (generally) to protect, attend to, etc
This combination of words conveys the sense that man is both to rule the dominion God has given him, but is to guard and protect it.
In a future post, we shall discuss the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – the one provision given to man. God gave Adam just this one rule to obey. Adam exercises authority over the Earth, not based on any inherent authority or power in himself, but only in so far as that authority has been invested in him by his Creator. In other words, Adam rules as a regent. According to Webster, a regent exercises ‘vicarious authority’. In other words, he is invested with power to govern in the ‘absence of the king.’ In order for a regent to maintain his authority, he must remain loyal to his king – “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor 4:2). Adam’s continuing stewardship is contingent upon obedience. This relationship is very similar to that between Herod the Great (King of the Jews) and the Roman Emperor. Herod had authority to rule over Judea, as long as he remained obedient to the Emperor. Thus Adam, by exercising rebellion against the great King, was deposed from his garden paradise and was exiled. The Earth now refuses to submit to his authority, and man has since struggled to retain his kingship over the uncooperative earth.