🔼The name Adam: Summary
- Red, One From The Soil, Beginning
- From the root דמם (dmm), to begin, to produce.
🔼The name Adam in the Bible
There are one man (as tradition dictates) and one town named Adam mentioned in the Bible.
Adam the town was situated in the territory of Manasseh, on the Jordan, close to Zarethan. It's where the waters of the Jordan collected in a heap, so that Israel could pass over on dry land (Joshua 3:16).
Adam the man is the husband of Eve and the first human male according to tradition (Genesis 2:20). Here at Abarim Publications, however, we see all that slightly different; see our article on The Chaotic Set Theory for the details.
What is certain is that God created the dust of the earth, gathered that dust into a vital composition, breathed into that composition his breath and Adam became a living being (Genesis 2:7). Much later, God promised Abraham that his offspring would be like the dust of the earth; like that elementary material from which God made all living things (Genesis 13:16). Later still, the apostle Paul explained that all those who are of faith are Abraham's offspring (Galatians 3:7). And indeed, God literally repeats Genesis 2:7 when he makes the church: he creates believers like the dust of the earth. Then he gathers them into a vital composition. Then he releases into them his Spirit and the church becomes a living being (Acts 2).
In the New testament, Adam (Αδαμ) is mentioned by name 9 times; see full concordance. He is referred to as the set of which all members die, and Jesus as the sub-set of Adam in which all members shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45).
What follows may be a bit elaborate, but the bottom line is that contrary what tradition dictates, the Biblical model organizes reality according to sets and subsets. The largest set of living creatures is precisely that: living things (or perhaps living things that have a body made from the 'dust of the earth' — to distinguish these from angels, if you will). Eve was called the "mother of all life" (אם כל־הי; Genesis 3:20). The word for mother is pretty much the same as that for nation, and the term "all-life" means precisely that: the whole of life, or the biosphere. This phrase כל־הי occurs six more times in the Bible and always denotes the whole of life (Genesis 8:21, Job 12:10, 28:21, 30:23, Psalm 143:2 and 145:16).
For a closer look at the most dominant Biblical sets and subsets, see our article on the name Hebrew.
🔼Etymology of the name Adam
The name Adam is the same as the noun אדם ('adam), which is used to mean man(kind) in the sense of a creature made from earth:
The root דמם (ddm) is all about beginnings — or rather the simplicity from whence complexity arises — from being still before the noise starts to being monochromatic before color vision starts. Verb דמם (damam) means to be still, noun דממה (demama) denotes calmness and דמה (dumma) denotes a silenced person. Noun דומה (duma) describes the silence of death, noun דומיה or דמיה (dumiya) the silence of waiting and noun דומם (dumam) the silence of inertia or inactivity.
Verb דמה (dama I) describes making a (still) image. Nouns דמות (demut) and דמין (dimyon) mean likeness. Verb דמה (dama II) means to stop, halt or arrest. Noun דמי (domi) means a halting. Whatever the unused verb דמן (dmn) might have meant, noun דמן (domen) denotes refuse and מדמנה (madmena) a manure pit.
Unused verb אדם ('dm) may have meant to produce or begin to produce. Noun אדם (adam) is one of a few words for man but means literally probably "product" or likeness-made-from-soil; man as corporeal unit of humanity. This word is never used in plural, and its feminine equivalent, namely אדמה (adama), denotes arable soil or clay-red earth.
Red is the first color a baby learns to see and red or ruddy is indeed the color of rudiment: verb אדם ('adom or 'adem) means to be red, adjective אדם ('adom) means red, noun אדם ('odem) denotes a ruddy gem, possibly quartz, noun אדם ('edom) denotes a kind of red stew, adjective אדמדם ('adamiddam) means reddish, and adjective אדמוני (admoni) means red or ruddy.
The ubiquitous noun דם (dam) means blood; the seat of life, whose circulatory system always sits inside an organic body, isolated from the world at large. When a river turns to blood, it not so much assumes the color and thickness of blood but becomes isolated from the greater hydrological cycle. The life that is seated in the blood is therefore primarily an issue of waste-management. Without it, the organism pollutes and dies.
The name Adam is obviously a touch complicated. Most directly, it means Acre Man, but since the word for acre is distilled from the action of producing agricultural crops, the name Adam really means Produce (as noun). But that root that covers the action of producing is also the same as the root that covers redness. That means that Adam is also Red Man. Since red is the color of blood (2 Kings 3:22) and also since the name Adam is the word דם (dom), meaning blood, with an aleph in front of it, and alephs sometimes appear in front of words without essentially altering the meaning, Adam also means Blood Man. And since blood is the seat of the breath (or life), Adam is also Life Man.
All in all, the name Adam is probably best interpreted as Living Creature or rather the corporeal part of a living creature. The name Adam simply means Corporeal One or Dustling; prior to receiving breath, Adam was quite literally a corpse (Genesis 2:7).
A name that may be a playful reference to the name Adam is Javan, Mud Man.