Daily D – Genesis 3:20
Genesis 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. (NIV)
Adam was the first taxonomist. In 2:19, 20 we see God bringing the animals and birds to Adam to see what he would name them.
He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
One of my favorite books from the last ten years or so is The Organized Mindby Daniel Levitin. Levitin explains how our minds are designed to create order through categorizing and naming. There is even a chapter in the book on why we have a junk drawer for those things which do not fit into our most-used categories.
Adam’s name indicates where he came from. He came from dirt. His name is closely related to the Hebrew word for ground, adamah. You may have heard have the expression, “Your name is dirt (or mud).” This insult declares a person is rotten, decaying, worthless.
When we get to the curses of Genesis 3:14-19, we notice a few interesting points of wordplay. Verse 17 says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.” Verse 19 says,
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.
Adam’s name was ground, dirt, dust. What he was made from is what he would return to upon his death.
When God created Eve, Adam liked what he saw.
The man said,
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
Notice Adam’s taxonomic literalism. Just as his name indicates his origin, so does Eve’s. The Hebrew words for man and woman in these verses are ish and isha. Isha indicates she came from him. After coming to know wild animals, livestock, and birds, Adam finally met someone made from the same stuff as him. Indeed, she came from him. Adam was delighted. The Good News Bible puts it this way: “At last, here is one of my own kind.”
Fast forward through chapters 2 and 3, the fall and the curse, to Adam’s reflection on what God said in the words God spoke to Isha/Eve. Verse 16 indicates a beautiful reality in spite of their sin. Children would be born. Even though Adam and Eve would die, they would live on through their children. It is here we read verse 20 and see Adam’s growing understanding:
because she would become the mother of all the living.
The Mother of All Living deserved a name better than Riblet. God created Adam from the dust of the ground. God created Eve from Adam. Adam could not produce life to succeed him apart from Eve. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh,” (2:24).
One man, one woman, freely and totally committed to one another for life bearing children who carry more than taxonomic markers, more than individual names, more than the fondest hopes and dreams of their parents. They carry the possibility of devoted commitment and shameless love (2:25).
We have been seeking new ways of stating and living this dream since Adam and Eve chose poorly. Adam and Eve were blessed by God in spite of their sin. They would produce children. They were covered by his grace with clothes (not skins, 3:21).
Grace and covering come up again and again in the Bible. God’s grace provides what we need but do not deserve. We cannot cover the cost of our own sin, so God covers that cost himself.
In three beautifully crafted chapters, we see so much of what we live with today as individuals, couples, families, communities, and cultures. The bottom line is always the same. God’s grace covers for us what we cannot provide for ourselves.
I will praise and thank God for his amazing grace.
Our Father, from the very beginning of time, you have been gracious to all humans. You provide what we need that we cannot provide for ourselves. Your mercy is beyond calculation. Your grace is forever greater than all our sin. Acknowledging this, we always have a place to stand as planned before the beginning, foretold in this first family, and fulfilled through the gift of your Son (Romans 5:1, 2). How could we not praise you? How could thanksgiving ever be far from our hearts and minds? Thank you for your covering grace for this day and every day now and forever. Amen.
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