“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.”Genesis 1:1-5
Then God created man, whom he created in His image to rule over the fish, birds, and animals (Genesis 1:24-27). The creation of man alters the relationship between God and all aspects of creation (as read in Genesis 1:26). God’s relationship to man is unlike any other of God’s creations, and it is the naming of things that makes that distinction.
Looking back to the Edenistic relationship, God tasked Adam with the act of naming the animals because he was to have dominion over them. The word dominion sounds very serious and biblical, and there is a good reason for that. It describes the relationship between man and animals. God said, “let us make him in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” The act of naming is meaningful. Before a thing is named, they don’t mean as much. (Sorry for this crude analogy.) Were you ever told not to name the stray cat? Why would that be crucial? When you give a name to a stray cat, you have dominion over the animal. You have taken the time to name it because you have chosen to care for it.
Even the early Babylonians and Hebrews understood the importance of naming. To them, nothing existed until it had a name. The name represented what that person was to come or what that specific thing could be. There are many other instances of God naming something. The Angel of God instructing Mary and Joseph to name their son Jesus (“And you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21) is a prime example. Jesus (the Greek version of the name Joshua -spelled and pronounced Yeshua), which meant/means savior or salvation, even changed Simon’s name to Peter (based on the Greek word for rock). Even the name of a child could contain the name of God. The Hebrew words for God, El, and Yah, were used at the end to honor God. Names like Michael, Samuel, Jeremiah, and more are names that contain the word for God.
Adam’s name had meaning and the root of Adam’s name, from the Hebrew word adamah, means “son of the Red Earth.” This is linked to the red soil from which he was made (and could be a reference to the reddish color associated with human skin). Unlike many in the Bible whose names were changed after certain events, Adam and Eve’s names were not changed after the Edenic relationship changed. As many know, Adam and Eve gave into temptation and were subsequently ejected out of the Garden of Eden. This was an extreme lifestyle change for Adam and Eve but it did not change God’s or man’s dominion. Just as much as it did not change Adam’s dominion over the creatures on Earth; it did not change God’s dominion over man.
Profile Image – Adam and Eve driven out of Eden by Gustave Doré, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=300668
Hebrew Bible page by Thomas Dobson – Library of Congress : , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6594747
The Garden of Eden By Izaak van Oosten – artsandculture.google.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=117081785
Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden by Unknown author – The story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation: Told in simple language adapted to all ages, but especially to the young, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60780899