The Bible frequently employs wordplay, punning not for humor but, as Samuel Thomas writes, as a “compelling way to evoke multiple associations without being explicit.” The Garden of Eden story is particularly rich with examples, as Thomas writes:
Perhaps the most famous wordplay in the story is the association between “Adam” and “adamah” (Hebrew for “ground” or “earth”) in Genesis 2:7. Our closest equivalent is probably evoked by the relationship between English “human” and the Latin humus (“ground” or “earth”), or even “earthling” and “earth.” Regrettably, most English translations do not attempt to capture this etymological association.
In the Garden of Eden story, the name “Adam” is originally not really a name at all. The Hebrew noun adam means “human,” and throughout the Eden narrative it carries the definite article—“the human” (Hebrew, ha-adam). According to Genesis 2:7, God fashioned this human out of the “dust” or “soil of the ground” (Hebrew, afar min ha-adamah). Thus this first human is a dirt creature, made of the very stuff that in turn will sustain human life. Given the respective cognates from Assyrian, Ugaritic, and other ancient sources, it is possible that both words are derived from a root signifying redness—red blood in the case of adam and red earth in the case of adamah.