Biblical Puns in the Garden of Eden

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.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Bible Odyssey

More about: Biblical Hebrew, Garden of Eden, Genesis, Hebrew Bible, Religion & Holidays

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf