Did The Man First Name The Woman In Genesis 2?


Did the man first name the woman in Genesis 2? Here is an extract from the book Man and Woman in Biblical Unity – Theology from Genesis 2-3 by my wife Dr. Joy Fleming

Does the man here “name” the woman as he had the animals? There are those who claim that he did, but five facts refute such a misperception of the text:

1. At this time, the man is not giving the woman a name. Neither ’ish nor ’ishshah are proper nouns or names. He is simply asserting “this one is a female version of what I am.” In his statement, he is recognizing that she is of the same essence as he, and he rejoices.

2. When an official act of “naming” takes place in Genesis, there is a distinctive formula that is followed. It includes the specific verb, qarah (“call”), followed by the noun, shem (“name”). This formula is followed in 2:19-20 where the man names the animals; it appears in 3:20 where the man names (or more correctly renames) Eve; it is employed in 5:2 when God names the two of them “Adam”; and the formula appears in Gn. 4:17, 25, 26; 26:18 (twice), and so on. But in 2:23, the formula is absent; the noun shem does not appear.

3. Furthermore, God never instructed the man to name the woman. The phrase “to see what he would call …” (present in verse 19) is absent in verse 23. For the man to exercise sovereignty over the woman as he did over the animals would have been inappropriate.

4. Naming the woman would also have been unnecessary, for God had already given them both the name “Adam” (Gn. 5:2). Perhaps they were to be thought of as “Mr. and Mrs. Adam.”

5. After the Fall, the man does presume to name his wife “Eve.” The technical naming formula is used (3:20). So, he apparently did not view his description of her as ’ishshah to be an exercise in naming, or an exercise of sovereignty.




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