Adam Means Humankind

by | Jan 17, 2022

a line of people looking at the sunrise

Highlights for Genesis 5


This post draws on two resources – (1) Joseph Smith’s complete translation of the Bible – amazingly, Joseph Smith corrected translations for more than 3,900 verses from the KJV Bible. And (2) Robert Alter’s “The Hebrew Bible – A Translation with Commentary.” Robert Alter’s book is considered one of the best translations of the Bible in our modern time and came highly recommended by – a premiere Latter-day Saint scholarship site. Robert Alter’s lifetime work was published in 2018. See My Secrets for Falling In Love with the Old Testament for more information about these two books and where to get them.

Enoch’s Fantastic Adventure

Moses chapters 6 and 7 detail Enoch’s surreal life on earth, the establishment of Zion. Some of his history sounds like a script from a fantasy movie. Like the scene where he speaks, the mountains move, the rivers turn out of their course, and the lions roar from the wilderness (Moses 7:13). The events are so grand and spectacular; I’m glad to be reminded of what is possible with the Lord. But even more important are some of the most profound, most powerful truths found in our scriptures today. Please don’t miss reading these two chapters!

Note: A fuller version of Moses 6 and 7 are found in Joseph’s complete translation of Genesis referenced under “resources” above. Joseph’s interpretation has made for some great reading.

I’ll write more about Enoch next week.

A Curious Verse

KJV Bible – Genesis 5:2

Genesis 5:2 contains a phrase that I’ve always wondered about, “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam.

Why was Eve also called Adam? Why wasn’t her name mentioned here?

After reading Robert Alter’s work, it makes complete sense and also lends deeper understanding to the verse found in Moses 1:33-34:

33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.
34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.

Again, “Adam” refers to multiple humans, which is a new perspective for me.

The Hebrew Bible – Genesis 5:2

Male and female He created them, and He blessed them and called their name humankind on the day they were created.

Robert Alter: “a human. The term ‘adam, afterward consistently with a definite article [like “the” or “a”], which is used here and in the [first] account of the origins of humankind, is a generic term for human beings, not a proper noun…”

“God’s calling “them” by the name ‘adam is also an explicit indication that the term is not exclusively masculine, and so it is misleading to render it as ‘man.'”

proper noun: a formal name like Joseph

Joseph Smith Translation – Genesis 6:9

Joseph Smith has added a lot of verses by now, so chapter 5, verse 2 is now chapter 6, verse 9. What is notable and a manifestation of his powerful prophetic capacity – is he leaves the phrase as found in the KJV bible. He could have “corrected” it and added Eve’s name or some other change to correspond with the popular understanding of the word Adam as a name and proper noun. He left it as a classification.

strikethrough = words Joseph Smith deleted (sometimes what Joseph crossed out can be just as much information as what he added)

bold type = words Joseph Smith added

And a genealogy was kept of the children of God. And this is was the book of the generations of Adam, saying, In the day that God created man (in the likeness of god made he him,) in the image of his own body, male and female created he them, and blessed them and called their name Adam, int he day when they were created, and became living souls, in the land, upon the footstool of God.


My love for the JST complete translation grows. As well as my awe for Joseph Smith, the seer, and prophet. Studying the Old Testament has never been this satisfying or intriguing.

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  1. Lynne

    “Adam” is a child root derived from the parent דם (dam) meaning, “blood”. By placing the letter א in front of the parent root, the child root אדם (adam) is formed and is related in meaning to דם (dam).

    By examining a few other words derived from the child root אדם we can see a common meaning in them all. The Hebrew word אדמה (adamah) is the feminine form of אדם meaning “ground” (see Genesis 2:7). The word/name אדום (Edom) means “red”. Each of these words has the common meaning of “red”. Dam is the “red” blood, adamah is the “red” ground, edom is the color “red” and adam is the “red” man. There is one other connection between adam and adamah as seen in Genesis 2:7 which states that “the adam” was formed out of the adamah.

    In the ancient Hebrew world, a person’s name was not simply an identifier but descriptive of one’s character. As Adam was formed out of the ground, his name identifies his origins.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Wow, you are so well-studied! Thank you for sharing.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      One additional thought – denotations and connotations. Your notes seem to be about denotations? Am I right? I believe often connotations develop from joined root words and the result is either more than the sum of it parts or a related derivative. It’s a pattern I see in other languages. I believe I’m talking to a scholar here so my question is “Edom” has an extra symbol in it and without that symbol – I’m not clear how you got to “red Adam” or “red ground” as dam and dom are lettered distinctly. I know Robert Alter compared every Hebrew word in the Old Testament with every other occurrence and noted distinct patterns which contributed to the translation. So his translations center on both denotations and connotations – how the word is used the ‘x’ number of times it occurs.

  2. Heather Steele

    Please, do keep posting more from the JST Bible! Love this. My mind was out of sorts when reading this morning, so I understood very little, but I’ll read it again.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      I hope I do keep writing. I love the topic.


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