If there is one Biblical story that most everyone in Western society knows, it is that of Adam and Eve. The story of Adam and Eve is truly fascinating, and there are many details that are fleshed out in the Oral Tradition. However, the basics are: God tells Adam not to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent seduces Eve into taking a fruit, and Eve gives Adam a bite. As a result, God banishes humans from the Garden of Eden. God must punish Adam and Eve for transgressing the one rule that he has given them. He exiles them from the Garden of Eden, and mortality becomes part of the human destiny.

Throughout the entire incident, the “helpmate” of Adam remains without a name. Upon her creation, “Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman (eesha), because she was taken out of Man (eesh)’” (Genesis 2:23).

When God announced their punishments, He said to the woman: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children…” (Genesis 3:16). The curse did more than just punish Adam and Eve, it defined them in their own eyes as well. Adam, the man, is the one who “by the sweat of your brow you [all] shall eat bread,” while the woman is the one who bears (and raises) the children.

Once Adam recognized that Eve was far more than an extension of himself, that she had a different role in the world, he named her (as he had all other living creatures): “Adam called his wife’s name ‘Eve’ (Chava comes from the root of the Hebrew word chaya, meaning life), because she was the mother of all living creatures” (Genesis 3:29).

This Treat is based on “The Hebrew Name Ava” (November 9, 2011) on the Jewish Treats sister site, TwebrewSchool.org

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