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Topics: Genesis 1–3, Leadership, Manhood

When Adam Named Eve.

November 13, 2013


By Joey Cochran

Men, we call our wives all sorts of names as terms of endearment. I call my wife, “Babe, honey, sweetie…” and others. Yet, there was a solitary, significant moment where I called Kendall Hopkins by another name. On May 28, 2005, I called her Mrs. Kendall Cochran for the first time after I kissed her. It was more or less out of shock because it just now occurred to me what really happened. I think I actually said, “You’re Kendall Cochran now! You’re Mrs. Cochran!” My pastor had just presented us before our church that day as Mr. and Mrs. Cochran for the first time. Now she was Mrs. Cochran, so I called her by that name.

Similarly, when Adam saw the Woman for the first time he exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” This after he named animal after animal, pair by pair, seeing male and female, yet no helper fit for him.

The task of naming the animals was Adam’s first effort at subduing and ruling the earth. God commissioned him to subdue and rule to bring order from the chaos, just as God brought order from the chaos in His creating activity. Adam naming animals is an exercise in authority and headship. By naming the animals he demonstrates intelligence and authority. Power is assumed from Adam speaking the names of the animals. He is imaging the same power and authority that God assumed over all creation in speaking the creative work into existence.

But when God brings the Woman to Adam he does not name her Eve as we would suspect. He identifies her in relationship to himself as Woman because, “she was taken out of man.” This name lacks specificity. Adam does not claim rule or authority over the woman at this point. For now she is Woman.  This is how the serpent and God address her in Genesis 3. It is not until the end of Genesis 3 where Adam calls her by the name, Eve, which is the significant point to be made.

John Walton writes, “We would be mistaken to think that Adam names Eve here. He rather indicated what category she belongs in. When Adam named the animals in 2.19-20, a different vocabulary and syntax are used. Adam there was carrying out his function to ruling in that whatever he called a creature, that was its name. His naming of the animals was an exercise of authority. This same vocabulary is used with regard to Eve in 3.20, but not so in 2.23.” (NIVAC, 3904)

However, the calling of Eve, Woman, does introduce an important point to be made about the story of the Fall. It, in a sense, introduces and forms the front end of an inclusio between 2.23 and 3.20.

An inclusio is a repetition of two ideas that book end a discourse. Inclusios serve as valuable signposts. They signal an important point in the text. In this text the inclusio is the naming of the Woman.

The story of the Fall begins with the Woman being named categorically. At this point the Man and the Woman are naked and feel no shame. At the end of the Fall narrative the Man names the Woman Eve, offering specificity. However, everything is different. Rather than being naked and feeling no shame, the first sacrifice is made for garments of clothing. Between these two end caps is the story of what happens when man does not exercise headship appropriately. It is a story of failed leadership, leading to the man accepting responsibility for his failure to exercise authority where he ought.

In lay culture, there is an age-old discussion in small groups among marrieds and singles around Genesis 3. That discussion is “Who done it? Whose fault is it really?” The men point out that we should blame the Woman because “she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen 3.6) first then gave it to the Man. I mean that’s what Adam said, right? It’s her fault (Gen 3.12). Women always reply, “She gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen 3.6). He was there too! It’s just as much his fault for not stopping her.

This age-old discussion tells us something important. Headship is not just about leadership. It’s about responsibility. When things go wrong, we always look for the faulty party to point the finger. The faulty party is the responsible party. They are responsible because they are the leader. It doesn’t matter if it is lacking WMD evidence in Iraq, Boston Marathon Bombing, Benghazi, or Chemical Weapons in Syria — we look for the leader responsible and punish he or she to the maximum degree.

So who is the responsible party in the Fall narrative of Genesis 3? Immediately, we think, “Well what did God say and how did God say it? That will indicate responsibility.”

Note that God called to Adam, “Where are you?” Matthew Lee Anderson refers to this question as “the first moment of God’s redemptive activity” (The End of Our Exploring, 42).  God begins his effort of redemption by addressing the one who is ultimately responsible. He addresses the one who was commissioned to rule, subdue and refrain from eating a fruit from a tree. Interestingly enough, Adam never touches God’s second question, “Who told you that you were naked?” Rather he addresses the third question by passing blame onto God for giving him the Woman, followed by blaming the woman for giving him the fruit. Then the Woman blames the serpent.

God dishes out consequences working backwards through the blame. The serpent, last to be blamed, is first to have consequence, followed by the Woman and ending with Adam. Though the heart of the trouble lies with the serpent, the burden of responsibility lies with Adam.

Adam as head must take responsibility for the fall. God commissioned him to rule and subdue all creation. Ironically, a reptilian creature and a piece of fruit brought down the man who was meant to rule them. In the process he failed at leading his wife.

Adam was there. He was present. Genesis 3.6 makes this clear, “…she took the fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her.” We need to take this phrase at face value.

Walton in his commentary admits that we are reluctant to accept this. According to Walton, if this phrase does not mean that he was present at the temptation and that he is simply present in the garden somewhere, it is a non-sensical statement. If this phrase simply means that he joined her in eating the fruit, then it would say so in the clause with the verb “eat.”

It makes most sense to take this phrase at face-value and understand that Adam was present during the temptation but silent. Why did he remain silent? Why did he not act? We could speculate much about this. Throughout the Old Testament there are other examples of when men fail to act and lead. Judah failed to act on behalf of Tamar, so she took matters in her hands. Barak failed to lead as judge, so Deborah stepped up to lead the army against its foes.

At minimum Adam was in close proximity to his wife when she was tempted, fulfilling his mandate to “work and keep” the garden. He was responsible for guarding the borders. He failed to intervene when his wife was being questioned. He failed at his responsibility to safeguard the garden and his wife. Adam was responsible for this debacle.

The Fall narrative ends where it began. Adam naming his wife directs us to understand headship. Adam is the faulty responsible party. He is our federal head, as the scripture says, “In Adam all die” (1Cor 15.22) or as it has been poetically dubbed, “In Adam we all fall.” Adam’s sin is not that he became deceived, but that he failed to lead. The Woman was deceived (1Tim 2.13). Adam failed to exercise his headship, authority, and power over his wife and creation (the serpent and the fruit).

So Adam, recognizing his failure, accepts the consequence and responsibility for the Fall. He takes up his tarnished mantle of headship and names the Woman Eve. Adam naming Eve conveys his authority over her and in turn over all the living. His naming of her not only represents his commitment to his commission as head but also confesses his faith in God’s redemptive plan. As “Mother of all the living,” Adam knows she is the mother of the redemptive Seed that will crush the head of the Serpent. (Gen 3.15)

Men, next time that age old debate of “Who’s fault is it anyway?” is discussed, take ownership. Embody humility. Hands down, God holds Adam responsible and Moses highlights this with the naming inclusio in Genesis 2-3.

Gospel expectation is portrayed in Adam naming Eve the mother of all life, leading to the incarnation of the second Adam, Christ. You are first a son of Adam but thankfully adopted and redeemed by the second and greater Adam, Christ. (Romans 5.19) Give into gospel rest naming Christ as your head. In turn lead as your wife’s head. Think back to your wedding day when the pastor presented your wife to the congregation with your last name for the first time. In that moment you became a head of a household. You became the leader responsible for the entire home.

Joey Cochran served as an Associate Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for four years before transitioning to be the Church Planting Intern at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois under the leadership of Pastor Joe Thorn. He is a graduate of Dallas Seminary. Joey blogs regularly at You can follow him on Twitter.

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