We often read the story of Adam as reflecting all of humanity – our relationality to God and others, as well as our capacity for declining the divine will. While no words for “fall” or “sin” appear in Genesis 3, we are right to view Adam’s experience on an archetypal level, since the Hebrew אדם (adam) means “human being.” In fact, in most instances, “Adam” does not appear as a proper name, but rather as “the human” (האדם; ha’adam); as fellow human beings, we are encouraged to read ourselves into the primordial story. Yet, along with being a representative of all humanity, Adam is a representative of Israel; both the human and the nation are brought into God’s land and then experience exile.

Biblical Hebrew reveals that Adam foreshadows the whole of Israel. At the start of the Genesis narrative, “the Lord God formed (יצר; yatsar) the human” (Gen 2:7). Similarly, speaking to the nation, Isaiah declares that God was the one who “formed (יצר; yatsar) you, O Israel” (Isa 43:1). At the end of Genesis 3, the text says that God “drove out (גרשׁ; garash) the human” from the Garden of Eden (3:24). Likewise, when the people of Israel go into exile from their Land, God states, “Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out (גרשׁ; garash)” (Hos 9:15). In Jeremiah, God speaks to the people through the prophet, saying, “I brought you into a plentiful land to eat (אכל; achal) its fruit (פּרי; peri) and its goodness (טוֹב; tov), but when you came in, you defiled my land” (Jer 2:7). This prophetic description of the nation mirrors the moment when Adam and Eve see that the forbidden “fruit” (פּרי; peri) is “good” (טוֹב; tov) for food and “eat” it (אכל; achal), thereby transgressing God’s command (Gen 3:6).

Yet, while Adam’s story ends in exile, Israel’s story ends in restoration. After the exile, Isaiah tells his people, “The Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will rest them (ינח; yanach) in their own land” (Isa 14:1). The prophet’s language to describe Israel’s return from exile echoes what God does after forming the human: “The Lord God took the human and rested him (ינח; yanach) in the Garden of Eden” (Gen 2:15). Despite Adam’s transgression in the garden, the people of Israel are brought back to their Land, which foreshadows God’s plan for the restoration of all humanity.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Great analogy Dr.
    One point I would like to challenge
    You wrote” Yet, while Adam’s story ends in exile”
    My understanding is that it did not end in exile.Rather,The Lord actually pronounced redemption by quoting to Him the gospel
    Gen 3:15-“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel”.
    The good news is that this does not contradict your point;it actually strengthens it:because as Adam was cast out and promised redemption, so was Israel.

    • I appreciate this response, Aharon. What I meant to say was that the narrative in Genesis 3 ends in exile (cf. 3:24). While there are various ways to interpret Gen 3:15, you’re not wrong to read redemption into the Adam story (cf. Romans 5). Thanks again for your contribution to the discussion (and thanks for reading our articles)!

  2. good morning – love reading your insight and seeing how well it reflects our belief as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! In the temple, it is just as you described! Adam is used as the example of all humanity and all are expected to compare themselves to Adam (and Eve) to understand our purpose on the earth, the role of Jesus Christ and the covenants we need to make and keep to be worth of the power of the atonement and the grace of Jesus Christ to allow us to return to God! Fascinating!

    • Hi Greg, I’m glad that you enjoyed the article. I can’t speak to LDS doctrine, but the biblical text certainly encourages us to read Adam (i.e., “the human”) as an archetype for all humanity. While I can’t find anywhere in the NT that says we need to (or can) do anything to be “worth[y] of the power of the atonement and the grace of Jesus Christ,” you’re right to understand Adam as a representative human being — that interpretational move is fundamental to both OT and NT thought. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • I would love to hear you comment on this concept of Hell; everything I’ve read is that sadly, most will go there; as most reject Christ, and without Christ atonement on their behalf, all men are guilty of sin, sin is death, and separation from God – the final judgement.

  3. Because of the cross-referencing in Scripture, both forwards and backwards, one way to word it is Scripture shows a fractal structure, where one part reflects the whole.

  4. Reading your article brought Romans11:25 to mind. How can you allegorize the story of Adam and Eve? That is the story of mankind and how we fell into sin. All Israel have the wonderful grace of God on her side, so shall we not stop excusing them and call them to repentance and faith in the Messiah do they can be reconciled to God They are partakers in Adam and Eve’s sin also. By one man sin entered the world and death by sin. Romans 5:12

  5. If I may extend the analogy, all things are symbolic of Jesus Christ. The Savior was exiled during his mortal life but will be restored to His throne during His millennial reign on this earth.

    Thanks for the great article and insights.

  6. I am surprised that you are interpreting the story of Adam as an allegory. Adam snow Eve were our first parrrents and al Israel are there descendants. Does Romans’ 1:25 have anything to do with this poor rendition of thee inspired scripture? That is not Jewish interpretation of the Bible, issIt MrCSchaser?

    • Amos, reading Adam as a representative of Israel says nothing about the historicity of his story. I don’t argue that Adam is an “allegory”; he is an “archetype” who foreshadows Israel’s later story. Per the above article, *the Scriptures themselves* present Israel’s experiences as echoing those of Adam and Eve (e.g., Jer 2:7). More, the rabbis noted that the experiences of Adam mirrored those of the nation, and they carefully juxtaposed verses from Scripture to show how this works (see Genesis Rabbah 19:9). The Adam-as-Israel paradigm is well-known in both the ancient Jewish world and the modern academic world.

  7. I just want to say how much I enjoy your sharing the insight on God’s
    word. Although, I have read Genesis many times, I never saw the connection. I love how you show the fall and exile of man represents the fall and exile of Israel. It just opens up the scripture and causes one to say,” oh now I understand, why didn’t I see that before. Thank you.

    • I’m very glad to hear that, Cynthia. It’s amazing how many times we (myself included) can read a given passage and miss an aspect that really deepens the theological message and our experience in Scripture. I really appreciate you reading our articles and taking the time to bless us with your kind words.

  8. The truth about Adam (red) and Eve is not to be found in a play on terms etc but that they were the first humans as a reality and fact and not as an idea or some sort of evolutionary mumbo jumbo. Jesus thought they were real as does Paul. How the liberals or unbelievers try to change the word Adam to human or man.

  9. The “Israel as Adam paradigm” is nonsense. Why do academics argue any such suggestion? This is ludicrous. After all…. Israel rejected that Jesus would walk among his people and rejected that they would prefer the commandments to that proposition. Moses presented that argument. I fully defend the proposition of Moses.

    • The Jewish response to Jesus has nothing to do with content of the above article. It is not “academics” who make these suggestions, but the *biblical writers themselves* — as noted in the article, Jeremiah *explicitly* draws upon Adam’s experience in Eden, and his subsequent exile, in order to describe Israel coming into their land and then being exiled. If you have an issue with the Israel-as-Adam paradigm, then you have an issue with the writers of Scripture, not with “academics.”

  10. Hi Dr. Schaser. I recently, after an absence of around 30 years (and at age 52!) gave my life to the Lord again. With so much ground to make up I an grateful to have come across this platform, a blessing in no uncertain terms! I am an academic and appreciate the scientific method and logical reasoning patterns that lends credibility to the articles (and comments) I have read thus far!! May your blessing (and those behind the scenes) in service of Almighty Father be many!

    • Thanks very much, Riaan! I’m glad that you’re finding our articles beneficial. It’s also wonderful to hear about your renewed commitment. Do keep your eye on the IBC website, as we are constantly coming out with new material that we hope will be edifying for you.

  11. Thank you Dr Schaser for making the Scriptures accessible to my understanding, the entrance of God’s Word is sure wonderful beyond measure, I feel renewed every time I read your articles.

    Peace
    Kolitsoe

  12. I Heard some of the scholars saying that Adam was created on the 3rd day and was placed in the garden on the 6 th day.

    Is this correct

    • Thanks for your question. No, Adam was not created on the third day. The only information we have about the days of creation comes from Genesis 1, in which “humanity” (adam; אדם) — both male and female — is created on the sixth day (see Gen 1:26-31). Genesis 2 describes human residence in the Garden of Eden, but does not specify any particular days.

  13. Is it not possible that Israel is the centre of the earth and Jerusalem is the place where Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground? Is this not why God brought Abraham back to this place and why Yeshua was both crucified and resurrected there?

    • Thanks for your questions, Kevin. There’s rabbinic discussion about Jerusalem as the center of the earth and its importance as the holiest of all cities, so you’re in good company on that point 🙂

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