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Foundations: Adam Names the Created World


We commonly call creative people “right-brained.” But recent scientific research actually reveals that creativity does not belong only to the right or left hemispheres of the brain, but rather to intense interaction between the two sides. That is, when the two sides of the brain can be stimulated to exchange information or work together, creativity is enhanced.

Given the Genesis account of God as creator, and given that human beings were made in His image, it’s no surprise to find human creativity at work in today’s reading. And this first recorded human creative activity is done with language—Adam named the animals. God had already given Adam a job—to tend the Garden of Eden (v. 15), and a rule—not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (v. 17). Then God brought to Adam all the animals “to see what he would name them” (v. 19). This surprising phrase suggests that God delights in linguistic creativity. Though we do not know what language he used, when Adam named the beasts and the birds, he was following his Maker’s example from Genesis 1. It was perhaps his first official act in obedience to the “creation mandate.”

Naming the animals was also part of a search for a “suitable helper” (v. 20). The word “suitable” has also been translated “fit” (ESV) or “comparable” (NKJV). In all the world, however, no such partner could be found. This led to God’s special creation of the first woman, Eve, from one of Adam’s ribs. Humanity is set apart from the rest of nature because we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Adam called her “woman,” the climax to this naming narrative and indicating the establishment of the sacred institution of marriage (vv. 23–24).

Apply the Word

Bible names often have significant or contextualized meanings. “Isaiah,” for example, means “the Lord saves.” After her husband and two sons died, Naomi (“pleasant”) changed her name to Mara (“bitter”) upon returning home. What does your name mean? Does it connect with Scripture and spiritual themes? If you’re not sure, do some research to find the answer.

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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