The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20
Eve – We need a new bible translation. I suggest we call it the “B. B. King Bible.” Why? Because “the thrill is gone.” The relationship between Adam and “Eve” after the Fall is the epitome of B. B. King’s famous song. Not only is the thrill gone, but “you’ll be sorry someday.”
Do you know this story? Be careful how you answer. Remember yesterday? Knowing the story is absorbing its details and implications and making them a living part of your reality. So, let’s take a look at some of the amazing depth in this part of the story. Maybe you’ll discover that the story has a lot more to it than you thought.
First, we must notice, carefully, that Adam names his wife after the Fall. Why is this important? Because naming is not simply providing a descriptive term to an object. To name something is to have power over it. Adam names the animals as a sign of dominion over them. God allows such naming for it is God’s intention that Adam (Man) has dominion. But the woman does not belong in the animal kingdom. She comes from Adam himself. Adam is more than aware of this for he exclaims, “This one is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” At the moment of her creation, Adam knows that she is not like the rest of the creatures of the earth. She is perfect for him because she is just like him. Before the Fall, the woman does not carry this name. She is described by only two words, woman (ishshah – a word that also means female and wife) and ‘ezer (the word that God uses to describe her). There is no sign of dominion in the relationship, not even by naming. If anything, God is the one who designates her status – ‘ezer – a status that has enormous implications for her intended role.
But something happened. The thrill of Adam’s initial exclamation is gone. After the Fall, Adam no longer trusts his ishshah as an ‘ezer. In fact, God simply acknowledges that the trust relationship has been broken. The ‘ezer will continue to desire to fulfill her role, but now dominion enters the picture. Her ish (man, male, husband) will resist her natural proclivity and divinely-ordained function by suppressing her desire. Just as the land resists him, he will resist her. The thrill is gone indeed.
Now that the thrill is gone, dominion rears its ugly head. And the first act of dominion is naming. So, as a sign of power, inequality and resistance, Adam names her. Adam places her beneath him. In the broken world, such has been the case ever since. Furthermore, Adam names her havvah. There are two possible explanations for this unusual name. The first is that the word itself comes from the root hayyah, the verb “to be.” On this ground, Havvah is named for her role as the human conduit of life. Every one born in this world must pass through her. Every bloodline of every person every born finds its way eventually back to this woman, Havvah, the mother of all living. So, just as Adam names the animals according to their essential character, now he names the woman according to her future essential role. Please notice that Adam has removed her from the role of ‘ezer in this naming. There is not a hint of her divinely-ordained role as his protector, provider, nourisher and spiritual confidant. Now she is reduced to a birth-machine. She is on par with the animals, good for propagation.
But there is another possibility, equally illuminating. The Targum Genesis Rabba (20:11 and 22:2) indicates that the word of havvah is involved in a word play with the Aramaic hivya, and hivya is a word that means “snake.” The thrill is really gone, isn’t it? What would it be like to be named according to the biggest mistake of your life? What would your relationship be like to your husband if he called you by a name that reminded you of your failure? Some husbands probably do that even today. It’s tragic. It terrible. But it’s part of the fallen, broken world.
The woman failed to be an ‘ezer. Adam failed to forgive. Both failed God. And both “will be sorry some day.”
Topical Index: Havvah, havya, ‘ezer, Genesis 3:20, snake, mother