First Human or First King? The Introduction of Adam in the Eden Narrative

We often think of the story of Adam as the start of the human race, but the story might actually better serve to highlight Adam’s kingship as a precursor to Jesus.

What do you think about this interpretation?

Contrived and grammatico-historic I’m afraid ‘aitch. And well within the unexamined territory of Jesus’ epistemology.

Thought provoking. I think that he did well to bring out the headship and first founder aspect–which is an ANE concept, as Lamoureux says. One wandering thought came to my mind–did the Hebrews also think of Adam and Eve as the first of multiple independently, specially created people (thus, the cities)? The Genesis story would still not be concordant, but perhaps they thought of God planting Adam and Eve in the garden as representative king and queen, and the others simultaneously specially created, just like the animals.

It would still fit in the original sin archetype, as the ANE would punish all of a given house whose leader sinned. (such as Achan and Korah, as I recall). It’s a retributive motif that doesn’t jive with me. However, this paper has made me think (I need to finish reading it thoroughly; these are impressions).


[I am a stage nasty Brit. Hollywood used to abound with the type.]

This all seems contrived for what agenda I’m not sure, but I like Randy’s point about ANE G-god/s righteous violence.

What’s it made you think Randy?

I think it’s plain wrong. Start with this:

“There are several features of the Adam narrative that readers tend to overlook or to dismiss too quickly when reading it through the “original couple” paradigm. For example, one important clue that this is not an “original couple” story is the fact that it makes several references to other human populations already sharing the world with Adam!”

The text of Genesis makes no reference to “other human populations.” Asking “Who did Cain marry?” or “Who was Cain afraid of?” is not exegesis. As Hans Maudeme correctly noted in his review of GAE, “The idea of people outside the garden is only plausible if one interprets Scripture atomistically, focusing on ambiguities in the text… (The) thesis about others outside the garden rests on a thin exegetical reed and presupposes that not all humans descend from Adam.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is also problematic:

“Even if Augustine’s hunch is correct and those other people groups were Cain’s siblings, it remains profoundly telling that the author of Genesis never bothered to draw out that connection. Telling us where all humans came from is not the burden of the text. Unless we presuppose that Adam was the father of all humans …”

The author of Genesis doesn’t draw out a lot of connections. Hebrew narrative is incredibly spare, and this story is no exception. And unless my reading skills have entirely failed me in my dotage, the creation and fall of the first humans is exactly the burden of the text. We don’t have to “presuppose” that Adam was the father of all humans. The Scripture explicitly says, “Ha’adam (the man) named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20). If ha’adam’s wife is the mother of all living, what does that make her husband? The text makes that obvious; it’s not a presupposition imported into the text. The “burden of the text” in Genesis 1 is creation, culminating with the creation of adam/humanity. The “burden of the text” in Genesis 2 also is clearly the creation of the man and the woman.

On Adam as king, LeFebvre says, “The focus of the text is on Adam as humanity’s first (and until Jesus, only) universal king.” If this is the focus of the text, the author of Genesis missed the boat. (Or should I say “ark”?) The focus of the text is clearly on the man and the woman’s creation (Gen. 2) and fall (Gen. 3). The focus of Gen. 4 also is clearly not “Who did Cain marry?” or “Who was Cain afraid of?” The focus of the text is the consequences of the fall – Cain murdered Abel. The cycle of bloodshed and violence has begun. Any references to ha’adam as king or priest are implicit, not explicit. By that, I mean the garden’s “architecture” and ha’adam’s role as “farmer” may imply that he is a king, but those metaphors form the subtext of the story; they provide thickness and depth to the narrative, but they certainly don’t dominate it and shouldn’t be called the “focus” of the tale.

To me, the main points of Genesis 1, 2-3, and 4 are obvious. Whether the man was a king or a priest is a secondary consideration. But, if you want my opinion, Genesis 1:26-28 establish all of humanity – both male and female – as the image of God, the “Great King.” Genesis 2-3, on the other hand, establish the first humans as priests in God’s temple. Thus, taken together, humanity was created to serve as kings and priests, just as Christ was both king and high priest. (Heb. 2:17 – For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.)

I’ve carried on too long, but for anyone interested in ha’adam as priest in Gen. 2-3, G.K. Beale has an excellent essay making that case available here.

Okay. Just for the sake of completeness, since following a link and reading an entire article are a lot to ask, here’s my summary of Beale’s case:

(Edit: I was a little “overcomplete” with my summary last night, so here’s a shorter version.)

The same Hebrew verbal form (hithpael) used for God’s “walking back and forth” in the Garden (Gen 3:8), also describes God’s presence in the tabernacle (Lev 26:12; Deut 23:14; 2 Sam 7:6-7; Ezek 28:14).

Genesis 2:15 says God placed Adam in the Garden “to cultivate it and to keep it.” The two Hebrew words for “cultivate and keep” (respectively, ʿāḇaḏ and šāmar) are usually translated “serve and guard.” This most often refers to priests who “serve” God in the temple and “guard” the temple from unclean things entering it (Num 3:7-8; 8:25-26; 18:5-6; 1 Chron 23:32; Ezek 44:14).

When Adam fails to guard the temple by sinning and letting in an unclean serpent, Adam loses his priestly role, and the two cherubim take over the responsibility of “guarding” the Garden temple. Their role became memorialized in Israel’s later temple in the angelic figures on either side of the “ark of the covenant” in the “Holy of Holies.”

Third, the “tree of life” itself was probably the model for the lampstand placed directly outside the “Holy of Holies” in Israel’s temple.

Fourth, Israel’s later temple had wood carvings which gave it a garden-like atmosphere and likely were intentional reflections of Eden.

Fifth, just as the entrance to Israel’s later temple was to face east and be on a mountain (Zion, Exod 15:17), and just as the end-time temple of Ezekiel was to face east (Ezek 40:6) and be on a mountain (Ezek 40:2; 43:12), so the entrance to Eden faced east (Gen 3:24) and was situated on a mountain (Ezek 28:14, 16).

Sixth, the ark in the Holy of Holies, which contained the Law (that led to wisdom), echoes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (that also led to wisdom). The touching of both the ark and this tree resulted in death.

Seventh, just as a river flowed out from Eden (Gen 2:10), the eschatological temple in both Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Revelation 21:1-2 have rivers flowing out from their center.

Eighth, like Israel’s later temple, the Garden of Eden may be discerned to be part of a tripartite sacred structure. … Therefore, in the same manner that ancient palaces were adjoined by gardens, “Eden is the source of the waters and [is the palatial] residence of God, and the garden adjoins God’s residence.” Similarly, in the end-time temple of Revelation 22:1-2 there is portrayed “a river of the water of life … coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” and flowing into a garden-like grove, which has been modeled on the first paradise in Genesis 2, as has been much of Ezekiel’s portrayal.

Eden, the area where the source of water is located, may be comparable to the inner sanctuary of Israel’s later temple and the adjoining Garden to the Holy Place. … I would add to this that the land and seas outside the Garden were roughly equivalent to the outer court of Israel’s subsequent temple, which is, indeed, symbolic of the land and seas throughout the entire earth.

Therefore, the outermost region surrounding the garden is God’s creation (= the outer court); the garden itself is a sacred space separate from the outer world (= the Holy Place), where God’s priestly servant worships; Eden is where God dwells (= the Holy of Holies) as the source of both physical and spiritual life (symbolized by the waters). (My emphasis.)

Well, I’ve noticed that some others in this thread didn’t care for it, lol. But I liked it.

My friend, is there not a similar motif with Christ our Lord? We didn’t perform the saving work on the cross–He did.

Hello, friend!

This is a very good point!

I think you’re right that the subtext of the story cannot be considered the “focus” of the tale. This is a fair point. Still, it’s very important for having a fuller understanding of what the Scriptures are saying.

Agreed. This reminds me of the parallel between the temptation of Adam and Eve and the temptation of Christ by Satan. In both, God’s words are twisted in a manner to trick, and both involve an attempt to create disobedience in the tempted. This parallel is a strong illustration of how Jesus, the Last Adam, succeeded for humanity where the First Adam failed.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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