Were There 2 Adams?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Metaphysical Man

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth. And God created the man in His form, in the form of Elohim (God of justice) He created him, male and female He created them. And God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and increase, and fill Earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all beasts that creep on earth” (Gen. 1:26-28). 

Here we read of human intelligence and of genders. 

“In His form” refers to intellect, a quality absent in all other earthly creations. Intellect is required for a creature to dominate other creatures, and to also master Earth. God’s plan is that Earth serve man in his pursuit of God’s wisdom. This explains why God brought the animals to Adam, that he would engage in pondering their unique traits and thereby classify (name) them accordingly. God wishes man to ponder the universe’s every corner; each equally reveals God’s wisdom. 

Rabbi Israel Chait taught that when a number of ideas are placed in a single Torah verse, this proximity indicates a close relationship. Here, genders are aligned next to intellect. Perhaps here, “male and female” indicate not the sexual distinction, but the genders’ “psychological” characters. Genders are essential psychological traits that cause attraction and ultimately drive procreation, to “fill Earth.” We later read “And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but no fitting counterpart for man was found” (Gen. 2:20). Adam was psychologically dissatisfied with animals as a mate. When God finally builds Eve from Adam’s body, Adam says, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Ibid 2:23). Man requires identification with his mate, explaining why God created Eve from Adam. Psychological factors were essential for Adam to mate with another, namely Eve. 

Thus, in Bible’s first account of Adam, God prioritizes man’s role as an intelligent being, and as a psychological being. These faculties provide man with the capacities to ponder God’s wisdom and produce more humans to carry on the same. But these faculties are not physical in nature: the tie between these 2 faculties, explaining their proximity in a single verse.

This is the account of the generations of Adam, in the day when God created man, in the likeness of God He created him. Male and female He created them, and He blessed and called their name “Adam” in the day He created them” (Gen. 5:1,2) 

Again we see man’s intelligence and genders associated with the “likeness of God.” Torah’s repetition of intelligence and gender validates the tie between the two. This first account of Adam can be described as “Metaphysical Man.”

Physical Man

We then read another account of man’s creation. This is the same Adam, but now describing his other nature:

God formed the man—dust from the Earth—blowing into his nostrils the breath of life: the man became a living being. God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He fashioned (Gen. 2:7)

And God, Elohim took the man and placed him in Garden of Eden to work it and guard it. And God commanded upon the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for the day you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:15-17).

“Dust from the Earth” and “living” refer not to man’s intelligent, metaphysical faculty (soul), but to man’s tangible physical self as a living being. Here, there is no mention of intelligence or genders. Rather, Bible cites man’s origins from dust, his breathing, his life, and God’s procurement of vegetation for his nourishment. Here, man is described in his physical capacity alone. Thus, a divine command and man’s capacity to sin stems from this physical, instinctual part of man. 

It is worth noting these 2 “placements” of Adam in the garden. The first describes God’s kindness in planting a garden full of all forms of vegetation, making all fruits and vegetables in easy reach. Here, God simply placed man without Adam’s opposition. But in the second placement required God to “take” man: “to appease man to enter” (Rashi). This can be due to man’s need to now “work” the garden. By nature, man sought wisdom alone, but in His wisdom, God saw that a life of only learning and no work leads one to sin (Avos 2:2). Thus, man required some coaxing to engage in labor, removing him from thought. This second account of Adam can be described as “Physical Man.”

Thus, God depicts not two Adams, but Adam’s 2 natures: metaphysical intelligent man, and physical man. Man’s intellectual role is rightfully mentioned first to indicate it is man’s essence and priority. It is man’s intellectual pursuits that define his purpose and his greatest joy. But God made man intentionally dependent on the breath of his nostrils and on sustenance. This directs man to humble himself before whom he depends. He must also humble himself by laboring to procure his basic needs. 

God created man’s metaphysical faculties separate from his physical faculties. This indicates that the soul can exist independent of the body. And in death, this is precisely what occurs; the soul separates from the body and endures eternally. In man’s case, the body has no purpose if man abuses his life chasing animalistic desires alone. Animals exist without a soul, but man cannot, for some reason. Prior to Adam’s human life, God created his soul as an independent entity, and He then joined it with a body that breathed and lives, and required the Garden’s produce. Upon death, coming full circle, the soul once again exists apart from the body, as it once did. 

Eventually, man will end this earthly existence and his soul will live on eternally without a body. He will exist as do angels. But as Torah is for earthly man, God discusses our dual nature, directing us to grasp that our temporary physical natures serve our eternal metaphysical soul. We must not invert this reality and prioritize earthly existence by chasing wealth, fame and pleasure, thereby forfeiting our eternity.

Adam’s dual nature then sets the stage for the following account of God’s command of the forbidden fruit, and of Adam’s disobedience. God’s command causes man’s two opposing natures to battle each other, but it also teaches that Adam possessed the capacity to follow his mind over his emotions, to follow God. Ultimately Adam failed. This story about failure presents God’s design of our dual natures, how our vices operate, how we justify, blame, gain a faculty of remorse, fear mortality, crave immortality, and continue onward.