Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 14 December 2013 / 11 Tevet 5774

Adam's Tongue

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman - www.rabbiullman.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

From: Monte

Dear Rabbi,

What language did Adam & Eve speak? Was it Hebrew?

Dear Monte,

We see evidence that Adam spoke Hebrew because he referred to Eve using two words that make sense only in Hebrew. He called her isha (woman) because "she was taken from ish (man)" (Gen. 2:23); and he named her Chava (Eve) because "she was to be Mother of all chai (life)" (3:20).

The very name Adam is from the Hebrew word adamah (earth), referring to the fact that G-d created Adam from the earth. From the time of Adam and Eve until the generation of the Towerof Babel, everyone spoke Hebrew. After that time, G-d "babel-ed" people's speech, which resulted in the emergence of different languages.

Sources:

  • Bereshet 2:23, 3:20
  • Midrash Bereshet Rabbah 38

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