Questions From Readers
● Did Adam have reddish skin, as his name has been said to suggest?
No one on earth today can say with certainty what Adam’s skin color was. We do know, however, that he was the progenitor of all humans, with all the variety of skin colors that now exist. But why does the idea come up that Adam’s skin may have had a reddish hue?
The Hebrew word adam is translated “Adam.” In addition to being a name, it means and is rendered “man” or “earthling man,” either one man or mankind in general on earth. (Gen. 1:26; 6:7; 7:21; 9:6; 1 Sam. 15:29) The word adam is related to another Hebrew word, adamah, which means “earth” or “ground.” The prevailing view among Hebrew scholars is that both of these words are drawn from the Hebrew adom, which means “red.” The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (1974), in offering a possible reason for deriving “ground” from “red,” suggests that the land may have contained iron and thus had a reddish appearance. Similarly, some authorities who hold that adam (Adam, man) is derived from adom (red) have speculated that Adam may have had reddish-colored skin.
However, note the connection presented in Genesis 2:7: “God proceeded to form the man [adam] out of dust from the ground [adamah] and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man [adam] came to be a living soul.” Is the Bible here discussing the color of the soil or trying to indicate the hue of the first man’s skin? No. The key linkage is between “man” and “ground.” God’s Word was focusing attention on the fact that man was from the ground; he was a groundling or an earthling. All of Adam was from the same source—his skin, his hair, his eyes, his teeth, and so forth. No matter what their texture or color, all of Adam’s body parts were from the same ground. They were not all reddish just because the soil may have been. After Adam sinned, God told him what would happen to him outside the Garden of Eden: “You [will] return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”—Gen. 3:19.
Consequently, Adam’s skin may have been reddish, or it may not have been. Since the basic relationship between adam (Adam, man) and adamah (ground) at Genesis 2:7 stressed that Adam was an earthling, from the ground, his skin color could have been any of the various hues we find today among peoples earth wide.
A fundamental fact that we should not overlook is that all humans have descended from the first man, Adam. All persons—whether their skin is red, olive, brown, black, white or yellow—are equally linked, by descent, with Adam. We are all his children. The Bible says: “[God] made out of one man [Adam] every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) The genetic makeup that God gave to Adam was such that extensive variety could develop among his offspring, variety in their hair color and texture, skin color, body size, facial characteristics, and so forth. It seems that, as a result of geographic isolation and other factors, the particular traits became prominent among closely related peoples that in modern times have been termed the races of mankind. (For details, see Awake! of February 8, 1973, pages 5-7.) Still, we are all Adam’s descendants.
Questions about Adam’s skin color or particular facial or bodily characteristics cannot be settled at this time. Thus, artists’ drawings of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that appear in the publications of the Watch Tower Society are simply efforts to convey the thought of the first two humans in paradise. Similarly, the “last Adam,” Jesus, might be depicted as a Jew, but no human today knows precisely what his appearance was. (1 Cor. 15:45) But, more important than presently undeterminable questions about Adam’s bodily features is why and how Adam lost God’s approval, and what meaning this has for us.—Rom. 5:12.
If we concern ourselves with this important Bible teaching, we can now unite with Christian witnesses of Jehovah of all races who are striving to do the Creator’s will. Neither the nation where a person was born nor the color of his skin determines his gaining the Creator’s approval. As the apostle Peter said: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35.
Persons today who meet His requirements can look forward to living in the earthly paradise that God will soon establish. There they will be able to converse with Adam’s resurrected son Abel and to learn firsthand much about the start of the human family. They will also be able to share in the fulfillment of God’s purpose to have the earth filled with a delightful variety of humans who live in peace and unity and who can serve him forever.