We read in Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

I'm not a Hebrew scholar by any means, but what little I do understand is that Adam and Man are the same basic word. It struck me when comparing translations that many read "not good that the man should be alone".

What was God saying? Was it...

  • not good for mankind to be alone.
  • not good for Adam to be alone (if so why isn't it translated thus)
  • not good for this man to be alone (if somehow different)
  • not good for "malekind" (obviously they couldn't make more men without a woman, but as a principle, not good for males to live without relationship of some kind with women)

How does your answer effect our understanding of what was "not good" about it?

  • Technically, it's the latter, but since the same equally applies to both women, as well as children, the best equivalent would probably read It is not good for a person or an individual to be alone.
    – Lucian
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 4:27

2 Answers 2


The Hebrews reads הָֽאָדָ֖ם note the article הָֽ ('the') before אָדָם ('man', 'mankind', 'Adam'). Going back to Gen 1:27 we read:

So God created man ( אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ )in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ( NKJ)

Notice that it is exactly the same term "the man" in both cases (though this is obscured in our English translations), so we read that God created the man, and then we read God saying it is not good that the man should be alone. It could be translated as 'Adam' rather then the man, just as in Gen 2:19 it could be translated as 'the man' or 'man' rather then 'Adam' but that is immaterial to the sense because we are still speaking about the same person. 'The man' is 'Adam'

  • But that sort of puts us in an odd limbo doesn't it? You don't answer how the meaning of "the man" translation is different than mankind, unless you are saying it is the same. So can one say it is not good for all men individually to be alone? Or just not good for mankind as a plural to be just male, that even if not married the presence of women is good. You've answered the translation part but not "what was God saying" or what did he mean. Perhaps I should edit that?
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 17:15
  • 1
    @JoshuaBigbee the definite article rules 'mankind' out besides how could 'mankind' be alone if there is more then one of them? Note also it would make such verses as 2:21 a nonsense (in fact the whole creation of the woman would be nonsense) :) Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 17:48

No, it does not refer to Adam, but to all of mankind, or "the man", essentially it is the same thing.

The verse reads

לֹא טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂה לּוֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ
“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Since there is a prefix (ה=the) to the word אָדָם it clearly reads "the man". If the verse would refer to Adam it would say לֹא טוֹב הֱיוֹת אָדָם לְבַדּוֹ "It is not good for Adam to be alone". It is not correct to say "It is not good for the Adam to be alone", since Adam is a proper noun. It only makes sense if were dealing here with mankind. Thus God is saying "it is not good for the human species to be alone".

This is somewhat similar to the previous answer, but as Jonathan tries to prove his point from the previous verse, i prove it from the verse itself; a solid proof of which he does not seem to be aware of!


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