Genesis 2:20
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals

Is this used in the sense of:

  • option A
    Adam : oh... this one I name it a bird

  • option B
    Adam : oh.... this bird I name it parrot

  • option C
    Adam : oh... this parrot I name it Snowy.

I am sorry, maybe my question is not clear enough as I use the illustration only in the birds category. Actually what I mean is applied to other kind also.

So, the more detailed from my illustration above actually is more something like below :

A. Adam :
oh... this animal I name it a dog - this animal I name it a serpent - this one I name it an insect and that flying one a bird.

B. Adam :
oh.... this dog I name it poodle - and this serpent I name it cobra - this insect I name it cockroach - that bird I name it parrot.

(I abandon the C option).

I wonder if this question will be more fit if directed to the Young Earth Creation group ?

As suddenly I have a new question relative to this verse, so I put it my other question here. But if the moderators don't agree, I will delete this question and open a new topic with this new question.

Are the livestock and the wild animals already in Adam's mind when he named them ?

What I mean is like this....
Adam : I name this livestock pig and I name that livestock cow. I name this wild animal tiger and I name that wild animal serpent.

  • With the edit, I'm not sure what the distinction between A and B is any more. Both narrow down some category: animal (broad category) to {dog,serpent,insect,bird} (narrower category) in A; dog (broad) to poodle (narrower), etc. in B. This is a top-down strategy (going from broad to narrower). It rather seems Hebrews used a bottom-up strategy. For instance, Leviticus 11:3 (NASB) "Whatever divides a hoof, thus making split hoofs, and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat." Thus I would argue that the categorisation goes from animal directly to the most specific category.
    – user2672
    Jan 25, 2018 at 9:17
  • And, of course, what is the most specific category entirely depends on the environment. If in some environment dogs are rare, there is no need to distinguish between all different kinds. On the other hand, if people know that for different kind of snake bites you need different kinds of antidote, it becomes important to distinguish these types of snakes with different names.
    – user2672
    Jan 25, 2018 at 9:19
  • After the edit, it is still the same as before but now (the edited version) is not just the bird, Keelan. It's difficult for me to decide what the verse mean.... is it naming unknown animals ? or is it naming what kind of the known animal ?
    – karma
    Jan 25, 2018 at 16:21
  • As I wrote in my answer, birds and other animals would have been distinguished already. So it would be the assigning of names to individual species. But as I wrote in my comments here, what is considered a species (i.e., what level of precision you use) depends on the environment. So whether you subdivide "dog" or not entirely depends on the environment; we cannot just map our categories to that culture. Also, what names are in use tends to change over time. This is the kind of problems you run into when you take the text too literally.
    – user2672
    Jan 25, 2018 at 16:24
  • You wrote "This is the kind of problems you run into when you take the text too literally" ---> that's why I've been thinking to address the question to the YEC, Keelan.
    – karma
    Jan 25, 2018 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


Not option A, because deciding in which category a beast falls was God's job:

Gen 2:19 ESV: Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.

Also not option C: personal names, in the Ancient Near East, had a certain status and carry an identity. They are not usually given to just anything. I don't know of any example in the Hebrew Bible where a beast is given a personal name.

So, option B remains. It also fits best into context because it is a logical step after the division of land and water animals in verse 19.


In the ancient times, common nouns and attributes were used as proper nouns / names. The name Adam for instance, could have derived from Hebrew אדם ('adam) meaning "to be red", referring to the ruddy colour of human skin, or from Akkadian adamu meaning "to make". According to Genesis in the Old Testament Adam was created from the earth by God (there is a word play on Hebrew אֲדָמָה ('adamah) "earth"). It was only fitting that God entrusted Adam with the charge of naming birds and animals in accordance with the special feature each possessed say, the blackness of crow, the sweet song of cuckoo , the ferociousness of tiger etc etc.

So, name in fact refers to generic name of the bird or animal in question and not the personal name as Pinky or Snowy .

  • 2
    "('adam) meaning "to be red"" Isn't it far more likely that both the Akkadian and the Hebrew come from root sense 'clay'? Because adam is said to be the name of man because God took him from the adamah (ground, clay, earth). Where is Adam linked to 'red'? Jan 24, 2018 at 13:26
  • @SolaGratia Indeed. And for more background on the substance people are made of (`āpār), see Ziony Zevit (2013), What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden?, pp. 80–84 (downloadable from JSTOR).
    – user2672
    Jan 25, 2018 at 9:24
  • I'm sorry I can not understand your last paragraph, Kadalikatt. Do you mean the answer is B ?
    – karma
    Jan 25, 2018 at 16:16

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