Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chava or chivya?


Should Chavah have been called Chaya? Here is Gen 3:20:

וַיִּקְרָא הָאָדָם שֵׁם אִשְׁתּוֹ, חַוָּה: כִּי הִוא הָיְתָה, אֵם כָּל-חָי

Robert Alter notes that Chavah is similar to chivya, the Aramaic for serpent, and wonders if Chava'a name might contain an allusion to an old Mesopotamian myth in which a giant primordial serpent is imagined to be the progenitor of all things, or, in other words, the אֵם כָּל-חָי.

The Zohar also notes this similarity and speculates that Adam gave his wife a name connected to her sin, but does not explain how Adam knew Aramaic back in the early days when all the world spoke Biblical Hebrew.

[Image: Adam, Eve, and the (female) serpent at the entrance to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.]

1 comment:

reaperofthefield said...

Hello. Great blog. Would you please give the citation for
the Zohar's discussion of Adam naming his wife Chava. Thanks.