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The origin of Adam’s apple
May 13, 2011
The Biblical story of Adam and Eve describes how God made Adam from the dust of the earth and His own breath. Then using one of Adam’s ribs, He created the first woman. The two lived in the Garden of Eden until Eve succumbed to the serpent’s temptation and ate fruit from the Forbidden Tree. She talked Adam into also tasting this fruit and so, because of this original sin, they were both expelled from the Garden by God.
Nowhere in the Torah, the Koran, or the Bible are we told what kind of fruit grew on that Tree. Yet, somewhere over the years, the forbidden fruit became an apple.
Then an interesting notion took hold — that a piece of that apple got stuck in Adam’s throat and that’s why men have Adam’s apples. Charming though this explanation might be, it’s pure bunk — an old wives’ tale.
Everyone knows an Adam’s apple is that visible bulge in a male throat. It’s defined in Collins Dictionary of Medicine as: “The popular name for the voice box (larynx) at the upper end of the windpipe (trachea). The larynx is larger and more protruberant in men than in women and contains longer vocal cords, which is why men have deeper voices than women.”
Many sources say Adam’s apple is a literal translation of the Hebrew tappuah haadam. However, this phrase appears nowhere in sacred scripture, although in The Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), we do find tappuah, but there it means “apple tree.”
Dr. S. David Sperling, of New York’s Hebrew Union College, has said tappuah haadam is actually a modern term derived from the English Adam’s apple. That is, Adam’s apple came first, not tappuah haadam.
Adam’s apple is no ancient term. It was unknown in English until the 18th century.
The father of the human race lent his name to a couple of other expressions, such as Adam’s ale (water).
If we say we don’t know someone from Adam, we mean we have no clue who that someone might be. This old phrase cannot be dated or sourced.
Some linguists think it’s from a very old argument about whether or not Adam had a navel. Artists like Titian and Michelangelo portrayed both Adam and Eve with navels, but critics have always claimed they couldn’t possibly have had belly buttons because they were created, not born.
In, The Case of the Missing Patriarchs, written by Dr. Lloyd Glendenning for a Sherlock Holmes symposium in 1944, we meet Holmes who dies and arrives in Heaven to discover that no one there has seen Adam or Eve for eons.
Naturally, Sherlock Holmes immediately solves the mystery. Using his fantastic powers of logic and deduction, he finds the two because they’re the only ones in Heaven lacking navels.
Adam is from the Hebrew Adam (red earth). In Biblical and Koranic tradition, it’s the name of the first man. The word adamic means, “like Adam; free, naked, fallen.”
Eve’s name is thought to represent the Hebrew Havvah (life).