The mistranslation and misinterpretation stem from a lack of understanding combined with a lack of common sense. Are we to accept that even though Adam and Eve were married, that Eve had no name, and Adam had to name her? Are we to accept that this supposed first human woman, who had disobeyed and upset God, is now the "mother of all the living"? As mentioned before, why would Adam need to go around naming things?
Certainly, all of these assertions are false, the worst of which is the idea of a literal Eve, who disobeyed God, is now "the mother of all the living."
The reality is that this story in Genesis is an allegorical parable. It is not a description of the first humans on earth. There are a number of obvious signs of this. For example, have we ever seen a "tree of knowledge of good and evil" or a "tree of life" on earth? Have we ever seen a talking serpent?
No, because this story is an allegorical discussion. It is an ancient parable handed down through the ages by ancient spiritual teachers who were describing, heavy with symbolism, our fall from the spiritual dimension to the physical world. We have described much of the meaning of this symbolism in this commentary.
Now let's get to the heart of the meaning of this particular verse above, utilizing the original Hebrew:
The first part of the verse, אדם ('adam), is translated to "Adam," but as described previously, Adam represents each of us individually. אדם ('adam) is also used to address mankind.
The Hebrew word, קרא (qara') is being translated to "called," but it's original meaning relates to the calling out or reciting of God's name. This is confirmed in the lexicon:
to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim
1) to call, cry, utter a loud sound
2) to call unto, cry (for help), call (with name of God)
Calling out or reciting God's Holy Name is an ancient practice, as we'll discuss more below.
The Hebrew, אשה ('ishshah) is being translated to "his wife's", but the actual meaning of the word relates to the feminine. It is indicating a feminine aspect.
The Hebrew word שם (shem) is being translated to "name" here, but its actual meaning, is much deeper, confirmed by the lexicon. While "name" is one possible translation, the word more relates to "reputation, fame, glory", and more importantly, "the Name (as designation of God)" according to the lexicon. Thus we find that translating this word to "name" is a very shallow interpretation of the word. Rather, the word, together with the rest of the phrase, is an invocation to glorify God's Holy Name.
Furthermore, this invocation is being made, as mentioned above, with regard to God's feminine aspect - His feminine expansion, which is, indeed, "the mother of all the living." This is being communicated with the Name, חוה (Chavvah), which means, literally, "life" or "living."
The next word, אם ('em) is a reference to the word "mother" because God's expansive powers are the mother of all living beings. God maintains both masculine and feminine characteristics. His masculine aspect is His Original Self. His feminine aspects include His creative and expansive powers, which in turn produce His separated parts and parcels, the living beings - each of us, in other words.
The Hebrew word חי (chay) has been correctly translated to "the living" here.
The Hebrew word כל (kol) indicates "all" as in "every" living being. We certainly cannot accept that someone who was supposedly created from Adam's rib is now the "the mother of all the living." This is a contradiction, because if Eve is "the mother of all the living" then why did God have to create her and how come Adam (who was also living) was created before her?
As we can see, this verse has been entirely misconstrued and mistranslated by those who firstly, did not understand what was being communicated, and secondly, only portrayed a narrow perspective of God because they had no deeper understanding of God.
Rather, this ancient and reverent verse is glorifying God and His Holy Name. It is glorifying the female aspect of God - namely, God's expansive and creative element - the source of the creation of the living beings - each of us, in other words.
The glorification of God's Holy Names has been a tenet of the ancient Hebrews for thousands of years. We can see a glimpse of this in the following Biblical verses:
At that time men [of the earth] began to call on the Name of the LORD. (Genesis 4:26)
From there he [Abraham] went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the Name of the LORD. (Genesis 12:8)
...and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the Name of the LORD. (Genesis 13:4)
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the Name of the LORD, the Eternal God. (Genesis 21:33)
Isaac built an altar there and called on the Name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well. (Genesis 26:25)
"You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his Name." (Exodus 20:7)
"You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his Name." (Deuteronomy 5:11)
"...he may minister in the Name of the LORD his God like all his fellow Levites who serve there in the presence of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 18:7)
"If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:22)
"The priests, the sons of Levi, shall step forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the Name of the LORD and to decide all cases of dispute and assault." (Deuteronomy 21:5)
"Then all the peoples on earth will see that You are called by the Name of the LORD, and they will revere You." (Deuteronomy 28:10)
"I will proclaim the Name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!" (Deuteronomy 32:3)
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." (1 Samuel 17:45)
Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the Name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'" Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. (1 Samuel 20:42)
He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the Name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. (2 Samuel 6:2)
After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the Name of the LORD Almighty. (2 Samuel 6:18)
The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD. (1 Kings 3:2)
"You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the LORD his God until the LORD put his enemies under his feet." (1 Kings 5:3)
"I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God, as the LORD told my father David, when He said, 'Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.'" (1 Kings 5:5)
"My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel." (1 Kings 8:17)
"The LORD has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel." (1 Kings 8:20)
When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the Name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. (1 Kings 10:1)
Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the Name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire — He is God." Then all the people said, "What you say is good." (1 Kings 18:24)
With the stones he built an altar in the Name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. (1 Kings 18:32)
The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the Name of the LORD ?" (1 Kings 22:16)
He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the Name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. (2 Kings 2:24)
But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the Name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy." (2 Kings 5:11)
"Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked." (Jeremiah 20:13)
After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the Name of the LORD. (1 Chronicles 16:2)
So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the Name of the LORD. (1 Chronicles 21:19)
David said to Solomon: "My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God." (1 Chronicles 22:7)
"Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD." (1 Chronicles 22:19)
Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself. (2 Chronicles 2:1)
"Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God and to dedicate it to Him for burning fragrant incense before Him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on Sabbaths and New Moons and at the appointed feasts of the LORD our God. This is a lasting ordinance for Israel." (2 Chronicles 2:4)
"My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel." (2 Chronicles 6:7)
"The LORD has kept the promise he made. I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel." (2 Chronicles 6:10)
The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the Name of the LORD ?" (2 Chronicles 18:15)
The other events of Manasseh's reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel. (2 Chronicles 33:18)
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the Name of the LORD be praised." (Job 1:21)
"I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the Name of the LORD Most High." (Psalm 7:17)
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:7)
"The nations will revere the Name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory." (Psalm 102:15)
"So the Name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem." (Psalm 102:21)
"Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the Name of the LORD." (Psalm 113:1)
"Let the Name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore." (Psalm 113:2)
"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the Name of the LORD is to be praised." (Psalm 113:3)
"Then I called on the Name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!" (Psalm 116:4)
"I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the LORD." (Psalm 116:13)
"I will sacrifice a thank offering to You and call on the Name of the LORD." (Psalm 116:17)
"That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the Name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel." (Psalm 122:4)
"Our help is in the Name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 124:8)
"May those who pass by not say, "The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we bless you in the Name of the LORD." (Psalm 129:8)
"Praise the LORD. Praise the Name of the LORD; praise Him, you servants of the LORD" (Psalm 135:1)
"Let them praise the Name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created." (Psalm 148:5)
"Let them praise the Name of the LORD, for His Name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens." (Psalm 148:13)
"The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)
"At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers — the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 18:7)
"Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; exalt the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea." (Isaiah 24:15)
"Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the Name of the LORD and rely on his God." (Isaiah 50:10)
"And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve Him, to love the Name of the LORD, and to worship Him..." (Isaiah 56:6)
"From the west, men will revere the Name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory." (Isaiah 59:19)
"At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the Name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts." (Jeremiah 3:17)
Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, "This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the Name of the LORD our God." (Jeremiah 26:16)
Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the Name of the LORD (Jeremiah 26:20)
"You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the Name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed." (Joel 2:26)
"And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved" (Joel 2:32)
"...we will walk in the Name of the LORD our God for ever and ever." (Micah 4:5)
"He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the Name of the LORD his God." (Micah 5:4)
"Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the Name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder." (Zephaniah 3:9)
"But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the Name of the LORD." (Zephaniah 3:12)
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew 21:9)
"'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' " (Matthew 23:39)
"Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!" (Mark 11:9)
"'Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.' " (Luke 13:35)
"Blessed is the king who comes in the Name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38)
"Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!" (John 12:13)
"And everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved." (Acts 2:21)
So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the Name of the Lord. (Acts 9:28)
"Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who confesses the Name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." " (2 Timothy 2:19)
"Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord." (James 5:10)
"Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)
We can see that while the translations of the books of the Bible, and the subsequent teachings of the ecclesiastical Christian organizations which began with the Roman Catholic Church, the practice of the reciting and praising of God's Holy Names has been virtually ignored. This is because these organizations do not seek to glorify God. They seek to gain followers, and therewith, power and authority.
And what is the result of this perceived authority? Materialism. Lucrative salaries to the various professional preachers and church leaders. Posh offices and headquarters, extravagant living quarters, limousines, popemobiles, and lots of respect. In some cases, we can add the abuse of innocent children.
The desire of these organizational leaders has been power. They do not desire to glorify God, as the teachers of the Bible, including Abraham, David, Samuel, Moses, Joshua, Job, Noah, Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus, and his disciples sought to do. They simply want us to join their churches, pay our alms, believe that we are saved, and go home so they can enjoy the prosperity of our joining their "religion."
This strategy was cemented by the Roman government, as they developed the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church, and together with that, the translations of the Biblical texts that fit their teachings. The other sects followed with little change in structure and overall hierarchy, with teachers who are elected as though representing God was a democratic process.
But they could not completely erase God and the teachings of His messengers from the Biblical texts. God would not permit that. Thus some of the Hebrew is simply too obvious to translate otherwise (such as the verses quoted above).
With this in mind, we put forth a more appropriate translation of this verse of Genesis 3:20:
Glory to God's Holy Name in the feminine aspect, because God's creative energy is the Mother of the living.
Or, if one wanted to maintain the parable story line, then this translation could also be applied:
Adam glorified God's Holy Name in the feminine aspect, because God's creative energy is the Mother of the living.