Today I found out why the Adam’s Apple is called the Adam’s Apple.
The origins of this term go all the way back to the Biblical event where Eve gave Adam a forbidden fruit, which is commonly misrepresented as an apple. The term then basically comes from the legend that when he ate of the “apple”, the piece got stuck in his throat and made a lump.
Now, of course, according to the Bible story, it wasn’t an apple Adam and Eve ate of, it was a fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, of which there was apparently only one. Besides the obvious fact that I don’t know anyone who’s felt particularly more knowledgeable in the ways of good and evil when they ate an apple, an apple tree is not self pollinating; so you’d need more than one to have it produce more of itself, which pretty firmly kills the whole “apple tree” theory.
To make the origins of the term even more ridiculous, even if it was an apple and it got stuck in his throat, his children wouldn’t somehow miraculously also have apples stuck in their throats. This is about as absurd as the age old “Well if Adam had a rib taken out to make Eve, why aren’t men missing a rib?” Or the equally ludicrous corresponding claim by many that men are somehow missing a rib. Both sides of the argument seem to have suspended all logic while arguing over this triviality. The real irony here is the “rib” translation was actually a mistranslation. For more on that, see the Bonus Factoids.
So this all begs the question, why do most people think the Bible says Adam and Eve ate an apple to get them tossed out of the Garden of Eden? Why not an orange or a peach or why not just call it like it is stated in the Bible story? Well, Aquila Ponticus, who was a second century translator translating the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek, took the liberty of translating it as an apple tree, even though the original text doesn’t say that. It’s likely that he chose this due to the fact that he was translating it into Greek for Greeks and that in Greek mythology apples were seen as symbols of desire and destruction.
- Why do men have “Adam’s Apples” and women don’t? Well, in fact, some women do have a bump big enough in their throat to be noticeable and thus an “Adam’s Apple”. It’s actually not that terribly uncommon if you were to look close enough to most women’s throats, though “man sized” Adam’s Apples are somewhat rare in women. The “Adam’s Apple” is really just an enlarged larnyx which becomes big enough to be visible in your neck. For those of you who don’t know, the larnyx’s primary purpose is as a voice box. It also has an alternative purpose in aiding in the process of closing off the airways in your throat when you swallow. This is why it generally seems to disappear when you swallow, as it is being pulled upward to aid in this process. Around puberty, both men and women’s voice boxes get bigger. This in turn makes their voices deeper, with men’s larynges growing more than women’s and thus making for a deeper voice, typically.
- On that whole Adam’s “rib” story, despite tradition, it is also a mistranslation when it says Adam had a “rib” taken out to create Eve. The original Hebrew word “צלע” (tsela) comes from the root word of “צלע” (tsala), which means “curve”. So, in the Biblical story, it in essence says God took something from Adam’s “side” or “curve” to make Eve. This is now generally translated as “side” from the “tsela” (which is how they got “rib” in the first place, even though “tsela” is used plenty of other places in the Bible and it never refers to a rib in those instances. Indeed, the one place a rib is mentioned, it is using a completely different Hebrew word). However, going with modern science, many religious scholars are now thinking the “curve” taken from Adam’s body to make Eve would more appropriately be translated as “DNA”, with “curve” obviously referring to the double helix in DNA. Other religious scholars believe that this would be more appropriately translated as God dividing Adam completely in two to make Eve and then “closed up his flesh”; so basically God literally taking one side of Adam and making Eve. This notion is supported by text from Hebrew priests more than 2000 years ago on this issue of what is meant by “side” in this story. It is also important to note that these priests from 2000 years ago used the “side” meaning and not “rib”. Either way, it has pretty firmly been established that the whole “rib” translation was a mistranslation.
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