Hebrew and Non-Hebrew Names of Genesis
By Jeff A. Benner

In ancient times the name of a person was a word or phrase, taken from their language, charecteristic of that person. As an example the name Adam means "man" in the Semitic language since Adam was the first "man". Eve means "life" becuase Eve is "the mother of all the living" (Genesis 3:20). Below is a list of the names, and their meanings, found from Genesis chapter one to chapter five. Each of these names are of Semitic origin as the words used within the names are Semitic words.

Adam's lineage
to Noah
Adam man
Seth appointed
Enosh mortal
Cainan fixed
Mahaleel praised of God
Jared descend
Enoch teach
Methuselah his death sends
Lamech despair
Noah comfort
Adam's wife and
other children
Eve Life
Cain Strike
Abel Vain
Descendents of
Enoch Teach
Irad Sequestor
Mehjael Smooth of God
Methushael Man of God
Lamech Despair

Lamech's wives
and children
Adah Witness
Zillah Shade
Jabal Stream
Jubal Stream
Tubal Cain Bring a strike
Naamah Beauty
Noah's three
Shem Name
Ham Hot
Japheth Expansion

According to the Biblical account Noah and his three sons and their wives escaped a catastrophic flood in a boat. At some point after the flood, the descendents of Noah began to build the "Tower of Babel". At which time God came down and confused their languages and the "Tower" was abandoned and the people scattered across the land, "each to his own tribe and language". This event occured sometime after the birth of Shem, Ham and Japheth's children. Below is a list of the names of their descendents as found in Genesis chapter ten.

Descendents of
Arphachsad foreign
Asshur success
Aram highland
Elam hidden
Lud foreign
Salah spear
Hul circle
Mash foreign
Uz consult
Gether unknown
Eber flock
Peleg river
Joktan little
Reu friend
Sheleph pull
Jerah moon
Uzal unknown
Obal foreign
Sheba foreign
Havilah circle
Almodad foreign
Hazarmeveth death village
Hadoram foreign
Diklah foreign
Abimael father full
Ophir unknown
Jovav howl
Serug wreath
Nahor snore
Terah unknown
Abram father lifted
Descendents of
Cush foreign
Mitsraim borders
Phut foreign
Canaan humble
Seba foreign
Sabtah foreign
Sabtechah foreign
Ludim foreign
Lehabim flame
Pathrusim foreign
Casluhim foreign
Heth terror
Amorite speaker
Hivite village
Sinite thorn
Zemarite wool
Havilah circle
Raamah thunder
Nimrod foreign
Anahim foreign
Naphtuhim foreign
Sidon fishery
Jebusite trodden
Girgasite unknown
Arkite gnaw
Arvadite refuge
Hamathite wall
Sheba foreign
Havilah circle
Philistim roll
Dedan unknown
Caphtorim circle
Descendents of
Gomer complete
Madai foreign
Tubal foreign
Tiras fearful
Magog unknown
Javan wine
Meshech foreign
Ashkenaz unknown
Riphath foreign
Togarmah foreign
Elishah foreign
Tarshish foreign
Kittim unknown
Dodanim unknown

When we examine all the names of Adams descendents to Noah's children, we find that all of the names are of Semitic origin. From Noah's grandchildren to the time of Abraham we find that the names are Semitic as well as of "foreign" origin indicating a language unrelated to the Semitic language. These names of "foreign" origin begin to appear at about the same time as the construction of the "Tower of Babel" where God confuses their languages.

Since all of the names up to the time of the "Tower of Babel" are of Semitic origin it is most likely that the Semitic language existed from Adam to the "Tower of Babel". It is possible that these names were translated into Semitic names because the writers of these accounts were Semitic, but if this were true, why didn't they translate the other names which are of "foreign" origin?

Based on this evidence it would appear that the Semitic language was the first language of man.