Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Adam (Hebrew: אָדָם‎, ʼĀḏām, "dust; man; mankind"; Arabic: آدم‎, ʼĀdam) and Eve (Hebrew: חַוָּה‎, Ḥawwā, "living one") were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews. Adam and Eve ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, causing their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.


Genesis narratives

Man and woman

"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner." - Genesis 2:18[1]

The ambiguous meanings embedded throughout the moral, sexual, and spiritual terms of the narrative, reflect the complexity of the human condition."[2] The language of sexuality and gender distinction is not used explicitly until the woman is created in Genesis 2:22-24. Before the creation of woman, Adam is in a sense not yet specifically male. Therefore, 'Adam could be seen as both an individual and a collective human.[3] The connection of men and women is thus affirmed, by the making of the woman from the part of the man.[2:21-22] The man expresses this connection in a jubilant poem: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, ( 'ishshah )[4] for out of Man ( 'iysh )[5] this one was taken."[2:23] The names "man" ( 'iysh ) and "woman" ( 'ishshah ) are considered a wordplay. The man’s affirmation of the woman corresponds to Genesis 1:31,[6] "God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good." Where individual elements of creation were "good", the whole is very good, perfectly corresponding to God's intention.[7] The man "clings to his wife, and they become one flesh"[2:24] alludes to the sexual union of the two, reflecting the connection God created between men and women. Their unashamed nakedness[2:25] indicates their uncivilized status.[8]

Fall of Man

The Serpent, "slyer than every beast of the field," tempts the woman to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, telling her that it will make her more like God, and that it will not lead to death. After some thought about the fruit's beauty and succulence, and its ability to grant wisdom, the woman decides to eat it. She then gives the fruit to the man, who eats also, "and the eyes of the two of them were opened." Aware now of their nakedness, they make coverings of fig leaves, and hide from the sight of God. God asks them what they have done, and man and woman defer responsibility. The man blames the woman for giving him the fruit, but implies a sentiment that God is also at fault for making the woman in the first place ("The woman Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate"), while the woman blames the serpent for seducing her to disobedience ("The serpent beguiled me and I ate"). God curses the Serpent "above all animals," causing it to lose its legs and to become an eternal enemy of the human race. God then passes judgment for the disobedience of the man and woman, condemning the man to sustain life through hard labor and the woman to create new life through painful childbirth, and banishes them from the garden. The woman is given the name Eve (Heb. hawwah) "because she was the mother of all living [Heb. hay]," and Adam receives his name when the text drops the definite article from the word for "the man," changing "ha-adam" to "Adam". Eve/woman is also established as subordinate to Adam/man, ending utopian unity between the sexes. God then posts two cherubim, with flaming swords, at the entrance to the Garden of Eden in order to block the way to the Tree of Life, "lest he put out his hand .. and eat, and live forever."


Genesis 4 tells of the birth of Cain and Abel, Adam & Eve's first children, while Genesis 5 gives Adam's genealogy past that. Adam & Eve are listed as having three children named Cain, Abel and Seth, then "other sons and daughters" (Genesis 5:4, NIV). Adam lived for 930 years and Eve lived for 929 years.

Textual notes

  • "Let us make man..." (Genesis 1:26) - The plural "us" (and "our" in the phrase "in our image") is used. Recent scholarship is that it reflects the common Middle Eastern view of a supreme god (referred to in Genesis 1 by the generic noun "Elohim", god, which is itself in a plural form, rather than by his personal name of YHWH) surrounded by a divine court, the Sons of God (Heb. bene elohim).[9] Early Christian thinkers interpreted the plural "us" as evidence for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
  • "man" (Genesis 1:26-27) - Though the word for "man" is in the singular, when in the text a pronoun is used, it is rendered by the plural "them", indicating that the word is used generically to cover "man and woman", and that a rendition of "mankind" or "human beings" is not out of place.[9]
  • " our image" (Genesis 1:26-27) - The phrase image of God has had many interpretations, although something more than the simply anthropomorphic seems intended. Elsewhere in the ancient Near East kings were called the "image of god", symbolising their rule by divine appointment: the phrase may therefore indicate that mankind is God's regent on earth.[9]
  • "...a living being" (Genesis 2:7) - God breathes into the man's nostrils and he becomes nefesh hayya. The earlier translation of this phrase as "living soul" is now recognised as incorrect: "nefesh" signifies something like the English word "being", in the sense of a corporeal body capable of life; the concept of a "soul" in our sense did not exist in Hebrew thought until around the 2nd century BC, when the idea of a bodily resurrection gained popularity.[9]
  • "...tree of knowledge of good and evil..." (Genesis 2:9) - The tree imparts knowledge of tov wa-ra, "good and bad". The traditional translation is "good and evil", but tov wa-ra is a fixed expression denoting "everything," rather than a moral concept.[9]
  • " shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17) - Adam is told that if he eats of the forbidden tree the consequence will be moth tamuth, "die a death", indicating not merely death but emphatically so. As Adam does not in fact die immediately on eating the fruit, some exegetes have argued that it means "you shall die eventually," so that Adam and Eve would have had immortality in the Garden, but lost it by eating the forbidden fruit. However, the grammar does not support this reading, nor does the narrative: Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden lest they eat of the second tree, the tree of life, and gain immortality. (Genesis 3:22)[9] Another explanation is that Adam will undergo "a spiritual death". The 2nd century Book of Jubilees (4:29–31) explained that "one day" is equivalent to a thousand years and thus Adam died within that same "day";[10] the Greek Septuagint, on the other hand, has "day" translated into the Greek word for a twenty-four hour period.
  • "...a rib..." (Genesis 2:21–24) - Hebrew tsela` or sela can mean side, chamber, rib, or beam. The traditional reading of "rib" has been questioned recently by feminist theologians who suggest it should instead be rendered as "side," supporting the idea that woman is man's equal and not his subordinate.[11] Such a reading shares elements in common with Aristophanes' story of the origin of love and the separation of the sexes in Plato's Symposium.[12]
  • "Eve" (Genesis 3.20) - The Hebrew word for Eve is hawwah, deriving from a word for "life" or "living". "Eve" probably resulted from corruption of the Hebrew phonemes, roughly pronounced CHA-vah, as the stories of the ancient Israelites spread into Greece and Rome.

Later developments

Jewish traditions

The Sibylline Oracles, dating from the centuries immediately around the time of Christ, explain the name Adam as a notaricon composed of the initials of the four directions; anatole (east), dusis (west), arktos (north), and mesembria (south). In the 2nd century, Rabbi Yohanan used the Greek technique of notarichon to explain the name אָדָם as the initials of the words afer, dam, and marah, being dust, blood, and gall.

According to the Torah (Genesis 2:7), Adam was formed from "dust from the earth"; in the Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b) of the first centuries of the Common era he is, more specifically, described as having initially been a golem kneaded from mud.

Even in ancient times, the presence of two distinct accounts of the creation of the first man (or couple) was noted. The first account says male and female [God] created them, implying simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve subsequent to the creation of Adam. The Midrash Rabbah - Genesis VIII:1 reconciled the two by stating that Genesis 1, "male and female He created them", indicates that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite, bodily and spiritually both male and female, before creating the separate beings of Adam and Eve. Other rabbis suggested that Eve and the woman of the first account were two separate individuals, the first being identified as Lilith, a figure elsewhere described as a night demon.

Genesis does not tell for how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, but the 2nd century BC Book of Jubilees, provides more specific information. It states (ch3 v17) that the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit on the 17th day of the 2nd month in the 8th year after Adam's creation. It also states that they were removed from the garden on the new moon of the fourth month of that year (ch3 v33). Other Jewish sources assert that the period involved was less than a day.[citation needed]

According to traditional Jewish belief Adam and Eve are buried in the Cave of Machpelah, in Hebron.


Adam, Eve, and the (female) Serpent (often identified as Lilith) at the entrance to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Medieval Christian art often depicted the Edenic Serpent as a woman, thus both emphasizing the Serpent's seductiveness as well as its relationship to Eve. Several early Church Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea, interpreted the Hebrew "Heva" as not only the name of Eve, but in its aspirated form as "female serpent."

The story of Adam and Eve forms the basis for the Christian doctrine of original sin: "Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned," said Paul of Tarsus in his Epistle to the Romans,[13] although Chapter 3 of Genesis does not use the word "sin" and Genesis 3:24 makes clear that the couple are expelled "lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever". St Augustine of Hippo (354–430), working with a Latin translation of the epistle, understood Paul to have said that Adam's sin was hereditary: "Death passed upon (i.e. spread to) all men because of Adam, [in whom] all sinned".[14] Original sin, the concept that man is born in a condition of sinfulness and must await redemption, thus became a cornerstone of Western Christian theological tradition; the belief is not shared by Judaism or the Orthodox churches,[15] and has been dropped by some post-Reformation churches such as the Congregationalists and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Orthodox, however, do hold to the similar concept of ancestral sin: that is they accept the doctrine that Adam and Eve's sin has affected all humanity, and that human death is an inheritance from Adam caused by the sin, but the doctrine of ancestral sin does not include the notion of an inheiritance of guilt.

Because Eve tempted Adam to eat of the fatal fruit, some early Fathers of the Church held her and all subsequent women to be the first sinners, and especially responsible for the Fall. "You are the devil's gateway," Tertullian told his female listeners in the early 2nd century, and went on to explain that they were responsible for the death of Christ: "On account of your desert (i.e. punishment for sin), that is, death, even the Son of God had to die."[16] In 1486 the Dominicans Kramer and Sprengler used similar tracts in Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of Witches") to justify the persecution of "witches".

Over the centuries, a system of uniquely Christian beliefs has developed from the Adam and Eve story. Baptism has become understood as a washing away of the stain of hereditary sin in many churches, although its original symbolism was apparently rebirth. Additionally, the serpent that tempted Eve was interpreted to have been Satan, or that Satan was using a serpent as a mouthpiece, although there is no mention of this identification in the Torah and it is not held in Judaism. A Christian basis for this identification can be found in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 where Satan is called the "Old Serpent".

Gnostic and Manichaean traditions

Gnostic Christianity discussed Adam and Eve in two known surviving texts, namely the "Apocalypse of Adam" found in the Nag Hammadi documents and the "Testament of Adam". The creation of Adam as Protanthropos, the original man, is the focal concept of these writings.

The Manichean conception of Adam and Eve is pessimistic. According to them, the copulative action of two demons, Adam and Eve were born to further imprison the soul in the material universe.

"Mani said, 'Then Jesus came and spoke to the one who had been born, who was Adam, and … made him fear Eve, showing him how to suppress (desire) for her, and he forbade him to approach her… Then that (male) Archon came back to his daughter, who was Eve, and lustfully had intercourse with her. He engendered with her a son, deformed in shape and possessing a red complexion, and his name was Cain, the Red Man.'"[17]

Another Gnostic tradition held that Adam and Eve were created to help defeat Satan. The serpent, instead of being identified with Satan, is seen as a hero by the Ophites. Still other Gnostics believed that Satan's fall, however, came after the creation of humanity. As in Islamic tradition, this story says that Satan refused to bow to Adam due to pride. Satan said that Adam was inferior to him as he was made of fire, whereas Adam was made of clay. This refusal led to the fall of Satan recorded in works such as the Book of Enoch.

Islamic tradition

Painting from Manafi al-Hayawan (The Useful Animals), depicting Adam and Eve. From Maragheh in Iran, 1294-99.

The Quran tells of Adam (Arabic: آدم‎) in the surah al-Baqara (2):30-39, al-A'raf (7):11-25, al-Hijr (15):26-44, al-Isra (17):61-65, Ta-Ha (20):115-124, and Sad (38):71-85.

Accounts of Adam and Eve in Islamic texts, which include the Quran and the books of Sunnah (Hadith), are similar but different to that of the Torah and Bible.

Eve is referred to by God as Adam's spouse, and Islamic tradition refers to her by an etymologically similar name, Hawwāʾ (Arabic: حواء‎).

Having been created, Adam, the first man, is described as having been given domination over all the lower creatures, which he proceeds to name. As one of the people to whom God is said to have spoken directly, Adam is seen as a prophet in Islam.

Adam and Eve from a copy of the Falnama (Book of Omens) ascribed to Ja´far al-Sadiq, ca. 1550, Safavid dynasty, Iran.

When God orders the angels to bow to Adam one of those present, Satan, the chief of the Djinn, who said "why should I bow to man, I am made of pure fire and he is made of soil", refuses due to his pride, and is summarily banished from the Heavens. Liberal movements within Islam have viewed God's commanding the angels to bow before Adam as an exaltation of humanity, and as a means of supporting human rights, others view it as an act of showing Adam that the biggest enemy of humans on earth will be their ego.[18]

"And We said, 'O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers. But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, "Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time." (Quran - 2:35-36)

"Then Satan whispered to him (Adam); he said, "O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate? And Adam and his wife ate of it, and their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred". (Quran - 20:121-122)

As the above verses indicate (20:121 - 122), Adam initiated the eating of the fruit and that both Adam and Eve (Hawa) ate the forbidden fruit, for which God later forgave them. A Prophetic Hadith recalls that after leaving Eden, they searched for each other, and finally found each other at the Plain of 'Arafat (near Mecca), which means recognition. Al-Qummi records the opinion that Eden was not entirely earthly, and so, having been sent to earth, Adam and Eve first arrived at mountain peaks outside Mecca; Adam on Safa, and Eve on Marwa. In this Islamic tradition, Adam remained weeping for 40 days, until he repented, at which point God rewarded him by sending down the Black Stone, and teaching him the hajj. The Hadith (the prophetic narrations) and literature shed light on the Muslim view of the first couple.

The Qur'an also describes the two sons of Adam (named Qabil and Habil in Islamic tradition) that correspond to Cain and Abel.

The concept of original sin does not exist in Islam and Eve was not to blame for the consumption of the forbidden fruit.[citation needed] Even though Adam initiated the eating of the fruit, God simply blames both of them for the transgression as they both had eaten the fruit. However, there are hadiths– which are contested – saying the Prophet Mohammed (narrated by Abu Hurrairah) designates Eve as the epitome of female betrayal. “Narrated Abu Hurrairah: The Prophet said, ‘Were it not for Bani Israel, meat would not decay; and were it not for Eve, no woman would ever betray her husband.’" (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 611, Volume 55) An identical but more explicit version is found in the second most respected book of prophetic narrations, Sahih Muslim. “Abu Hurrairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (May peace be upon him) as saying: Had it not been for Eve, woman would have never acted unfaithfully towards her husband.” (Hadith 3471, Volume 8). The verses from the Quran in the previous paragraph, (20:121-122) are the reason the authenticity of the Hadiths are challenged. As the Quran never blamed Eve for the sin that they both (Adam and Eve) committed together. To condemn all the women in the world for a sin that Eve committed is against a basic Quranic teaching[citation needed] which states that no soul is accountable for the sins of another, "Say, is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." (Quran - 6:164)

In science

In terms of human genetics, the concept that all humans descended from two historical persons is impossible.[19] Genetic evidence indicates current humans descended from a group of at least ~10,000 people; to account for the observed human genetic variation it would take an impossibly high mutation rate if all humans descended from two individuals.[19] The scientific evidence has caused some religious practitioners to distance themselves from a literal interpretation and belief in the Adam and Eve creation myth.[19] Other practitioners hesitate to abandon what they see as a fundamental religious belief.[19]

Art and literature

Adam and Eve were used by early Renaissance artists as a theme to represent female and male nudes. Later, the nudity was objected to and thus, more modest elements, such as the fig leaf, were added to older pictures and sculptures, covering their genitals. Depicting the fig is as a result of Mediterranean traditions that identified the unnamed Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as a fig tree and according to Genesis, the fig leaves was used to cover Adam and Eve's nudity after their fall.

The concept of Adam and Eve being created, fully grown, has spurred has led to the argument of depicting the first human couple without navels, known as the Omphalos theory. The idea is that they did not develop in a uterus, therfore could not have been connected to an umbilical cord as are all born humans. Paintings have depicted them without navels, however, because it looks unnatural, some artists obscured that area of their bodies. They are sometimes depicted as covering up the lower torso with their hand or some other intervening object.

John Milton's Paradise Lost is a famous 17th-century epic poem written in blank verse which explores the story of Adam and Eve in great detail.

American painter Thomas Cole painted The Garden of Eden (1828), with lavish detail of the first couple living amid waterfalls, vivid plants, and attractive deer.[20]

Mark Twain wrote humorous and satirical diaries of Adam and Eve.[further explanation needed]

Malaysian lyricist, the late Rosli Khamis (Loloq), wrote a song named "Cinta Adam dan Hawa" in 2007. It was sung by pop star Misha Omar. The song tells about human romance is not as great as Adam and Eve.

See also


  1. ^ Oxford annotated NRSV 2007, p. 14
  2. ^ Eerdmans 2000, p. 18-9
  3. ^ Eerdmans 2000, p. 18
  4. '^ Hebrew: אִשָּׁה Trans: ishshah (ish·shä'); "woman", "wife", "female" - Strong's Concordance: H802
  5. '^ Hebrew: אִישׁ Trans: iysh (ēsh); "man", "husband", "servant" - Strong's Concordance: H376
  6. ^ Oxford annotated NRSV 2007, p. 14; footnote 21-23
  7. ^ Oxford annotated NRSV 2007, p. 12; footnote 31
  8. ^ Oxford annotated NRSV 2007, p. 14; footnote 24-25
  9. ^ a b c d e f Harry Orlinski's Notes to the NJPS Torah
  10. ^ Online translation of Jubilees
  11. ^ For the reading "side" in place of traditional "rib", see Mignon R. Jacobs, Gender, Power, and Persuasion: The Genesis Narratives and Contemporary Perspectives, Baker Academic, 2007, p. 37.
  12. ^ Cf. Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, Basic Books, 1983, p. 31.
  13. ^ Romans 5:12
  14. ^ For a brief overview see Robin Lane Fox, "The Unauthorized Version", 1991, pp. 15–27 passim
  15. ^ Orthodox beliefs
  16. ^ Tertullian, "De Cultu Feminarum", Book I Chapter I, Modesty in Apparel Becoming to Women in Memory of the Introduction of Sin Through a Woman (in "The Ante-Nicene Fathers")
  17. ^ Manichaean beliefs
  18. ^ Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Mizan, Lahore: Dar al-Ishraq, 2001
  19. ^ a b c d Barbara Bradley Hagerty (August 9, 2011). "Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve". All Things Considered.  Transcript
  20. ^ Exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas


  • Eerdmans, David Noel Freedman, editor-in-chief ; Allen C. Myers, associate editor ; Astrid B. Beck, managing (2000). Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible ([Nachdr.] ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. p. 18-9. ISBN 9780802824004. 
  • Oxford annotated NRSV, editors, Michael D. Coogan, editor ; Marc Z. Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, Pheme Perkins, associate (2007). The new Oxford annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books : New Revised Standard Version (Augm. 3rd ed. ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195288803. 
  • Mahmoud Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters, SUNY: Albany, 1984.
  • R. Patai, The Jewish Alchemists, Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • Fazale Rana and Ross, Hugh, Who Was Adam: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man, 2005, ISBN 1-57683-577-4
  • Sibylline Oracles, III; 24–6. This Greek acrostic also appears in 2 Enoch 30:13.
  • David Rohl, Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation, 1998
  • Bryan Sykes, The Seven Daughters of Eve
  • C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe"
  • Adam Mackie, The Importance of being Adam - Alexo 1997 (only 2000 copies published)
  • Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version, Penguin, 1991 (no ISBN available)
  • Philip C. Almond, 'Adam and Eve in Seventeenth-Century Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 2008)
  • Brian O. Murdoch, The Apocryphal Adam and Eve in Medieval Europe: Vernacular Translations and Adaptations of the Vita Adae et Evae. Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-956414-9.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Adam-and-Eve — Puttyroot Put ty*root , n. (Bot.) An American orchidaceous plant ({Aplectrum hyemale}) which flowers in early summer. Its slender naked rootstock produces each year a solid corm, filled with exceedingly glutinous matter, which sends up later a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Adam and Eve — Verb. Believe. Cockney rhyming slang. E.g. I don t Adam and Eve it, it s not true! …   English slang and colloquialisms

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