The Generations of Adam and Eve

From Genesis we know that God created Adam, then Eve and they were the progenators of all generations following them. What can we learn about the generations of Adam and Eve? Genesis 3:19 tells us that Eve is the mother of all, and thus we can conclude that Adam, her husband was the physical father to all generations.

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” — Genesis 3:19

Several questions come to my mind as I study the first five chapters of the Book of Genesis.

  • How long did Adam and Eve dwell in the Garden of Eden?
  • How old were Cain and Abel at the time of Abel’s murder? (Genesis 4:8)
  • Who were those that Cain feared would slay him? (Genesis 4:14)
  • Where did Cain’s wife come from? (Genesis 4:17)
  • How did people live those extremely long lives?

The Early Generations

The answer to the first two questions is hinted at in Genesis 5:3. “Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth…” Genesis 4:25 indicates that Seth was born after the death of Abel. “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew…” It would be through Seth that the seed of the woman would descend: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, King David, and ultimately Jesus Christ, (c.f. Genesis 3:15).

From Genesis 5:3, we see that Adam and Eve were 130 years old when Seth was born and, so obviously, Cain was less than 130 years old. We can also infer that Adam and Eve dwelt in the Garden for less than 130 years. We generally assume that Cain was the firstborn son and that Abel was the second, but is that necessarily inferred from the reading of Genesis 4:1-2? It is possible, but I think unlikely, that Cain had older brothers and sisters.

It is also possible that Cain and Abel were twins. The Bible never says that Adam “knew” his wife between mentioning the births of each son. Or, they could have been born a year apart. It is also possible that there were brothers and sisters born between the birth of Cain and the birth of Abel.

Let’s do a little bit of speculation here based upon what we already know to be true: the age of Adam when Seth was born was 130. If Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden after only one year, and then Cain was born the next year, then his birth date would have been roughly in year 2, thus making him 128 years old when Seth was born.

In those 128 years, Cain found a wife, and the Earth’s population had grown considerably. Where did all the people come from? If Eve had one child per year, half boys and half girls, by the time of Seth she would have born 129 children.

And if each daughter would reach child-bearing age she would be married to one of her brothers they would have started families of their own. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that Cain was 19 years old when he married in year 21 and that he and his sister-wife had one child per year like their parents, by the time year 130 comes around he could have had as many as 109 children.

If Abel had also married at age 19, in the year 22 and his wife gave birth at the same rate, then he could have had as many as 107 children by the time of his death in year 130. If every 2 years after that another set of sibling-spouses began having one child per year, then the population of generations one and two, Adam and Eve’s children and grandchildren, would have been 1,000 by the year 130.

That is only counting generations one and two. Generations three, four, and five likely had already begun by this time. How many great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, etc. did Adam and Eve by at this time? Also keep in mind, that after Seth, Adam continued having sons and daughters for the next 800 years.

The math escapes me here. I think the population could have easily been somewhere between 3 and 5 thousand individuals by year 130. This number would explain why Cain feared being a stranger and vagabond on the earth and that people would seek to harm him.

The Later Generations

Another thing that comes to mind is that in those early years, brothers and sisters were marrying and having children together. In our time, in virtually every society, this sibling-spouse relationship is very much taboo. The practice of even cousins marrying is taboo in the USA today, yet it is still practiced in many places around the world. The reason for the taboos against near relations marrying is Biblically based upon the prohibitions against it in Leviticus 18 and 20. But this prohibition did not come until at least 2,500 years after creation.

The taboos are in place also for practical reasons, because birth defects are much more common with these near-relation relationships. This happens because, after more than 6,000 years since Adam and Eve were created in absolute perfection, the human genetic profile has become more and more corrupted by the processes of genetic mutation. Generation One, though, (Cain, Abel, Seth, etc.), came from the union of two genetically perfect human beings. They passed their perfectly created genetic material down to their children, which then passed it down to their children and grandchildren respectively. 

It is similar to what happens when you make a copy, of a copy, of a copy on a Xerox machine. You will notice that each copy becomes progressively more blurry than its predecessor. The same is true with genetic material that is passed down from one generation to the next. There will be a slight degradation from one generation to the next, and so on. This would also explain why we do not live extremely long lives like Adam or Methuselah.

These are just a few of the questions that came to my mind in reading these earliest accounts of the human family. I hope that I have answered these questions logically and that this article can at least help you to answer any critics of the Biblical narrative that you may encounter!

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” — 1 Peter 3:15

by Jack W. McNiel
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