HOW MANY CHILDREN DID ADAM AND EVE HAVE?
Anyone who has any familiarity with the Bible will know the story of Cain and Abel. The story of the first ever murder is famous in Judeo-Christian culture. And of course, we are all also aware of the fact the Bible tells us we are all descended from two people – Adam and Eve.
But how do these two stories relate to each other? How can a population of three men and one woman give rise to the 8 billion humans we are today?
Particularly as Abel was murdered and Cain banished to the land of Nod? – Genesis 4:16
Even more confusing is Genesis 4:17 “Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city and he named it after his son, Enoch”.
Who is Cain’s wife? And who are all the people living in the city of Enoch?
We seem to be missing a lot of information here and the answer to the puzzle lies in the question ‘How many children did Adam and Eve have?”.
Genesis 5:3 tells us “When Adam had lived 130 years he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image, and he named him Seth.”
And Genesis 5:4 “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.”
So here we have a partial answer to our mystery. Cain, Abel and Seth are the only children of Adam and Eve named in Genesis – but there are more. How many more we will come to, but this partly explains how the founding human population came about.
There is probably some overlap of the timelines (given Adam’s 930-year lifespan) and so possibly Cain’s mysterious wife was one of Adam and Eve’s other daughters.
But, now, sitting here with our 21st century morals and rose-tinted spectacles, does this not lead us to think that the initial humans were incestuous?
The key word I want you to bear in mind here is “begat”.
A curious linguistic quirk has muddied the water over time.
In the New International Version of the Bible Genesis 5:4 claims that Adam and Eve “had” other sons and daughters.
The King James Version however says that Adam and Eve “begat” sons and daughters.
This is an important difference. We know that Cain, Abel and Seth were born in a natural way as we read that Adam “lay” with Eve and she became pregnant.
In some texts, the word “Begat” has become synonymous with natural birth. But there’s more to it than that.
Let me explain.
The Catholic Mass has a prayer “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.”
“Begotten, not made”
Do we have a clue here as to how some of the early humans came about? Other than Adam and Eve’s direct natural-born children were other human beings “begotten” and raised by Adam and Eve so as to found the human race?
Given this, it is quite possible that Adam and Eve had many hundreds, if not thousands, of children over their 930 years.
Why, after all, did the Lord grant Adam such an unnaturally long life if it wasn’t for the purpose of populating the Earth?
Other Genesis characters such as Enoch (905 years) and Kenan (910 years) also had long lives and, when you think about it, this would have been necessary to keep the human race going as there were so few adults around at the time.
And as many of the people were ‘begotten’ and not directly born of Eve then this would mean they were not incestuous.
This would also explain the mysterious appearance of Cain’s wife in Genesis 4:17.
So, the answer to the question “How many children did Adam and Eve have?” is partly answered in the hundreds if you count the begotten founding fathers of humanity.
However, this answer leaves us a little unsatisfied. It doesn’t feel like a precise enough number to me.
So, let’s have a think about the natural-born children of Eve. Of which there must, of course, been a much smaller number.
For that we must look outside of Genesis.
THE BOOK OF JUBILEES
The Book of Jubilees, also known as Lesser Genesis or Leptogenesis, is a 50-chapter book with 1,341 verses of ancient Jewish religious text that is regarded as canonical by Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews).
It is also known as the Book of Division or Ge’ez: Metsihafe Kufale in Ethiopian.
Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches all view The Book of Jubilees as one of the pseudepigrapha*.
According to the Book of Jubilees, Adam and Eve had nine other sons after their first five children – Cain, Abel, Awan, Seth, and Azura.
Before Cain murdered his brother Abel, Eve gave birth to his daughter Awan.
Years after Abel’s death, the couple had another son again and they named him Seth.
It was also mentioned in this book that Adam and Eve had another daughter named Azura. There were nine other sons whom Eve gave birth to but none of them are named.
Therefore, to include the Book of Jubilee sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, they had 19 children – 14 sons and 5 daughters.
*pseudepigrapha – spurious or pseudonymous writings, especially Jewish writings ascribed to various biblical patriarchs and prophets but composed within approximately 200 years of the birth of Jesus Christ
ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS
Antiquities of the Jews is a 20-volume history of the Jewish people written by Roman historian Flavius Josephus in approximately 93AD.
Flavius Josephus claims that “The number of Adam’s children, as says the old tradition, was 33 sons, and 23 daughters.”
So here we have yet another answer – 56 children.
So, the ancient texts, list a variety of numbers from 3 to 56.
It is not surprising that they are vague as there was no written record at the time of Genesis and, over the course of his 930-year lifespan, even Adam himself may have lost contact with some of his children.
Turning to science, there is surprisingly solid evidence to support the creation story and the story of Adam and Eve.
A DNA study by Dr. Douglas C. Wallace at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia has found that all human beings alive today descend from one female individual.
Was this Eve?
A similar study of the male Y chromosome by Dr. Peter A. Underhill and Dr. Peter J. Oefner of Stanford University has found that all men alive today descend from 10 male individuals.
This suggests that Adam had 10 sons who lived to reproduce and carry on his line.
And, of course, that means his sons would have numbered more than 10. We know, for example, that Abel did not live to have children – so that makes 11. At least.
Applying the same mitochondrial DNA analysis to the female lineage it was found that there are 18 distinct female groups in human history. That is, that all women descended from one of 18 ancient ladies.
So, did Eve have 18 daughters?
So then, what is the answer to our question? How many children did Adam and Eve have?
Science would suggest two things.
Firstly, an “Eve” definitely existed for we are all descended from one female
Secondly, Eve had at least 10 sons and at least 18 daughters.
We will never know for sure of course.
We will have to make our own judgement call on this.
It is a matter of faith.
So what do I believe?
I believe that Adam and Eve had 33 children.
Why do I think that?
Well, science says 28. But you must factor in the eyewitness reports from the ancient Biblical texts and historians, too.
Flavius Josephus says 33 sons and 23 daughters. I have a feeling he made a mistake here and mistook ‘sons’ for ‘children’. After all he was working in a foreign language and several thousand years after the event.
28 is too low as we know for sure that some of Adam and Eve’s children did not live to have children of their own. Abel being the obvious example.
And the number 33 is a matter of faith.
Why? Well, Jesus died on the cross at the age of 33.
And rumor has it that Adam’s grave was under Golgotha – the place where Jesus was crucified. It seems appropriate that these two men were linked in many ways.
Does it not feel right that 33 children of Adam and Eve and 33 years of Jesus’s life link the birth of Judaism and the birth of Christianity.
I like to think so.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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