Who Are Eve’s Parents?

This article covers the answer to the question: “Who Are Eve’s Parents?

Biblical records

Main article: Genesis creation narrative

According to the second chapter of Genesis, Eve was created by God (Yahweh) by taking her from the rib of Adam, to be Adam’s companion. She succumbs to the serpent’s temptation to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She shares the fruit with Adam, and as a result, the first humans are expelled from the Garden of Eden. Christian churches differ on how they view both Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God (often called the fall of man), and to the consequences that those actions had on the rest of humanity. Christian and Jewish teachings sometimes hold Adam (the first man) and Eve to a different level of responsibility for the fall, although Islamic teaching holds both equally responsible.

In Genesis 2:18–22, the woman is created to be ezer ki-negdo, a term that is notably difficult to translate, to the man. Ki-negdo means “alongside, opposite, a counterpart to him”, and ezer means active intervention on behalf of the other person. The woman is called ishah, woman, with an explanation that this is because she was taken from ish, meaning “man”; the two words are not in fact connected. Later, after the story of the Garden is complete, she will be given a name, Ḥawwāh (Eve). This means “living” in Hebrew, from a root that can also mean “snake”. A long-standing exegetical tradition holds that the use of a rib from man’s side emphasizes that both man and woman have equal dignity, for woman was created from the same material as man, shaped and given life by the same processes. In fact, the word traditionally translated “rib” in English can also mean side, chamber, or beam. The rib is a pun in Sumerian, as the word “ti” means both “rib” and “life”.

God created Eve from “אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו” (tsela), traditionally translated as “one of his ribs”. The term can mean curve, limp, adversity and side. The traditional reading 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. 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. A recent suggestion, based upon observations that men and women have the same number of ribs, speculates that the bone was the baculum, a small structure found in the penis of many mammals, but not in humans.

Quranic records

In the Qur’anic view of creation, Adam is created first and Eve is created from the same leaven (2:187). This Qur’anic picture reminds us that men and women are both equally humans. They are two entities that complete one another, as the Qur’an presents. The difference between both is based on certain purposes and designs and is not ontological. The Qur’anic verses that give the impression of the superiority of men over women are expressions with regard to certain capacities.

“Do not desire something that God has given more of to someone else other than you. Men have the share of what they have earned, and women have the share of what they have earned. (Envy not one another) but ask Allah of His bounty. Lo! Allah is ever Knower of all things.” (4:32).

The Qur’an reminds us of these differences, and that being from a certain gender should not be seen as a reason for complaint. There is no difference at all as far as human relationships are concerned. Whoever gains, gains for him or her.

Jan Brueghel the Younger (possibly), The Paradise with the Fall of Adam and Eve, c. 1630

Jan Brueghel the Younger (possibly), The Paradise with the Fall of Adam and Eve, c. 1630

Religious views

Judaism

In the first creation narrative (Elohim) account, it says “male and female [Elohim] created them” (Genesis 1:27), which has been interpreted to imply the simultaneous creation of the man and the woman. Whereas the second creation account states that YHWH created Eve from Adam’s rib, because he was lonely (Genesis 2:18 ff.). Thus to resolve this apparent discrepancy, some medieval rabbis suggested that Eve from the second account, and the woman of the Elohim account, were two separate individuals: Eve and Lilith.

Midrash Rabbah Genesis VIII:1 interprets “male and female He created them” to mean that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite. In this way, adam was bodily and spiritually male and female. God later decides that “it is not good for adam to be alone”, and creates the separate beings, Adam and Eve. This promotes the idea of two people joining together to achieve a union of the two separate spirits.

The creation of Eve, according to Rabbi Joshua, is that: “God deliberated from what member He would create woman, and He reasoned with Himself thus: I must not create her from Adam’s head, for she would be a proud person, and hold her head high. If I create her from the eye, then she will wish to pry into all things; if from the ear, she will wish to hear all things; if from the mouth, she will talk much; if from the heart, she will envy people; if from the hand, she will desire to take all things; if from the feet, she will be a gadabout. Therefore I will create her from the member which is hid, that is the rib, which is not even seen when man is naked.”

According to the Midrash of Genesis Rabba and other later sources, either Cain had a twin sister, and Abel had two twin sisters, or Cain had a twin sister named Lebuda, and Abel a twin sister named Qelimath. The traditional Jewish belief is that Eve is buried in the Cave of Machpelah.

The early rabbinic literature contains also traditions which portray Eve in a less positive manner. According to Genesis Rabbah 18:4 Adam quickly realizes that Eve is destined to engage in constant quarrels with him. The first woman also becomes the object of accusations ascribed to Rabbi Joshua of Siknin, according to whom Eve, despite the divine efforts, turned out to be “swelled-headed, coquette, eavesdropper, gossip, prone to jealousy, light-fingered and gadabout” (ibid. 18:2). A similar set of charges appears in Genesis Rabbah 17:8, according to which Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib rather than from the earth makes her inferior to Adam and never satisfied with anything. Finally, the gravest evils attributed to Eve appear in Genesis Rabbah 17:8:

Why does a man go out bareheaded while a woman goes out with her head covered? She is like one who has done wrong and is ashamed of people; therefore she goes out with her head covered. Why do they [the women] walk in front of the corpse [at a funeral]? Because they brought death into the world, they therefore walk in front of the corpse, [as it is written], “For he is borne to the grave … and all men draw after him, as there were innumerable before him” (Job 21:32f). And why was the precept of menstruation (nidah) given to her? Because she shed the blood of Adam [by causing death], therefore was the precept of menstruation given to her. And why was the precept of “dough” (ḥalah) given to her? Because she corrupted Adam, who was the dough of the world, therefore was the precept of dough given to her. And why was the precept of the Sabbath lights (nerot shabat) given to her? Because she extinguished the soul of Adam, therefore was the precept of the Sabbath lights given to her.

In addition to this, the early rabbinic literature contains numerous instances in which Eve is accused of various sexual transgressions. Told in Genesis 3:16 that “your desire shall be for your husband,” she is accused by the Rabbis of having an overdeveloped sexual drive (Genesis Rabbah 20:7) and constantly enticing Adam (ibid. 23:5). However, in terms of textual popularity and dissemination, the motif of Eve copulating with the primeval serpent takes priority over her other sexual transgressions. Despite rather unsettling picturesqueness of this account, it is conveyed in numerous places: Genesis Rabbah 18:6, Sotah 9b, Shabat 145b–146a and 196a, Yevamot 103b and ‘Avodah zarah 22b.[8]

Christianity

Butterfly Effect Apple Adam Eva paradise waves

Apple, Adam and Eva

Some Early Church Fathers interpreted 2 Cor.11:3 and 1 Tim.2:13–14 that the Apostle Paul promoted the silence and submission of women due to Eve’s deception by the serpent, her tempting Adam to eat the fatal fruit, and transgressing by eating of the fruit herself.

Tertullian told his female listeners, in the early 2nd century, that they “are the devil’s gateway”, and went on to explain that all women are responsible for the death of Christ: “On account of your desert – that is, death – even the Son of God had to die.”

Saint Augustine, according to Elaine Pagels, used the sin of Eve to justify his view of humanity as permanently scarred by the Fall, which led to the Catholic doctrine of original sin.

Gregory of Tours reported that in the Council of Macon (585 CE), attended by 43 bishops, one bishop maintained that woman could not be included under the term “man” as she was responsible for Adam’s sin, and had a deficient soul. However, his case was declined, and did not press the issue further.

Eve, in Christian art, is most usually portrayed as the temptress of Adam, and often during the Renaissance, the serpent in the Garden is portrayed as having a woman’s face identical to that of Eve. She was also compared with the Greco-Roman myth of Pandora who was responsible for bringing evil into the world.

Some Christians claim monogamy is implied in the story of Adam and Eve as one woman is created for one man. Eve’s being taken from his side implies not only her secondary role in the conjugal state (1 Corinthians 11:9), but also emphasizes the intimate union between husband and wife, and her dependence on him.

In conventional Christianity, Eve is a prefigurement of Mary, mother of Jesus who is also sometimes called “the Second Eve”.

Gnosticism

In Gnosticism, Eve is often seen as the embodiment of the supreme feminine principle, called Barbelo. She is equated with the light-maiden of Sophia, creator of the word (Logos) of God, the thygater tou photos or simply the Virgin Maiden, Parthenos. In other texts she is equated with Zoe (Life). In other Gnostic texts, such as the Hypostasis of the Archons, the Pistis Sophia is equated with Eve’s daughter, Norea, the wife of Seth.

Islam

Adam’s spouse is mentioned in the Quran in verses 30–39 of Sura 2, verses 11–25 of Sura 7, verses 26–42 of Sura 15, verses 61–65 of Sura 17, verses 50–51 of Sura 18, verses 110–124 of Sura 20 and in verses 71–85 of Sura 38, but the name “Eve” (حواء, Ḥawwā’) is never revealed or used in the Quran. Eve is mentioned by name only in hadith.

Accounts of Adam and Eve in Islamic texts, which include the Quran and the books of Sunnah, are similar but different to that of the Torah and Bible. The Quran relates an account in which God created “one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women” (Surah Al-Nisa 4:1), but there are hadiths that support the creation of woman “from a rib” (Sahih Bukhari 4:55:548, Sahih Bukhari 7:62:114, Sahih Muslim 8:3467, Sahih Muslim 8:3468). Eve is not blamed for enticing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit (nor is there the concept of original sin). On the contrary, the Quran indicates that “they ate of it” and were both to blame for that transgression (Quran 20:121–122).

There are subsequent hadiths (narrated by Abu Hurairah), the authenticity of which is contested, that hold that Muhammad 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).

See also