Did Adam and Eve Have Children Before Cain?
January 3, 2011
In Genesis 3, the Lord delivers the curse on mankind. One of these punishments is for the process of giving birth to be painful.
To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’(Gen. 3:16 NIV)
What is interesting is the language that is used. God says “I will increase your pains.” Think about it, if your boss came to you and said “I am going to increase your workload” there is an implication that you are already doing work. So, if we have an accurate translation here, what God appears to be telling Eve is your birthing pains are going to be worse than they already have been so far. If this is true, this implies that Eve had already had children while in the Garden of Eden! Furthermore, since Cain and Abel are not introduced until the next chapter (see Gen. 4:1-2), this also implies that Cain and Abel are not Eve’s first children.
If this is true, we have another answer to a perplexing question in Genesis. When Cain sins, he says to God,
Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me. (Gen. 4:14 NIV)
Who are these people and where did they come from? It is possible that these people are the children of Adam and Eve that they conceived in the Garden as well as their descendents? Might this also explain why siblings could mate without genetic abnormalities because this was prior to the curse when such things would come into existence?
Another issue that comes up if Adam and Eve had children in the Garden is the length of their sojourn in the Garden. Assuming a normal gestation period, it would appear that Adam and Eve spent a considerable time in the Garden prior to their sin in order for them to conceive and come to full term with one or more pregnancies.
I do not believe that the above is by any means an ironclad proof of the foregoing assertions. The verse can reasonably be interpreted to mean something entirely different. However, it is plausible and does not violate any Biblical principles.
There is another interesting thing to consider. What happened to these pre-fall children when their parent’s sinned? The answer, of course, would have to be that they were stricken with the same curse as Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 then takes on a slightly new meaning, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (NIV) The “all men” would now include people living at that time. Consider verse 14 in the same light. “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command.”
If there is a lesson I take away from this, it is that God’s mind is vast and there is a danger in bringing preconceived notions into reading the Bible. Most of us have always heard that Cain and Abel were the first children. In my mind, this was beyond dispute until a sister recently asked this question about the “increase” in pain. I was very excited to see for the first time a whole new way of looking at things even if I am not sure what exactly I think on the matter.
This year marks the twelfth year of the Thought for the Week. We have endeavored over that time to bring you ideas just like the one above that make you think. If you go away after reading a TFTW thinking about God, Jesus or the Bible, we’ve done what we set out to do. We’ve never asked or even assumed that everyone would agree with what we say. In some cases, like in the above, I am not even sure I am in agreement with what is written. It is just a thought. Go away and meditate on it. Share your thoughts with everyone on the TFTW blog.
We start off each week with “dear friends.” This is a nod to Proverbs 27:17 where it says “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” We can’t have a situation where “iron sharpeneth iron” if we all think exactly the same way and there is no room for differences of opinion. We hope that you have enjoyed reading these thoughts for the past twelve years as much as I have enjoyed hearing from all of my friends. May God bless you in 2011! Keep thinking!
Have a great week,
Thanks to MEK for the great question which inspired this thought.