Five things you may not know about Eve
Posted on homepage: 30 May 2022 (GMT+10)
While the early chapters of Genesis contain many familiar passages, through further study there is often more to be gained. This is one of the beautiful things about the Bible.
Although Eve is referred to by her personal name only four times,1 she is a key to the understanding of biblical history. Her impact on humanity has been huge, but there are a number of facts about Eve that perhaps are not so obvious. Outlined below are five things about Eve which you may not have known before:
1. Eve is not her real name
Adam is called Adam in Hebrew, but Eve is not actually called Eve. In the Garden of Eden, when addressing her husband by name, she would have used ‘Adam’. Whereas Adam would not have referred to her as ‘Eve’, but as ‘Haw-wah’, her name as transliterated from biblical Hebrew. (The opening ‘h’ is a guttural sound, sometimes written as ‘ch’ or ‘kh’.2)
Adam in Hebrew, אָדָם, is transliterated from Hebrew into English as Adam. In other words, the actual Hebrew letters are put into their English equivalent. When Adam named his wife ‘Eve’, the Hebrew word is חַוָּ֑ה. When transliterated today based on the way it is pronounced by modern Hebrew speakers, this is written as Havah or Chavah. (The sound shift of ‘w’ to ‘v’ has occurred in many languages over time.) Havah is linked to the Hebrew word for life. In the New Testament Greek it was translated as Εὔα (Heua), with the ‘u’ pronounced as a ‘v’.
Jerome translated this from Hebrew and Greek in the 4th century AD. It became the most widely used Bible translation in western Christianity for over a thousand years. In the Latin Vulgate, Havah was transliterated quite closely as Hava or Heva in the Old Testament. The opening ‘h’ later became essentially silent in Ecclesiastical Latin. In the New Testament, it was translated from the Greek as Eva. From Eva came the later anglicized version Eve. The name Eve as we pronounce it today would have been unknown to Adam.
2. Eve was not just the mother of boys
Not only was Eve the first woman and wife, but also the first mother. The Bible tells us that Eve had three boys: Cain, Abel, and Seth. It also states (Genesis 5:4) that Adam fathered other sons, and daughters. Adam named his wife Havah (see point 1) as she would be the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20) and so her daughters became the first naturally born women. The classic challenge issued by skeptics—Where did Cain get his wife?—is answered by reading Genesis 5:4. Cain married either his sister, or perhaps a niece (herself the product of brother-sister marriage).
Marrying a close relative was not prohibited until the time of Moses,3 and before this, Old Testament people married close relatives, e.g. Abraham and Sarah were half brother and sister.4 Today, since there has been much more time for harmful mutations to accumulate, close intermarriage carries a big risk of ‘uncovering’ the harmful defects we all now carry. So the prohibition makes good biological sense. But so close to creation, and for many centuries after creation, the risk was negligible.5 Genetics backs up the biblical history concerning Eve. As Eve was the mother of all living, we are not surprised that our genetic makeup shows this. Mitochondrial DNA is passed on through the female line. Studies of mitochondrial DNA from people groups around the world have shown that all women alive today can trace their ancestry back to one woman (called mitochondrial Eve).
3. Eve looked different from historical depictions
Eve’s children would have had belly buttons as they were born naturally, but Eve herself did not have a belly button—nor did Adam—despite the many images that give her one. Eve was supernaturally created by God from Adam’s side. There would have been no umbilical cord attached to leave a belly button (aka navel or umbilicus) scar on her stomach. This directly contradicts any evolutionary idea—that Eve came from some ape-like ancestor—in which she would have been born naturally and left with a navel. Eve would also have had the same number of ribs as Adam, just as people today have the same (12 pairs).6 Adam was just temporarily missing the one God used to form Eve, since amazingly the rib is the only bone in the human body that will grow back if carefully removed, taking between 2–3 months to do so.7
Eve has historically been depicted as a Caucasian (‘white’ skin tone) in Western art. Skin tone depends on a colouring pigment called melanin. How much or how little someone can produce will dictate how dark or light their skin is. Humanity is one race, all members of which descend from Adam and Eve. They were created with the full range of skin tone available from a combination of their genes, which was most likely expressed as mid-brown in themselves.
4. Eve was present for the first mention of the Gospel
Eve remains the first and only woman in history who did not start life with a sinful condition. She was indeed (for a time) the one and only perfect woman.8 Although placed in the Garden of Eden by God, enjoying direct fellowship with Him, and having an abundance of good food to eat, this perfection did not last long. Shortly after creation, Eve spoke with the serpent, and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had expressly forbidden eating the fruit of this tree. She also gave some to Adam to eat. These interactions and the consequences of this disobedience are outlined in Genesis 3, and are commonly referred to as the Fall.
Here we find the introduction of sin into the world, and its main consequence: death. The Fall fundamentally shaped everything else that came after it. But while God outlines the consequences, He also provides hope.
God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). This is referred to as the protoevangelium, or the first mention of the Gospel. Here Eve learns that she will have an offspring (a descendant) who would crush the head of Satan and defeat the Curse.
5. Eve thought she gave birth to the Messiah
Eve mistakenly applies God’s promise to Cain. Genesis 4:1 reads, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of the Lord’”. In Hebrew, Eve literally says, “I have the Man, the Lord”. Looking expectantly forward to God’s promise, her words show that she thinks “the Man” she has just given birth to is the promised redeemer.
However, her hope in Cain was sadly misplaced, and the actual fulfilment of God’s promise came many generations later, in Jesus Christ. Thankfully Jesus really has bruised the serpent’s head. Christ died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, shedding His blood on the Cross, so that the Curse on the ground and Judgment that God had pronounced upon us can be removed for those who believe in Him.
The real first lady
Eve (Havah) really was a lady of firsts, and more could be pointed out. It is always helpful to re-examine even familiar pieces of Scripture, because of the hidden depths and riches God has provided in His written word.
Eve in other Bible translations
The Geneva Bible (1560) was the main English translation of the Bible in the 16th Century. It was also the first English version to add verse numbers. Reformers John Knox and John Calvin were involved in the translation process from the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. In the Geneva Bible, Eve’s real name, Havah, was transliterated into English as Heuah (the ‘u’ being pronounced as a ‘v’). The King James Bible (1611), which took over as the predominantly used Bible in English-speaking countries, translated her name as Eue. It is strange to think that if the Geneva Bible had remained the main English-language Bible, then we might have known Eve as Hevah or Heva today.
In the Septuagint (a Greek Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) Eve (Havah), was not transliterated in Genesis. Instead, in Genesis 3:20, they tried to express the meaning of Havah (life) in the translation, and chose to use the Greek word Zoë (ζωή), meaning life. Some girls today are named Zoe, and the Greek word is also the root of ‘zoology’. But in Genesis 4 vv. 1 and 25, the name Εὔα is used, just as in the NT.
Adapted from Sarfati, J., The Genesis Account, pp. 384–385, 2015.
References and notes
- Genesis 3:20; 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13. Return to text.
- The linguistic term is voiceless velar fricative; roughly the same sound as in the German Bach or Scottish (and German) Loch. Return to text.
- Leviticus 18:6; 20:17, which was more than 2,500 years after creation. Return to text.
- Jacob married two of his first cousins. Return to text.
- The Creation Answers Book, Chapter 8, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs. Return to text.
- With the exception of those few who have supernumerary ribs or agenesis of the ribs. See: Dresden, D., How many ribs do humans have? Men, women, and anatomy, medicalnewstoday.com, 12 Mar 2020. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Regenerating ribs: Adam and that ‘missing’ rib, Creation 21(4):46–47, 1999. Return to text.
- Both authors would like to clarify that their own wives are ‘perfect’ to them. ☺ Return to text