Eva, by Hendrik Goltzius
Eve (Hebrew: חַוָּה, Classical Hebrew: Ḥawwāh, Modern Israeli Hebrew: Khavah, Arabic: حواء, Syriac: ܚܘܐ, Tigrinya: ሕይዋን? or Hiywan) is a figure in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible. She is also mentioned, though not by name, in the Quran.
According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, she is the first woman created by God (Yahweh, the god of Israel). Her husband was Adam, from whose rib God created her to be his companion. She succumbs to the serpent's temptation via the suggestion that to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would improve on the way God had made her, and that she would not die, and she, believing the lie of the serpent rather than the earlier instruction from God, shares the fruit with Adam. As a result, the first humans are expelled from the Garden of Eden and are cursed.
- 1 Name and origin
- 2 Genesis narrative
- 3 Religious views
- 4 See also
- 5 Footnotes
- 6 References
Name and origin
In the Bible, Eve (Hawwa'; Ge'ez: ሕይዋን or Hiywan, "living one" or "source of life", related to ḥāyâ, "to live"; Greek: Εὕα or heúā, ultimately from the Semitic root ḥyw;) is Adam's wife. Her name occurs only four times; the first being Genesis 3:20: "And Adam called his wife's name Ḥawwāh; because she was the mother of all living." In Vulgate she appears as "Hava" in the Old Testament, but "Eva" in the New Testament. The name may actually be derived from that of the Hurrian Goddess Kheba, who was shown in the Amarna Letters to be worshipped in Jerusalem during the Late Bronze Age. It has been suggested that the name Kheba may derive from Kubau, a woman who reigned as the first king of the Third Dynasty of Kish Another name, Asherah, in the first millennium BCE was Chawat, or Hawwah in Aramaic (Eve in English).
Though Eve is not a saint's name, the traditional name day of Adam and Eve has been celebrated on December 24 since the Middle Ages in many European countries, e.g. Germany, Hungary, Scandinavia, Estonia, Lithuania.
Eve is the first woman mentioned in the Bible. Here it was Adam who gave her the name Eve. Eve lived with Adam in the Garden of Eden during the time which Adam was described as having walked with God.
- "And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man"
After her creation, Adam names his companion Woman, "because she was taken out of Man." "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
Eve is also mentioned in the Book of Tobit (viii, 8; Sept., viii, 6) where it is simply affirmed that she was given to Adam as a helper.
Controversy regarding the "rib" continues to the present day, regarding the Sumerian and the original Hebrew words for rib. The common translation, for example, that of the King James Version, is that אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו means "one of his ribs". The contrary position is that the term צלע or ṣelaʿ, occurring forty-one times in the Tanakh, is most often translated as "side" in general. "Rib" is, however, the etymologically primary meaning of the term, which is from a root ṣ-l-ʿ meaning "bend", a cognate to the Assyrian ṣêlu meaning "rib". Also God took "one" (ʾeḫad) of Adam's ṣelaʿ, suggesting an individual rib. The Septuagint has μίαν τῶν πλευρῶν αὐτοῦ, with ἡ πλευρά choosing a Greek term that, like the Hebrew ṣelaʿ, may mean either "rib", or, in the plural, "side [of a man or animal]" in general. The specification "one of the πλευρά" thus closely imitates the Hebrew text. The Aramaic form of the word is עלע or ʿalaʿ, which appears, also in the meaning "rib", in Daniel 7:5.
An old story of the rib was told by Rabbi Joshua:
- "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."
An egalitarian view was shared by English exegetic Matthew Henry:
- "[T]he woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved."
An alternate tradition, originating in a Jewish book called The Alphabet of Ben-Sira which entered Europe from the East in the 6th century AD suggests that Lilith, not Eve, was Adam's first wife, created at the same time and from the same dust. The tradition goes that Lilith, claiming to be created equal, refused to sleep or serve "under him" (Adam). When Adam tried to force her into the "inferior" position, she flew away from Eden into the air, where she copulated with demons, conceiving hundreds more each day. God sent three angels after her, who threatened to kill her brood if she refused to return to Adam. But she did refuse. So God made Eve from Adam's rib to be his "second wife."
Some, for instance Samuel Noah Kramer, hold that the origin of this motif is the Sumerian myth in which the goddess Ninhursag created a beautiful garden full of lush vegetation and fruit trees, called Edinu, in Dilmun, the Sumerian earthly Paradise, a place which the Sumerians believed to exist to the east of their own land, beyond the sea. Ninhursag charged Enki, her lover and half brother, with controlling the wild animals and tending the garden, but Enki became curious about the garden, and his assistant, Adapa, selected seven plants (8 in some version) and offered them to Enki, who ate them. This enraged Ninhursag, and she caused Enki to fall ill. Enki felt pain in his rib, which is a pun in Sumerian, as the word "ti" means both "rib" and "life". The other gods persuaded Ninhursag to relent. Ninhursag then created a new goddess (7 or 8 to heal his 7 or 8 ailing organs, including his rib) named Ninti, (a name composed of "Nin", or "lady", and "ti", and which can be translated as both "Lady of Living" and "Lady of the Rib"), to cure Enki. Neither Ninhursag nor Ninti are exact parallels of Eve, since both differ from the character. However, given that the pun with rib is present only in Sumerian, linguistic criticism places the Sumerian account as the more ancient and therefore, a possible narrative influence on the Judeo-Christian story of creation.
Temptation, fall, and expulsion
The serpent tells the woman that she will not die if she eats the fruit of the tree: "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." So the woman eats, and gives to the man who also eats. "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." The man and woman hide themselves from God, the man blaming the woman for giving him the fruit, and the woman blaming the serpent. God curses the serpent, "upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life;" the woman he punishes with childbirth (and the pain therein), and with subordination to man: "and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee;" and Adam he punishes with a life of toil: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." The man names his wife Eve, "because she was the mother of all living."
"Behold," says God, "the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." God expels the couple from Eden, "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever;" the gate of Eden is sealed by cherubim and a flaming sword "to keep the way of the tree of life."
Mother of humanity
According to the Bible, for her share in the transgression, Eve (and womankind after her) is sentenced to a life of sorrow and travail in childbirth, and to be under the power of her husband. While believers accept that all subsequent humans have Eve as an ancestor, she is believed to be unique in that although all people after her were physically created from women, Eve herself was created from a man. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel (or Habel), the first a tiller of the ground, the second a keeper of sheep. After the death of Abel, Eve gave birth to a third son, Seth (or Sheth), from whom Noah (and thus the whole of modern humanity) is descended. According to the Bible, Eve states "God hath given me [literally, "put" or "appointed", in Hebrew "shāth"] another seed, for Abel whom Cain slew" (Genesis 4:25).
Even in ancient times, the presence of two distinct accounts was noted, and regarded with some curiosity. The first account says male and female [God] created them (Genesis 1:27), which has been assumed by critical scholars to imply simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve from Adam's rib because Adam was lonely (Genesis 2:18 ff.). Thus to resolve this apparent discrepancy, some medieval rabbis suggested that Eve and the woman of the first account were two separate individuals, Eve and Lilith.
Another Jewish tradition, also used to explain the "male and female He created them" line, is that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite (Midrash Rabbah - Genesis VIII:1), and in this way was bodily and spiritually male and female. He later decided that "it is not good for [Adam] to be alone," and created the separate beings of Adam and Eve, thus creating the idea of two people joining together to achieve a union of the two separate spirits.
Only three of Adam's children (Cain, Abel, and Seth) are explicitly named in Genesis, although it does state that there were other sons and daughters as well (Genesis 5:4). In Jubilees, two daughters are named — Azûrâ, first, and Awân, who was born after Seth, Cain, Abel, nine other sons, and Azûrâ. Jubilees goes on to state that Cain later married Awân and Seth married Azûrâ, thus, accounting for their descendants. However, 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.
Other pseudepigrapha give further details of their life outside of Eden, in particular, the Life of Adam and Eve (also known as the Apocalypse of Moses) consists entirely of a description of their life outside Eden.
According to traditional Jewish belief, Eve is buried in the Cave of Machpelah.
In Christian tradition, Eve is often used as the exemplar of sexual temptation, a tendency not found in Judaism, where Lilith plays that role. Furthermore, the serpent that tempted Eve was interpreted within most Christian traditions to have been Satan, although there is no mention of this identification in the Torah. In fact, Genesis does not even hint at any of these readings. While such ideas are found in some of the Jewish apocrypha, their adoption by many Christians but not by modern Judaism marked the radical split between the two religions. Writings dealing with this subject are extant in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Armenian and Arabic. They go back undoubtedly to a Jewish basis, but in some of the forms in which they appear at present they are Christianized throughout. The oldest and for the most part Jewish portion of this literature is called Primary Adam Literature (see Life of Adam and Eve). Before discussing Primary Adam Literature it is useful to mention other members of this literature, which, though derivable ultimately from Jewish sources, are Christian in their present form; The Book of Adam and Eve, also called the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan and a Syriac work entitled Cave of Treasures. This work has close affinities to the Conflict, but is said by Dillmann to be more original.
Drawing upon the statement in II Cor., xi, 3, where reference is made to Eve's deception by the serpent, and in I Tim., ii, 13-4, where the Apostle enjoins submission and silence upon women, arguing that "Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression", because Eve had tempted Adam to eat of the fatal fruit, some early Fathers of the Church held her and all subsequent women to be the first sinners, and especially responsible for the Fall because of the sin of Eve. She was also called "the lance of the demon", "the road of iniquity" "the sting of the scorpion", "a daughter of falsehood, the sentinel of Hell", "the enemy of peace" and "of the wild beast, the most dangerous." "You are the devil's gateway," Tertullian told his female listeners in the early 2nd century, and went on to explain that all women were responsible for the death of Christ: "On account of your desert – that is, death – even the Son of God had to die." In this way Eve is compared with the Greco-Roman myth of Pandora who was responsible for bringing evil into the world.
In 1486 the Renaissance Dominicans Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger took this further as one of their justifications in the Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of the Witches"), a central text in three centuries of persecution of "witches". Such "Eve bashing" is much more common in Christianity than in Judaism or Islam, though major differences in the status of women does not seem to have been the result. This is often balanced by the typology of the Madonna, much as "Old Adam" is balanced by Christ — this is even the case in the Malleus whose authors were capable of writing things such as "Justly we may say with Cato of Utica: If the world could be rid of women, we should not be without God in our intercourse. For truly, without the wickedness of women, to say nothing of witchcraft, the world would still remain proof against innumerable dangers", but were aware that a large percentage of those accusing witches were female as well, and they perhaps feared losing their support:
- "There are also others who bring forward yet other reasons, of which preachers should be very careful how they make use. For it is true that in the Old Testament the Scriptures have much that is evil to say about women, and this because of the first temptress, Eve, and her imitators; yet afterwards in the New Testament we find a change of name, as from Eva to Ave (as S. Jerome says), and the whole sin of Eve taken away by the benediction of Mary. Therefore preachers should always say as much praise of them as possible."
It is interesting to note that in pre-industrial times, misogynous authorities were often (such as in The Romance of the Rose feminist debate) just called "The Roman Books", due to the perceived paternalistic attitude of both Pagan & Christian Romans to gender problems.
In another example of "Eve bashing", 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", and as being responsible for Adam's sin, had a deficient soul. However, he accepted the reasoning of the other bishops and did not press his case, for the holy book of the Old Testament tells us that in the beginning, when God created man, "Male and female he created them" and the term used was Adam which means earthly man; he called the woman Eve, yet of both he used the word "man."
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 the dependence of the latter on the former "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh."
Eve too has different roles within Gnosticism. For example she is often seen as the embodiment of the supreme feminine principle, called Barbelo (from Arb-Eloh), barbeloth, or barthenos. As such she is equated with the light-maiden of Sophia (Wisdom), 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). Again, in conventional Christianity, this is a prefigurement of Mary, also sometimes called "the Second Eve". In other Gnostic texts, such as The Hypostasis of the Archons (The Reality of the Rulers), the Pistis Sophia is equated with Eve's daughter, Norea, the wife of Seth.
As a result of such Gnostic beliefs, especially among Marcionites, women were considered equal to men, being revered as prophets, teachers, traveling evangelists, faith healers, priests and even bishops.
Although she is mentioned in the hadith, Eve is not mentioned by name in the Qur'an, she is nevertheless referred to as Adam's spouse, and Islamic tradition refers to her in Arabic as حواء or Hawwāʾ. Mention of Adam's spouse is found 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. Accounts of Adam and Eve in Islamic texts, which include the Quran and the books of Sunnah (Hadith), are similar but different to that of the Torah and Bible.
A similarity in particular, Sura 7:22-23 recounts:
- "By deceit he [Satan] brought them to their fall: when they tasted the tree, their shame became manifest to them and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy?" They said: "Our Lord we have wronged our own souls and if You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall certainly be lost."
However, the Quran does not suggest that God created Eve independently from Adam, as opposed to some beliefs that she was. It is generally believed by Muslims that Eve was created from Adam's rib to be his partner and companion. Surah Al-Nisa 4:1:
- "O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah , through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer."
Another difference is that 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 Adam initiated the eating of the fruit but God simply blames both of them for the transgression as they both ate the fruit.
- "Then Satan whispered to him (Adam); he said, "O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate? And Adam and his wife ate of it, and their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred." (Quran - 20:121-122)
However, there are hadiths, which are contested, saying the Prophet Mohammed (narrated by Abu Hurrairah) 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). The above verses from the Quran (20:121-122) are the reason these accounts are disputed and the authenticity of these hadiths is challenged. As the Quran never blamed Eve for the sin that they both (Adam and Eve) committed together. To condemn all the women in the world for a sin that Eve committed is against a basic Quranic teaching which states that no soul is accountable for the sins of another: Say, is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. (6:164)
The Bahá'í account of Eve is described in Some Answered Questions. `Abdu'l-Bahá describes Eve as a symbol of the soul and as containing divine mysteries. The Bahá'í Faith claims the account of Eve in previous Abrahamic traditions is metaphorical.
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- Translated from the Ethiopic (1882) by Malan. First translated by Dillmann (Das christl. Adambuch des Morgenlandes, 1853), and the Ethiopic book first edited by Trump (Abh. d. Münch. Akad. xv., 1870-1881).
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Eve.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eve.|
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- Norris, Pamela. (1998) "The Story of Eve" (MacMillan Books)
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