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Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History

A Place In History: Adam and Associates


Daniel's curiosity was answered, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4). The words the Lord had directed Daniel to write were for another age. What those words meant was none of his business. So caution flags should be flying whenever one attempts to interpret or reinterpret Scripture.

The time may not have arrived for the complete meanings to be known. We have more knowledge yet to acquire. But we will continue to gain knowledge, and we must find suitable answers eventually lest we blunder into, or even beyond, the 21st century. Appropriate answers are essential. We are still burdened with Bible interpretations stuck in a time when people thought God created the entire universe only six 24-hour days before He created man.

If we believe the Bible is trustworthy in recording history, however, then Adam and Eve were de facto historical figures, not symbolic representations concocted by Moses or some other source. Establishing Adam's approximate, historical time frame is essential if we are to understand the origins of man fully from the standpoints of what we know historically and anthropologically, as well as from what we are told biblically.

In writing Luke and Acts, the writer, Luke, incorporated small amounts of secular history as well. As a result, readers many centuries removed have minimal trouble determining when the reported events took place. In the beginning of Genesis also, the writer recorded enough peripheral information to give us a fairly accurate historical perspective.

What has impaired Bible interpreters from the start is a propensity to conclude that the Hebrew text somehow designates Adam at the apex of our species. Most New Testament manuscripts (excepting the Vatican and at least three others) position Adam as the first "man" (I Cor. 15:45), but what definition do we apply? Could Adam have been the first hominoid, the first hominid, first of the genus Homo, first of the Homo sapiens, the first Caucasian, or the first of a Near East people from which present-day Jews, Arabs, and some others have derived? Remember, we have only one Adam, and he lived only once.

Trying to establish a date in history where Adam could have started the human race is a futile exercise. Regardless of whether the Australopithicines are in our line of ancestry or not (a subject of debate), placing Adam at the start of the genus Homo would mean that he must have lived over 2 million years ago without removing the possibility that he could have been in the company of remnant Australopithicines. [i] Homo erectus, dating from 1.6 million to 300,000 years ago, had the knowledge of fire and used stone tools. But were they ancestors, descendants, or prototypes? [ii]

Placing Adam at the start of the modern Homo sapiens solves nothing; he would have been overlapped fore and aft by both archaic Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, which appear in the fossil record earlier than modern humans, and were still living 65,000 to 70,000 years after modern humans began. [iii] So it is not feasible that Adam could have been alone in the world from the outset no matter when he appeared, if it was within the last two or three million years.

The Bible is too specific in detailing the culture of Adam's day to allow us to propel him back in time. Also, the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are a prohibitive factor. But even if we could slide Adam back tens of thousands of years so that he could start the Homo sapiens species, or even one of the races, there is no place in the history of hominids where Adam could have commenced his line of descendants in isolation. By all indications, Adam entered a populated world.

Mitochondrial Eve

The "Eve hypothesis" was developed from pioneering work in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) published by Wilson and Sarich in 1987. According to them and other recent researchers, there is evidence that all human beings have descended from one common female genotype who lived in Africa about 200,000 to 100,000 years ago.

In addition to nuclear DNA which contains our individual genetic code, each cell of our body contains mtDNA also. These minuscule structures within each cell generate its energy, and come initially from the egg of the mother. Researchers build ancestral trees by comparing the amount of divergence in the mtDNA code. The data suggests the roots of that genetic tree are in Africa. [iv]

Support for the "out of Africa" genetic model can be derived from the morphological diversity seen among black Africans today. Ancient populations originated in Africa, according to this theory, since a greater amount of time is required to accumulate a larger number of mutations resulting in greater genetic distance between isolated populations.

Contrast the morphological distinctions between Pygmies, Hottentots, and Bantus, for example, with the relatively homogeneous morphology of the various tribes of native Americans. The greater morphological differences correlate with greater genetic distance, and leads to the conclusion that more time stands between surviving populations of black Africans and their common ancestors than between surviving populations of native Americans and their common source. The African populations, therefore, are older and originated earlier.

Researchers at the Natural History Museum in London prefer the "out of Africa" model. It is believed that only there Homo erectus gave rise to modern humans. These spread throughout Europe and Asia, and displaced whatever remnant hominid populations they may have encountered in their migrations.

A number of distinguished paleontologists disagree, and they have published data suggesting a commingling between ancient and more modern peoples. Their evidence supports "regional continuity," they maintain, meaning that local populations of archaic types begat modern types eventually in more than one location.

An analysis of human fossils found in Israel and Africa, when compared with older Homo erectus remains, led researchers to place Homo erectus directly in the line of hominids that culminated in modern man. Science reported:

  • These modern-looking fossils all date to about 100,000 years and appear at the end of a sequence of fossils that stretches back to 400,000 years ago, which seem to show a gradual transition from their Homo erectus-type forebears to early modern humans. [v]

What unity there is among contending parties was summed up:

  • In spite of the contention, all parties can agree on one thing. The proto-human fossil record begins in Africa, with a species now called Homo erectus. After evolving in an African homeland, all concur, Homo erectus migrated to Europe and Asia about 1 million years ago. But after that, comes the Great Divide in paleoanthropology. [vi]

Although two theories are competing for prominence, what has been generally agreed upon by both molecular biologists and paleoanthropologists is that all humans are biologically connected as evidenced by our DNA signatures [vii] (and confirmed in Acts 17:26). When and under what circumstances ancient "Eve" got here is still an open question, or even if there was more than one "Eve."

The temptation among some Bible apologists has been to speculate that Adam lived at a similar early date, say, 100,000 years ago or more, and the origins issue is seemingly resolved. Even if the Bible was accommodating (and it isn't) how would we explain the various precursors predating that point in history? Can they just be swept under the rug?

A Time for Adam

According to Genesis, Adam was the first to have a covenant relationship with the Creator, the first to be accountable, the first to suffer the consequences of sin, and the first in the line of descent leading to the Savior. That does not mean necessarily, however, that Adam was the first biped with an opposable thumb and a cranial capacity of 1300 to 1400 cubic centimeters.

The task of finding some place to inject Adam into human history can be simplified if we let the Bible do the talking. What we find is that the inspired text does not place Adam at the head of our species. References to tents, farming, and raising livestock (Gen. 4:2,20) suggest that Adam was not surrounded by cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers, an occupation of our quite ancient forefathers.

Archaeologists place the beginnings of modern man at 10,000 years ago with the advent of farming techniques. [viii] Adam's placement at roughly 7,000 years ago from the Genesis genealogies, coupled with the mention of farming in the Genesis text, makes this a compatible time frame. This puts Adam in relatively recent history not ancient history.

Tubal-cain worked with "brass and iron" (Gen. 4:22). The Hebrew word for "brass" also means "copper," and copper tools have not been found dated any earlier than 10,000 years ago. Although iron smelting would be out of the question at that early date, there is evidence that bog iron was beaten into rudimentary tools, and iron was known as far back as 4000 BC. [ix] Or what may have looked like iron to the ancients, could have been tin. Copper and tin together make bronze, and the Bronze Age is identifiable in history, starting about 3000 BC. [x]

Stone tools would have been of little use to Noah when he needed to construct a massive watertight ark. Metal tools suitable to build an ark would have been available only if the pre-flood patriarchs lived in the period of what archaeologists call modern man; that is, after 10,000 years ago. The old Stone Age periods may not have passed completely by Adam's day, but human history was certainly into the Bronze Age by the time of Noah. These are only a few of the reasons the first chapters of Genesis cannot be relegated to the distant past.

Knowing that Adam was in the stream of humanity, rather than at the start, precludes his being ancestral to most of us. Of course, a date such as 100,000 years ago for the emergence of modern-looking human beings may undergo revision in the future, but barring any drastic changes, there is no comfortable niche for Adam any time before communicative bipedal creatures of some description had already commenced on planet Earth. What became of them is the real issue.

These creatures either died out, leaving the world devoid of humanity until Adam was created, or else they left progeny which can be seen riding subways, doing stand-up comedy, and raising gifted children today. In other words, they are us. Considering the likelihood that modern man has ancient ancestors, Adam was either nonexistent - a notion the Bible rejects - or else he was inserted, so to speak, into the train of humanity. This latter alternative is the solution we will explore.

A Concerned Cain

Cain's lament in Genesis 4:13-14 weights the issue heavily as to whether Adam had company or not. The covenant family was reduced by 25% when Abel was murdered; only Cain and his parents were left. Cain's first words upon hearing the Lord's punishment and upon God's banishing him from Eden were out of fear that someone would kill him. Is it likely that his immediate worry would have been of being sought after and killed by future unseen and unknown generations from Adam? Cain had a whole world in which to hide.

In a human-free environment, the threat of isolation and being alone in the world would have been a natural fear. Cain might have been concerned about wild animals attacking and eating him, but he did not register any fear about that possibility. His only concern was that someone would end his life just as he had slain his own brother.

God answered Cain's plea by providing a sign for him (Gen. 4:15). Cain's anxieties were justified because the Lord took positive action to quiet his fears. We have no way of knowing what that sign or mark was, but evidently it was necessary. There must have been potentially hostile tribes of men in the vicinity. Cain was aware of it, and the Lord's action attested to his justifiable fear.

Removing the Shackles of Prejudgment

Once we hold up to scrutiny the common misconception that Adam was the first human, and consider the probability that other human beings were already living in Adam's proximity, previous pitfalls in the Genesis narrative disappear. Passages that had obscure meanings now take on dimension.

For example, the "Nephilim" or "giants" (depending on translation) in Genesis 6:4 are now identifiable as prehistoric, or pre-Adamic - not in Adam's line of descendants or ancestry. If we can shed our unwarranted prejudices, admittedly a difficult task, we may then look at Genesis afresh.

Keep in mind, the details in the Genesis narrative are sketchy at best. Paleontologists are not in agreement over the exact course of man's descent due to incomplete fossil evidence of early hominids; and it is still too soon for gene research to give us a definitive picture. Nevertheless, if we cast off the shackles of prejudice, we may be able to examine the Genesis text with a view toward what may not be entirely provable, but is certainly possible, plausible, and, if I may be so bold, indeed probable.

The Image of God

Genesis 1:26,27: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them."

What does it mean to be created in God's image? Humbert raised the possibility that man was given the same "physical outward appearance" as the deity. [xi] Our physical environment requires a certain functionality of our physical bodies, however, that would not be imposed upon a Creator-God.

"The ancient orient shows us with ever increasing clarity that the purpose and function of an image consists in representing someone," according to Edmond Jacob. "An image, that is to say a statue of a god is the real presence of this god ..." '>[xii] In that context, Adam would have been God's representative to the world, or conversely, the world's representative to God, but in either case, an already populated world. In M'Causland's words:

  • Adam then Appears in the majesty of God's likeness, ushered into the world in the fullness of time, to draw his fellow-creatures to the development of the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge in their widest and deepest sense. With other races of human beings surrounding him, he is a more perfect type of the second Adam, than if he had been a solitary individual occupying the wide domain of the habitable earth, without a fellow-creature to behold him a being made in the likeness of the Creator. '>[xiii]

By the phrase, "the image of God," the writer of Genesis may have been alluding to the inner essence of us which is an integral part and yet unseen - our soul, or our spirit. That may not have been an altogether uniquely Adamic feature. Even though Adam was infused with something which gave him a kind of kinship with the deity, we are in the dark with respect to Adam's neighbors.

It should be pointed out that to the Hebrews, body and soul were a single entity, not subdividable into separate components. In our culture, we prefer to differentiate, separating the physical body from the spiritual soul. Whether those living at or before the time of Adam had "souls" capable of salvation, or punishment, is beyond the realm of our present-day understanding or the scope of this inquiry. Let future generations ponder that one.

Who is the "man" in Genesis 1:27? It has been argued that this verse applies to generic man, all Homo sapiens, and not exclusively to Adam and his following generations. But most Bible scholars believe this passage applies solely to Adam and Eve, and their descendants who came under the Adamic covenant.

This is the preferred view, and implied in Genesis 5:1-3:"This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth."

Who was created "in the likeness of God"? The man, Adam, who "lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son," "and called his name Seth." Who were not created "in the likeness of God"? Those who did not live "an hundred and thirty years," and did not "begat a son" called Seth - the indigenous populations.

It is also true that traditionally the majority of Bible scholars have thought all of humanity was created in the image of God because supposedly all of humanity started with Adam. This stand has been taken, however, with a certain nonchalance not only for the fossil record and the genetic evidence, but also without heeding the qualifiers in the Scriptures themselves. Adam was created, and then Eve, but it is unfounded to think ancient precursors are encompassed by Genesis 1:27.

It is significant that there are different Hebrew words for "man" used in the Genesis text, 'adam and 'ish. M'Causland reasons why:

  • The words "Adam" and "ish" are clearly different in meaning; and to use them indiscriminately, as having the same signification, tends obviously to obscure the true import and significance of the Scripture text. Had the translation been literal, the sense of the sacred record would have been more readily discovered, and the reader would recognize at a glance, that the history which he has conceived to be a history of the origin of all mankind, is simply a record of the creation of "the Adam," the last, and not the first of created men, and a history of his lineal descendants. [xiv]

Here are just two examples from Genesis where the "men" in question emanate from Adam:

  • Genesis 6:1: “And it came to pass, when men (‘adam) began to multiply on the face of the earth ...” Also in Genesis 11:5: “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men (‘adam) builded.

We can see numerous examples where the “man” or “men” either are not from Adam, or they are not in a covenant relationship. These are just two:

  • Genesis 12:20: “And Pharaoh commanded his men (‘enowsh) concerning him ...” The same holds true for the residents of Sodom: Genesis 13:13: “But the men (‘enowsh) of Sodom were wicked and sinners ...” The word ‘enowsh means man, mortal man, person, or mankind, and apparently, such men are outside the Adamic line or the line of the covenant.

When two angels were sent to destroy Sodom, they were met by Lot at the city gate. Of course, Angels could not emanate from Adam. When the wicked men of Sodom desired these “men” they inquired of Lot, “Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” The word used for the “men” who were angels in disguise is ‘enowsh.

Adam, as God's chosen, was the first man capable of achieving God's kingdom, and that was passed to his generations until Christ's sacrifice at the cross changed the equation and brought a new covenant. Presumably, any outsiders living at the time of Adam would have been outside the old covenant, and unable to enjoy this unique status, which included the hope of being claimed by God through (1) the Adamic bloodline, (2) the discipline of self righteousness, and (3) the ritual of animal sacrifice.

The beginnings of God-awareness or seeking after God can be substantiated in history by the evidence of religious relics and altars dating as far back as 24,000 years ago, [xv] but there is no evidence that the Creator manifested Himself to any of these forerunners as He did to Adam.

Catal Huyuk in south-central Turkey was excavated in the 1960's. This city was settled as far back as possibly 8300 BC, but by about 5600 BC it was abandoned. [xvi] From analysis of skeletal remains found there, a French expert concluded that two distinct racial types were represented, one European, the other Asian. [xvii] Although many shrines were unearthed at Catal Huyuk, there were no signs of animal sacrifice.

  • ... animal sacrifice apparently was not practiced inside the shrines, as there is no evidence of a slaughtering block or a catchment for the runoff of blood. [xviii]

If animal sacrifice as a covering for sin began with Adam and his descendants after the Fall, then apparently Catal Huyuk was not populated by Adamic or Semitic populations. Also, 5600 BC is far too soon for any Semites and a little too soon for Adamites. Thus, Catal Huyuk must have been a pre-Adamic city, and the residents there were not in "the image of God."

Relevant Time Periods In The Near East And Mesopotamia
Paleolithic 20,000 to 10,000 Years Ago
Natufian 10,000 to 8000 BC
Neolithic 8000 to 5000 BC
Hassuna 6000 to 5250 BC
Samarra, Halaf, Eridu 5500 to 4700 BC
Ubaid 4500 to 3500 BC
Uruk 3500 to 3100 BC
Jemdet Nasr 3100 to 2900 BC
Early Dynastic 2900 to 2370 BC
E. D. I 2900 to 2750 BC
E. D. II 2750 to 2600 BC
E. D. III 2600 to 2370 BC
Sumer and Accad 2500 to 2000 BC
Old Babylonian, Larsa 2000 to 1600 BC
Cassite, early Assyrian 1600 to 911 BC
Assyrian 911 to 612 BC
Neo-Babylonian 625 to 539 BC

As high school students of world history are taught, the Fertile Crescent where civilization began is in the ancient Near East. Identifying the various cultures that have flourished in that region has been done with meticulous care made possible by years of compiling archaeological data. The earliest identifiable people belong to the Neolithic Natufian culture which was spread from Palestine to Syria, and date to about 12,500 to 10,500 years ago, clearly a pre-Adamic date. The oldest city identified with Natufian culture was Jericho. [xix]

Contrasts among Jericho, Catal Huyuk, Jarmo, and Umm Dabaghiyah - all about 6000 BC - suggest a considerable regionalization within widely scattered Neolithic communities of the Near East. [xx]

From the mound of Tell Hassuna in northwestern Iraq, the Hassuna culture takes its name, and dates to 6000 to 5250 BC. Numerous agricultural villages have been unearthed in Iran, Turkey, and Palestine that were contemporaneous with the Hassuna.

The Hassuna, identified by their coarse pottery wares, were replaced gradually by the Samarra culture starting about 5500 BC. At Tell-es Sawaan in Iraq, alabaster female figurines were discovered along with ornaments of turquoise, carnelian, greenstone, and copper. The presence of widely disparate materials in one location indicates trading practices, and that trade routes had been established by that time. [xxi]

Dating to 5500 to 4700 BC, the Halaf culture succeeded, but overlapped the Samarran. Halafian ceramics have been discovered from the Mediterranean coast to Iran, though the Tigris-Euphrates region south of Baghdad may have been uninhabited at this early date.

From similarities in pottery shards and other artifacts, the highly developed Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian civilizations that flourished in the third and second millennium periods can be traced to the late Neolithic villages of around 5500 BC. There is no break that one would expect to see if there had been a catastrophic termination of mankind and a subsequent renewal, something that is popular among "gap" proponents.

The Bible describes Southern Mesopotamia clearly as the place of origin for Adam and his generations. The rivers, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates, the cities of Erech and Ur all point to this region - a region that came to be called "Sumer."

Located four miles from the ancient Sumerian city of Ur is the small archaeological mound of al-'Ubaid. The settlements in Southern Mesopotamia dating from 4500 to 3500 BC are assigned collectively to the Ubaid culture. Whether or not pre-Ubaid sites exist in Southern Mesopotamia is a subject of controversy. Some archaeologists believe that fluctuations in the level of the Persian Gulf may have erased any traces of earlier settlements.

The origin of the Ubaid culture is unknown. The Halafians were flourishing in the north at about the same time Ubaidan farmers began to settle the southern delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The climatic conditions seem unlikely for a garden of Eden until the advancement of irrigation could bring water to the area. Irrigation technology began to be employed during the Ubaid period.

By 3500 BC, the Ubaidans were living in townships from Mesopotamia to Syria to Turkey. The subsequent flood at the time of Noah could have wiped out the Ubaidans, although there is some evidence the Sumerian culture may have derived from the Ubaidan. Broken pieces of pottery show subtle transition from Ubaid ware to Uruk ware. This is more indicative of gradual change through the influence of friendly contact with neighboring cultures, than it is of a foreign invasion and replacement by conquest. Yet some archaeologists prefer the displacement model, and believe the Sumerians were a discrete population.

The purpose of designating these ancient populations as Halafian, Ubaidan, or Sumerian is primarily to place them in time and place context, and need not necessarily imply ethnic differences. The flood must have devastated Southern Mesopotamia leaving behind ruined cities which the next generations of Sumerians could repopulate and build upon. Whether Ubaidan fathers had Sumerian sons is unknown.

When it comes to identifying candidates who may have enjoyed the Tigris and Euphrates region prior to Adam's creation, there are two or three choices depending on the precise date of Adam's arrival. We can select the earlier Halafians, the Ubaidans, or the later Sumerians, although the Ubaidans seem the most likely:

  • About 4500 BC the region was settled by people who came to be called Ubaidans. They in fact settled most of the sites where the great cities of Sumeria [Sumer] were to grow - including Ur (where Wooley found their remains under the silt of the flood). Later they spread up the valley, succeeding the Halafians and becoming the first people to dominate the whole of Mesopotamia. [xxii]

The harsh, arid conditions might have caused the Halafians to make only brief appearances in the south, or maybe they never got there at all. Ubaidan pottery has been found at the lowest levels of excavated cities in Southern Mesopotamia, making them the earliest inhabitants that can be identified as founders of the region, succeeded by the Sumerians. It is likely that Adam and his generations were surrounded from the beginning, or became surrounded by first Ubaidan, and then Sumerian culture.

Irrigating the Garden

Genesis 2:5-6: "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground."

This is a useful passage for demonstrating that Bible interpretations which exclude pertinent extra-biblical data can produce dubious opinions and perplexing conclusions. From this verse, Henry Morris argues for a "vapor canopy" over the early earth, and reasons:

  • In the original world, however, there was no rainfall on the earth. As originally created, the earth's daily water supply came primarily from local evaporation and condensation. [xxiii]

Morris reaches this conclusion based solely on his reading of the biblical text, deducing that rain doesn't come until the flood, notwithstanding that no one has discovered any place in the world where mist or fog oozes naturally out of the ground in sufficient volume to water humans, livestock, and crops. We would also be left to wonder what furnished the rivers in Genesis 2:10-14 with water. Were the Tigris and Euphrates not supplied by snow melt and rainfall as they are today?

In their Commentary On The Old Testament, Keil and Delitzsch explain Genesis 2:5 as follows:

  • The creation of the plants is not alluded to here at all, but simply the planting of the garden in Eden.

They too slide down the slippery slope to a woeful opinion. "This was dependent upon rain," they decide, and conclude that the mist or vapor in Genesis 2:6 was the "creative beginning of the rain itself ..." [xxiv] So even though the Bible states in the previous verse "for the Lord God had not caused it to rain," nevertheless, rain it was, according to this respected Bible commentary.

So which is it, rain or no rain? Will these passages be understood when "knowledge shall be increased," as it says in Daniel? Let's try it, and see. The following is taken from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Archaeology pertaining to ancient Mesopotamia:

  • The culmination of these prehistoric advances is to be found in the `Ubaid period of the sixth and fifth millennia, when the earliest settlements are known from Sumer. This area was characterized by the very great fertility of its alluvial soil and - outside local areas of marsh and lagoon where a specialized fishing, hunting and collecting economy could have been practised - an extremely arid environment that necessitated the use of irrigation for successful agriculture. [xxv]

Could "an extremely arid environment" be described as a place where the "Lord God had not caused it to rain"? Could a "mist from the earth" that "watered the whole face of the ground" refer to a land "that necessitated the use of irrigation for successful agriculture"?

Even before the first cities began to appear on the Mesopotamian plain, sizeable settlements were being supplied by irrigation.

  • The biblical city of Jericho, a center for salt trade, flourished during the seventh millennium BC in the desert near the north end of the Dead Sea. Water diverted from a spring nourished its fields. [xxvi]


    Driver suggests Genesis 2:5-6 is about irrigation:

  • Provision made for the irrigation of the garden. The reference is implicitly to a system of canals, such as existed in Babylonia ... [xxvii]

The Septuagint offers further assistance. In the Greek text, the word is not "mist," but "fountain." The RSV uses "stream." Could part of an irrigation system be called a "fountain"? Could a canal be called a "stream"? At least could we agree that the words fountain and stream better describe a system of irrigation than they do a vapor canopy? It seems "there was not a man to till the ground" for an uncomplicated reason. No one had irrigated the desert soil; thus no plowing had been done, so no crops could be grown.

Mist, the Hebrew ‘ed, derives from the Accadian eduTheological Wordbook of the Old Testament comments on this word as it appears in Genesis 2:6: “Earlier translators did not have access to the ancient cuneiform languages which help to determine the meaning of these difficult words.” And further:

  • The Akkadian edu refers to the annual inundation of Babylon by the Euphrates as well as to irrigation. If Eden was watered by floods and irrigation rather than rain, it may have been located in an area like southern Mesopotamia where it does not rain. Such a location would suggest that the paradisiacal situation was not worldwide but peculiar to Eden’s immediate environs. [xxviii]

Genesis 2:7: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ..." The Hebrew word appearing as "man" in this text is 'adam. Was the "man" formed out of the dust the father of our species, or was it Adam, father of Cain, Abel, and Seth?

Genesis 2:8-10: "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden ..."

It is unlikely that a river, synonymous with "brook" or "creek," is intended. Water falls on the ground, trickles into streams, and flows to rivers, which empty in the sea - the exact opposite of what the verse states. The purpose of irrigation canals is to carry water from the rivers to the ground - precisely what the verse states. Aside from the Euphrates, there were no other "rivers" in Babylon (Psa. 137:1), only canals. Since we are afforded a clear example in Psalm 137 and Ezek. 1:3;3:15,23 where "rivers" means canals, a basis exists to use the same definition in Genesis. In other words, there was a place called Eden, out of which a canal ran eastward to irrigate the garden, where God placed Adam.

We know that Southern Mesopotamia was laced with a canal network, the remains of which can still be seen today as lines in the desert. Obviously canals required people to dig and maintain them. What cries out for attention, though, is this: How could Eden be identified and named as a place distinct from the garden if there was no citizenry?

Take any place - London, England, for example. Was there ever a time when London was unoccupied? Well, yes, but no one could have called it "London" then. The principle is the same concerning Eden. Isaiah speaks of the Lord making the wilderness of Zion "like Eden" (Isa.51:3). Apparently Eden was a place for people, and had to have people before it could be called "Eden."

Locating the Garden

Four rivers are named which fairly delineate the approximate location of Adam's home.

Genesis 2:11-14: "The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush." (Because cush also means "black," translators guessed at "Ethiopia." This is in some translations.) "And the name of the third is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates."

Although one could get the impression that one river separates into four, "and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads" (Gen.2:10), it can also be interpreted that four rivers become one, a confluence of rivers, which better suits the topography of Mesopotamia and the nature of rivers.

  • ... the term "heads" can have nothing to do with streams into which the river breaks up after it leaves Eden, but designates instead four separate branches which have merged within Eden. [xxix]

The fourth river is easiest to identify as the well-known Euphrates, which is joined by the other rivers before emptying into the Persian Gulf. The Hiddekel is the Tigris, the "great river" Daniel stood beside (Dan. 10:4). It originates in the region of Assyria, flowing southeast until it joins the Euphrates at a point east of Assyria, just as stated in the Bible.

M'Causland identifies the Gihon as the "Gyudes" of the ancients, [xxx] the modern Karkheh joined by the Kashkan river in the region of Cush, or Kush, in Eastern Mesopotamia. Today it is called Khuzistan, a province in the southwest corner of Iran.

Driver places Havilah "most probably" in the northeast of Arabia on the west coast of the Persian Gulf: "The gold of Arabia was famed in antiquity." [xxxi] In an article titled, “Has the Garden of Eden been located at last?,” archaeologist Juris Zarins identified an ancient river bed from LANDSAT space photos. Zarins says this:

  • Genesis was written from a Hebrew point of view. It says the Garden was "eastward,' i.e., east of Israel. It is quite specific about the rivers. The Tigris and the Euphrates are easy because they still flow. At the time Genesis was written, the Euphrates must have been the major one because it stands identified by name only and without an explanation about what it "compasseth.' The Pison can be identified from the Biblical reference to the land of Havilah, which is easily located in the Biblical Table of Nations (Genesis 10:7, 25:18) as relating to localities and people within a Mesopotamian‑Arabian framework.

Supporting the Biblical evidence of Havilah are geological evidence on the ground and LANDSAT images from space. These images clearly show a "fossil river,' that once flowed through northern Arabia and through the now dry beds, which modern Saudis and Kuwaitis know as the Wadi Rimah and the Wadi Batin. Furthermore, as the Bible says, this region was rich in bdellium, an aromatic gum resin that can still be found in north Arabia, and gold, which was still mined in the general area in the 1950s. [xxxii]

Farouk El-Baz, a Boston University scientist, studied pebble distributions in Kuwait and was led to the same conclusion, a river once flowed into this country from the Hijaz mountains in Saudi Arabia. He dubbed it the “Kuwait River.” In an article for Biblical Archaeological Review, James A. Sauer associates the Kuwait River with the Pishon:

  • Bible scholars have identified Havilah with the Arabian peninsula because it is rich with bdellium (fragrant resins) and precious stones, but they have been unable to pinpoint the location of the river in this arid region. The recent discovery of the Kuwait river adjacent to the Cradle of Gold, the only Arabian source for such “good gold,” has led James Sauer to suggest that this dry riverbed may be the Pishon. [xxxiii]

Put in perspective, the most ancient cities of Southern Mesopotamia, Eridu and Ur were located less than 90 miles from this junction of rivers, and Eridu was furnished water via canal from the Euphrates.

Enuma Elish, Early Creation Epic

The first post-flood people who can be identified historically as likely descendants of Adam are the Semitic Accadians. Most authors on this subject believe it was an influx of Semites (See note [xxxiv]) from the early third millennium BC that the Sumerians knew as "Martu." [xxxv] The Accadians learned their writing skills from the Sumerians, apparently, and began to record their own versions of history in their own language using the same cuneiform technique.

Enuma Elish is one of the early creation epics written in Accadian or Babylonian cuneiform. It has been compiled from tablets found at Ninevah, Ashur, and Kish. [xxxvi] According to legend, father Ea, second in the early Accadian trinity, begat the heroic Marduk who slays the rebellious Tiamat. (For a shadow of this see Psa. 89:9,10 and Isa. 51:9.) Thereupon:

  • He split her like a shellfish into two parts:
  • Half of her he set up and cield it as sky ... [xxxvii]

The one who "contrived the uprising" was the evil Tiamat's commander-in-chief, Kingu:

  • They bound him, holding him before Ea.
  • They imposed on him his guilt and severed his blood (vessels).
  • Out of his blood they fashioned mankind.
  • He imposed the service and let free the gods.
  • After Ea, the wise, had created mankind,
  • He imposed upon it the service of the gods. [xxxviii]

In this account, the blood of Kingu was used, but in another legend the blood is mixed with clay. [xxxix] Although somewhat gory in describing the mode of their creation, the Accadians also seemed to be aware they were not alone in the world. In Accadian literature, frequent references are made to the "black-headed" people, as in this verse: "May his words endure, not to be forgotten, in the mouth of the black-headed, whom his hands have created." [xl]

The "black-headed" refers to the Sumerians who supplanted the Ubaidans, or conceivably, it could be a reference to some other race of people. But whoever they were, they were not Semites (or Adamites) judging from Accadian poetry:

  • May he shepherd the black-headed ones, his creatures.
  • To the end of days, without forgetting, let them acclaim his ways.
  • May he establish for his fathers the great food-offerings;
  • Their support they shall furnish, shall tend their sanctuaries.
  • May he cause incense to be smelled,...their spells,
  • A likeness on earth of what he has wrought in heaven.
  • May he order the black-headed to re[vere him],
  • May the subjects ever bear in mind their god,
  • And may they at his word pay heed to the goddess.
  • May food-offerings be borne for their gods and goddesses.
  • Without fail let them support their gods!
  • Their lands let them improve, build their shrines,
  • Let the black-headed wait on their gods.
  • As for us, by however many names we pronounce, He is our God! [xli]

The Semitic Accadians evidently considered the "black-headed" a separate people, racially distinct, and polytheistic regarding religion. The light-skinned, dark-haired Sumerians best fit this description, and they spoke an unrelated language. Incidentally, we are speaking of a time long before the tower of Babel incident.

Early Adamite populations must have lived in relative isolation at the beginning since they developed a language entirely unlike the Sumerian language. But by the time the Sumerians had learned to write, some of the earliest names recorded are Semite (or Adamite), demonstrating the close contact between these two cultures very early on.

A Warning

As we all know, Adam encountered some serious trouble. The hope for eternal life does not come entirely without strings attached, but for Adam the commandment was simple.

Genesis 2:17: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

Adam is warned that death awaits if he chooses to ignore God's command. But what manner of death? There are two different ways we could view death in this passage. First, is physical death - a death we can all understand. Did Adam die physically in the "day" that he bit into the forbidden fruit? No, he lived for 930 years. Was Adam designed such that he might have lived eternally had he obeyed? Perhaps not, the tree of life was part of the process somehow.

Physical death has been an integral part of the balance of nature since the first bacteria and blue green algae appeared. Adam must have been able to observe death in some form, or the very meaning of the word would have been ambiguous. We will see from subsequent passages that spiritual death is surely indicated. Possibly, physical death came as a further repercussion.

Animals of the Garden

Genesis 2:19: "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."

The animals of the earth are created before man in Genesis 1:21-27. The reversal of the order in the second chapter of Genesis indicates possibly that the animals in Genesis 2 are a group suited to Adam's garden. Adam conferred names to those animals in his immediate locale. From Archer:

  • ... God then gave Adam a major assignment in natural history. He was to classify every species of animal and bird found in the preserve. With its five mighty rivers and broad expanse, the garden must have had hundreds of species of mammal, reptile, insect, and bird, to say nothing of the flying insects that also are indicated by the basic Hebrew term `op ("bird") (Gen 2:19). [xlii]

What was required of Adam was not a complete inventory of every forerunner to the world's present-day animal populations covering the entire globe, but just a survey of the animals that were in close proximity to the garden of Eden, the ones Adam would encounter on a daily basis.

The words of Genesis 2:19 seem to describe a method of creation. There is no need to take issue with Scripture. Forming this particular animal population "out of the ground" requires no helpful rationalization. We are not given any clues as to how numerous this local group might have been. These animals may have been the product of an act of special creation after the creation of Adam, or they may have been the product of millions of years of descendence from God's creation pronounced "very good" in Genesis 1:31. If that is the case, they would have been biologically compatible with animals living outside the region.

A Search for a Bride?

Genesis 2:20: After naming the animals of the garden, there was still something missing, "but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him."

A search can be implied by the words "was not found." A search for a helpmate to be both wife and companion would be ridiculous if the world at that time contained only birds, beasts, cattle, and creeping things - but what if one or more settlements of humans was already in the vicinity?

Available females must have been living nearby, one of which Adam could have chosen for his wife. We can deduce that from archaeological history. From the Bible we can conclude that none was suitable, so Adam had an operation resulting in Eve. As confirmation of an act of special creation for the first covenant couple, Genesis 2:21-23 gives us a graphic description. Paul confirms this mode of origination in 1 Timothy 2:13.

We do not know what all the requirements were, why other females residing in neighboring villages were unsuitable. We do know Adam enjoyed long life. It is probably out of consideration for Adam's projected longevity that God gave him a wife he could live with on into his old age. Furthermore, Adam was without sin, and to be equally yoked, a sinless Adam needed a wife who also was without sin.

If a native population was in the vicinity from which Adam could have chosen a wife, it then becomes helpful if we know just where Eve did come from. Eve's origin could become a sticking point in a human-dominated environment if the details are not spelled out carefully.

God's desire was for Adam's wife to be distinctive, just as Adam was. A portion was taken from Adam's side, God fashioned it into Eve, now they both could enjoy 900 or more years of wedded bliss. We are free to speculate about the origins of Cain's wife, or Noah's wife, but not about Eve.

Darkness on the Horizon

Genesis 2:25: "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

Thus the book is closed on what was until then a perfect relationship - man and wife living in sublime harmony with each other, with the lesser animals, with their neighbors, and with their Creator. The story might have ended there had the world been inhabited solely by material creatures, but a spirit world as part of our earthly environment complicates the matter.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).

The covenant couple will be first to learn this spiritual truth and fall victim to the spiritual lie, for a dark power is about to reveal its surly presence. The tragic impact will be irreversible and devastating, and consequently God's very Son must be offered up to stem the Father's wrath.


[i] Kenneth F. Weaver, "The Search For Our Ancestors," National Geographic (November 1985), 560-623.

[ii] John J. Putman, "The Search For Our Ancestors," National Geographic (October 1988), 439-477.

[iii]Ibid., 447.

[iii][iv]. Ann Gibbons, "Mitochondrial Eve: Wounded But Not Dead Yet," Science (14 August, 1992), 873.


[v] Ibid., 875.

[vi] Ibid., 875.

[vii] James Shreeve, "Argument Over A Woman," Discover (August 1990), 52-59.

[viii] John E. Pfeiffer, The Creative Explosion (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1982), 121.

[ix] From an exhibit in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., July 25, 1993.

[x] Jacquetta Hawkes, The Atlas of Early Man (New York: St Martin's Press, 1976), 63.

[xi] Edmond Jacob, Theology of the Old Testament (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1958), 167.

[xii] Ibid., 167.

[xiii] Dominick M'Causland, Adam and the Adamite (London: Richard Bentley, 1864), 302.

[xiv] Ibid., 165.

[xv] C. Simon, "Stone-Age Sanctuary, Oldest Known Shrine, Discovered in Spain," Science News, 120. (1981), 357.

[xvi] Dora Jane Hamblin, The First Cities (New York: Time-Life Books, 1973), 45.

[xvii] Ibid., 59.

[xviii] Ibid., 54.

[xix] Amihai Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 36.

[xx] C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, and Jeremy A. Sabloff, Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica (Menlo Park: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc., 1979), 79.

[xxi] Ibid., 99.

[xxii] Hawkes, The Atlas of Early Man, 63.

[xxiii] Henry Morris, The Genesis Record (San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1976), 84.

[xxiv] C. F. Keil, and F. Delitzsch, Commentary On The Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), 77-78; Andrew Sherratt, ed., The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Archaeology (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1980), 113.

[xxvi] George, Constable, Ed., The Age of God Kings: TimeFrame 3000-1500 BC (Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1987), 10.

[xxvii] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1938), 39.

[xxviii] R. Laird Harris, Gleason J. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 38.

[xxix] E. A. Speiser, The Anchor Bible GENESIS (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), 20.

[xxx] M'Causland, Adam and the Adamite, 171.

[xxxi] Driver, The Book of Genesis, 39.

[xxxii] Dora Jane Hamblin, "Has the Garden of Eden been located at last?," Smithsonian (May, 1987), 132.

[xxxiii] James A. Sauer, "The River Runs Dry - Biblical Story Preserves Historical Memory," Biblical Archaeological Review 22(4) (1996), 57.

[xxxiv] "Semites" is the term archaeologists and historians use to denote not only descendants of Shem, but also descendants of Japheth, Ham, or any of Adam's line in the pre-flood period (if a person such as Adam ever existed, or there was ever an event such as the Flood). Thus, Canaanites spoke a "west semitic" language, notwithstanding Canaan was the son of Ham, according to the Bible. One might think "Hamites" would have communicated in a "hamitic" tongue. But the secular world does not recognize the Bible as being historically accurate. Therefore, "Semites" are universally recognized. "Adamites," "Hamites," and "Japhethites" are not, shall we say, "politically correct."

[xxxv] Samuel Noah Kramer, "Sumero-Akkadian Interconnections," Genava, n.s., 8 (1960), 272-273.

[xxxvi] James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), 60-72. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press. Copyright renewed.

[xxxvii] Ibid., 67.

[xxxviii] Ibid., 68.

[xxxix] Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1942), 56.

[xl] Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 70; Ibid., 69.

[xlii] Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1982), 59-60