Why does the Bible say, Eve “was the mother of all living”?


By BibleAsk Team

Eve – “Was the Mother of all Living”

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.”

Genesis 3:20

While the English version of the Bible is translated using the word “was,” it is important to look at the original text to understand what is meant. The book of Genesis was originally written in Hebrew, which has different grammatical usage. In the original Hebrew, the entire phrase “because she was the mother” is translated from the one word “’em.” The word ’em simply means “mother” in a broad sense. The words “because she was the” were added in translation in order to make more sense in our language. Otherwise the verse would literally be translated, “Adam called wife name Eve mother living/ relatives.”

It is also important to understand the time frame that the Bible was written. Originally, the stories of human history were passed down in oral traditions. The Torah or first five books of the Bible were first written at the time of Moses, which was almost 2500 years after Adam and Eve were created. In that sense, Eve was the mother of all living because by that point she had already had children which populated the world. This may be the reason for the translation into English by scholars adding the verb in past tense (was) because it had already happened at that point.

It is wonderful to try to understand the Bible word for word and to meditate on every line of Scripture, but it is also a great blessing when we are able to look at the Bible verses in their original language as well as look at history to better understand certain things. This can be of much help as we study scripture and come across texts that may appear confusing.

This is also why it is important to look at different parts of Scripture to compare them with each other.  In order to establish a basis for interpreting Scripture it is important to compare verses to see if their is harmony between them (2 Corinthians 13:1).  This is how you thought Eve was already a mother when in fact she was not until the birth of Cain (Genesis 4:1).

Just for your further study, Adam was 130 years old when he had Seth, which was after Cain and Abel (Genesis 5:3). The Bible doesn’t mention the age that he had Cain or Abel. It only mentions Seth, as Seth was to be the one to carry on the line of the seed which would eventually be that of the Savior, Jesus Christ (Genesis 4:25, 3:15, Acts 13:23).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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Federico A. Nazar
Federico A. Nazar
2 years ago

A better translation:
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was to be the mother of all living.

Clearly, as Jesus is the New Adam (Rm 5, 12-14) and Mary, the New Eve (Church fathers, early Christians), spiritually, Mary is the mother of Jesus, the head (Bible), where the Church is the mystical Body of Christ. She is the mother of all the living in Christ, the LIFE (Bible)