Adam and Eve are the original parents of the human race. After God created them in his own image and likeness, he commanded them to multiply and fill the earth. Adam and Eve must have heeded this command because today, there are over 7.8 billion people on earth. While it is true that all these descended from Adam and Eve, there is a limit to the number of Children Adam and Eve actually had.
So, how many children did Adam and Eve have?
Cain and Abel are the two most famous sons of Adam and Eve. However, these were not the only children they had. The couple also had a third son by the name of Seth. These are the three children that are mentioned by name in the Bible but it is very likely that Adam had many other sons and daughters.
Cain, Abel, and Seth
Cain and Abel need a little introduction because their story is popular today- even among the non-religious. Adam and Eve got Cain and Abel after they had been exiled from the Garden of Eden (Genesis). After growing up, the two sons took different careers with Cain becoming a farmer and Abel becoming a shepherd. Over time, Cain and Abel decide to give God an offering from their different career paths. Abel sacrificed one of his lambs while Cain gave some of his crop. However, Abel chose the best from his livestock while Cain took some of the crop that wasn’t doing too well. This resulted in God rejecting Cain’s offering but accepting Abel’s offering. Cain was so infuriated and jealous of his brother that he killed him and tried to cover it up (Genesis 4).
After Cain’s murder, Adam and Eve got another son, whom they named Seth. He was named Seth because they viewed him as God’s replacement for the son who was now departed.
“Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel since Cain killed him.” Gen. 4:25
There isn’t much said of Seth except that he had a son named Enosh.
Where Did Adam’s Sons Get Wives?
If there was no other person on earth prior to the creation of Adam and Eve, where did Cain, Abel, and Seth get wives from? This is one of the questions that has baffled Christians for centuries. There is however one simple answer that is also quite baffling. Adam’s sons must have married their sisters. This is the only explanation that would make sense because God only created two people. However, that would imply that Adam also had other children (especially daughters) whose names were not given in the Bible. There are a couple of reasons we can infer from the Bible why this is a possibility.
Firstly, God commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth. In Genesis 2:15, Adam and Eve were doing a good job of taking care of God’s garden of Eden. However, they fell and were banished from the garden. This must have been a reality check for them to walk in obedience to God’s commandments. And one of the commands was for them to multiply and fill the earth. This might explain why they got Adam and Eve immediately after they were chased away from Eden. They were clearly in dread of the consequences of not following God’s commands.
Secondly, the book of Genesis was written by Moses as a way of documenting the word of God that had been handed down to Israel through oral tradition. As Moses was documenting, it was inevitable that the cultural perspectives of his time would impact how he told the story. Throughout the Bible – both in the Old and New Testaments – women were not mentioned by name unless they were the subject of the story. This is mostly due to the influence of the Jewish culture where men were the spokesmen of the family. One of the most popular illustrations of this is when Jesus multiplied fish and bread. The Bible says that the number of those that were fed was 5,000 men without counting women and children (Matthew 14:21). Women traditionally took the name of their husbands upon marriage and so they were also not mentioned in genealogies. Obviously, there were a couple of exceptions but they were more of the exception than the rule. For the most part, a mention of the husband’s name would suffice.
Based on the above observations, it is therefore plausible that Adam had daughters (and possibly other sons) who were not mentioned in the Bible. These would then have been the wives of the sons of Adam and that is how the command of procreation continued.
Did Cain’s Son Marry Their Sisters?
As we have already established, it is plausible that Cain, Abel, and Seth have married their sisters. But that raises some other questions. The most important of these questions is the issue of incest. It is clear from the law of God that incest is forbidden (Leviticus 18). While that is true, it is also worth noting that the law of Moses was given much later. Before this law, God had not pronounced himself on the issue. It was necessary in the early days for brothers and sisters to marry because there weren’t very many people on earth anyway. The issue of incest sounds wrong to us today because of the law but before the law was given, it was considered normal. We know this from the story of Abraham. When Abraham goes into a foreign land and he is afraid that they will kill him to take his wife, he introduces her as her sister. When the king found out that Sarah was actually his wife, Abraham said that she was both his wife and sister (Genesis 20:11-13). Later on, we read of how Jacob married his cousin (Genesis 29-30). Clearly, incest wasn’t frowned upon in the early days and so it is not so strange to imagine that Adam’s children married one another.
The Bible mentions three sons of Adam and Eve by name – Cain, Abel, and Seth. However, that doesn’t mean that they had only three sons. As we have seen, they probably had many daughters and possibly other sons as well. It is therefore hard to tell how many children Adam and Eve actually had.