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Why Would God Call Eve the Mother of All Living?


Genesis 3:20-24 (ESV)

The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

This passage raises three big issues, which we’ll take one at a time.

  • Why is Eve called the mother of all living when she’s only the mother of people?
  • What does it mean when God says, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.”?
  • What can we learn from the way that God sentences man to surely die?

Curiously, the answer to the first is important to the third.

Calling Eve the mother of all living has to be some kind of idiom. It can’t mean she gives life to plants and animals; there’s nothing anywhere in scripture that supports that view. Note that the Hebrew word “Eve” is similar to the words for living and life-giver. So, as the mother of the future, she’s given the name Eve.

It turns out that conflating humanity with the world is an idiom in New Testament Greek too. The Greek word “kosmos” is usually translated as “world” but according to the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker (BAGD) lexicon, it can mean “mankind.” For example, see Luke 2:1.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

They were only counting people. That’s why many translations call it a census.

In calling Eve the mother of all living, this passage honors her. That’s important.

This was written in a time of extreme patriarchy; women were typically not respected. This passage deliberately counters that. While not written as a command (that will come later) it lays the groundwork.

Of course, like all other commands, the commands to respect women (e.g., Ephesians 5:25 and 1 Peter 3:7) are regularly disobeyed.

Let’s lift up those women who are struggling, especially if it’s due to disrespect.

Pick someone you know who has hit a particularly rough patch and pray for her today. Ask the Lord to recharge her batteries and to encourage her. Ask Him to help her see past the current challenges.

Also, if it fits, pray for physical health. Many of the most discouraging trials are related to sickness and injury.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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