As told in the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first humans, created by G‑d on the sixth day of Creation and ancestors to all of mankind. Initially dwelling in the Garden of Eden, the serpent enticed them to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. This sin led them to be banished from the Garden and invoked Divine punishment on them and their offspring.

The Story of Adam's Creation

Adam1 was the first human in existence, created by G‑d on the sixth day of Creation. The Bible describes him as being created in the image of G‑d, and his wisdom is said to have surpassed that of the Heavenly angels.2

To create Adam, G‑d moistened the earth with mist, formed a body from the dust, and breathed life into the figure. G‑d then placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, a utopian location replete with luxurious trees bearing luscious fruits. Among them were two trees with special qualities: the Tree of Life, which would bestow eternal life upon those who ate from its fruit, and the Tree of Knowledge, which would implant an evil inclination and an awareness of immorality.

G‑d instructed Adam with a sole command: “You may eat from any fruit you wish, save for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge!”

Read: Adam's Birthday

Creation of Eve

Wanting to instill within Adam the desire for a partner, G‑d brought before him all the animals He had created, so that Adam could give each one a name. Seeing that each animal had a mate, Adam desired to have one as well.

G‑d then caused Adam to fall into a deep slumber. While he was asleep, He took one of his sides (or ribs3) and formed Eve. He then brought her to Adam, who found contentment in joining with his new wife.

Sin of the Tree of Knowledge in the Bible

Adam and Eve were created without an evil inclination, and they saw nothing wrong in being unclothed. However, this was soon to change.

The serpent, the most cunning of all the beasts created by G‑d, approached Eve and slowly but surely4 convinced and pressured her to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. She, in turn, shared the fruit with her husband Adam.

Immediately, Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, and they covered themselves with girdles sewn from fig leaves.

Divine retribution for transgressing G‑d’s command was not long in coming: Eve was cursed with the pain of pregnancy, birth, and childrearing, coupled with subservience to her husband, while Adam was punished with the need to labor the earth to produce bread, and human life would now end with death.5 What’s more, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden.

Adam’s Descendants and Demise

Adam and Eve’s first offspring were Cain and Abel. Tragically, Abel died at a young age, murdered at the hands of his brother Cain. Later, Eve gave birth to a third son, Seth, and additional sons and daughters are recorded as well, although their names are unknown. Ultimately, all of humanity descend from this couple.

Although the sin of the Tree of Knowledge brought the curse of death upon Adam, Eve, and their descendants, Adam enjoyed the gift of longevity, living to the ripe age of 930.

Adam and Eve are buried in the famous Cave of Machpelah located in Hebron, Israel, together with three other famous couples (Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah).6

Composition of a Couple

(Adam and Eve after they left the Garden of Eden, depicted by Alyse Radenovic)
(Adam and Eve after they left the Garden of Eden, depicted by Alyse Radenovic)

The Midrash fills in some details about the creation of Adam and Eve.

From where did G‑d take the earth used to form Adam? One opinion is that G‑d collected earth from all four corners of the world, so that wherever man dies, the earth will accept him for burial. Others maintain that the earth originated from the future site of the altar of the Holy Temple. By integrating this location into man’s physical makeup, it is easier for us to achieve atonement.7

The Talmud records a dispute as to how Eve was created from Adam. One approach is that Eve was created from a small section of flesh removed from Adam (as is commonly understood). According to an alternative view, G‑d originally created a dual human being possessing two bodies attached at the back, one male and one female. G‑d then separated Eve from Adam and they continued to exist as two entities.8

Read: Adam and Eve, A Template for a Relationship

Everyone’s Name

The name Adam is not just the name of the first human; it is the name of all of humanity. In Scripture, the word “man” has four appellations, one of them being adam (the other three are ish, enosh, and gever). In particular, adam is used to describe a person with advanced intellectual capacities.9

The word Adam derives from the Hebrew word adamah, earth, the source from which Adam was created. However, it is also related to the word edameh, which means similar. This indicates that if man fulfills G‑d’s Will, he can elevate himself until he is similar to G‑d on High.10

The Hebrew name for Eve, Chavah, derives from the word chai, life, for she was the mother of all living people.

Analyzing the Sin

At first glance, Adam’s failure to resist temptation is unsettling. With so many permissible fruits available for consumption, could he not have exercised self-control and abstained from partaking of this particular tree?! This is all that more perplexing when considering Adam’s great stature, being the sole individual in history to be the direct creation of G‑d Himself.

This story sheds light on the nature of the evil inclination we each possess, which strives to persuade us to disobey the Divine Will. Although trying to tempt us in many ways, it places the greatest efforts in those areas that are most important for that particular person, time, and place.

Knowing that eating from the Tree of Knowledge was so important, destined to effect all of mankind for generations to come, the serpent—the embodiment of the evil inclination—utilized all the tactics at its disposal to entice Adam and Eve, and unfortunately succeeded.11 The success was temporary, though: Through our efforts in choosing good over evil, we will ultimately rectify their sin, bringing upon all of humanity an era of perfection.12

Read: Introducing Temptation