Five Surprising Bible Women: Eve
The Woman with Three Names
By Elizabeth Baker
Genesis 3:1- 4:2; 5:4; II Corinthians 11:3; I Timothy 2:13-14
From the beginning of time, a woman’s life has been multifaceted. We do more than one type of work, perform a wide variety of tasks and relate to others in many different roles. We are even called by a variety of names. Our parents give us one name but spouses, friends, and even grandkids may know us by something else.
It was no different for the first woman who walked earth. She had a long life and during those many years experienced more dramatic changes than any of us will ever know. It’s not surprising that some of her names reflect these shifts and although the Bible records only three names, it also indicates good reasons why she deserved each one.
Her first name was what God called her the day she was made. Much like our full birth name may be something seldom used, this name was evidently private and a designation only God spoke. He called her, “Adam” (Genesis 5:2). The word indicated what she literally was: a red-dirt-human. It was almost as though God regarded the two beings he had made as two halves which made one whole. It was only necessary to have one word to identify this unique creation that was the pinnacle of all his work and his rare delight (Proverbs 8:30-31).
Her second name was given by her husband on the day they met. He had already named all the animals on earth and probably studied them, so when God approached him leading this new creature he instantly recognized a vital, intimate connection that was not found anywhere else. There were no mirrors around and he had likely never seen his own face, but he instantly knew this one was “bone of my bones” and “flesh of my flesh.” She was the companion that reflected and completed him. In order to name her, Adam picked up what God had called him then added a prefix to indicate “taken out of.” He said, “She shall be called, Woman because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23) Technically, we could interpret that as “red-dirt-human-taken-out-of-a-red-dirt-human” but “Woman” sounds a lot better. Yet it is the third name we most often remember.
We call her, Eve. However, do you recall when she was given that name and by whom?
She received this name after the world fell apart; after sin and after they had been cast out of the beautiful garden. The two humans God had made perfect and upright stood together facing a world of weeds, problems, pain and death. The only two inhabitants of the planet stood alone and looked at each other knowing there was no way back to yesterday. It was then, Adam “called his wife’s name, Eve,” (Genesis 3:20) a word that meant, “Life.”
It would be romantic to assume he chose the name because she was the center of his world, the source of his life, his total happiness. But, that’s not true. No doubt he loved her dearly, but he didn’t call her “life” because of his relationship to her. Eve got her name because of her ability to give birth to and nourish children. They would be fallen and scarred—like their parents—but eventually Christ, the God/Man, would come as one of these human offspring. One day, things would be different. One day, Satan’s head would be crushed. One day, humans could be free again. It was a hope to which they desperately clung.
When we think of Eve’s motherhood, it is too easy to see it through our own experience but, in regard to motherhood, Eve’s experience was very different than our own. Since the Bible names only three sons, we assume these boys were her complete family. We forget to take the Bible as a whole for it clearly states Adam and Eve had many “sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:4) How many? It’s not difficult to make a guess.
Adam lived to be 930. Assuming Eve lived no longer and was biologically able to bear children no more than 2/3 of that time, and if she had only one child every five years, she would give birth to over 124 children before she died. Since the human gene pool of that time would have been rich with options, brothers marrying sisters was not a problem and this freedom, coupled with long life spans, would have created a veritable population explosion.
Before she died, Eve would have seen a city built (Genesis 4:17), buried a murdered son (Genesis 4:1-8), watched huge advancements in commerce, industry and the arts (Genesis 4:21-22), and watched violence spread (Genesis 4:23-24). Yet, for all the astounding changes, her daily life must have been very similar to ours. Each one of her offspring would need the same care as children today. Eve cooked supper, washed dishes, cleaned the newest baby and talked with Adam in the cool of the evening. She dreamed, struggled with frustration, laughed, and kissed her husband goodbye when he left for work in the fields each day. She also watched him grow older.
Adam called her “Life,” and Eve indeed deserved the name. Baby after baby was placed in her hands, nursed at her breast, guided into adulthood and launched into a fresh, new world. Yet, Eve saw something else, too. Something that put her life-giving abilities into perspective. She saw death.
When Cain killed his brother she lost her first born. And although it is impossible to tell all that was in her mind, she apparently lost hope, also. There was something special about Abel. Something connected with God’s promise that he would one day use her son to crush the head of the Serpent. Perhaps she fully understood the concept of Messiah. Perhaps she dreamed that through one of her children she would one day walk in Eden again. She may have hoped Abel could be that redeemer. Or, not.
All we know for sure is that her hope was restored through the birth of a different baby boy. His name was Seth. This child may have been born the year after Abel died or three hundred years later, but when she saw him, she knew something special had happened. Here was another “seed” like the first (Genesis 4:25-26). This was the blood line through which God would keep his promise to restore paradise again (Luke 3:38).
Although Eve’s name was “Life” but all she could give were bodies destined to die. Through Seth, a Son would eventually be born who would give Life that would never decay (John 10:10). Someone powerful enough to bring heaven and earth together again (Revelation 21:3). It was a promise from God.
You may see the entire series by visiting elizabethbakerbooks.com. You will find the article under Free Devotionals and Quizzes. This article is part of a series entitled “Five Surprising Bible Women”.