Ask the Pastor: The First Marriages
Dear Pastor Josh,
I was wondering how Adam and Eve's children married. I mean, it was just their family. My question is did they have to marry their siblings or what?
~ Cole, Age 8
Thank you so much for your question. I appreciate you thinking hard about the Scriptures.
The simple answer is yes. Adam and Eve's children married their siblings or nieces or nephews or some other close relation. But this answer is a hard (or perhaps weird) answer because we know that we are not supposed to marry our sisters or brothers today. So what's going on?
Well when God first created Adam and Eve, He commanded them, and therefore all their children (including us!) three things. These things are found in Genesis 1:28:
- "Be fruitful and multiply" - meaning have children!
- "Fill the earth" -that is spread to all the corners of the earth with your families.
- "Subdue it and have dominion" - meaning build and create and use all the resources of the earth for the good of mankind
It's that first command that we need to pay attention to. Adam and Eve and their posterity (meaning their children) were commanded by God to have children. Therefore marriage, wasn't an option for them; it was a command. Now, from the New Testament we know that God does set apart some people for singleness "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:18). That aside, marriage and having children were God's plan for blessing mankind. And we know that Adam and Eve had lots of children. Genesis 5:4 says that they "begat other sons and daughters." As one author notes, "Josephus, the Jewish historian, states that 'The number of Adam's children, as says the old tradition, was thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters.'" Since Scripture states that Eve was "the mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20), we know there was not another original family that God created where husbands and wives could be drawn from.
What this means is that when Adam and Eve's children married each other, they were obeying God's command. It wasn't wrong or weird at that point in redemptive history. It was good and a blessing (Genesis 1:28). In fact, the father of Israel, Abraham, married his half sister and God approved of it, promising that it would be their seed that would be a blessing to all the families on the earth.
The restriction to intermarry with close relationships (including siblings) did not come until later, much later in fact when Moses delivered Israel from Egypt. You can find this restriction in Leviticus 18:6-18. Since that time, it is unquestionably wrong (and weird) to marry siblings. And when people today disobey this law, there are often harmful birth defects and mutations that follow as a consequence.
However, the most important thing about this question is that it presses us to an important gospel truth: only descendants of Adam and Eve can be saved. The gospel message is for Adam's race, not the race of some other family outside of the Adamic line (there is not such a family). Paul makes this clear in the New Testament.
"Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven." 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.“ Romans 5:12
The gospel is only for those who belong to the first Adam. Jesus didn't die for the angels (2 Peter 2:4), and neither did He die for anyone outside of Adam's race. Jesus was the second Adam. He is the only solution to the sin problem of Adam's race.
"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men." Romans 5:18
I hope that helps, Little Buddy!