We really don’t know what language Adam and Eve spoke in the garden. Many in the Jewish tradition believe they spoke what’s known as the Adamic language, while some Christians assume they spoke Hebrew. But at the end of the day, the Bible isn’t clear on what language they spoke.
Have you ever wondered about the language spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? The topic has been a subject of debate among scholars and theologians for centuries. Some argue that Hebrew was the original language, while others propose that it was a different, now extinct language.
We’ll explore some of the various theories and evidence surrounding the topic and try to come to a conclusion about what language Adam and Eve may have spoken in the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve in the Garden
Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Bible, are known as the firstborn of humanity. They were created by God and placed in the Garden of Eden, a paradise where they lived in harmony with nature and with their creator, in a beautiful garden full of trees and beautiful animals such as butterflies.
The story of Adam and Eve is a central narrative in the Bible and is told in the book of Genesis, the first book organized in the Bible. It roots us in the story of creation, showing us who God us, who we are as humans, why the world seems a little off, and giving us some initial idea of why we’re here. The Garden of Adam and Eve marks the beginning of God’s faithful steadfastness, love, and pursuit of humans, a thread that will continue until Jesus returns to take us back to the garden.
There are also a lot of questions surrounding the Garden of Eden. How tall were Adam and Eve? What kind of fruit did they eat? Who were some of the first animals named?
And one that’s often debated: what language did Adam and Eve speak?
The Adamic Language
According to Jewish tradition, Adam spoke what is known as the Adamic language. This language is seen by many as the divine language God used to address Adam, one that he picked up on and used to speak to Eve and name the animals. There’s some debate as to whether or not Eve spoke this language as well.
Other scholars and commentators hold that the Adamic language isn’t the language God used to speak with Adam, but the language Adam invented when given his task to name the animals.
In his classic book, The City of God, Augustine implies that there was one human language prior to the Tower of Babel (more on this later), and this was the language that originated with Adam – whether it was given directly by God or invented by Adam while naming the animals.
Whatever he spoke, he likely passed it on to his sons, Cain and Abel, whose story ends in tragedy. Check out this post if you’re interested in how and why Cain killed Abel.
Did Adam and Eve Speak Hebrew?
In the Middle Ages, many in the Jewish tradition began to hold that Adam and Eve spoke Hebrew. Their biggest evidence is found in the fact that their names are a word play on each other.
Then the man said,Genesis 2:23
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
The Hebrew word for man is ish, and the Hebrew word for woman is “isha.” But this isn’t sound evidence, as the same play on words exists in English. It’s also possible the original author was translating for us, as we do in our versions of the Bible, giving a Hebrew equivalent of their names.
So did Adam and Eve speak Hebrew? It’s possible, but let’s look at one more bit of evidence.
The Confusion of Language at Babel
We know that in Genesis 11, the whole earth had one language. The people decided to work together to build as big a tower as they could, a symbol of their pride, self-dependency, and perhaps some insecurity. This caused the Lord to confuse their languages and scatter the people across the earth, that everyone spoke different languages.
1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.Genesis 11:1-9
From the story of Babel, we can conclude Adam and Eve likely spoke the same language that was confused by God at the beginning of the story. It’s possible this was Hebrew, and that Hebrew just so happened to be the language Abraham spoke and passed down to Israel and Moses through his death. But it’s also very possible the language Adam and Eve spoke was lost at Babel.
At the end of the day, we probably won’t know what language Adam and Eve spoke in the garden. We don’t know exactly how tall they were or whether or not Cain and Abel were twins. But what we do know is they communicated directly with a God who walked intimately with them, and we have the same to look forward to when we return to the Garden in eternity.