Eve: First Woman, Wife, and Mother
Eve was the first earthly woman. She was not born of the flesh, but created by God. She had no mother to teach her the things that mothers impart to their daughters. There was no one to model for Eve how to be a wife and mother. No one told her about pregnancy, coached her on how to stay healthy while pregnant, or nourished her emotionally and spiritually through the pregnancy process.
She endured the pain of childbirth without an understanding of what was happening within her own body. She reared her children without any knowledge of how to do such things and without another woman on earth to guide or support her. She suffered the murder of one of her children by her other child. Eve, who was placed in paradise, had a life filled with beauty and pleasure and wonderment, but also one weighted by sadness and suffering.
The version of the Adam and Eve story in Midrashi writings (an ancient interpretive system in Jewish literature to reconcile contradictions in biblical text) states that before creating Eve, God made Lilith, an evil and licentious woman who rebelled against Adam (refusing to take a submissive position to him in sex). Lilith abandoned Adam. Eve, according to Midrashic writings, was Liliths' replacement.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the image of God is portrayed as masculine. Adam could have looked to God for cues about all things male, but Eve must have had difficulty relating to her femaleness, with no image of a divine feminine counterpart to Adam's God.
Eve shoulders the blame associated with the first sinful act. Rightly or wrongly, humankind's fall from grace has long been blamed on the “original Sin” committed by Eve, when she was tempted by the serpent to defy Gods' rule not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Adam and Eve recognized God through the Divine presence and voice, but no description is given in Genesis of God as seen through their eyes. However, perhaps what is meant by “our likeness” is that a divine spark entered Adam and Eve at their creation, and the spark mirrored, in some way, an image (or images) of God.
After the story of the creation of male and female in Genesis 1:27, a second version of the creation of the first couple appears in Genesis 2:7–25. According to that version, God created Adam first and then Eve, and he used a different process for each. Adam was created from the dust of the ground. God breathed the breath of life into Adam's nostrils, making Adam a living soul. God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden. After warning him not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (with death as the threatened punishment), God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. While Adam slept, God created Eve (Genesis 2:21–22). Instead of making Eve from dust as he had made Adam, God fashioned her from one of Adam's ribs.
Adam chose Eve's name. In old Testament times, naming a thing equaled having authority over it. Her name derives from the Hebrew word Hava, and means “the Mother of All Living” (Genesis 3:20). In both the Judeo-Christian tradition and the Islamic faith, Eve is the mother of the human species and Adam is the father.
Inferior or Equal
Some who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible might argue that because Eve was created after Adam and from his rib, her position as woman was inferior to that of man. This idea was one espoused in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul in Timothy 2:13–15.
However, another interpretation suggests that from unity or wholeness, God created two halves, male and female. Without his female counterpart, Adam could never be complete; he could not generate offspring and continue the human species. God created Eve not just as a helper or companion for Adam, but as an equal to complete him.
Longing for Knowledge
The newly created Eve and her husband, though naked, had no sense of self-consciousness. All they knew and all they could see was the perfection of God's creation and themselves as part of it. They hid nothing from each other or from God. Darkness, negativity, deception, and imperfection had not yet entered into their consciousness.
Eve had been created differently from Adam, and yet was profoundly part of him. Perhaps separate from each other they both felt a deep inner longing to be united. Whatever the reason, Eve began to desire knowledge. Perhaps it was carnal knowledge. The Hebrew word for knowledge, da'at, means sexual knowledge.