The Garden of Adam And Eve: A Timeline

Reading the bible can leave one with many perplexing questions. Since the book of Genesis comes first, among those ‘first’ questions is how long were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the fall? Was it one or two years before they sinned or was it hundreds of years? I don’t think there’s a direct answer but I do believe we can make a reasonable speculation about their duration in paradise.

Let’s first the myth that it’s a foolish question to ask (2 Tim 2:23, Tit 3:9). Did Adam & Eve have belly buttons is a foolish question. Whether or not Adam & Eve were created with belly buttons is a foolish question because the answer would give us no doctrinal supplement. Asking how long they lived in the garden is not a foolish question because the answer compliments the entire biblical saga and has potential doctrinal ramifications. It may not be among the most pertient questions we can ask but it’s certainly not a silly one! Garden of Eden

The timeline is somewhat important because it leaves us to wonder about their relationship with each other, their relationship with God and their life in the Garden of Eden. It makes us wonder further how old the earth is and whether or not they had children prior to the fall (both of which add different layers of complexity to our understanding of the bible). If the couple lived 10 years or 1000 years before the fall, it doesn’t make a huge difference but, in some ways, it could change our interpretation of things.

The Genesis Account Gives Us Important Information

There are several things the Genesis account does reveal to us. We know Adam was commanded to name the animals. We know they were both naked and unashamed. We know they were commanded to multiply (aka have sex). We know they were commanded to not eat the fruit of that forbidden tree. Those are all interesting tidbits but they don’t give us many clues on the duration of life before the fall into sin. There is one clue I believe we do have though, it is the conversation after they were ‘discovered’.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Gen 3:9-12)

The conversation that God has with Adam after the fall has been replayed in sermons, times too numerous to count. God calls out Adam, Adam then points the finger at Eve and then Eve points the finger at the serpent. As it pertains to how long they were in the Garden of Eden, pardon my pun but the devil is in the details. Did you ever notice how Adam refers to Eve? Read it again:

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Gen 3:12)

Were Adam more intimate with his wife Eve, would he have referred to her as “the woman”? I don’t think so. Had they been physically and emotionally intimate then I think he would have referred to her as Eve. The finger pointing coupled with his verbage leads me to believe that the depth (and time) of their personal relationship was very litte. Now, I completely reject the notion that the fall happened in 45 minutes but I do think it happened rather quickly. Realistically speaking, a few days to a week and at most I’d speculate a month.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that Adam & Eve were immortal. They were not. They had not eaten from the Tree of Life (Gen 3:24). The concepts of ‘time’ and ‘aging’ were very much relevant to them. They were subject to night and day, they got tired, they experienced positive emotion (i.e., desire) and they surely felt the negative as well. They were, in all aspects as we are, human (sans the belly buttons if you ask me).

This interpretation is just theory but I do find more biblical evidence to support a shorter time frame in the garden than I do a longer one (what little I see). When you account for their humanity, the psychological evidence is also overwhelming. Am I 100% certain? Nope. But I haven’t seen arguments valid enough to suggest that Adam & Eve were in the garden for a very long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *