In the first few chapters of Genesis, we see God create Adam and Eve and then tell them to reproduce.

Genesis 1:28 (NLT)

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Then the Fall happens and Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden. The very next verse is them having sex.

Genesis 4:1 (NLT)
4 Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!”

To me, this seems to imply that Adam and Eve never had sex while in Eden, which would imply that they Fell rather quickly (like, a day or two). However, this contrasts with the serpent's use of the phrase "one day" in Genesis 3:1. Hence, I'm asking: is this implication that Adam and Eve didn't have sex until after the Fall one that's actually supported by the text?

5 Answers 5


It's clear from what we are told in the early chapters of Genesis, that we are not being given a full account of every action—the focus seems to be much more on the moral and theologically significant issues.

Given that, there is no direct textual evidence that reproduction did not happen before the fall, and given passages like Genesis 4:17, where no effort is made to explain the genealogy of Cain's wife, I think it is open to us to choose to believe either option:

17Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.ESV

The issue then becomes one of what the significance would be either way, and I think the significance is likely to be very small. Otherwise I presume we would have been told. That in itself tells us something about God and His priorities: very concerned that His glory is known, that he is obeyed and believed, and very little concerned with the things that often concern us humans the most, like who had sex with who and when (or even details, such as how long Adam and Eve enjoyed Eden before the fall).

  • 3
    Excellent answer. However, "there is no direct textual evidence that reproduction did not happen before the fall" - it would appear that if there were children born in the Garden, this would have been related in the text and some account of them given. (Agreed: not necessarily so if it has no bearing on the subsequent story) As for the origin of Cain's wife, it seems highly unlikely that she was a child born in the Garden before The Fall - such a woman would hardly be fit to be the wife of the accursed Cain. Rabbinical tradition offers a different explanation, albeit a difficult one.
    – Vector
    Mar 30, 2014 at 1:48
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    Of all the possible sources of Cain's wife, an older sister born before the fall is the least plausible!
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 13, 2014 at 6:25
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    @curiousdannii I'm not sure if I want to apply a metric of plausibility to any part of Gen 1-11. It doesn't seem appropriate to the genre. Aug 13, 2014 at 8:11
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    Why is plausibility not applicable to the genre? The (Hebrew) narrative is highly nuanced and laden with hints and possibilities, for a very good reason.
    – Vector
    May 25, 2015 at 5:04
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    @Vector of course, but curiousdannii and I were discussing the literal level, and that was the context I was commenting into! May 26, 2015 at 16:31

According to the rabbinical tradition stated in the Medrashim and mentioned in Rashi's commentary on Genesis 3-1, they did have sex in the Garden.

In fact, it is related that the Serpent saw them having sex and became jealous, provoking him to bring about The Fall. The Rabbis found a hint to this idea in Genesis 3-1

And the serpent...

Which indicates a continuation of the previously related:

Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame...

the logical implication being that they then had sex.

It appears that the verse you quoted

4 Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife,

specifies this because the sex resulted in the birth of Cain. As for the sex they had in the Garden, apparently Eve did not become pregnant as a result. (See my comment on the accepted answer).


Genesis 4:1

"And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord."

The above verse suggests Eve had prior child or children who were not man. Cain was certainly the first male child - but possibly not the first child born...

  • 1
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    – ThaddeusB
    Oct 4, 2015 at 16:00

Based on later identical patterns, it seems the "rest" on Day seven was the rest that Adam and Eve failed to enter into. With all that happened on Day 6, besides the fact that there would not have been time, later patterns indicate that the Land and the womb "dominion" promises were closed to Adam until he was qualified as God's ethical representative (as Noah was later). Thus, the curses upon the Land and the womb were in fact limited openings.

Tracing the significance of Land and womb "firstfruits" through the Bible in that light leads to some amazing discoveries. When Israel shed innocent blood, especially that of her offspring, God would send a famine. Cain's "Land" offering was rejected because he made it before Abel's "womb" offering. It was simply a question of timing, and the motive behind that timing.


The very idea that they did not know that they were naked, implies childlike innocence.

I think this points away from the idea that they had sex. They did not know good or evil. Sex is good as long as it is not misused, and they did not know about it until after the Fall.

God provided two commandments which were based on a divine standard. Only perfect/divine beings could have obeyed the command to multiply AND refrain from eating from the tree that would result in death.

In this sense, since Adam and Eve did NOT have divine characteristics, they were destined to Fall, so that they could "be as the gods knowing good and evil" (Gen 3:5 and Gen 3:22), so that they could "multiply and replenish the Earth".

  • I'm very grateful for your participation here. I think you can benefit a lot if you see the kind of answers that this site is looking for. This site is a little different from other sites. Be sure to visit the tour to learn more about this site. Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Feb 21, 2015 at 2:53
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    This answer seems to wander around a little bit, but I'm curious about your take on things. I've never heard anyone claim that pre-Fall humanity was incapable of obedience to God. Given that pre-supposition, how were Adam and Eve intended to multiply and fill the earth? I think you are confusing: a) how our world consistently sins sexually, with b) sex as a stand-alone activity. At least from my perspective, there's nothing inconsistent with Adam and Eve having innocent sex in the Garden.
    – mbm29414
    May 26, 2015 at 17:38

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