In Search of the Historical Adam: Part 1

Dick Fischer
P. O. Box 50111,
 Arlington, VA 22205

From PSCF 45 (December 1993): 241.

Human beings appear to be related by common ancestry that extends back in time 100,000 years or more. If Genesis has accurately presented the surrounding environment in the beginning chapters, and if weight is given to recent archaeological findings, Adam's niche in time and space is about 5000 to 4000 BC in Southern Mesopotamia, thus precluding his being the progenitor of the entire human race. The garden of Eden probably required irrigation via a canal network to sustain Adam and his immediate family. Although Adam may very well have been specially created by God, intermarriages between the covenant line of Adam and the indigenous populations assure even Adam's descendants a link to the distant past. All this can be deduced not only from archaeological finds and ancient cuneiform tablets, but from clues in the Scriptures as well.

For those who believe Genesis is historically accurate, Adam and Eve were de facto historical figures, not symbolic representations concocted by Moses or some other source. Indeed, the historicity of the covenant couple is implied in the New Testament as well. It is the purpose of this series of two articles to show that Adam appears to have actually been an historic personality who had a moment and a place in history. Furthermore, a specially created Adam dictated by the Scriptures is entirely compatible with this thesis. 

Bible interpreters have had a propensity to conclude that the Genesis text confers upon Adam the distinction of being the biological head of the entire human race. The Bible does position Adam as the first "man" (I Cor. 15:45), but what definition is to be applied" Could Adam have been the first hominoid or hominid, an Australopithicine perhaps; or first of the genus Homo, such as Homo habilis or Homo erectus" Was Adam first of the archaic Homo sapiens, first of the modern Homo sapiens, the first Caucasian, or was he the first of a Near East people from which present-day Jews, Arabs, and some others have derived" Remember, Adam was a unique person who could have lived only once.

Small amounts of secular history were incorporated in Luke and Acts. As a result, readers many centuries removed have had minimal trouble determining when and where the events took place. In the beginning of Genesis also, sufficient peripheral information is recorded to give us a fairly accurate historical perspective. We are told just enough about the culture of Adam's day that we can get some idea as to his approximate time frame. The genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are especially helpful in pinpointing Adam, both in time and place. (The secular surroundings of Adam and his kin will be explored in the second article in this series of two, to be published in the March 1994 issue of Perspectives. )

Mitochondrial Eve

The "Eve hypothesis" was developed from pioneering work in mitochondrial DNA published by Wilson and Sarich in 1987. According to them, and subsequent researchers, there is evidence that all human beings have descended from one common female genotype who lived in Africa about 200,000 to 100,000 years ago.1

Support for the "out of Africa" model can be derived from the morphological diversity seen among black Africans today. African peoples must therefore be very ancient, since presumably more time should be required to produce such diverse populations from common stock.

Researchers at the Natural History Museum in London prefer the "out of Africa" model. It is believed that only there Homo erectus gave rise to modern humans. They spread throughout Europe and Asia, displacing whatever remnant populations they may have encountered in their migrations.

A number of distinguished paleontologists disagree, and have published data suggesting a co-mingling between ancient and more modern peoples. Their evidence supports "regional continuity," meaning that local populations of archaic ancestors eventually begat modern types. An analysis of human fossils found in Israel and Africa, when compared with older Homo erectus remains, led researchers to place Homo erectus directly in the line of hominids that culminated in modern man. Science reported:

These modern-looking fossils all date to about 100,000 years and appear at the end of a sequence of fossils that stretches back to 400,000 years ago, which seem to show a gradual transition from their Homo erectus-type forebears to early modern humans.2

What unity there is among contending parties was summed up:

In spite of the contention, all parties can agree on one thing. The proto-human fossil record begins in Africa, with a species now called Homo erectus. After evolving in an African homeland, all concur, Homo erectus migrated to Europe and Asia about 1 million years ago. But after that, comes the Great Divide in paleoanthropology.3

Although two theories are competing for prominence, what has been generally agreed upon by both molecular biologists and paleoanthropologists is that all humans are biologically connected, as evidenced by our DNA signatures4 (and confirmed in Acts 17:26). When and under what circumstances ancient "Eve" got here is still an open question.

The temptation among some Bible apologists has been to postulate that Adam must have lived at a similar early date as mitochondrial Eve, and thus the origins issue is seemingly resolved. The problem with this idea is that even if the Bible was accommodating (and it isn't), how do you explain the various precursors predating that point in history, such as Homo erectus" Can they just be swept under the rug?

According to the Bible, Adam was the first to have a covenant relationship with the Creator, the first to be accountable, the first to sin and suffer the consequences, and the first in the line of promise leading to the Savior. That does not necessarily mean, however, that Adam was the first biped with an opposable thumb and a cranial capacity of 1300 to 1400 cubic centimeters.

Adam - Ancient or Recent"

Placing Adam's time frame in the distant past infers the Genesis record must have omitted the names of hundreds of generations who supposedly lived between Adam and Abraham. The rationale is that the word "begat" does not necessarily mean "the immediate father of," so the named patriarchs in Genesis 5 and 11 would be only a representative sampling.5

The elasticity of Hebrew grammar can be seen to permit genealogical stretching. The Hebrew word "ben" for "son" can also mean "grandson," "children," or even "descendant."6 Jesus is called "the son of David," for example (Matt. 1:1). Conversely, the word  - 'ab" for "father" can mean "ancestor." So the means for accommodation are in place, and many Bible scholars have taken this path. 

These interpreters point out inconsistencies in Bible genealogies by comparing Old Testament authors with New Testament authors, and then saying, for example: "Aha! Matthew dropped three relatives out of Jesus's lineage that are clearly listed in II Kings (Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah)."7

Thus these inconsistencies and allowances in Hebrew grammar are seen as somehow establishing a precedent which makes the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 and in Luke 3 fair game, and therefore, expandable at will. Like many other devices, this one will not stand up to scrutiny.

Seth has to be the immediate son of Adam (Gen. 4:25). The identical phraseology which sets Adam's age at the birth of his son, Seth, is repeated from Seth to Noah (Gen. 5:3-29). If there are no intermediate generations from Adam to Seth, then that should indicate the same thing down the line.

In Jude 1:14, Enoch is "the seventh from Adam," inhibiting additional unnamed patriarchs for the first seven generations. Methuselah died near the time of the flood, presumably before the rain started. That ties in the age of the patriarch at his death with the date of the flood, thereby precluding any additions of time between Methuselah and Noah.

Thus these inconsistencies and allowances in Hebrew grammar are
seen as somehow establishing a precedent which makes the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11

and in Luke 3 fair game, and therefore, expandable at will.
Like many other devices, this one will not stand up to scrutiny.

So if there is no space to stick in hundreds of generations from Adam to Enoch, and Enoch's son, Methuselah, died in the year of the flood (assuming a recent flood), that is the coup de grace to the expanding genealogies method. Inserting additional time or generations is not a workable proposition from Adam to Noah. 

The idea that Noah or Shem would have recorded ten forefathers, detailing the age of each at the birth of their first son, or son of the line of promise, and the age at death, while omitting hundreds of intermediate generations, is beyond reason. There is no justification for postulating intermediate, unnamed generations in Genesis 5. Even if it were theoretically possible to insert extra generations, the specific language used giving the age of the father at the birth of each succeeding son prohibits inserting more time. So it is a moot point. Archer maintains:

...for even allowing the numerous gaps in the chronological tables given in Genesis 5 and Genesis 10 it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that a hundred times as many generations are omitted in these tables as are included in them.8

More importantly, the background information surrounding Adam
and his generations to Noah, and from the flood to Abraham,
is far too modern in description to have happened at such an early period in man's history.

More importantly, the background information surrounding Adam and his generations to Noah, and from the flood to Abraham, is far too modern in description to have happened at such an early period in man's history. How would livestock raising and farming (Gen. 4:2) have come before hunting and gathering" Could sophisticated musical instruments (Gen. 4:21) predate simple bone flutes" How could metal working (Gen. 4:22) have preceded the Neolithic (late Stone Age) period" It serves no useful purpose to render the Genesis account incredible in order to extend a hermeneutical helping hand the Bible can do without. 

Why force something that isn't there" If we believe paleontologists, anatomically modern humans go back some 100,000 years; archaic Homo sapiens first appeared about 300,000 years ago; and hominids of some description can be traced back 2.5 million years with precursors to 4 million years ago. And if we trust the biblical text, Adam fits best at about 5000 to 4000 BC. Schroeder addresses this issue in Genesis and the Big Bang:

For the Bible scholar, it is not an easy task to accept as reality that for the past 100,000 years there existed animals such as hominids and that the skeletons of these ancient animals are near replicas of those of modern man. But the fossil evidence is abundant and irrefutable. It is folly, no it is counterproductive, to close one's eyes to this fact.9

Of course, a figure like 100,000 years ago for the emergence of anatomically modern humans may undergo revision in the future, but barring any drastic changes, there really is no comfortable niche for Adam any time before communicative bipedal creatures had already commenced on planet Earth. What became of them is the real issue.

These creatures either died out, leaving the world devoid of humanity until Adam was created, or else they left progeny who were busy populating the earth when Adam arrived on the scene. Adam either evolved or was nonexistent - notions the Bible rejects - or else he was inserted, so to speak, into the train of humanity. This is the solution we will explore.

A Time for Adam

The task of finding some place to inject Adam into human history can be simplified if we let the Bible do the talking. References to tents, farming, and raising livestock suggest that Adam was not a cave dwelling hunter-gatherer.

Archaeologists place the beginnings of modern man 10,000 years ago with the advent of farming techniques10 Adam's placement at roughly 5000 to 4000 BC from the Genesis genealogies, combined with the mention of farming, makes this a compatible time frame.

Lamech, a descendant of Cain, had three sons by his two wives (Gen. 4:19-22). Jabal "was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle." A second son Jubal, "was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ."

In just eight generations counting Adam, there are tents, livestock, and musical instruments; not caves, wooly mammoths, and hand axes. For many reasons, we can conclude that Adam was not contemporary with the "Flintstones." A wealth of Stone Age artifacts have been uncovered giving silent testimony to a culture long disappeared at this point. So where does Adam fit in the history of man" The next verse is explicit.

In Genesis 4:22, one of Cain's descendants, Tubal-cain, was "an instructor of every worker in brass and iron." The Hebrew word for "brass" also means "copper," and copper tools were not in use before 10,000 years ago. Although iron smelting would be out of the question, there is evidence that bog iron was beaten into rudimentary tools, and iron was known as far back as 4000 BC,11 or else what may have looked like iron could have been tin. Copper and tin together make bronze, and the Bronze Age is identifiable in history, starting about 3000 BC.12

That is the proverbial smoking gun. Adam belongs after the old Stone Ages, near the threshold of the Bronze Age, in a period called the Chalcolithic, when traditional stone tools were being gradually augmented by crude copper implements. Adam's descendants saw the dawning of the Bronze Age.

In the initial period of the Middle Eastern civilizations, from about 3000 BC, there was a truly remarkable development of metallurgy. This is seen in the beginning of the Bronze Age, when alloys of arsenic and copper, or tin and copper (in both cases known as bronze), came into being...13

Stone tools would have been of little use to Noah when he needed to construct a massive watertight ark. Metal tools suitable for such an undertaking would have only been available if the pre-flood patriarchs lived in the period of what archaeologists call "modern man;" that is, after 10,000 years ago. The Stone Age periods may not have completely passed by Adam's day, but apparently human history was well into the Bronze Age by the time of Tubal-cain and Noah. And a late entry for Adam puts him in the company of unrelated indigenous populations.

  Why Cain Feared for His Life

Cain's lament in Genesis 4:13-14 highlights the issue of whether Adam was alone or not. By murdering Abel, only Cain and his parents were left. Cain's first words upon hearing the Lord's punishment were out of fear that someone would kill him. Is it likely that his immediate worry was that his parents would retaliate, or that he would be tracked down and killed by future and thus far unborn generations from Adam" Cain would have had a whole world in which to hide.

God answered Cain's plea by providing a sign for him (Gen. 4:15). Cain's anxieties were justified as evidenced by the Lord taking action to quiet his fears. We have no way of knowing what that sign or mark was, but evidently it was necessary. From Cain's point of view, the entire human race would have reached a dead end at that point - unless there were other human beings about.14 There must have been potentially hostile tribes of men in the vicinity. Cain was aware of it, and the Lord's action attested to his justifiable fear.

And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. (Genesis 4:16)

Throughout the Bible the "land of Canaan" or the "land of Egypt" refers to an area populated by those particular peoples; such as Canaanites and Egyptians. Why have Bible interpreters not considered that the "land of Nod" might well have been populated by "Nodites," who were minding their own business before Cain arrived, and might have been the very ones Cain feared" In Hebrew, "nod" means "wandering." This would be an apt designation for a band of nomads who might have been in the area at the time, "nod" being simply a form of the word, "nomad."

Removing the Shackles of Prejudgment

Once we hold up to scrutiny the traditional assumption that Adam was the first human, and consider the probability that other human beings were already living in Adam's proximity, previous pitfalls in the Genesis narrative disappear. Passages that had obscure meanings become clear. The "Nephilim" or "giants" in Genesis 6:4 may now be identified as prehistoric, or pre-Adamic - not in Adam's line of descendants, or ancestry.

If we can shed our preconceptions, we may view Genesis from a new perspective. Yes, the early chapters are lacking an abundance of details. Paleontologists also differ over the course of man's descent due to sparse fossil evidence of early hominids. And it is too early for gene research to give us a conclusive picture.

Nevertheless, if we can cast off the shackles of prejudgment, we can examine the Genesis text with a view toward what may not be entirely provable, but is certainly possible, plausible, and, if I may be so bold, indeed probable.

The Image of God

     So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. (Genesis 1:27)

What does it mean to be created in God's image" "The ancient Orient shows us with ever increasing clarity that the purpose and function of an image consists in representing someone," Edmond Jacob writes in Theology of the Old Testament. "An image, that is to say a statue of a god is the real presence of this god..."15

In that context, Adam would have been God's representative to the world, and an already populated world to boot. Humbert raised another possibility; that man was given the same "physical outward appearance" as the deity.16 However, the human physique has a certain functionality necessitated by our physical environment that is not required by a Creator-God.

By using the term "God's image," the writer of Genesis may have been alluding to the inner essence of us which is an integral part and yet unseen - our soul, or our spirit. That may not have been an altogether unique feature. We are in the dark with respect to Adam's neighbors, even though Adam was apparently infused with something which gave him a kind of kinship with the deity.

Who is the "them" referred to in Genesis 1:27" It has been argued that the plural "them" should be applied to generic man, and not exclusively to Adam and his generations. But most Bible scholars believe this passage applies solely to Adam and Eve, and their descendants who came under the Adamic covenant. This is expressly implied in Genesis 5:1-3:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.

It is true that traditionally most Bible scholars have thought all of humanity started with Adam. This stand has been taken, however, with a certain nonchalance for not only the fossil record and the genetic evidence, but even the qualifiers in the Scriptures themselves. Adam was created, and then Eve, but it is unwarranted to presume ancient precursors are encompassed by Genesis 1:27.

Adam, as God's chosen, was the first man capable of achieving God's kingdom, and that was passed down through his generations until Christ's sacrifice at the cross changed the equation and brought a new covenant. Presumably any outsiders in Adam's day would have been outside the covenant, and unable to enjoy this unique status, which included the hope of redemption through (1) the Adamic bloodline, (2) the discipline of self righteousness, and (3) the ritual of animal sacrifice.

As the first type of Christ, Adam may have had a similar mission. Adam's task was probably to bring the word of God's kingdom to the polytheistic heathen living all around him. We can only guess. We can never know with certainty what it was Adam was supposed to have done, or could have done had he not yielded to Satan's odious deception so early on.

A Place for Adam

In terms of place, Southern Mesopotamia is clearly indicated by the Bible. The rivers, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates, the cities of Erech and Ur (and much more we will explore in depth) all point to this region" - a region that came to be called "Sumer." Jacquetta Hawkes describes it in The Atlas of Early Man:

The fourth millennium in Sumer is one of the most remarkable passages in human history. Already at its beginning old settlements such as Eridu, Uruk, Ur, Lagash and Nippur had become substantial towns and from 3500 BC they waxed into cities. The citizens now included large numbers of specialist artisans - "potters, carpenters, makers of mudbrick, coppersmiths - and fine sculptors too.17

Identifying the various cultures which have flourished in the Near East has been done with meticulous care made possible by years of carefully compiled archaeological data. The earliest identifiable people belong to the Neolithic Natufian culture, which was spread from Palestine to Syria, and date from about 12,500 to 10,500 years ago, clearly a pre-Adamic date. The oldest city identified with Natufian culture was Jericho.18

In 1961-1963, the excavation at Catal Huyuk in south-central Turkey was excavated in the early 1960s. It was dated from 6500 to 5400 BC, and supported the concept of regional areas of Neolithic development instead of a single nuclear area, such as a city.

Contrasts among Jericho, Catal Huyuk, Jarmo, and Umm Dabaghiyah - all about 6000 BC - suggest a considerable regionalization within widely scattered Neolithic communities of the Near East.19

In the Tigris and Euphrates floodplain, the ancient cultures leading to the development of Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian civilizations can be traced from late Neolithic villages of around 5500 BC to towns and urban areas of the highly developed Sumerians of 2500 BC.

The Hassuna culture takes its name from the mound of Tell Hassuna in northwestern Iraq, and dates to 6000-5250 BC. Numerous agricultural villages have been unearthed in Iran, Turkey, and Palestine that were contemporary with the Hassuna.

The coarse pottery wares identified with the Hassuna were gradually replaced by the remnants of the Samarra culture, starting about 5500 BC. At Tell-es Sawaan in Iraq alabaster female figurines were discovered, along with ornaments of turquoise, carnelian, greenstone, and copper. The presence of widely disparate materials in one location indicates trading practices, and shows that trade routes had already been established by that time.20

Dating from 5500 to 4700 BC, the Halaf culture succeeded, but overlapped the Samarran. Halafian ceramics have been discovered from the Mediterranean coast to Iran, though the Tigris-Euphrates region south of Baghdad may have been uninhabited at this early date.

From similarities in pottery shards and other artifacts, the highly developed Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian civilizations that flourished in the third and second millennium periods can be traced to the late Neolithic villages of around 5500 BC. There is no break that one would expect to see if there had been a catastrophic termination of mankind and a subsequent renewal, a theory that is popular among "gap" proponents.

The highly developed Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian civilizations
that flourished in the third and second millennium periods can be traced to
the late Neolithic villages of around 5500 BC.
There is no break that one would expect to see if there had been a catastrophic
termination of mankind and a subsequent renewal,
a theory that is popular among "gap" proponents.

Located four miles from the ancient city of Ur is the small archaeological mound of al-'Ubaid. The settlements in southern Mesopotamia dating from 4500-3500 BC are collectively assigned to the Ubaid culture. Whether or not pre-Ubaid sites exist in southern Mesopotamia is a subject of controversy. Some archaeologists believe that fluctuations in the level of the Persian Gulf may have erased any traces of earlier settlements.

The origin of the Ubaid culture is unknown. The Halafians were flourishing in the north at about the same time Ubaidan farmers began to settle the southern delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The climatic conditions seem unlikely for a Garden of Eden until the advancement of irrigation could bring its blessing of water to the area. This began to happen during the Ubaid period.

By 3500 BC, the Ubaidans were living in townships from Mesopotamia to Syria to Turkey. The subsequent flood at the time of Noah could have wiped out the Ubaidans, although there is some evidence the Sumerian culture may have derived from the Ubaidan. Broken pieces of pottery show subtle transition from Ubaid ware to Uruk ware. This is more indicative of gradual change through the influence of friendly contact with neighboring cultures than it is of a foreign invasion and replacement by conquest. Yet some archaeologists prefer the displacement model, and believe the Sumerians were a discrete population.

The purpose of designating these ancient populations as Halafian, Ubaidan, or Sumerian is primarily to place them in time and place context, and need not necessarily imply ethnic differences. The flood must have devastated Southern Mesopotamia, leaving behind ruined cities which the next generations of Sumerians could build on and repopulate. Whether Ubaidan fathers had Sumerian sons is unknown.

The flood must have devastated Southern Mesopotamia leaving behind ruined cities
which the next generations of Sumerians could build on and repopulate.

When it comes to identifying candidates who may have been enjoying the Tigris and Euphrates region prior to Adam's creation, there are two or three choices depending on the precise date of Adam's arrival. We can select the earlier Halafians, the Ubaidans, or the later Sumerians, although the Ubaidans seem the most likely:

About 4500 BC the region was settled by people who came to be called Ubaidans. They in fact settled most of the sites where the great cities of Sumeria [Sumer] were to grow - ncluding Ur (where Wooley found their remains under the silt of the flood). Later they spread up the valley, succeeding the Halafians and becoming the first people to dominate the whole of Mesopotamia.21

The harsh, arid conditions might have caused the Halafians to make only brief appearances in the south, or maybe they never got there at all. The first inhabitants of the Tigris and Euphrates basin that can be readily identified are the Ubaidans, succeeded by the Sumerians.

Flood deposits have been found at key Southern Mesopotamian city sites; Kish, Shuruppak, Erech, and Lagash that center around a 2900 BC time frame.22 However, both Ubaidan and Sumerian artifacts have been found at levels dated earlier than that. The Sumerians re-established their civilization after the flood, and rebuilt or resettled previously established city sites.

Conceivably Halafians could have been living in the vicinity of Eden when Adam was placed in the garden. But Ubaidan pottery has been found at the lowest levels of excavated cities in Southern Mesopotamia, and the Ubaidans best fit the most likely time frame. Adam and his generations likely were surrounded from the beginning, or became surrounded by first Ubaidan, and then Sumerian culture.

  Irrigating the Garden

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6)

Genesis 2:5-6 is a useful passage to use in demonstrating that Bible interpretations which exclude pertinent extra-biblical data can produce dubious opinions and perplexing conclusions. From this verse, Henry Morris argues for a "vapor canopy" over the early earth, and reasons:

In the original world, however, there was no rainfall on the earth. As originally created, the earth's daily water supply came primarily from local evaporation and condensation.23

Morris reaches this conclusion solely on his reading of the biblical text, deducing that rain doesn't come until the flood, notwithstanding the fact that no one has discovered any place in the world where mist or fog naturally oozes out of the ground in sufficient volume to water humans, livestock, and crops. We would also be left to wonder what furnished the rivers in Genesis 2:10-14 with water. Were the Tigris and Euphrates not supplied by snow melt and rainfall as they are today"

In their well known Commentary on the Old Testament, Keil and Delitzsch explain Genesis 2:5 as follows:

The creation of the plants is not alluded to here at all, but simply the planting of the garden in Eden.

They too slide down the slippery slope to a woeful opinion. This was "dependent upon rain," they decide, and conclude that the mist or vapor in Genesis 2:6 was the "creative beginning of the rain itself""24 So even though the Bible states in the previous verse "for the Lord God had not caused it to rain," nevertheless, rain it was, according to this respected Bible commentary.

So which is it, rain or no rain" The answer can be sought in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Archaeology pertaining to ancient Mesopotamia:

The culmination of these prehistoric advances is to be found in the `Ubaid period of the sixth and fifth millennia, when the earliest settlements are known from Sumer. This area was characterized by the very great fertility of its alluvial soil and - outside local areas of marsh and lagoon, where a specialized fishing, hunting and collecting economy could have been practiced - an extremely arid environment that necessitated the use of irrigation for successful agriculture.25

Could "an extremely arid environment" be described as a place where the "Lord God had not caused it to rain"" Could a "mist from the earth" that "watered the whole face of the ground" refer to a land "that necessitated the use of irrigation for successful agriculture""

It seems "there was not a man to till the ground" for an  uncomplicated reason.
No one had irrigated the desert soil; thus no plowing had been done, so no crops could be grown.

Driver suggests irrigation:

Provision [is] made for the irrigation of the garden. The reference is implicitly to a system of canals, such as existed in Babylonia...26

The Septuagint offers furtherassistance. In the Greek text the word is not "mist," but "fountain." The RSV uses "stream." Certainly the words "fountain" and "stream" better describe an irrigation canal than a vapor canopy. It seems "there was not a man to till the ground" for an uncomplicated reason. No one had irrigated the desert soil; thus no plowing had been done, so no crops could be grown.

Even before the first cities began to appear on the Mesopotamian plain, sizeable settlements such as Jericho were being supplied by irrigation.

The biblical city of Jericho, a center for salt trade, flourished during the seventh millennium BC in the desert near the north end of the Dead Sea. Water diverted from a spring nourished its fields.27

In Genesis 2:8, "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed." "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden - " (Gen. 2:10).

It is unlikely that a river, synonymous with "brook" or "creek," is intended. Water falls on the ground, trickles into streams, and flows to rivers, which empty in the sea - the exact opposite of what the verse states. The purpose of irrigation canals is to carry water from the rivers to the ground - precisely what the verse states. There were no "rivers" in Babylon (Psa. 137:1), only canals. In other words, there was a place called Eden, out of which a canal ran eastward to irrigate the garden, where God placed Adam.

What cries out for attention, though, is this:
How could Eden be identified and named as a place
distinct from the garden if there was no citizenry?

We know that Southern Mesopotamia was laced with a canal network, the remains of which can still be seen today as lines in the desert. Canals obviously required people to dig and maintain them. What cries out for attention, though, is this: How could Eden be identified and named as a place distinct from the garden if there was no citizenry"

Take any place - London, England, for example. Was there ever a time when London was unoccupied" Well, yes, but no one could have called it "London" then. The principle is the same concerning Eden. Isaiah speaks of the Lord making the wilderness of Zion "like Eden" (Isa. 51:3). Eden was apparently a place for people, and had to have people before it could be called "Eden."

Who lived in Havilah (Gen. 2:11,12), and who mined the gold there" Driver places Havilah "most probably" in the northeast of Arabia on the west coast of the Persian Gulf, south of Egypt, and adds, "The gold of Arabia was famed in antiquity."28 Also, the remains of mines have been found in the Egyptian Nile Valley that were active over 30,000 years ago.29 There may be other ways to explain this verse, but the implications are that gold mining preceded even Adam's Fall!

We may not know who was living in "the whole land of Ethiopia" (Gen. 2:13), but sewing needles and stone vessels for grinding grain into meal were found at el-Badari along the Nile dating to slightly earlier than 5000 BC.30 This was about the same time that Hassuna and Nineveh were established beside the Tigris (biblical Hiddekel) in the region later known as Assyria.

Enuma Elish - An Early Creation Epic

The first people who can be clearly identified as likely descendants of Adam are the post-flood Semitic Accadians. Most authors believe that an influx of Semites31 from the early third millennium BC were known by the Sumerians as "Martu."32 The Accadians apparently learned their writing skills from the Sumerians, and began to record their own versions of history in their own language using the same cuneiform technique.

One of the early creation epics was written in Accadian or Babylonian cuneiform and is called Enuma Elish. It has been compiled from tablets found at Ninevah, Ashur, and Kish. According to legend, father Ea (second in the early Accadian Trinity) begat the heroic Marduk who slays the rebellious Tiamat. Thereupon:

  He split her like a shellfish into two parts:
  Half of her he set up and cield it as sky...

 (For a shadow of this see Psa. 89:9,10 and Isa. 51:9. ) The one who "contrived the uprising" was the evil Tiamat's commander-in-chief, Kingu:

  They bound him, holding him before Ea.
  They imposed on him his guilt and severed his blood (vessels).
  Out of his blood they fashioned mankind.

 In this account, the blood of Kingu was used, but in another legend the blood is mixed with clay.36 Although somewhat gory in describing the mode of their creation, the Accadians also seemed to be aware they were not alone in the world. Frequent references are made to the "black-headed" people.37

 The "black-headed" was a reference to the Sumerians who supplanted the Ubaidans, or conceivably, it could be a reference to some other race of people. But regardless of who they were, they were not Semites (or Adamites) judging from Accadian poetry. 

 May he shepherd the black-headed ones, his creatures.
  To the end of days, without forgetting, let them acclaim his ways.
  May he establish for his fathers the great food-offerings;
  Their support they shall furnish, shall tend their sanctuaries.

  May he cause incense to be smelled...their spells,

  A likeness on earth of what he has wrought in heaven.
  May he order the black-headed to re[vere him],
  May the subjects ever bear in mind their god,
  And may they at his word pay heed to the goddess.
  May food-offerings be borne for their gods and goddesses.
  Without fail let them support their gods!
  Their lands let them improve, build their shrines,
  Let the black-headed wait on their gods.
  As for us, by however many names we pronounce, He is our God!38

 Evidently the Semitic Accadians thought of the "black-headed" as a separate people, racially distinct, and polytheistic as regards to religion. The light-skinned, dark-haired Sumerians best fit this description, and they spoke an unrelated language long before the Tower of Babel incident.

 Early Adamite populations must have lived in relative isolation at the beginning since they developed a language entirely unlike the Sumerian language. But by the time the Sumerians learned to write, some of the earliest names recorded were Semite (or Adamite), demonstrating the close contact between these two cultures very early on. 

Adam's Bride

After naming the animals of the garden, there was still something missing, "but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:20).

 A search can easily be implied by the words, "was not found." A search for a helpmate to be both wife and companion would be ridiculous if the world at that time contained only birds, beasts, cattle, and creeping things - but what if one or more settlements of humans were already in the vicinity"

 Available females must have been nearby, one of which Adam could have chosen for his wife. We can deduce that from archaeological history. From the Bible we can conclude that none was suitable, so Adam had an operation resulting in Eve. As confirmation of an act of special creation for the first covenant couple, Genesis 2:21-23 gives us a graphic description. Paul confirms this mode of origination. "For Adam was first formed (plasso in the Greek), then Eve" (1 Tim. 2:13).

 Apparently Adam was created biologically compatible with the neighbors outside the garden. But God's desire was for Adam's wife to be distinctive, just as Adam was. By fashioning Eve out of Adam, this allowed them both to enjoy 900 or more years of wedded bliss. We are free to speculate about the origins of Cain's wife, or Noah's wife, but not about Eve.

 The Bread of Life

Adam was banished from the garden after the Fall. "In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread..." and, "...the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken" (Gen. 3:19,23).

 Could we believe the first man on earth already knew how to use fire, construct an oven, plant and harvest grain, mill it, and prepare the flour for baking" If not, then we may conclude that Adam was not the first man in the biological sense.

 Prehistoric men were hunters of wild game and gatherers of fruits and berries. Farming and domesticated livestock were later developments. Paleontologists have uncovered evidence that ancient peoples harvested wild wheat as far back as 9000 BC. It took a genetic crossing of goat grass and "emmer" to produce bread wheat. The earliest evidence of wheat cultivation was found in the ancient oasis of Jericho and is dated at 8000 BC.39

 Wheat, and therefore bread, appears to have been in use 3,000 years before Adam. So we have two choices. We can either deny the anthropological data; or allow that these agricultural developments predate Adam. If we choose the second option, at his inception, therefore, Adam must have been surrounded by people already familiar with growing grain when he was inserted into human history.

 In the second article of this two-part series, we'll examine the culture that surrounded the early Adamites in Southern Mesopotamia at around 5000 to 4000 BC and discuss early cuneiform writings and inscriptions that speak about an historical figure that could have been Adam of Genesis. In addition, we'll look at the Sumerian king lists of early pre-flood rulers, which begin with "Alulim," the probable equivalent of Adam. Eridu, the oldest city in Southern Mesopotamia, dating to about 4800 BC, is the most likely place to have been Eden, the original home for Adam and his kin. Even the word "Eden" apparently was derived from the Sumerian "edin," meaning "plain," "prairie," or "desert." "Enoch," the city Cain built in the pre-flood period corresponds with "E-anna(k)," a Sumerian and Semite post-flood site.


1Ann Gibbons, "Mitochondrial Eve: Wounded But Not Dead Yet," Science (14 August, 1992), 873.

2Ibid., 875.

3Ibid., 875.

4James Shreeve, "Argument Over A Woman," Discover (August 1990), 52-59.

5Robert C. Newman and Herman J. Eckelmann, Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), 111.

6Lloyd R. Bailey, Genesis, Creation, and Creationism (New York: Paulist Press, 1993), 130.

7Paul H. Seely, Inerrant Wisdom: Science & Inerrancy In Biblical Perspective (Portland: Evangelical Reform, Inc. , 1989), 17.

8Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), 203.

9Gerald L. Schroeder, Genesis and the Big Bang (New York: Bantam Books, 1990), 175.

10John E. Pfeiffer, The Creative Explosion (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1982), 121.

11From an exhibit in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D. C., July 25, 1993.

12Jacquetta Hawkes, The Atlas of Early Man (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976), 63.

13John Gowlett, Ascent to Civilization (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1984), 180.

14Dick Fischer, "The Bible Proves Creationism is Wrong," The Washington Post (August 17, 1986), C4.

15Edmond Jacob, Theology of the Old Testament ( New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1958), 167.

16Ibid., 167.

17Hawkes, The Atlas Of Early Man, 64.

18Amihai Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 36.

19C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, and Jeremy A. Sabloff, Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica (Menlo Park: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc. , 1979), 79.

20Ibid., 99.

21Hawkes, The Atlas of Early Man, 63.

22Lloyd R. Bailey, Noah: The Person and the Story in History and Tradition (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989), 36.

23Henry Morris, The Genesis Record (San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1976), 84.

24C. F. Keil, and F. Delitzsch, Commentary On The Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), 77-78.

25Andrew Sherratt, ed., The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Archaeology (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1980), 113.

26S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1938), 39.

27George, Constable, Ed., The Age of God Kings: TimeFrame 3000-1500 BC (Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1987), 10.

28Driver, The Book of Genesis, 39.

29Pierre M. Vermeersch, Etienne Paulissen, and Philip Van Peer, "Palaeolithic chert exploitation in the limestone stretch of the Egyptian Nile Valley," African Archaeological Review (1990) 8: 77-102.

30Hawkes, The Atlas of Early Man, 47.

31"Semites" is the term archaeologists and historians use to denote not only descendants of Shem, but also descendants of Japheth, Ham, or any of Adam's line in the pre-flood period (if a person such as Adam ever existed, or there was ever an event such as the Flood.) Thus, Canaanites spoke a "west semitic" language, notwithstanding Canaan was the son of Ham, according to the Bible. One might think "Hamites" would have communicated in a "hamitic" tongue. But the secular world does not recognize the Bible as being historically accurate. Therefore, "Semites" are universally recognized. "Adamites," "Hamites," and "Japhethites" are not, shall we say, "politically correct."

32Samuel Noah Kramer, "Sumero-Akkadian Interconnections," Genava, n. s., 8 (1960), 272-273.

33James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), 60-72.

34Ibid., 67.

35Ibid., 68

36Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1942), 56.

37Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 70.

38Ibid., 69.

39John Wiester, The Genesis Connection (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 187.

In Search of Historical Adam: Part 2