Adam had named all the animals and Eve, but with the birth of the son God gave them to replace Abel, it was Eve who named him. Genesis 4:25 says, “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’” When their first son, Cain, was born, Eve exclaimed that God had given her a man child, and it has been widely commented that she might have thought that it was the promised “seed” of Genesis 3:15. Boice says, “Cain was the first child of Eve (born after the fall), and the essential meaning of his Hebrew name is ‘Acquisition,’ or colloquially, ‘Here he is!’ The name was a mistake on Eve’s part. She had heard God’s promise of a deliverer who should crush the head of Satan. He was to be born of her. So, when Cain was born, she assumed that he was this deliverer. She was wrong. Instead of a savior, she had given birth to a murderer.”[1]

Eve’s excitement at Cain’s birth turned into deep disappointment. If she thought he might have been the promised “seed,” one would think that the new child might have been seen as the replacement for Cain. But Eve says Seth is the replacement for Abel instead. The practice of God choosing the younger over, the older might have its roots in this instance. Sailhamer sees this, “A pattern is established in chapter 4 that will remain the thematic center of the book. The one through whom the promised seed will come is not the heir apparent, the eldest son, but the one whom God chooses.”[2]

Some argue that Adam and Eve only had three sons to begin with. Others like Spence suggest that she had many other children during the years of the maturing of her eldest Son Cain and his brother Abel. She must have had sons and daughters. They are not mentioned because they do not play into the theme of the promised deliverer that would come through a holy line. Spence suggests that “Her other children probably had gone in the way of Cain, leaving none to carry on the holy line, till this son was born, whom in faith she expects to be another Abel in respect of piety, but, unlike him, the head of a godly family.”[3] Eve’s words at Seth’s birth indicate that she thought Seth was the seed of Genesis 3:15. Her words in Hebrew are literally, “For God has given me another seed.” Briscoe observes, “The reference to ‘seed’ suggests that she trusted the promise she had heard from the Lord about the serpent’s bruising. Attributing the birth to the Lord’s appointing shows that in the midst of the chaos, God still had His people. It is still true today.”[4]

[1] Boice, James Montgomery. 1998. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Sailhamer, John H. 1990. “Genesis.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 2:69. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[3] Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. 1909. Genesis. The Pulpit Commentary. London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[4] Briscoe, D. Stuart, and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1987. Genesis. Vol. 1. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.