Adam and Eve are alone outside the garden of Eden and away from the presence of God. They only had each other. What do men and women eventually do when they are alone? Genesis 4:1 tells us, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” The Biblical way of describing sexual intercourse is to say simply that a man “knew” his wife. “Knowing” is obviously referring to intercourse because it’s followed by conception and childbirth. Notice that it will come up again with the birth of Seth later in Chapter 4. Patterson and Goetz describe the biblical use of the Hebrew word for “know.” They say, “Yada, to know—it’s surprising the Bible uses a word like this to speak of something that we typically describe more clinically as ‘having sex,’ or perhaps more euphemistically as ‘having relations.’ Modern translations render this verse with such words as ‘lay’ (New International Version), ‘had relations’ (New American Standard), ‘slept’ (New Living Translation), ‘had intercourse’ (Jerusalem Bible). But the Hebrew text says Adam knew Eve, and she conceived a child, a new life.” They go on to suggest that the real root of the word deals more with intimacy than sex, “God’s knowledge of us is like that. That is not to say that his knowledge of us is sexual, but sexual knowledge is something like his knowledge of us. It is deeply intimate, life-creating, in-fleshed, and therefore transforming.”[1] When men are women “know” or are “intimate” with each other, conception often takes place as in this verse.

God knows our mothers and fathers, but he also knows us from the foundation of the earth. His knowledge leads to our conception. However, in one of his best-known Psalms, Psalm 139, David described the intimacy that he recognizes God has with him. He writes, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me… For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”

Many commentators recognize the second part of this verse as something more significant than what first meets the mind. Eve declared, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” This implies that she could have understood that Cain was the deliverer promised to them back in Genesis Chapter 3. Bennet even suggests, based on several other manuscripts, that Eve exclamation should say, “‘I have gotten a man, even the Lord.’” He says this reading was “…adopted by Luther and others and understood as expressing Eve’s conviction that the promised Messiah of 3:15 had been born.”[2] What a disappointment that Cain would be for his parents. They had high hopes dashed by Cain’s murder of his brother and subsequent expulsion from his parents’ life. The only one who could redeem Adam and Eve and all humanity had to be sinless. Adam and Eve, and you and me all know sin! But “For our sake, he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

[1] Patterson, Ben, and David L. Goetz. 1999. Deepening Your Conversation with God. Vol. 7. The Pastor’s Soul Series. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

[2] Bennett, W. H. 1911–1912. “EVE.” In A Dictionary of the Bible: Dealing with Its Language, Literature, and Contents Including the Biblical Theology, edited by James Hastings, John A. Selbie, A. B. Davidson, S. R. Driver, and H. B. Swete, 1:797. New York; Edinburgh: Charles Scribner’s Sons; T. & T. Clark.