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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: P. C. Headley :: Women of the Bible

P. C. Headley :: Eve

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I. EVE

Eve has a brief biography in the Sacred Record. Without childhood or youth, she came from the moulding hand of her Creator, in the full maturity of her powers, and in the perfection of human beauty.

To Adam as he awakened from repose, she came like a morning vision-the bright presence of a celestial. How long he had been alone in Paradise, we do not know. But he had held communion with God, and the angels; and given names to the varieties of animal creation, which passed before him in obedient homage to their solitary king. He had looked with rapture upon the high arch of his wide domain, with its wandering clouds and nightly stars-upon the flashing rivers, and waving foliage with its golden fruit.

The world of thought within, was pure and beautiful as the world without. Reason was unshaken in its majesty and clear in its judgment tone, conscience perpetually peaceful, and the heart tuned to the harmonies of Heaven. "He was great yet disconsolate" in his garden of manifold delights. He heard sometimes the voice of Jehovah, but it came to his listening ear with the authority of a Sovereign. The Seraphim walked with him in the groves of Eden, but they were of a higher and more ethereal nature. Besides, they left him to many hours of solitude, in which no language of sympathy broke on his contemplations. Around him, in all the myriads of submissive creatures; he found in none the light of thought and the dignity of moral character. It is not strange with a human soul, if a shadow of mysterious loneliness at times passed over his ample brow. He longed for a being who could enter into the sphere of meditation and feeling peculiar to man. This, his only want, was gratified by the Deity, when he brought the first maiden and wife, in "unadorned beauty," to his beating heart. He received with joyful welcome his fair companion, and recognized the object of his social affections.

They flowed freely from their unsullied fountain, and were reciprocated with the confiding love of woman. She was his equal in origin and immortality; (Gen 2:18) and they went forth from the marriage rite, which fell from the lips of God, to contemplate his works, and lift an anthem of praise-the first epithalamium of earth. To Adam, Paradise must have put on new glory, and the very trees seemed to toss their green crowns in gladness above his path.

He told Eve what God had done in fitting up their abode, and gave her the names of animals sporting by her side.

When he paused before the mystic "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," (Gen 2:17) near which were the spreading and luxuriant branches of the "tree of life," (Gen 2:9) he repeated the awful sanctions of eternal Law, which invested that single tree with fearful interest. It pointed like an index‐finger to the skies, and reminded them of the holiness and authority of the Infinite Lawgiver. It was there, though one among thousands, in solitary and solemn sublimity, at once a memorial of love, a test of loyalty, and a beacon of warning, bidding them beware how they dashed madly down the precipice of moral ruin. They contemplated that forbidden object silently, until they bowed and prayed for strength to walk in obedience, erecting beneath its shade a family altar to the Lord.

Beautiful scene! Heaven bent lovingly over it, and

-"Aside the Devil turned,
For envy."

So time passed on, with no chronometer but the joy of holy affection-with no dial but the shadows of evening that brought no gloom, and the dawn of morning that revealed more of the glorious Giver, and added new notes of praise to their hymns of worship.

But one day Eve wandered alone amid the bowers of the garden, and the fallen Archangel watched her goings and plotted her ruin. He understood the subtle power of influence (Gen 3:1) wielded with the magic of genius, and approached her with a question touching the possibility that Jehovah could with propriety prohibit any pleasurable indulgence. The purity of Eve's mind was stained by indecision; she did not repel the insinuation and affirm the justness of the interdiction.

The tempter became more positive, and assured her that she might partake of the fruit without apprehension of the threatened death, and would besides, attain a glorious pre‐eminence in knowledge. (Gen 3:4-5.) She listened, and cast a glance of desire upon the pendent boughs, whose fragrant harvest seemed to invite her touch. (Gen 3:6.) Fatal pause! the first act in a moral revolution, extending over the ages of time and the cycles of eternity.

"Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she ate."

Could she then have looked down the stream of history, and read all the tragedies that moment of pleasure was preparing for the souls of her offspring, how would her heart have burst with agony, and tears of blood have stained that cheek, flushed with the excitement of the conflict with conscience, and the enjoyment of her unconscious fall. Pleased with the achievement, and meeting not immediately the mysterious doom she had feared, Eve sought the bower of Adam, and urged him to eat of the pleasant fruit; for it was truly as the serpent had said. He, too, fell before the temptation presented in two-fold strength, and the victory of "the powers of darkness" was complete. (Gen 3:6-13.)

A long and exultant shout went through the arches of hell, and methinks every harp in Heaven was silent, while a convulsive throb was felt in every angel's bosom, and a shadow of disappointment, wonder, and grief, passed over the features of the celestial host.

Eve soon appears in a new character. With him her influence had ruined-she had gone, forth an exile, with the curse of God pursuing her-and became a mother. In some lonely valley, or on a mountain side of the world's vast wilderness, with no cheering accents but the voice of Adam, she brought forth her first-born. (Gen 4:1-2.) Never was there a more desolate mother. She had not even a manger, and the angels who fled affrighted when she sinned, came no more to cheer her solitude with their song of thanksgiving. She could pillow her aching head on the breast of Adam, but it brought only bitter recollections of brighter days. With maternal interest she might rejoice over the unconscious heir of frailty and suffering; but "what will be his destiny now we are fallen?" was a question that could not fail to oppress her loving heart. It would seem that Abel was a twin brother. Whether this were so or not, his name indicates that he was a weaker child and less tenderly loved. Eve centered her hopes in regard to the Redeemer and the honor of her family in Cain. How much this fact affected his character and cherished the haughty spirit which at length made him a fratricide, we cannot tell.

He may have apprehended something significant in the sacrifices, pointing to his own death as a type of the Great Sufferer. A dark thought had taken possession of his mind, and in sullen mood he set aside the authority of parental example in his offering to the Lord. Jehovah frowned upon him, while the smoke of his oblation ascended; but flooded with the smile of big approval the altar and the brow of Abel. In the conversation which followed Cain became enraged, and smote his unoffending brother. When he saw the warm blood flowing from the wounds of his dying victim, and met the reproach of his fading eye, conscience with its terrors was let loose upon him, and branded by the wrath of God he fled a fugitive from the face of his kindred. (Gen 4:3-12.)

Adam in his customary walks, or led forth by the long absence of his sons into the fields, came suddenly upon the bloody corpse of Abel. He beheld the marks of violence, but the companion of the slain was gone; and while he knew that death had entered his family, it was murder too-the fearful harvest sown by parental transgression. It opened the ravages of crime, which were to make the green earth one wide field of battle. When the shock was over, and he recovered from his delirium of anguish, he bore the tidings to Eve.

Whether she was partially prepared for the bolt by his despairing face and incoherent expressions, or he rushed in the excess of his grief into her presence, with the shriek, "Abel is dead!" is left to conjecture. When the terrible fact was known, her heart sunk beneath the blow; for to the depth of a mother's sorrow was added the bitterness of self-reproach.

And that first funeral was a gloomy one-the uncoffined form was carried without a knell to its burial, and the shadow of a grave darkened a ruined world. Nor since has there been a sadder home or wilder lamentation, than that of the bereaved patriarch and his bewailing wife.

The years melted away, and Eve was again a mother. (Gen 4:25.) To her, evidently, was conceded the right of naming her offspring. This third son she called Seth, or the appointed, because God had given her another to fill the place of the departed. How beautifully this incident shows the maternal affection and trusting spirit of Eve! Her weary heart had a new object upon which to pour its wealth of love, and she recognized the hand of her injured Father in the bestowment of a blessing, which was to link her destiny with the advent of the promised Christ.

She lived to be the centre of a large, domestic circle, and to behold the multiplying hundreds of a sinful, and a suffering race. Bowed with the weight of years, and an experience full of the most varied and stirring events, she reached the limit of life. Oh! with what emotion she contemplated the past, while looking down into the gulf of dissolution. Around her lay the wreck of a planet which filled the universe with melody, when it rolled from the forming hand of God, and which in its moral destiny, had there been no interposition of grace, would have drifted forever from its orbit around His Throne. Her children and friends gathered about her dying couch, to hear her last accents and receive her blessing. Adam, leaning upon his staff, stood by her pillow and bedewed her pale forehead with his tears, breathing in her ear comforting words concerning the mercy of the Lord.

In the struggles of that hour, Eve could lean alone upon the promise of a Messiah to come-the only ray penetrating the dark valley was that dim revelation of a Saviour who would be the "resurrection and the life." (Jhn 11:25.) She cast a mournful glance upon those she had loved and ruined, murmured a farewell, looked upward with a smile of victory, and the conflict was over-the mother of mankind was no more.

The tidings spread, and from the scattered dwellings of her descendants was heard the voice of weeping-for Eve had been loved for her affectionate fidelity to Adam, and her tender solicitude for the happiness of all. Beside she retained traces of her primeval beauty, and subdued by penitence, she lived among them a model of matronly dignity, meekness and piety. Her solemn counsels and many prayers were remembered, and her frailty in the ruinous experiment of disobedience, was well nigh forgotten in the grief of an orphan race. In silence, except the sobs of unaffected mourning, she was borne to her grave beside that of the martyred Abel.

Though no epitaph was written, as often as the eye of the passer‐by fell upon that mound, or the foliage waving over it, he read the language of those words written in burning capitals over the gateway of despair-"In the day that thou eatest thereof, THOU SHALT SURELY DIE." (Gen 2:17.)

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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