Adam and Eve had only three sons (Cain, Abel, and Seth), but no daughters: how did the world get populated?

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    Related: this and this; but indeed, there are a great many Christians who cannot interpret large chunks of Genesis literally, as it doesn't tally with what we understand of humanity. Then it ultimately comes down to 4 approaches: "it is not a complete recitation", "the rules (biological and moral) were different then", "it didn't actually happen quite like that", and "it is an invention" Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 12:37
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    @David Laberge:"Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old" Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 12:41
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    Sorry, where does the Bible say they had only three sons and no daughters?
    – Matt
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


The Bible actually indicates that Adam and Eve did, in fact, have daughters.

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. 4 The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. 5 Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. Genesis 5:1-5

We also know that Seth was born after Cain had killed Abel:

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." Genesis 4:25

So, when Adam was 130 years old after Cain killed Abel, Eve became pregnant and gave birth to Seth. So, did Adam and Eve have other children in between the time that Cain and Abel were born and Seth was born? We can't say absolutely, but we can't say absolutely not either. It certainly seems reasonable that other children would have been born during that time.

Genesis 5 does indicate that Adam and Eve had daughters as well (plural), though we are not told how many. The very minimum would be three sons and two daughters.

Apparently Jewish tradition holds that Adam and Eve actually had 33 sons and 23 daughters. This is not biblical, of course, but it aligns with the idea that Adam and Eve were probably extremely fruitful and multiplied greatly, as God had commanded them. The genetics were quite pure as well as the environment at that time. They lived a long time (Adam was 930 years old when he died according to Genesis 5), so they had a lot of time to have children.

Now, it should be noted that this doesn't completely answer the question of how the world got populated. The Bible teaches that the world was destroyed by a flood and that only Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives survived.

And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. Genesis 7:21-22

So, the world has become populated today as descendants of those 8 people. Even Noah could possibly have had children after the flood as well as Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. Genesis 10:32

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    @NarnianFirst of all thanks for your detailed answer..According to your point of view(and of course according to Bible) Adam and Eve had sons and daughters.So, At least one of Adam's son would married their sister or Adam himself would married to his own daughter.isn't it? Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 14:43
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    @VijinPaulraj Yes, Adam was married to Eve, but Adam's sons had to be married to their sisters. This issue is addressed elsewhere on this site. Basically, the command not to marry a close relative did not exist until many centuries later, and it was likely added to account for the genetic deterioration that had arisen by then. It's probably only considered immoral due to this issue--more a practical necessity than anything deeper than that.
    – Narnian
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 14:50
  • The Genesis is very open to a wide variety of interpretations. Does the day mean the currently used 24 hours, or a whole era? Was Adam the first human, or just the first human with a soul? Was the Tree of Knowledge a physical object, or is it used figuratively? Did God create other men after Adam and Eve? Cain traveled far away from his parents, settled down and had a family, so it might imply that He did.
    – vsz
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 17:25
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    @vsz Yes, Genesis is open to a wide variety of interpretations. This answer comes from the perspective of a literal interpretation. Each of your questions can be asked (and many have been) on this site.
    – Narnian
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 18:18

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