Bereishit: Eve

The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all humankind. (Bereishit 3:20).

How could you know
that your swollen belly
harbored a child?
No mother prepared you
with loving advice.
Did you fear
when you labored,
that you might die of pain?
No mother attended you:
murmured encouragement;
wiped sweat from your face.
How did you know
to put him to suckle,
tend his fevers,
sing him to sleep?
No mother rocked you,
caressed you,
gentled your cries.
How did you know
to disregard tantrums,
to summon up patience
for your rage and his?
No mother chided you,
tickled you,
played with you,
laughed with you,
nurtured you,
looked at you, as though
you were the only child on earth.

I have speculated how the earliest mother might have experienced her first pregnancy, without the accumulated wisdom and support of other women – her own mother, grandmother, sister or aunt. The symptoms must have seemed inexplicable: perhaps nausea and overwhelming exhaustion; swelling belly; kicking from within; and then the contractions; breaking of the amniotic waters and finally the miraculous emergence of the first human baby. Although she may have seen pregnant and birthing animals, it could hardly have prepared her for what was ahead. She would have found herself responsible for a crying baby to nurse and nurture, with no-one to consult or care for both her and her child. She had to summon up her own intuitive wisdom to care for her child as he progressed through the unpredictable stages from infancy through adolescence to adulthood, with all the physical and emotional changes involved.

Furthermore, one tradition holds that Cain and Abel were twins (based on Bereishit 4:1-2 where the text says, “she conceived and bore Cain…she then bore his brother Abel…”) while another Midrash tells of each brother having a twin sister!


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