Even though in popular culture religion might not be what the “cool kids” are into, it has been the driving force in Western civilization for more than two millennia, and the Jewish culture for six. Many still have all sorts of questions regarding religion, from the more basic to the more controversial. One common question is: What language did Adam and Eve speak?
We do not know the language that Adam and Eve spoke, and simply can’t know. The source of our knowledge of them is the Bible and it does not record what they spoke. Many try to speculate what they might have spoken, but they are never more than speculations.
With both Religion and languages, there is always more to talk about. For instance, what are some common speculations of the language that Adam and Eve spoke? Did they speak Hebrew? What language would God have used to speak with them? And, what language does the devil speak, since he spoke with them? These questions and more are answered down below.
- 1 What Language Did God Speak To Adam And Eve?
- 2 Did Adam Speak Hebrew?
- 3 What Was The First Word?
- 4 What Language Does The Devil Speak?
- 5 What Is The Language Of God?
- 6 The Final Talking Point On The Language That Adam And Eve Spoke…
What Language Did God Speak To Adam And Eve?
Many wonder what language God would have used to communicate with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. There are some who wonder if he even spoke to them at all, with a few proposing that God used telepathic communication to talk to Adam. Did God talk to Adam in his mind? If not, what language did God speak to Adam and Eve with?
The language that God would have spoken with Adam and Eve, is the language that they spoke. However, we do not know what that language was. Some have taken to calling this mysterious language the Adamic language. Nevertheless, God would’ve spoken the language that Adam and Eve already knew.
What about that telepathic theory regarding God talking in the mind of Adam? Like Professor X in Marvel’s X-Men, where he uses telepathic powers to talk to people and beat up bad guys.
There is a debate whether God was walking in a fully human form in the Garden of Eden with Adam, or took on another appearance. What we can see is that he took some physical form. This does suggest that he could have spoken a language, since He was there physically in some way. This could then mean God used a language to speak to Adam directly.
A quote from Genesis just might help us:
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.Genesis 3:8 (RSVCE)
There is more evidence for this, like Abraham talking to God before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This could be stronger evidence of God (the Father) speaking audibly to His human creation.
God took the physical form of a cloaked man, and He declared that Sarah (Abraham’s wife) would have a son, despite her being elderly. Then He discussed with Abraham the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham had his famous “struggle” with God.
Abraham drew near, and said, “Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?
Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”Genesis 18:23-26 (RSVCE)
Clearly God is talking to Abraham with a language and in the form of a human. It is not a stretch then to say that He used a language to speak with Adam too. Even if we don’t know the exact language used, we can know that God did speak to Adam with a language, even if it was only noticeable by him.
If you wish to learn more about language learning, read some of my other articles.
- What Is My Native Language?
- What Is The Hardest Language To Write For English Speakers?
- How Many Language Should I Learn?
Did Adam Speak Hebrew?
One very common stance on our topic’s overall question is that both Adam and Eve spoke Hebrew. This was argued by many medieval figures, and especially those in the Jewish communities. Could there be any truth to this? Did Adam speak Hebrew?
Adam did not speak Hebrew. We don’t know what language Adam spoke, but we can know the ones he couldn’t have spoken. Hebrew could not have been spoken by Adam because he lived long before it is feasibly possible for Hebrew to have existed. Though ancient today, Hebrew did not exist in Adam’s day.
One of the main reasons why some consider him to be a Hebrew speaker is because of his name, and then most of Genesis was seemingly first written in Hebrew.
Adam in Hebrew means something like Man (referring to both male and female), and Eve means Life (fitting, due to her being the mother of all). In Hebrew, Eve was derived from the word Adam, sort of like man and woman in English.
Does this show that they spoke Hebrew, or is it a Hebrew speaking writer showing their connection to each other and to us through literary means?
The book of Genesis within the Bible (a collection of books) is commonly considered to have been written by Moses, who lived much later than the first events in the book. By the time of Moses’s day, all of the Israelites spoke Hebrew.
This shows us that it is more likely written in Hebrew because of Moses speaking the language, rather than it supposedly meaning that Adam spoke it as well.
Why are we not told what language Adam and Eve spoke?
Genesis and the rest of the Bible is a compilation of ancient narratives, letters, poetry, and historical documents written unlike ours today. At times these entries mix both real events and “epic poetry” (meaning both symbolic language and hyperbole).
Many of those who find objection with the “science” of the Bible, don’t realize that it is not speaking about science, but rather something much greater. It talks about a truth in relation to untruth and the purpose of man.
It is not necessary for us to know what language Adam and Eve spoke, or the science of certain events, to learn about God.
Regardless, there have been many debates and arguments over the first language that Adam and Eve spoke, with no definitive answer. We can’t know for certain what they spoke, and most likely we may never know.
One of the best positions on the subject however, was given by the famous medieval poet and staunch Catholic Dante Alighieri. What did he have to say about the matter?
What Did Dante Have To Say Regarding The Language That Adam Spoke?
The information regarding specific quotes in Dante’s Paradise is provided by Columbia University.
In Dante’s Paradise, the fictional medieval poem of Dante exploring heaven, he asks Adam several questions. These questions mainly regard Eden, but he does ask Adam what language he spoke.
There were four question in total:
- How Long Ago Was Creation Made
- How Long Was Adam In Eden
- What Was The Root Cause Of God’s Anger Against Adam
- What Was The Language That Adam Spoke
Dante answered questions 1, 2, and 4 with pretty much the same answer. Focusing on what matters for our article though, what did Dante have to say regarding the language that Adam spoke?
It can best be explained in this verse from Canto 26 in Paradise, where Adam is answering Dante’s questions:
The tongue I spoke was all extinct before
the men of Nimrod set their minds upon
the unaccomplishable task; for never
has any thing produced by human reason
been everlasting—following the heaven
men seek the new, they shift their predilections.
This was Dante’s answer to our question, the language of Adam is long gone.
Dante was essentially saying that it does not matter, since after the fall (the fall of Adam and Eve that is), all of these things have been corrupted. Thus languages and other inventions of Man are not everlasting, instead they will inevitably perish in time.
Interestingly enough, this was a big change for Dante who used to be a huge supporter of Adam speaking Hebrew. Dante seemed to be embarrassed by his previous assertion and in many instances, like in Dante’s Divine Comedy, he rebukes his earlier idea as ludicrous or silly.
Unfortunately, if you believe Adam speaks Hebrew, then Dante might considered you to be ludicrous (and maybe start laughing at you) as well. He was rather exacting with his whit.
If you’re like me and enjoy classics, then you just might want to read through Dante’s Divine Comedy (Amazon link). Though it might seem intimidating to read some medieval poetry, the insights within the works of Dante are well worth the effort.
What’s our main takeaway then?
It doesn’t matter what language Adam spoke, whatever it was. It is long since forgotten by now and is not the point of the story. What does matter, as someone like Dante would believe, is living a good life guided by the true faith.
Who Was Nimrod?
If you read the quote from Dante, and were wondering who Nimrod was, don’t worry. Who was Nimrod, and what was the unaccomplisheable (apparently, this is a real word) task?
Nimrod in the Bible is considered to be the leader of those who attempted to build the tower of Babel. God destroyed this tower, despite popular belief, not because of it being too tall or it’s creators wanting to have only one language.
Instead it was because they were trying to be like gods, by making a monument to themselves. Reaching toward the heavens refers not to the height of the tower, but rather to the intention of those making it.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”Genesis 11:4 (RSVCE)
This was a direct disobedience to the command that Adam was given by God…
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’Genesis 1:28 (RSVACE)
Then by putting their language (an invention of Man) on a pedestal and having everyone learn it, we see their pride and hubris.
Why Did Dante Mention Nimrod?
Dante was saying two things by referencing this:
- He was saying that it is silly to over glorify a language. This does not mean they are always bad, merely how we use them can be.
- The story of Babel was before even Abraham’s (the patriarch of Judaism) time. Thus he was saying that whatever Adam spoke was probably lost a long time ago.
More than likely this was the case. This means that Abraham spoke a descendant language of Adam’s language rather than Adam’s actual language.
What Was The First Word?
Having talked about what language Adam and Eve spoke, and since they are considered to be our first parents, naturally someone might then ask: what was the first word?
We do not know what the first word was, nor the first language. The language of Adam and Eve and most of what they said in their lifetimes is lost and long forgotten. Any other archeological positions are hard to trust. Speculation is all that we are left with and that is okay.
As discussed in this paper, languages are as old as mankind, but we still know so little about them. It is a fool hardy quest to try to determine what could’ve been the first word, since it is impossible to know.
Trying to know the first word would be like knowing what your great grandfather ate for dinner 100 years ago on this day. However, this still won’t stop people trying to speculate about it.
What Language Does The Devil Speak?
Our subject has really revolved around God, and our first parents Adam and Eve. Due to this some might continue along these lines and ask: What language does the devil speak?
The Devil (Satan) is not considered to have a language of his own, but rather uses commonly spoken languages or even those that have fallen out of use. Some say he speaks a language called Bellsybabble, but there is no evidence for this in the slightest.
The Church has nothing to say regarding the language that the Devil speaks, neither does the Bible. It’s thought that he uses all earthly language because any of them can be used for both good intentions, or for evil purposes.
Languages are made by men, and as such there is no intrinsic holiness to them that bars the Devil from using them.
What Is The Language Of God?
If we are talking about Adam’s language, Satan’s language, then the next logical question is: What is God’s language?
God doesn’t need a language since he is outside of space and time. He is knowing, truth, and being itself. If He is in that eternal moment, that eternal ‘now’ there is no space or need for language. There is only knowing. God’s language is simply knowing.
He condescends and communicates with us on our level, in our point in historical time, and in a manner we will understand. This takes the form of whatever language best fits the moment and the listener. The Truth is the message, and the language used is simply a tool.
The Final Talking Point On The Language That Adam And Eve Spoke…
The language that Adam and Eve spoke is something we do not know, nor could we legitimately find out on this Earth. Like what Dante Alighieri had to say about it, what they spoke really does not matter. Languages are an invention of Man, and after the fall all things made by Man are corrupted, thus not everlasting.
For more topics relating to language learning, feel free to check out some of my other articles.