How long were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?
Genesis chapter one provides the account of God's creation of the heavens and the earth while, at the end of that chapter, the creation of man and woman is introduced. The second chapter is more specific about the man – now named Adam – while, at the end of that chapter, some details are given about the making of woman, later named Eve. As the reader passes from chapter two to chapter three, we find in the very first verse Eve being tempted by the serpent at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The reader is inclined to think that the passage of time has been extremely short – say, a day or two or a month at most. After all, it is commonly argued, there were no children and Eve could not even have been pregnant or there would have been more than two souls involved in the business at the tree. However, Scripture does not say how long they were in the Garden, but there are reasons for thinking that it was likely several years.
Surely everyone has seen artists' impressions done in ink or oils of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adam is always Caucasian, tall and muscular, sometimes with a full beard while Eve, though modest, is definitely not immature. These images unconsciously tend to color our interpretation of the text. Consider for a moment Adam created as a dark, pre-pubescent youth of, say, 12 years of age. Perfect in mind and body and living in a totally safe environment, Adam had much to learn from the Lord God as they walked in the cool of the day [Genesis 3:8]. Adam had to begin the human language by naming the animals. Adam had to know the signs and the seasons – essential later for planting crops. Adam had to know the star constellations and the message they proclaim. He had to know what was good to eat and what was good for medicine and, as a potential parent, he had to know how to handle the complex issues surrounding children passing through puberty. One thing more: the last Adam began his ministry at 12 years of age [Luke 2:42].
While not inspired, The Book of Jubilees was written in the second century BC and claims that Adam and Eve were in the Garden for seven years [pp. 46-48]. If they entered the Garden with the appearance of being 12 years of age, as suggested above, it poses the following question: We have two nubile teenagers, naked and in an earthly paradise with God's first commandment – "to be fruitful and multiply" – ringing in their ears [Genesis 1:28]. After seven years, why were there no children and Eve not even pregnant? The answer seemingly resides in the extreme longevity of pre-flood mankind. From the record in Genesis chapter five, we can deduce that the average longevity of the father [Enoch excluded] was 907 years, while the average age of the father for his first or principal son was 117 years. The Book of Jubilees maintains that Eve was aged between 64 and 70 years when she gave birth to Cain, her first child [p. 51]. Surely, the Book of Genesis is telling us that not only did people live much longer in that pre-flood world but they also matured much later.
Reference. Charles, Robert Henry [translator]. 2005. The Book of Jubilees or the Little Genesis. Original publishers: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, UK. Published 2005 by: Ibis Press, Berwick, Maine.