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Cover image via Wikimedia Commons. 

Latter-day Saints believe that God married Adam and Eve in (or before) the garden of Eden. We believe this on the basis of teachings of modern prophets, but there are indications in the text of Genesis that this is the case.

Marriage takes two individuals from different families and creates a new family from them. In ancient Hebrew the terms “give” a bride/wife and “take” a bride/wife are used to express marriage.

The bride’s family “gives” the bride (Genesis 16:3; 29:21, 28; 30:4, 9; 34:8, 12, 21; 38:14; 41:45; Exodus 21:4; Deuteronomy 22:16; Joshua 15:16-17; Judges 1:12-13; 3:6; 14:20; 15:6; 21:1, 7, 14, 18; 1 Samuel 18:17, 19, 27; 25:44; 2 Samuel 12:8, 11; 1 Kings 2:17, 21; 11:19; 2 Kings 14:9; 1 Chronicles 2:35; 2 Chronicles 25:18; Jeremiah 8:10; 29:6).

The husband or his family “takes” or receives the bride (Genesis 4:19; 6:2; 11:29; 12:19; 20:2-3; 21:21; 24:3-4, 7, 37-38, 40, 67; 25:1, 20; 26:34; 27:46; 28:1-2, 6, 9; 31:50; 34:21; 36:2, 6; 38:6; etc.).

When God confronts Adam about his transgression in the garden of Eden, Adam describes Eve as “the wife whom you gave me” (Genesis 3:12; the word for woman and wife are interchangeable in Hebrew) using the same marriage language that is used elsewhere in Genesis and the rest of the Hebrew Bible. The text presents the two as married.

God is presented as an active participant in arranging the marriage.  Eve is in the position of God’s daughter.

This understanding suggests closer attention be paid to the portion of the narrative where Eve is introduced to Adam. After Adam was created, God said that he needed a helper, described as a “help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18, 20). The King James idiom “meet for” means “suitable for, appropriate for”. Although various animals were brought to Adam, none of these constituted suitable or appropriate help. Instead God must build a help for Adam. This is done from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:21-22), implying closeness. In Hebrew close friends are called the “keepers of the rib” (Jeremiah 20:10).

When Eve is introduced to Adam, Adam says, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). This uses a Hebrew idiom of being part of the same family. As David tells the tribe of Judah: “Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh” (2 Samuel 19:12). The idiom is also used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible as an expression of kinship and an indication that one has an obligation to take care of one’s family as oneself (Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2; 2 Samuel 5:2; 19:12-13; 1 Chronicles 11:1).

Adam is acknowledging Eve as being part of his tribe and family.

At this point the text explicitly commends Adam and Eve as a prototype of marriage saying that men and women should leave their parents and “cleave” to each other in the King James phrasing (Genesis 2:24). In an unfortunate twist this word in English has perversely conflated two different verbs in Old English: cleofan meant “to divide” clifan meant “to adhere, or cling”. Both survive into modern English as “to cleave”. The Hebrew root here also produces the modern Hebrew term for “glue”.

The emphasis is clearly on sticking together.

Thus a careful reading of the text of Genesis clearly indicates that Adam and Eve were married in the Garden of Eden, and that their marriage was intended to serve as a model for marriage for their descendants.