Schneider Aviel

Tachles With Aviel – How Old Was Adam When God Created Him?

An interesting question around a campfire in the biblical desert leads to fresh discoveries in Scripture.

| Topics: Bible
Adam and Eve. Were they created full grown? Photo: Pixabay

Tachles: A modern Hebrew word of Yiddish origin that means “to the point.”


The other day someone asked me a question I had never thought about before. How old was Adam, the first man, when he was created? Boom! I don’t know, but I love questions like this. And that’s what I said to Manfred, who was sitting with me and other participants at the campfire on Mount Karkom. The fire warmed us on the freezing cold nights under the stars during the Hanukkah week. So Manfred, this post is for you.

How old was Adam? I asked this question to a number of people in Jerusalem. The answer was almost always the same as the one around the campfire: “I don’t know. But a very good question.” Gradually, more and more thoughts and ideas tumbled in, throwing more and more light on the question.

During our recent journey into the biblical desert we had wonderful campfire discussions. Photo: Aviel Schneider

Did God create the first human beings as babies, children, teenagers or as adults? We all know the biblical text of the creation of the world. In the first chapter it is written: “And God created Adam (man) in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” In the second chapter it says: “Then God created Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and so Adam became a living soul.” No age is revealed in the text up to this point.

Our group’s tents under the night sky. Photo: Aviel Schneider

Then God says it is not good for man to be alone. “I will make him a helpmate to match him!” As Adam falls into a deep sleep, God takes a rib. “And God made a woman (isha – אִשָּׁה) from the rib which he had taken from Adam and brought her to Adam.” Then Adam spoke: “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh! Therefore she should be called isha (woman), for she was taken from ish (man).”

How old was Adam when he was created?

With the Hebrew word Ish and Isha ((איש – אישה, i.e. man and woman), one comes closer to an age group. In the biblical story of creation, Adam and Eve are presented as man and woman, or adults. Whether 18, 27 or older I don’t know. But I understand from the Hebrew Bible text that Adam was neither a baby nor a child nor a teenager. At this point I would also like to refer to the interpretation in the Jewish Midrash Breshit Raba, which assumes that Adam was 20-years-old when God created him. The reason: 20 years is the beginning of adulthood, until then man grows.

When Pharaoh’s daughter pulled Moses out of the water, she opened the reed basket and saw a child inside, Yeled (ילד) in Hebrew. “Then Moses’ sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and call a Hebrew nurse to suckle the infant (ילד) for you?'”

The silence of the desert stimulates thought. Photo: Aviel Schneider

Yeled can be either a baby or (small) child. So Adam wasn’t a baby. Nor was Adam a youth. “Joseph was seventeen years old when he was tending cattle with his brothers, he was a youth,” reads Genesis 37. Here the Hebrew term Na’ar (נער) is used, youth, which in some Bible versions is is also translated as “boy.”

So Adam wasn’t a teenager either. Nor was he an older man. If God had created him as an old man, then the Bible would mention another word for it: Zaken (זקן), elder, old man, or aged. “Therefore Sarah laughed in her heart, and said, ‘After I have faded, shall I still be blessed? For my lord is old (זקן)!” In his story, Adam is described as a man (Ish), as an adult. “And they were both naked, Adam and his wife (Isha), and they were not ashamed.”

Altar at the foot of the mountain. Photo: Aviel Schneider

Manfred, thank you for the inspiring question around the campfire. Because of your question I have again engaged with the first two chapters of creation. And so I noticed something most interesting, which is that God only commanded Adam: “You shall eat of every tree in the garden, but you shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). God created the woman from the rib afterwards, five verses later.

By the way, in between, God made all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the sky from the same dust of the earth and brought them to Adam to give them all names. (Recommendation! “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” is the name of a song by Bob Dylan from Slow Train Coming, 1979)

Could it be that Eve didn’t take God’s command seriously enough because God only addressed Adam directly in this matter? Genesis 3:3 makes it clear that she knew of a prohibition (“God said: Do not eat of it”). But perhaps, as is common today, there was already a lack of communication between men and women back then? After all, she only speaks of “the fruit of a tree in the middle of the garden.” One could make the case that she hadn’t been fully informed on the matter, which again can be explained with verse 17 from the previous chapter.

So Manfred, because of your question I also came across this point and I thank you for that, man of peace – Ish Shalom, the Hebrew translation of Manfred. In any case, we plan to set up another desert tour to Karkom, the mountain of God, during Sukkot week 2023! We can then continue chatting around the campfire. Until then, God’s blessings, prosperity and peace.


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12 responses to “Tachles With Aviel – How Old Was Adam When God Created Him?”

  1. Susan says:

    Interesting. Just one thing: Tsela, as I have been taught, means “side” and not “rib”. Same word is used in Exodus 25:12. “Bone of my bones AND flesh of my flesh.” God had equality in mind at the beginning.

  2. Vernon Ryan says:

    In verse 26 of chapter one, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Could one ask the question, “how old was God when He made man?”
    I believe Adam was created as a young man and that he looked like the Lord, same as babies since then and today look like their parents. Adam also had intelligence as he was able to speak intelligently to his father and had a vast amount of knowledge to be able to name all the creatures the Lord had created. He also knew how to care for the garden he was blessed with as a place to live on a newly created planet in a newly created universe.
    It was after the root of evil was planted in man that the fall happened and the blessing of knowledge was dried up that man had to learn how to live in a fallen world, which brings us up to today.
    Love the article and would love to sit at the campfire also. I agree, there is nothing like sitting by a campfire in the desert.

  3. LarryFreeman says:

    Silly question. How old was Adam when created? One day old, can’t you do the math?

  4. hdfuerst says:

    Es ist klar, dass die ersten Menschen als Erwachsene geschaffen wurden.
    Aber nebenbei: Der sog. “zweite Schöpfungsbericht” ist eine Fabel der Sumerer und gehört nicht in die Bibel. Es widerspricht sich jeder Satz zum wahren Bericht und ist voller Fehler.
    Leider haben die Zusammensteller der Schriften unter Esra nicht aufgepasst.

  5. Cornelis Labots says:

    The original question “How old was Adam when he was created?” was probably intended to mean: Compared with a present day male – born a baby and going in time through a development – how was Adam created? Several responders took that interpretation and mentioned various measures like 20 years, young man, stopped growing. I suggest that the discussion will become more interesting by asking : Were Adam and Eve created with the immediate ability to bring children into being as mankind do today? This leads to the questions: Why did Eve not conceive in paradise and did she shed blood in a number of cycles?

  6. Disciple 1978 says:

    Adam and Eve were made, and were given the capability to reproduce their kind as other created things were. Therefore, all life is a product of the Maker. All creation functions according to the Maker’s will and can only operate within the parameters the Maker sets. Lucifer and willing men distort God’s will to taste God’s power but again the parameters stop them. Man was made in God’s image yet he refuses to reflect God’s glory so makes an idol with which he can reflect his own glory. Perfect man becomes fallen man who even now refuses God’s salvation. 20 years sounds right to me. What’s the estimate on how long they lived before the Fall?

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