Quenta Silmarillion 3
Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
A term apparently describing the Elves, the Elder Children of Ilúvatar. This is a rare name, and is in fact only ever used on one occasion, in the description of the Elves' emergence as the first of the Children to awaken. Its implication is unclear, especially because Men (who would not awake until long afterwards) could equally well be seen as Children of the Earth. The name is perhaps a reference to the fact that the immortal Elves would remain part of Arda until its end, while Men would pass beyond it after death (and thus were called the Strangers by the Elves).
Alternatively, 'Children of the Earth' may be taken as a synonym for 'Children of Ilúvatar', and include Men as well as Elves. If that is the case, then the text quoted above would imply that the Elves were the first of the Children of the Earth, but not the only ones who would awaken in Arda. This does not seem to be the most natural interpretation of the text, but it would be more consistent with other references.
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