The words of Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” are a prelude to the creation of woman. In the narrative of Eve’s creation, the theme of original solitude is joined by the theme of original unity.
This is the key to Genesis 2:24, which Jesus quoted in his exchange with the Pharisees: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Since Christ used this verse in reference to the beginning, we should look closely at the meaning of original unity, which is rooted in the creation of man as male and female.
In the first creation story, there is no mention of man’s solitude. Man is “male and female” right from the beginning. But Genesis 2 invites us to think of man before the creation of woman. Only later in the chapter are we invited to think of man in terms of the two sexes.
Original solitude, as we saw, is irrespective of sex. But original unity arises from the union of masculinity and femininity. Male and female are two different incarnations of man. They are two complementary ways of “being a body” created in God’s image.
The language of Genesis is mythical, in the sense that it truthfully describes things that are beyond human knowledge. Understood in this way, a “myth” is not a lie, but an ancient and deeper way of knowing. Even with all the discoveries of modern science, we have not surpassed the truths about man found in Genesis. What a marvelous book!
Genesis 2 takes the form of a dialogue between man and his Creator. God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). Then, God brings all the animals before the man—but, “For Adam no suitable helper was found” (Gen. 2:20). So, “The Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:21–22).
In preparation for his creative act, God immerses man in sleep—this should give us food for thought. The Hebrew word that the Bible uses for Adam’s sleep—tardemah—signifies a deep sleep that comes before some extraordinary event. Here, man falls into sleep in order to find a being like himself.
He wakes up “male” and “female.” In Genesis 2:23, “She shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man,” we find the distinction between male and female for the first time. Femininity is found in relation to masculinity, and masculinity is confirmed by femininity. They depend on each other.
Eve is made from the “rib” that God took from Adam’s side. This signifies that the male and female bodies share the same physical structure—they are of the same species. It is interesting to note that the ancient Sumerians used the same written sign for “rib” as they used for “life.” Adam and Eve share a common source of life—God’s breath.
The male and female bodies, though different, share the same humanity. When God brings the woman to Adam, he cries out, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23). He immediately recognizes her body as a human body, even though she is of a different sex.
In the Bible, the word “bones” expresses a very important aspect of the person. Since the Jews made no distinction between body and soul, the “bones” referred to the very core of one’s being.
Adam immediately accepts Eve as a suitable companion. For the first time, man shows joy. He was happy before, but he had no cause for exaltation. Now, in his marriage song, Adam sings, “She is being of my being! A person like me!”
Originally posted 2019-05-21 12:25:25.