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- תַּרְדֵּמָה deep sleep, ἔκστασις LXX. צֵלָע rib, side, wing of a building.
- פַּעַם beat, stroke, tread, anvil. אִישׁ man, vir. אשׁה be firm, as a foundation; ישׁה be firm as a substance; אנש be strong; אושׁ give, help: hence the strong, the brave, the defender, the nourisher. אִשָּׂה woman, fem. of the above; wife.
Genesis 2:21–25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 So Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the rib that Jehovah God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall be as one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
The second creative step in the constitution of man as the natural head of a race is now described. This supplies the defect that was drawn forth into consciousness in the preceding passage. Man here passes out of solitude into society, out of unity into multiplicity.
Genesis 2:21-22. Here we find ourselves still on the sixth day. This passage throws a new light on Genesis 1:27. It is there stated that man was first created in the image of God, and then that he was created male and female. From the present passage, we learn that these two acts of creation were distinct in point of time. First, we see man was really one in his origin and contained in this unity the perfection of manhood. It does not appear that man was so constituted by nature as to throw off another of the same kind by his inherent power. In fact, if he had, the other should not have been a female, but another human being in every respect like himself; and he would thus have resembled those plants that are capable of being propagated by a bud. Besides, he would have been endowed with a power different from his actual posterity; thus, the head would not have corresponded with the race members. The narrative, however, is opposed to this view of man’s nature. The change by which the woman comes into existence is directly ascribed to the original Maker. A part of the man is taken for the purpose, which can be spared without interfering with the integrity of his nature. It manifestly does not constitute a woman by the mere act of separation, as we are told that Jehovah God built it into a woman. It is needless, therefore, to speculate whether the part taken was literally a rib, or some other side piece designedly put there by the provident Creator to become the rudiment of a full-grown woman. It is expressly called, not a rib, but one of his ribs, and this evidently implies that he had other similar parts. This binds us, we conceive, to the literal rib of bone and flesh. And thus, in accordance with the account in the foregoing chapter, we have, first, the single man created, the full representative and potential fountain of the race, and then, out of this one, in the way now described, we have the male and the female created.
The original unity of man constitutes the strict unity of the race. The construction of the rib into a woman establishes the individuality of man’s person before, as well as after, the removal of the rib. The selection of a rib to form into a woman constitutes her, in an eminent sense, a helpmate for him, in company with him, on a footing of equality with him. At the same time, the after building of the part into a woman determines the distinct personality and individuality of the woman. Thus, we perceive that the entire race, even the very first mother of it, has its essential unit and representative in the first man.
In the creation of woman, God did not make her separate and distinct from man by forming her from the dust of the ground, as he had done in the creation of Adam. He took a rib from Adam’s side, and from it, He built for Adam a perfect counterpart, the woman Eve. (Ge 2:21, 22) Adam, nevertheless, remained a perfect man, now united as ‘bone of bone and flesh of flesh’ with his wife. (Ge 2:23; Deut. 32:4) Moreover, this did not disturb the reproductive cells of Adam to affect his children, boys or girls, in their rib structure. The human male and female both have 24 ribs.
The Almighty has called intelligent beings into existence in two ways. He seems to have created the angels as individuals (Mark 12:25), constituting an order of beings, the unity of which lies in the common Creator. Man he created as the parent of a race about to spring from a single head and having its unity in that head. A single angel then stands by himself and for himself; all his actions belong only to himself, except for example, persuasion or leadership may have involved others in them. But the single man, who is at the same time head of a race, is in quite a different position. He stands for the race, which is virtually contained in him; his actions belong not only to him as an individual but, in a certain sense, to the whole race, of which he is the sum at present. An angel counts only for the unit of his order. The first man counts for the whole race as long as he is alone. The one angel is responsible only for himself. The first man is not only an individual but, as long as he is alone, the sum total of a race; therefore, he is responsible for himself, but for the race, as the head of which he acts. This deep question of race will meet us again at a future stage of man’s history.
As the All-wise Being never does anything without reason, it becomes an interesting question why the creation of woman was deferred to this precise juncture in human history. First, man’s original unity is the counterpart of the unity of God. He was to be made in the image of God and after his likeness. If the male and the female had been created at once, an essential feature of the divine likeness would have been wanting. But, as in the absolute One, there is no duality, whether in sex or in any other respect, so is there none in the original form and constitution of man. Hence, we learn the absurdity of those who import into their notions of the deity the distinction of sex and all the alliances which are involved in a race of gods. Secondly, the natural unity of the first pair and of the race descended from them is established by the primary creation of an individual, from whom is derived by a second creative process, the first woman. The race of man is thus a perfect unity, flowing from a single center of human life. Thirdly, two remarkable events occur in the experience of man before the formation of the woman—his installment in the garden as its owner, keeper, and dresser, and his review of the animals, as their rational superior, to whom they yield an instinctive homage. By the former, he is prepared to provide for the sustenance and comfort of his wife; by the latter, he becomes aware of his power to protect her. Still further, by the interview with his Maker in the garden he came to understand language; and by the inspection of the animals to employ it himself. Speech implies the exercise of the susceptive and conceptive powers of the understanding. Thus Adam was qualified to hold intelligent converse with a being like himself. He was competent to be the instructor of his wife in words and things. Again, he had met with his superior in his Creator, his inferiors in the animals, and he was now to meet his equal in the woman. And, lastly, by the divine command his moral sense had been brought into play, the theory of moral obligation had been revealed to his mind, and he was therefore prepared to deal with a moral being like himself, to understand and respect the rights of another, to do unto another as he would have another do to him. It was especially necessary that the sense of right should grow up in his breast, to keep in due check that might in which he excelled, before the weaker and gentler sex was called into being and entrusted to his charge. These are some of the obvious reasons for delaying the formation of the woman to the present crisis.
Genesis 2:23. Whether the primeval man was conscious of the change in himself, and of the work of the Supreme Being while it was going on, or received supernatural information of the event when he awoke, does not appear. But he is perfectly aware of the nature of her who now for the first time appears before his eyes. This is evinced in his speech on beholding her: “This, now,”—in contrast with the whole animal creation just before presented to his view, in which he had failed to find a helpmate for him,—“is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh;” whence we perceive that the rib included both bone and flesh. “To this” counterpart of myself “shall be called woman;” the word in the original being a feminine form of man, to which we have no exact equivalent, though the word woman (womb-man, or wife-man), proves our word man to have been originally of the common gender. “Because out of a man was she taken;” being taken out of a man, she is human; and being a perfect individual, she is a female man.
Genesis 2:24. These might be the words of the first man. As he thoroughly understood the relation between himself and the woman, there is no new difficulty in conceiving him to become acquainted at the same time with the relationship of son to father and mother, which was, in fact, only another form of that in which the newly formed woman stood to himself. The latter is really more intimate and permanent than the former and naturally, therefore, takes its place, especially as the practical of the filial tie—that of being trained to maturity—is already accomplished when the conjugal one begins.
But it seems more probable that this sentence is the reflection of the inspired author on the peculiar mode in which the female was formed from the male. Such remarks of the writer are frequently introduced by the word “therefore” (עַל־כֵּן). It is designed to inculcate on the race that was to spring from them the inviolable sanctity of the conjugal relation. In the primeval wedlock one man was joined to one woman only for life. Hence, in the marriage relation, the animal is subordinate to the rational. The communication of ideas; the cherishing of the true, the right, the good; the cultivation of the social affections; the spontaneous outflow of mutual good offices; the thousand nameless little thoughts, looks, words, and deeds that cheer the brow and warm the heart; the common care of children, servants, and dependents; the constant and heartfelt worship of the Father of all, constitute the main ends and joys of the married state.
After the exclamation of the man on contemplating the woman, as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and therefore physically, intellectually, and morally qualified to be his mate, we may suppose immediately to follow the blessing of man, and the general endowment of himself and the animals with the fruits of the soil as recorded in the preceding chapter (v. 28–30). The endowment of man embraces every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. Man, of course, understood this general grant to exclude the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was excepted, if not by its specific nature, yet by the previous command given to man. This command we find was given before the formation of the woman and, therefore, sometime before the events recorded in the second and third clauses of Gen. 1:27. Hence, it preceded the blessing and the endowment. It was not peculiar, however, to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be intended for purposes other than man’s food, as there are many other trees that afford no proper nutriment to man. The endowment, therefore, refers to such trees as were at the same time nutritive and not expressly and previously forbidden.
This chapter is occupied with the “generations, issues or products of the skies and the land,” or, in other words, of the things created in the six days. It is the preface to the more specific history of man, as it records his constitution, provision, moral and intellectual cultivation, and social perfection. It brings us up to the close of the sixth day. As the Creator pronounced a sentence of approbation on all that he had made at the end of that day, we have reason to believe that no moral derangement had yet taken place in man’s nature.
Genesis 2:25. This is corroborated by the statement contained in this verse. “They were both naked and were not ashamed.” Of nakedness in our sense of the term, they had as yet no conception. On the contrary, they were conscious of being sufficiently clothed in a physical sense by nature’s covering, the skin,—and, in a spiritual point of view, they were clad as in a panoply of steel with the consciousness of innocence, or, indeed, the unconsciousness of evil existing anywhere, and the simple ignorance of its nature, except so far as the command of God had awakened in them some speculative conception of it. Hence, they were not ashamed. For shame implies a sense of guilt, which they had not, and an exposedness to the searching eye of a condemning judge, from which they were equally free. With the sentence terminates, all we know of primeval innocence. May we surmise from it that the first pair spent at least the Sabbath, if not some days, or weeks, or years, in a state of integrity?
From what has been said, it is evident that this sentence was written after the fall, for it speaks in language that was not intelligible until after that event occurred. Contemplated in this point of view, it is the most melancholy sentence in the book of God. For it is evidently placed here to foreshadow the dark event to be recorded in the next chapter.
Two hallowed institutions have descended to us from the days of primeval innocence—the wedding and the Sabbath. The former indicates communion of the purest and most perfect kind between equals of the same class. The latter implies communion of the highest and holiest kind between the Creator and the intelligent creature. The two combined import communion with each other in communion with God.
Wedded union is the sum and type of every social tie. It gives rise and scope to all the nameless joys of home. It is the native field for the cultivation of all the social virtues. It provides for the due framing and checking of the overgrowth of interest in self, and for the gentle training and fostering of a growing interest in others. It unfolds the graces and charms of mutual love and imparts to the susceptible heart all the peace and joy, all the light and fire, all the frankness and life of conscious and constant purity and goodwill. Friendship, brotherly kindness, and love are still hopeful and sacred names among mankind.
Sabbath-keeping lifts the wedded pair, the brethren, the friends, the one-minded, up to communion with God. The joy of achievement is a feeling common to God and man. The commemoration of the auspicious beginning of a holy and happy existence will live in man while memory lasts. The anticipation also of joyful repose after the end of a work well done will gild the future while hope survives. Thus the idea of the Sabbath spans the whole of man’s existence. History and prophecy commingle in its peaceful meditations, and both are linked with God. God is the Author of all being, and the Rewarder of them that diligently seek him. This is the noble lesson of the Sabbath. Each seventh day is well spent in attending to the realization of these great thoughts.
Hence it appears that the social principle lies at the root of a spiritual nature. In the very essence of the spiritual monad is the faculty of self-consciousness. Here is the curious mystery of a soul standing beside itself, cognizing itself, and taking note of its various faculties and acts, and yet perfectly conscious of its unity and identity. And the process does not stop here. We catch ourselves at times debating with ourselves, urging the pros and cons of a case in hand, enjoying the sallies or sorry for the poverty of our wit, nay, solemnly sitting in judgment on ourselves, and pronouncing a sentence of approval or disapproval on the merit or demerit of our actions. Thus, throughout the whole range of our moral and intellectual nature, memory for the past and fancy for the future furnish us with another self with whom we hold familiar converse. Here there is the social principle of living and moving in the center of our being. Let the soul only look out through the senses and descry another like itself, and social converse between kindred spirits must begin. The Sabbath and the wedding touch the inner springs of the soul and bring the social principle into exercise in the two great spheres of our relation to our Maker and to one another.
By James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews
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- Edward D. Andrews, INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, Christian Publishing House, 2016.
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- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).
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- John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, vol. 1-4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).
- John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
- Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).
- Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler. Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. Kindle Edition.
- Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Chronology, Old Testament,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988).
- W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996).
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