Genesis 2:18-24, God’s Premarital Counseling
And Yahweh Elohim said, “Not good the man be to his self! I will appoint him a rescue as his opposite.” And Yahweh Elohim had formed from the clay every beast of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see how he called to them. And all which the man called the living creature – it’s its name. And the man called names to all animals, and therefore to birds of the sky, and to all beasts of the field; but there was not found a rescue for Adam as his opposite. So Yahweh Elohim fell a deep sleep over the man, and he slept. And He took first from his side, then closed up flesh in its place. And Yahweh Elohim built the side – which he took from the man – into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said, “This is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. Thus I will call her ‘woman,’ because she was thus taken from man.” For yes, a man leaves his father and his mother, and clings to his wife: and they become as one flesh. (Genesis 2:18-24, my personal interpretation)
Recently I proposed that there is no such thing as a “helpmate”, which implies a subtle inferiority in women. On the contrary, the text identifies women as equals, who are a type of “rescue” for men… but the question is, rescue from what?
As the text literally says “not good the man be to his self” I suggest that a woman rescues a man… from himself! While this does not mean that men are complete messes until they are “rescued” (sorry ladies), it clearly suggests that men are not meant to be ‘lone rangers’. In fact, a remez (the implied or hinted interpretation) of “not good the man be to his self” shows that a mark of manhood is to long for a woman’s companionship. This text speaks to a man – not to a boy. It’s natural for a man coming into his own to want a wife, and God calls this “good”. King Shlomo (Solomon) repeats this in his proverbs: “whoever finds a wife finds good, and secures delight from the LORD.” (Prov. 18:22)
Refusing Commitment = Evil
However, the alternative to marriage is “not good”, which is another way to say “evil”. A man who refuses commitment will not secure any delight from YHVH. Such men show their evil through their words and actions. The ‘ladies’ man’ flaunts his sexual promiscuity; the hermit lives in his fears of failure and rejection. There are also workaholics who choose careers over a family, but this shows they are really slaves to work and greed – yet another evil. With the exception of men who remain single for furtherance of the Kingdom of God (ref. Matt. 19:11), any refusal to marry is founded on a path of evil intentions.
As this story ends with the man calling the woman “flesh of my flesh”, a rejection of female companionship equates to hatred of a man’s own soul. In Genesis 2:18, God specifically calls the future wife man’s “neged” “opposite”, which is understood as if a man looked at his “opposite” in a mirror. All single men await a “neged” but the thought is terrifying to some. A man can hide a multitude of voids gazing at his reflection, but a neged sees him as he truly is. A man’s soul is… naked before his neged!
Animals are Help, Women are Rescue
Obviously, most men seek marriage’s benefits and make the ‘good’ choice to find a wife. This featured passage of Genesis 2:18-24 was written for men, to have the right mindset when meeting their neged for the first time. In other words, this story is God’s pre-marital counseling!
Through most of history, and even today, man lived with an agarian point of view. I previously suggested the preamble to Genesis 2 showed the chapter was written with such a perspective, and this sort-of-strange story about Adam naming animals further supports that position.
Mankind has shared most of his days with animals – shepherding flocks, using beasts of burden, raising birds for eggs, hunting game, etc. Animals are a gift for men, as they make life a little easier. However, even with their help, life is rough. Life was still laborious in agrarian society, and still is for most of the world. However, young men can grow up with a hope that a rescue is on the way!
In this story, God makes a vast contrast between women and the animal kingdom as a type of reminder. Men may become attached to his horse or his dog, but that companionship falls far short of a woman’s love. A woman’s arms are his rescue from the day. As such, men must take heed how he talks to his equal; he mustn’t beckon to her like she’s his donkey or his ox.
Animals are taken from flocks and herds, but Adam knew knew his woman “was taken from man“. By this account God warns young men to know the difference prior to finding his neged. This word ends with “A man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and they become as one flesh.” When he leaves his parents, he mustn’t speak to his wife like his father’s cattle.
This may seem superfluous, but many cultures throughout history and even some today denigrate women to the status of livestock or slave. However, it is not so with Yahweh Elohim. He commands men to view their women as complete equals – as their counterparts, their true companions, their queens.♦