Genesis 2:21-24, Why I No Longer believe Eve Came from Adam’s Rib
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24, NKJV)
This story used to make me uncomfortable.
I’d heard all the anecdotes proffered in commentaries – perhaps the curve-shaped “rib” represented a woman’s curves, or that ‘marriage requires losing something to gain even more’, etc. – but these explanations didn’t dissuade my dissonance. ‘Why did God need anything from Adam at all? Couldn’t He have just made Eve from the ground like he already did with Adam?’
I resisted calling this word ‘absurd’ because I didn’t want to sound like the skeptics and scoffers. After all, they claim ‘the rib story’ is a paraphrased ancient myth like Ninti, while the Web is full of memes and atheist jokes about “the rib woman.”
Yet once again, Hebrew came to my rescue, and studying reproved my ignorance. The Hebrew word for ‘rib’ (tsela) also means ‘side’ –and appears as such throughout the Tanakh, most often as sides are constructed into the Ark of the Covenant, Tabernacle, and Solomon’s Temple. After YHVH took Adam’s tsela, the verb used with the making of Eve is yiven, literally “He built”. This of course is a prophetic hint -that YHVH built our women like a sanctuary, and should be offered respect and honor men afford to the House of God.
Additionally, Adam just named all the animals, yet couldn’t find his neged, a word meaning “equal” at its core. If the overall point of the story teaches that women should be valued far above animals as men’s equals – then it’s easy to see that “YHVH took from one of his sides…” This makes much more sense than breaking off one-twelfth of a rib cage, as “side” is yet another term signifying the equal-footing of women in the context of the story’s lesson.
The translation of ‘rib’ is a red herring which distracts from the focus of the story. It isn’t what was taken from Adam, but what was ADDED to him. The text reads ‘wa-yisgor basar tach’teh-nah’: “closed up flesh in its place.” The text doesn’t say God “closed up the flesh in its place” as there is no –ha representing a “the” article. Although Bibles commonly read “the flesh” here it’s incorrect. This suggests that God healed Adam’s own flesh after supposedly extracting one of his ribs, but we also see no possessive pronoun, which if it were present, would read ‘wa-yisgor basar-o tach’teh-nah’ (-o representing “his”, as in “his flesh”). Therefore, the text suggests that God takes from Adam’s side, but immediately repairs him with flesh – brand new flesh to be exact. This is key, because “flesh” is the real focus of the story. “Flesh” represents things added to Adam. The mini-parable then becomes apparent: Just as God uses real flesh to repair Adam’s physical body, Eve comes and is called “flesh of my flesh” – because she repairs the breaches of Adam’s companionship. This sums up the story nicely, which started with God declaring “it is not good the man be to his self!” The original problem was that Adam was destined to his own flesh, but God’s solution was to add new “flesh” in the form of a wife!
Thus my discomfort with the “rib story” was turned into inspiration. The reason God just didn’t create Eve from the ground or out of thin air was to teach future generations. In this teaching point, the “side story” is one of many reproofs equating women with men, and the choice of words hint at a greater truth – that women are sanctuaries for men.
There are other beautiful revelations hidden in this text which demonstrate the majesty and fingerprint of God, but it so happens that there are too many to include in one post! For now, I am assured that elaborate works of God – even when they seem unnecessary or absurd – hide revelations for those who are diligent enough to seek them. Scoffers will always miss the Holy One, but those who love Him will surely be blessed in uncovering His veiled Word.