Genesis 2:21-24, The Transformation of Spouses and Parents
“[YHVH] took from one of his sides, and closed up flesh in its place. And YHVH Elohim built the side – which he took from the man – into a woman, and brought her to the man. Thus at last, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; for this she will be called woman, because from man was she thus taken. So will a man forsake his father and mother and enjoin to his wife, and the two will become into one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24)
I recently posted reasons why ‘rib’ should be translated “side”, as Adam’s ripping apart of two equal sides demonstrates the equality of a husband and wife in marriage. However, this tearing-and-repairing of Adam cuts even deeper, as it represents the transformation every couple must go through for a successful marriage.
These verses are still read at religious weddings – as they should be – because they express marriage in a beautiful and poetic way. After all, God didn’t just make Eve out of thin air, He created her in a roundabout way to teach future generations about His serious investment in marriage, just as Messiah said:
“Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6, emphasis mine)
Though the Genesis story details the first marriage, Messiah Yeshua demonstrates that its legacy applies to ALL marriages. Couples must see themselves in Adam and Eve, and follow God’s prescription for a healthy marriage.
It’s interesting that Messiah specifically said “tear apart” because that’s originally what God does to Adam. He tears Adam into two “sides”, but immediately restores Him with a brand new half! This “tearing apart” also translates into modern marriages, but never through divorce, YHVH does however separate spouses… from their parents. This is the “tearing away” that occurs in every marriage. Just as Yeshua taught that God enjoins every couple, YHVH is consequently the one tearing couples away from their parents.
Adam is ripped apart and “closed up” with flesh in its place; this is a foreshadowing of what is ultimately realized in the last word: ‘man forsakes his father and mother… and he becomes one flesh’. In other words, a son is ripped from his parents, which may hurt, but only for the briefest of moments. The pain of leaving is quickly replaced by a side of new flesh – in the form of a beautiful new bride. However, all parties must realize the union is ‘closed’ and final.
This principle is not just true for sons. The verb for taken (‘laqach’) is often used (italicized in the block quote above) and for good reason. It’s a synonym for “married”, as in “and Avram and Nahor took wives…” (Gen. 11:29) Therefore, God took a whole side from Adam which parallels the later word “from man was she thus taken”… representing how God takes a daughter away from her family and “re-sides” her with a husband.
Thus a wedding is bittersweet. tears of joy and tears of sorrow are both shed, but not so easily distinguished! It requires a hurtful separation from parents, but a joyous union of two young lives. However, in order for a marriage to work, this transformation must take place. One word in particular underlines how marriage begins and remains a success – the Hebrew verb azav, most often translated “leave” yet meaning so much more, as in “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)
I’m not saying that children are to leave and ignore their parents forever, but it does mean they “loosen” or “forsake” (azav) themselves from their parents’ influence. We must remember that in this passage the woman was labeled an ezer- “a rescue”. If a man continues to seek rescue and sanctuary from his parents after marriage, he doesn’t allow his wife to exercise her God-mandated responsibility. The woman will feel like a kid-sister instead of a wife, and the marriage will be over before it starts. A man and wife are still expected to honor both sets of parents according to the Word of God, but with the difference that the young couple honor them on their own terms… as one flesh.
The responsibility to forsake is commanded to the man and wife in the word “a man will azav…” and every young couple must interpret how to azav in their own marriage. However, this commandment also implies that parents “let go” of their children and know their own limits. According to the words of Yeshua, parents cannot get in the way of God’s work – even they must be careful to not “tear apart” a marriage.
The fact that ‘mother and father’ appear in the text to begin with is not by coincidence. Only one prophecy is recorded by Adam, which is right here. Of all the things to prophesy about, Adam proclaimed that men will leave their fathers and mothers, just as soon as ‘parenthood’ became a possibility! In other words, mothers and fathers were put on notice – even before Adam and Eve became parents themselves!
By laying it out this way, it’s clear YHVH wants parents to prepare their children to be husbands and wives, and marry their children off with joy, even as YHVH led Eve to Adam – with no strings attached.
Marriage is wonderful, and can be a “match made in Heaven” if the recipe in God’s Word is followed. It requires the right mindset for spouses, and the cooperation of parents will ease the transition. When all parties examine and follow the example set by Adam and Eve, we will epitomize a union that Almighty God calls “good”.♦