Last week our discussion took us through Genesis 2:20 and God’s formation of the other living creatures from the clay. We will continue this discussion this week and finish out chapter 2 with the differentiation of male and female.
When our story began, the Lord God formed a person out of the clay of the ground, breathed life into his nostrils, and placed him in the Garden. God instructed the man to till and tend the Garden and gave him the fruit of the trees of the garden (save one) for food. But the man was alone. God said that his person needed a companion. Therefore, God went about forming other living things from the clay of the ground and brought them to the person. The person gave each living thing a name. But of all the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, a suitable helper was not found. Although every living thing was formed and animated by the same means as the person was, the person was still alone. This is the problem that God and the person faced.
God has another solution for his person’s loneliness. Instead of forming a separate living being from the ground, God will form this living being from the person himself. The Lord God puts the person to sleep (the first use of anesthesia). God then removes part of the person and using this part, makes a second person. The Hebrew word for God’s action is banah or build, so we can envision the part taken out being the foundation block for this new second person. This effort is successful. Upon seeing the new person, the first person is elated, for he has been given a suitable helpmate and companion. (This new person is not called “Eve” until Genesis 3:20.)
Creation or Differentiation:
These verses (2:21-24) are generally termed the “Creation of Woman.” However, a more exact understanding would be the differentiation of the sexes. As we have previously discussed, the word adam is simply the generic Hebrew word for “man” or “person.” The Hebrew word for a male human being is ish. Genesis does not refer to God’s created being as an “ish” until after his side is removed and is used to build the woman. (Heb: ish-shah). Therefore, in Jewish thought, this first created person is both male and female and the operation is the removal of the female parts (biological and psychological). The Scripture does not use the term for male until only after the female has been removed. The female is not separate from the male but one-half of the whole.
Woman as the Tabernacle:
Another way of interpreting the building of the woman is that she is the true tabernacle of God. The Tabernacle was built during the Israelites’ desert wanderings to be the habitation of the Lord God. The Tabernacle remained so, until the construction of the Temple by Solomon. The Hebrew word translated as “rib” or “side” is tsela. With maybe only one exception outside of Genesis 2, this word is only used in connection with the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25-27, 36-37, the building of the Temple in Kings 6-7, and Ezekiel’s vision of the new Temple in Ezekiel 41. The only objects in all of Scripture to have a tsela is Adam (who had his removed) and the dwelling place of the Lord God. From the rabbinic perspective, therefore, there is a great sense of the sacredness of the feminine. This anticipates the understanding of the relationship between God and his Temple or Christ and his Church. (Eph 5:31).
Sex and Marriage:
What these verses (2:18-24) also show us, however, is the true nature of marriage and sex. Before the Reformation, the marriage rite only listed procreation and the avoidance of fornication as the two purposes of marriage. But within our story, there is neither procreation nor fornication (because there is no one else around). Rather, the initial clay-person simply needs a suitable companion. God first creates beasts and birds to be a helper, but these prove inadequate. Only then does God create man and woman by breaking apart his clay-person. Sex is the rejoining of that which had been separated. The two become one flesh because the two were once also one flesh. The purpose of the woman is to be a helper and to make sure that man is not alone.
In formulating the Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cramner, the Archibishop of Canterbury, added this third purpose of marriage as being “for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.” Although Genesis 2 provided biblical justification for Cramner’s changes, he had been married before entering the priesthood (his wife died in childbirth) and therefore had a personal understanding of this original purpose of marriage. The very first initial purpose of marriage is to provide the permanent solution to the problem of being alone.
Dinner is at 6:30. The menu is shrimp tacos. Discussion about 7:15 followed by Compline.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.Ephesians 5:31-32