Why did God use Adam's rib to create Eve?
Question: "Why did God use Adam's rib to create Eve?"
Answer: The story of “Adam’s rib” is found in Genesis. Genesis 2:18–24 tells the well-known account of how God created the first woman, Eve, by removing a “rib” from Adam’s body and fashioning it into the woman. The creation account clearly indicates that God used Adam’s rib to create Eve instead of making her from the dust of the ground as He had done for Adam. The question also arises as to why God created woman out of Adam’s rib. God apparently had formed male and female animals separately, but the female human was originally part of man—Adam said, “She shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23).
God used Adam’s rib to form Eve to show that they were actually the same created being, two halves of a whole. The female was not created as a separate being, second to the male. She was formed as part of the initial man, in order to be a “helper suitable” for the male (Genesis 2:18). While Adam was in a divinely induced sleep, God “took one of the man’s ribs and . . . made a woman” (Genesis 2:21–22). Eve was brought into being to strengthen and powerfully help Adam; she was made from the same “stuff,” and she was every bit as perfect a creation as man and every bit as patterned after God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27).
The woman made of Adam’s rib was designed to be a “suitable helper” for Adam (Genesis 2:20). The Hebrew phrase is translated “help meet” in the KJV and “companion who corresponded” in the NET. It is not synonymous with assistant, servant, minion, or subordinate. The Hebrew phrase, ’ezer kenegdow, in all other instances in the Bible refers to powerful and extensive aid and support. In most cases, the phrase was used to depict dominant military forces or armed men. Other passages, including Deuteronomy 33:7, 29, and Exodus 18:4, use the same phrase to discuss the potent interventions and deliverances of God Himself. Woman, therefore, was created as a complement to man, as an integral part of man, and as a powerful and influential companion for man.
Furthermore, the Hebrew word translated “suitable,” kenegdow, carries much more meaning than simply “fit” or “appropriate.” This word also means “opposite or contrasting.” This implies that the two beings were designed to work and fit together perfectly, not just physically but in all ways. The strengths of each compensated for the weaknesses of the other. It was “not good” for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), but, together, Adam and Eve were something far stronger and more magnificent than either of them could have been alone. Adam had to lose a rib, but he gained so much more.
Why did God use Adam’s rib? A closer examination of the Hebrew also reveals another surprising element of the story. The Hebrew word translated “rib” in Genesis 2 is tsela. The only other instance of the English word rib in the Bible occurs in Daniel 7:5, but the Hebrew word used there is different. In other passages where tsela or its variants are used, the word is translated “side.” For example, in Exodus 25, 27, and 35, the words tselo (variant) and tselot (plural) are used to refer to the “sides” of the Ark of the Covenant or the “sides” of the altar. In 2 Samuel 16:13, David encounters a cursing Shimei moving along the side (tsela) of a hill. In these contexts, translating the word tsela as “rib” would not fit.
This raises the possibility that Eve could have been fashioned of more than just Adam’s rib. In the Genesis 2 passage, tsela could actually be translated as Adam’s “side,” rather than Adam’s “rib.” If the appropriate translation is that God removed Adam’s side, how much of his side did God remove? It is possible that Eve was constructed literally from half of Adam. This would bring added meaning to Adam’s declaration that Eve was “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).
Whether God created Eve from Adam’s rib or from his whole side, He accomplished the act in such a way that showed the woman was to complement and complete man in the integral union of marriage. Woman was created to be “beside” man, not beneath or above him. In salvation, man is no more “worthy” and woman is no less a citizen of God’s kingdom. “There is neither . . . male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). They stand side-by-side as fellow “heirs . . . of the gracious gift of life” (1 Peter 3:7).
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Why did God use Adam's rib to create Eve?