Adam’s rib

The Bible tells us that God made Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs.

The LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Genesis 2:21-22

This account is so clear that there can be no doubt about what happened.  God removed a bone from Adam’s side and replaced it with flesh.  He then transformed that bone into Eve, the first woman.

But there may be more to the story than that.  I have seen Bibles in which there is a footnote to the word “rib” saying that it can also mean “part of a side”.  And here is something I found on the site gotquestions.org.

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 tselaor 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).

Adam’s rib

If Eve was made from Adam’s side rather than just his rib, what did that side consist of?  We can find a possible answer by examining the details of how Adam and Eve were created.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26-28

God created man as both male and female on the sixth day.  The second chapter of Genesis describes this creation in more detail.  First God created Adam.

The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Genesis 2:7

After this God made a garden and put Adam in charge of it.  He then had Adam give names to all of the animals and birds.  It was only after this that he made Eve.  It seems unlikely that all of this could have been accomplished in a single day.  If Eve was not created on the sixth day the only way man could be created male and female would be for Adam to have been androgynous, both male and female.  The “side” or “rib” that was used to make Eve was the female part of him.

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Posted on October 27, 2015, in Bible study, creation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Adam’s rib.

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