The last verse of the detailed account of the sixth day of creation, is a description of unity devoid of jealousy, sexuality without sin, observation without criticism, self-love without self-deification, confidence without pride, enjoyment devoid of regret and contentment born of the joy that comes from wanting what one has.
It’s a mistake to call בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2 the second account of creation. Genesis 2:4-25 is not a different story, as some suppose, rather it’s a detailed section of a greater map. It details the sixth day of creation, illuminating and complementing the meta-account of Genesis 1:1-2:3. The first verses of chapter 2 (4-6) link the account to the meta-account of Genesis 1, by citing the first day (the heavens and the earth) and using it as a reference in order to expound on the subsequent 4 days, thus pointing to the sixth day, which is the focus of the remainder of the chapter.
As explained in my introduction to בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis, the extremely flawed redaction theory which claims multiple authors and differing versions of the creation story, is tenuous at best, and at worst, utter nonsense. The continuity of Genesis 2 is self-evident and the misperceived discrepancies are easily explained.
Bereishit 2 expounds upon the beginning of the generations of humanity as seeded through one man, created בָּרָא bara (creative action of God, ex nihilo [from nothing]) through dust and by the breath of HaShem. A man of earth and heaven, a foreshadowing of the King Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
The roles of men and woman are defined in terms of the unifying act of a husband and wife and are consolidated in a complex unity אחד echad. The woman is not a subordinate creature, rather she is the glory of creation, just as man is the glory of God through Yeshua. The Genesis 2 account affirms gender distinction rather than gender subordination.
“For a man indeed should not have his hair fall down around him (at the sides of his head [long hair]), for as much as he is the image and glory of Elohim: and the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man: for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man: for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of liberty on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in Elohim. For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of Elohim. Judge you in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto Elohim with her hair pulled up (looking like a man)? Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man has long hair (looking like a woman), it’s a dishonour to him? But if a woman has long hair, it’s a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering (a symbol of כַּפָּרָה kaparah/atonement).”
–1 Corinthians 11:7-15 (Rav Shaul’s letter) [Author’s translation]
Humanity is thus given the job of caretaker of the created environment, and afforded the godly right of naming and reigning over creation. This too is a foreshadowing of the Messiah, Who in sinless perfection, came to restore dominion over creation, silencing the storm and healing the sick and diseased.
As we approach this account we should examine our motives soberly. Many resist the plain meaning of the text because their science disagrees with the Scripture, however, as followers of Messiah we must humble ourselves and allow the Rabbi (Yeshua) to teach us by His Spirit. Some aspire to be רבנים rabbonim (teachers), others wish to be תלמידים talmidim (students), but those who are unteachable qualify for neither position.
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4-25 [Translated from the Hebrew text by Yaakov ben Yehoshua]
Gen 2:4a These are the generations תוֹלְדוֹת toldot of the heavens הַשָּׁמַיִם ha-sh’mayim and the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz.
There are a variety of translations of the first section of Genesis 2:4:
“This is the account of the heavens and the earth…” –NIV
“This is the history of the heavens and the earth…” –CJB
“These are the products of the heavens and the earth…” –Torah, Stone Edition
“Such is the story of heaven and earth…” –JPS (Jewish Study Bible)
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth…” –KJV
Each of these English translations is attempting to convey the meaning of the Hebrew, תוֹלְדוֹת toldot which is most commonly understood to mean generations or, offspring. It’s true that each of the words chosen by these translators conveys an aspect of the meaning of the Hebrew word, and that all these ideas combine to give the fuller meaning, however, with respect to the context and nature of the Genesis 2 account, by far the single English word that most effectively conveys the intent of the Hebrew text, is generations.
The phrase, אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת eileh toldot (These are the generations), divides the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis into eight sections (11 instances), each introducing a new stage in the development of humanity (Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12,19; 36:1, 9; 37:2).
So what does this first phrase of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4-25 mean? God knows the end from the beginning and that there will be a subsequent sinless new creation, so in some sense the heavens and the earth will have a proceeding generation. However, that is not the intended meaning here.
We find the subjects of the generations in the account itself, אָדָם Adam, the man האדם ha-adam, איש iysh), along with his partner חוה Chavah, life/living (אישה iyshah), his wife.
The account of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 sets a platform for understanding the rhythm of creation:
Days 1 through 3:
1.) God all existing
2.) God commands
3.) God creates from nothing
4.) God forms the created substance
5.) God names the created environment
Days 4 through 6:
1.) God all existing
2.) God commands
3.) God creates from nothing
4.) God forms the created creature
5.) God names the created creature
This rhythm reflects a generational cycle that is further illuminated through the detailed account of the sixth day, described in בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2. Additionally, it shows that God first created the environment in which He would place the glory of His creation, humanity. The heavens and the earth therefore, qualify as the location for the generations of humanity.
Given, the generational rhythm of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1, the habitat and inhabitant cycle it presents, and the naming of the subjects in the latter section of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2, we should understand the first phrase of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4 to mean:
“These are the generations of humanity for whom the heavens and the earth were created as a habitation.”
Gen 2:4b when they were created from nothing בָּרָא bara, in the day בְּיוֹם b’yom of the making עֲשׂוֹת asaot when יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim made earth אֶרֶץ eretz and heavens שָׁמָיִם sh’mayim,
“In the day” בְּיוֹם b’yom refers to the first day of creation by referencing the heavens and the earth which are the foundation for the detail of the current accounting of the sixth day as it’s illuminated in the following text. The inference is that creation was prepared from the beginning as a habitation for humanity, as explained by the clause’s use of תוֹלְדוֹת toldot (generations).
Just as in the former account, בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4 continues the rhythm of using בָּרָא bara (created from nothing) and עֲשׂוֹת asot (formed out of something) to denote God’s active participation in every aspect of creation. This is important because it lays a foundation for refuting ontological arguments that impugn the character of God and allow for humanist assertions regarding the universe and the human race.
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4, is the first place in the Torah (Books of Moses) where the Holy personal name of God יהוה YHVH is used along with the generic title אלוהים Elohim:
“יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim”. This composite name is important because it’s an expression of the intimate relationship within the God head and God’s love poured out on humanity. In the former account God אֱלֹהִים Elohim (the Judge), is the King and Judge over creation, and here He is revealing His Mercy and eternal all existing nature. The Hebrew יהוה YHVH is unpronounceable, it denotes Divine mercy. When we read the Holy proper noun יהוה YHVH (In worship we use “Adonai” and in practice, “HaShem” the Name) alongside the generic אֱלֹהִים Elohim (Judge), we understand God to be our Merciful Judge. This unity of Love and Justice illustrates the great depths of our security in Him.
The Holy Name יהוה YHVH, also denotes the eternal, all existing nature of God. The rabbis note that the Hebrew phrase, היה הווה ויהיה HaYaH HoVVeH V’YiH’YeiH (Who was and is and is to come) uses only the consonants of the Holy Name יהוה. They teach therefore, that the Holy Name conveys the eternal nature of God, Who was, is and is to come.
Gen 2:5 And every plant of the plain before it was יִהְיֶה yiyeh on the earth בָאָרֶץ va’aretz, and every glistening shoot, herb, grass, of the plain before it sprouted: it had not been sent the rain by יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim upon the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz and humanity אָדָם adam didn’t exist to work the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah.
In reading Genesis 2:5 we are reminded of Genesis 1:2: “And the earth came into existence, desolate and vacant, and darkness was over the face of deep…” –Genesis 1:2a
Genesis 2:5 alludes to Genesis 1:2a in order to link this detailed account of humanity to the meta-creation story. The intent of God’s creative plan is revealed in the qualifying statement, “and humanity didn’t exist to work the ground”. The plant life was purposed as both habitation and food for humanity. Humanity’s role would be to work the ground, not under compulsion but in the pure enjoyment of creative, fulfilling work that produces abundant fruit and completes a cycle of peaceful existence. Not a Utopia built by humanism, but a God haven constructed and purposed by God for humanity’s good.
Gen 2:6 And mist ascended from the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz, and gave drink to the whole face of the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah.
In reading Genesis 2:6 we are reminded of Genesis 1:2b: “Darkness was over the face of deep, surging, subterranean waters, and the Spirit, Wind, Breath of Elohim brooded, like a mother eagle, relaxed, over the face of the waters.” –Genesis 1:2b
Genesis 2:6 gives reference to the waters of the beginning which are mentioned in Genesis 1:2b, and their covering the face of the earth. This is to show the relationship between the רוח הקודש Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) brooding over the formless world and the breathing spirit נשמת nishmat that will give humanity life חיה chayah.
The gap between this verse and the next presumes that the reader, having the first account in mind, will fill in the remaining events leading up to the sixth day, which is the contextual reference point for Genesis 2:7.
Gen 2:7 And formed, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the particular, specific, singular man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם et-haadam of the dust, mortar, powder, dry earth of the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah, and breathed, blew וַיִּפַּח vayifach into his nostrils the breath, spirit נִשְׁמַת nishmat of living חַיִּים chaiyim; and became the man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם ha-adam a soul לְנֶפֶשׁ l’nefesh חַיָּה chayah life form.
In reading Genesis 2:7 we are reminded of Genesis 1:27: “And creating from nothing, Elohim made the particular, specific, singular man, human in His image to resemble Him, in the image of Elohim He created from nothing, him; male and female, He created from nothing, them.” –Genesis 1:27
With illuminating, relational simplicity, this verse unifies the impartation of God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), and describes the joining of the dust of the earth and the breath of the heavens (God’s breath), creating the creature who is the crowning glory of creation, humanity.
The man is created prior to the woman in divine order. The Scriptures illuminate the succession of glory and thus show that the role of the sexes is complimentary rather than subordinate (1 Corinthians 11:7-15).
Genesis 1:27 uses the noun, “image”, “likeness” thus expressing God’s relationship to humanity, but here it is the verbs of the text that act (halakh, walk), to bring about man’s formation. “Formed” expresses the relationship of the potter to the clay (Isaiah 64:8), and “breathed” conveys the intimate nature of a kiss, a face to face encounter that is as much an act of giving as it is an act of constructing. God gives of Himself in order to create humanity. This rhythm of story and action continues today in the very essence of Messiah following Jewish practice. Every Shabbat, while remembering the creation of the universe and God’s rest, we light the candles of observance and remembrance and tell (aggadah) the story of creation in order to act out (halakhah) it’s goal, peace and rest in God through Yeshua (Jesus).
The breath of God imparted to the man corelates to an act of the life of Messiah Yeshua:
“And when He had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit):”
הבשורה על-פי יוחנן
– Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan (John) 20:22 [Author’s translation]
It’s important to note that the, “breath, spirit נִשְׁמַת nishmat” is not the Ruach Ha-Kodesh Himself but an emanation from the Ruach which affords life to the man. This is a reminder that it’s by the common grace of God that each of us continues to have life in a world that is affected by sin and death. Today (following the fall of humanity) all human beings, (to use a Jewish esoteric turn of phrase) have a divine spark, but not all human beings honour that spark, nor are all human beings in right relationship to the spark Giver, HaShem.
This is confirmed by the HaBrit Ha-Chadashah (NT):
“So also it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living soul (nefesh)’. The last Adam (Yeshua) a life-giving Spirit (Ruach).”
–1 Corinthians 15:45 [Author’s translation]
Man is not a divided entity, rather he is a unity. He is Heart (Core being), Mind (intellectual being), Strength (physical being) and Spirit/Soul (living being), but at his core he is the convergence of all these things, אחד echad (a complex and intense unity). Once created a human being is everlasting, having נְשָׁמָה neshamah (transcendent soul). We are either everlasting unto life through Yeshua or everlasting unto torment through wilful rejection of God’s loving offer of reconciliation through atonement.
God does not send people to eternal torment, rather He offers a means of escape. Those who end up in the lake of perpetual fire will be those who have chosen to go there.
We note that God did not just breathe life חי into the nostrils of the man formed from dust, but living חַיִּים chaiyim. This denotes everlasting life. The Hebrew is an intense form indicating perpetual substance.
Genesis 2:7 affirms the very clear distinction between humanity and the animals. While we are made up of similar elements, we are entirely unique, unrelated with regard to ancestry. We have been created whole, completed in a singular action of God, rather than over millennia, as the theory of evolution claims. It’s here that every believer is faced with a necessary choice between popular science and the truth of Scripture. This is not an issue of interpretation. The p’shat (plain meaning) of the Hebrew text does not allow for evolutionary theory.
It's important to note that this detailed description of the creation of humanity begins with an individual man (Ha-Adam). The Hebrew uses the determiner, אֶת et and the definite article הָֽ ha so as to leave no doubt as to the individual nature of this person. In the context of Genesis 1:27 He is the man, and not a humanity.
Gen 2:8 And planted יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, a garden גַּן־בְעֵדֶן in Eden eidein delight, pleasure, to the east; to put there the particular, specific, singular man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם et-haadam whom He had fashioned.
This is the provision of vegetation of the sixth day as recorded in Genesis 1:30. The garden is to be a place of fulfilling work and discovery, a home laden with provisions and opportunities so that the man can utilize his heart, mind and strength in godly perfection.
The phrase, “a garden in Eden to the east” makes it clear that Eden is a tangible earthly location and not merely a symbolic or ethereal garden. Eden can be both a location and a symbol, but in accordance with the text, it must first be a physical location. This is further confirmed by the detailed listing of the central river and its tributaries in the proceeding verses. (Eden is not, as some foolishly conjecture, a trans-locational place suspended between heaven and earth).
Gen 2:9 And causing to sprout יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, from the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah all trees pleasant in appearance, and good for food; and tree the living עֵ֤ץ הַחַיִּים eitz hachayim in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good טוֹב tov and evil רָע ra.
Genesis 2:9 again references the provision of fruit bearing trees on the sixth day according to the account of Genesis 1:30. The reason for this literary device is to show the unique nature of two specific trees, which are both physically present, displaying fruit, and at the same time possessed of a spiritual nature. We should remember that prior to the fall, the appearance of a division between the seen and the unseen realms was not evident. Prior to the fall, the spiritual and the physical were observed by humanity as a complex unity.
While some claim that the tree of living and the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil are one tree, the text makes this translation difficult and Genesis 3:22 confirms that the trees are indeed separate.
There is no need to make the false choice between the trees being figurative or physical. They are both and more.
Gen 2:10 And a river went out from Eden מֵעֵדֶן mei’eiden delight, pleasure, to give drink to the garden; and there it divided, to become four heads.
While it’s true to say that the river is a symbol of the prosperity and spiritual vitality that proceeds from holy ground (Psalm 36:8-9; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Revelation 22:1-2), it is presented here as a literal river flowing from a literal garden with four qualifying tributaries to act as land marks, a set of ancient GPS coordinates for triangulating the location of the garden. Unfortunately only the Tigris and Euphrates are identifiable today, while the locations of the Piyshon and Giychon remain a mystery.
Gen 2:11 The name of the number one (river) הָאֶחָד echad is פִּישׁוֹן Piyshon: it (he) that flows around the whole land כָּל־אֶרֶץ kol-eretz of הַחֲוִילָה the Havilah sandy land, where there is gold; Gen 2:12 And the gold of the land הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz it (he) is good טוֹב tov: there is the הַבְּדֹלַח ha-bedolach resin, and stone is precious. Gen 2:13 And the name of the river, the second הַשֵּׁנִי sheiniy is גִּיחוֹן Giychon: it (he) that flows around the whole land כָּל־אֶרֶץ kol-eretz of the כּוּשׁ Cush, Black. Gen 2:14 And the name of the river, third הַשְּׁלִישִׁי sh’liyshiy is חִדֶּקֶל Chidekel: it (he) that flows forward to the east of אַשּׁוּר Ashur, Assyria. And the river the fourth הָרְבִיעִי r’viy’iy it (he) is פְרָת Perat, fruitfulness, Euphrates.
We see that the numbering of the rivers follows the numbering of the days of creation in the Genesis 1 account. Beginning with the cardinal number אֶחָד echad and continuing with the ordinal numbers שֵּׁנִי sheiniy, שְּׁלִישִׁי shliyshiy, רְבִיעִי revi’iy. Therefore, the Piyshon is a specific singular water source central to understanding the literal, physical location of the garden and the subsequent rivers are ordered according to it. These also being physical waters of the tangible creation. This is further affirmed by the fact that we can locate the continuing existence of two of these rivers today.
It's thought that the Cush mentioned here is the Kassite territory east of the Tigris, and not the more remote Ethiopia, which was also known as Cush in Biblical times. Havilah is linked with Cush in Genesis 10:7 and with Babylon in Genesis 10:8, 10, which the Kassites invaded at one time, however the Seba in Genesis 10:7 could indicate South Arabia, which is where the other Havilah of 10:29 is located. It’s possible then that the area described is a compact location above the Persian Gulf. However, it is impossible to know with certainty.
Gen 2:15 Taking, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the particular, specific, singular man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם et-haadam, and placing him to rest in the garden of Eden, delight, pleasure, to work, serve and to keep it, watching over it.
God transports the man into the garden He has prepared for him. This is a beautiful illustration of the journey that every believer has entered into. We are transported in Messiah from the dust of this life into the fresh wind of the Olam Haba (eternal kingdom). We have been redeemed and perfected in Messiah, and we are being made holy, sanctified (set apart). Our destination is the rest of God.
The text continues to emphasize the individual nature of the man. This sets the stage for the statement of HaShem, “It’s not good for man to be alone” (v.18). (It is ridiculous to say that “ha-adam” means “the humanity” here, because the man is about to be referred to in the singular as being alone).
Man is placed in the garden to work it in joy and take care of it in love. Man’s subsequent sovereignty over the garden is a gift of God, an extension of His sovereignty and a reflection of His image, likeness.
It’s worth noting that the man is placed in Eden, inferring that he was created elsewhere. This adds weight to the Jewish tradition that says Adam was created through האבן ha-even the foundation stone located on the temple mount. That same stone that was centred in the Holy of holies, the stone which Jewish tradition says Abraham sought to sacrifice Isaac upon, and the same stone which Jacob laid his head upon when he saw the vision of the ladder, and of course, the stone upon which the blood of the Yom Kippur sacrifice fell when sprinkled by the High priest following the loss of the ark of the covenant.
Gen 2:16 And commanded, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the הָאָדָם man ha-adam, saying, “Every tree of the garden consume, freely eat: Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good טוֹב tov and evil רָע ra, don’t eat from it: for in the day you consume from it, death will put to death, bring the killing מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת mimenu mot.
The man receives this instruction directly and is therefore responsible to convey it accurately to his future wife.
Up until the fall, humanity, both the man and the woman, knew only good. Thus the knowledge of all things, including the possibility of evil was to be off limits to them.
We note that while most English versions of the Bible say, “In the day you eat of it you will surely die”, the Hebrew text literally says, “in the day you consume from it, death will put to death, bring the killing.” While it is true that אדם Adam and חוה Chavah died a spiritual death in the day that they ate of the fruit, they did not die physically in that same day. Therefore the more common reading seems unlikely. What is more consistent is the literal reading which is supported by Rav Shaul’s (Paul) letter to the Roman ecclesia (body of believers):
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed to all humanity, for all have sinned:”
–Rav Shaul’s Letter to the Romans 5:12 [Author’s translation]
To paraphrase the text:
“The day you eat the fruit you will open up a way for sin to enter both yourself, and your progeny and the world in perpetuity: death will result, and will continue to kill generationally.”
Gen 2:18 And spoke יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, saying, It’s not good לֹא־טוֹב lo tov that becoming, the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam is alone; I will fashion one who helps to meet his need, to be in front of him.
This is the first instance of something being called, לֹא־טוֹב lo tov not good. The phrase, lo tov is used here to mean, incomplete. Genesis 1:27 reveals the complete creation of the man and the woman and the subsequent verses culminate in the phrase, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was טוב מאוד tov meod, exceedingly good; meaning not only, very good but also, complete.
In isolation man is yet to reflect the full nature of being made in God’s image because God was in relationship from before the creation of the world. The God-head Father, Son and Spirit are a relational complex unity. Therefore man, who has received a soul life through the imparting of the breath of God’s Spirit, now needs a counterpart, as the text says, “to stand before him”. Once the man receives his counterpart he will find the full expression of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God through the act of unifying his flesh with the woman. This relational bond reflects the fullness of the God-head, thus illuminating the greater meaning of image and likeness.
Gen 2:19 And had formed יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, from the ground הָאֲדָמָ֗ה ha-adamah every living thing of the plain, and every flying thing of the sky waters; and He brought them to the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam to see what he would call them: and what called every soul נֶפֶשׁ nefesh living חַיָּה chayah, the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam, it, (he), was the name.
The livestock were formed prior to the man, as recorded in Genesis 1:24. Thus the text of Genesis 2:19 reads, “had formed”. By giving the man an opportunity to name the animals, God was further imparting His likeness/image to humanity. This act reflects the naming by God of the created elements, thus conveying His sovereignty over the creation. In a similar way, the man Adam is given sovereignty over the animals as a representative of God in creation. Yet another foreshadowing of the Messiah.
Gen 2:20 And proclaimed, the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam names for all the beasts, cattle, and flying creatures of the sky waters, heavens, and every beast of the plain; but for Adam there was not found a helper, to meet his need, to be in front of him.
This proclamation over the animals reflects the proclamations of God over the created elements. In naming the animals the man Adam affirms their identity and purpose just as God had affirmed the identity and purpose of humanity through His proclamation (Genesis 1:26).
The fact that none of the animals were found suitable is yet another affirmation of humanity’s unique role in creation. Through the process of naming the animals God was teaching the man to recognize his own need for equitable relationship. Having finished naming the animals and realizing that none were compatible, the man was ready to receive the helper who had always been intended for him.
Gen 2:21 And making to lie down, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam, and he slept: and he took the one אָחת ha-achat, (feminine cardinal number) side, rib, and closed up the flesh beneath;
This passage elaborates on the complete work of creating human beings as described in Genesis 1:27. It is not conveying a new creation so much as an extension of the creation begun in the singular and specific man Adam.
This deep sleep is reminiscent of Genesis 15:12, where the Patriarch Abram falls into a deep sleep and God meets with him to prepare him for the transition that he is about to go through. This connection to the Patriarch in his role as the Hebrew העברי ha-ivri seems fitting.
The side or rib (singular) is called, הָאָחת ha-achat the one. The feminine cardinal number being used for the first time here. This is not intended to indicate some sort of struggle in the man between the feminine and masculine attributes of his person, rather it is intended to emphasize the unique nature and role of the woman.
Gen 2:22 And established, built, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the side, rib, which He had taken from the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam, into a woman אִשָּׁה Ishah, and brought her to the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam.
The woman is established, formed, and complete, and is brought to the man by God, Who acts the part of a Middle Eastern Haredi Jewish Father, both selecting His son’s bride and as the Father of the bride, bringing her to His son beneath the wedding chupah of the universe, the stars covering them in majestic procession.
Gen 2:23 And speaking the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam said, This (feminine) is now bone, essence of my bones, essence, and flesh of my flesh: she will be called Woman אִשָּׁה Ishah, because out of man מֵאִישׁ mei’ish taken was she, this female one.
Realizing for the first time that he is encountering one like himself, a helper to stand before him as an equal, the man איש Iysh rejoices in naming her, אשה Ishah recognizing both her connection to him and her uniqueness.
The text leaves unanswered the reason why man is called, איש iysh. This word comes from the Hebrew root, אש eish meaning fire. Fire is said to symbolize man’s uniqueness within the created order. We are reminded that the Spirit of the Lord is also likened to fire in Scripture (Ex. 3:2; 13:21; Isa. 4:4; Matt. 3:11-12; Luk. 3:16-17; Acts 2:3-4; 1 Thess. 5:19) and that it’s this same Spirit that breathed life into the man.
The Rabbis note that the presence of godliness is seen in the naming of the man and woman through the shortened form of the Holy Name. The י Yod from יה YaH is added to אש eish (fire) to form איש iysh (man) and the ה Hey from יה YaH is added to איש iysh (man), and the י Yod removed to form the feminine form אשה ishaH (woman). It is said that this symbolizes the need for God to be present in a marriage, in order to facilitate true unity and peace. If God (YaH) is removed from their respective titles, they are both left with אש eish (fire), which can burn out of control under the wind of sin and thus destroy the marriage.
Gen 2:24 Therefore leaving, a man, his father and his mother, he shall catch, overtake, cleave, cling to, stick to, stay close to, follow, and join to his wife בְּאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ b’ishato: to become of flesh, one אֶחָד echad, (masculine cardinal number: root meaning complex and intense unity).
The role of a husband is beautifully illustrated here. From the beginning God intended marriage to be a living example of the unity of His divine relationship, within the God-head, and with ethnic Israel, and through her to the body of believers ecclesia, redeemed humanity as echad one.
When asked about divorce Yeshua spoke of this very passage, testifying to its historical relevance and its spiritual importance:
“And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put away a wife. But Yeshua (Jesus) said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of the creation, He made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave 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, let no person tear apart.”
The wider implications of the Hebrew, דָבַק davak cleave, speak immutable security to the marriage relationship that is held together in the Spirit of God through Messiah Yeshua. The bar is set high for the man/husband, why? Because it is the standard set by our Messiah, Who, as the Groom of the ecclesia, has given up His life for His bride.
Gen 2:25 Existing, the two שְׁנֵיהֶם sh’nayim (cardinal masculine) were naked, bare, smooth, prudent, עֲרוּמִּים arumim the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam and his wife וְאִשְׁתּוֹ v’ishato, and were not ashamed, disconcerted, embarrassed.
The Hebrew, עֲרוּמִּים arumim is plural, indicating that they shared their nakedness and accepted the complimentary part they each played in their sexual, intellectual and spiritual unity. In Genesis 3:10 the same root word is used in the singular form, עֵירֹם eirom denoting the division that had come between the man and the woman as a result of sin. Sin had sought to divide what God had made one אחד echad. This is why ישוע Yeshua (Jesus) uses the example of the pre-fall unity of the man and the woman, as a rebuke to those particular first century Jewish men who were allowing divorce for any and every reason (Mark 10:4-8). Divorce, like sexual immorality, is a result of the fall. It is hated by God because it defiles the greatest earthly representation of His relational love, as pictured in the marriage of a man and a woman.
This last verse of the detailed account of the sixth day of creation, is a description of unity devoid of jealousy, sexuality without sin, observation without criticism, self-love without self-deification, confidence without pride, enjoyment devoid of regret and contentment born of the joy that comes from wanting what one has.
© 2023 Yaakov Ben Yehoshua (Brown)
Yaakov (Brown) Ben Yehoshua, founder and spiritual leader of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community, presents a series of in depth studies of books of the Bible. Yaakov approaches the text from a Messianic Jewish perspective, revealing seldom considered translational alternatives and unique insights into the timeless nature of the Word of God as it applies to the redemptive work of the King Messiah Yeshua.