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Genesis 2:18-25

Context

2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. 1  I will make a companion 2  for him who corresponds to him.” 3  2:19 The Lord God formed 4  out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would 5  name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 2:20 So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam 6  no companion who corresponded to him was found. 7  2:21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, 8  and while he was asleep, 9  he took part of the man’s side 10  and closed up the place with flesh. 11  2:22 Then the Lord God made 12  a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 2:23 Then the man said,

“This one at last 13  is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

this one will be called 14  ‘woman,’

for she was taken out of 15  man.” 16 

2:24 That is why 17  a man leaves 18  his father and mother and unites with 19  his wife, and they become a new family. 20  2:25 The man and his wife were both naked, 21  but they were not ashamed. 22 

1 tn Heb “The being of man by himself is not good.” The meaning of “good” must be defined contextually. Within the context of creation, in which God instructs humankind to be fruitful and multiply, the man alone cannot comply. Being alone prevents the man from fulfilling the design of creation and therefore is not good.

2 tn Traditionally “helper.” The English word “helper,” because it can connote so many different ideas, does not accurately convey the connotation of the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (’ezer). Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role, a connotation which English “helper” can have. In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.” The woman would supply what the man was lacking in the design of creation and logically it would follow that the man would supply what she was lacking, although that is not stated here. See further M. L. Rosenzweig, “A Helper Equal to Him,” Jud 139 (1986): 277-80.

3 tn The Hebrew expression כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (kÿnegdo) literally means “according to the opposite of him.” Translations such as “suitable [for]” (NASB, NIV), “matching,” “corresponding to” all capture the idea. (Translations that render the phrase simply “partner” [cf. NEB, NRSV], while not totally inaccurate, do not reflect the nuance of correspondence and/or suitability.) The man’s form and nature are matched by the woman’s as she reflects him and complements him. Together they correspond. In short, this prepositional phrase indicates that she has everything that God had invested in him.

4 tn Or “fashioned.” To harmonize the order of events with the chronology of chapter one, some translate the prefixed verb form with vav (ו) consecutive as a past perfect (“had formed,” cf. NIV) here. (In chapter one the creation of the animals preceded the creation of man; here the animals are created after the man.) However, it is unlikely that the Hebrew construction can be translated in this way in the middle of this pericope, for the criteria for unmarked temporal overlay are not present here. See S. R. Driver, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew, 84-88, and especially R. Buth, “Methodological Collision between Source Criticism and Discourse Analysis,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, 138-54. For a contrary viewpoint see IBHS 552-53 §33.2.3 and C. J. Collins, “The Wayyiqtol as ‘Pluperfect’: When and Why,” TynBul 46 (1995): 117-40.

5 tn The imperfect verb form is future from the perspective of the past time narrative.

6 tn Here for the first time the Hebrew word אָדָם (’adam) appears without the article, suggesting that it might now be the name “Adam” rather than “[the] man.” Translations of the Bible differ as to where they make the change from “man” to “Adam” (e.g., NASB and NIV translate “Adam” here, while NEB and NRSV continue to use “the man”; the KJV uses “Adam” twice in v. 19).

7 tn Heb “there was not found a companion who corresponded to him.” The subject of the third masculine singular verb form is indefinite. Without a formally expressed subject the verb may be translated as passive: “one did not find = there was not found.”

8 tn Heb “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man.”

9 tn Heb “and he slept.” In the sequence the verb may be subordinated to the following verb to indicate a temporal clause (“while…”).

10 tn Traditionally translated “rib,” the Hebrew word actually means “side.” The Hebrew text reads, “and he took one from his sides,” which could be rendered “part of his sides.” That idea may fit better the explanation by the man that the woman is his flesh and bone.

11 tn Heb “closed up the flesh under it.”

12 tn The Hebrew verb is בָּנָה (banah, “to make, to build, to construct”). The text states that the Lord God built the rib into a woman. Again, the passage gives no indication of precisely how this was done.

13 tn The Hebrew term הַפַּעַם (happaam) means “the [this] time, this place,” or “now, finally, at last.” The expression conveys the futility of the man while naming the animals and finding no one who corresponded to him.

14 tn The Hebrew text is very precise, stating: “of this one it will be said, ‘woman’.” The text is not necessarily saying that the man named his wife – that comes after the fall (Gen 3:20).

sn Some argue that naming implies the man’s authority or ownership over the woman here. Naming can indicate ownership or authority if one is calling someone or something by one’s name and/or calling a name over someone or something (see 2 Sam 12:28; 2 Chr 7:14; Isa 4:1; Jer 7:14; 15:16), especially if one is conquering and renaming a site. But the idiomatic construction used here (the Niphal of קָרָא, qara’, with preposition lamed [לְ, lÿ]) does not suggest such an idea. In each case where it is used, the one naming discerns something about the object being named and gives it an appropriate name (See 1 Sam 9:9; 2 Sam 18:18; Prov 16:21; Isa 1:26; 32:5; 35:8; 62:4, 12; Jer 19:6). Adam is not so much naming the woman as he is discerning her close relationship to him and referring to her accordingly. He may simply be anticipating that she will be given an appropriate name based on the discernible similarity.

15 tn Or “from” (but see v. 22).

16 sn This poetic section expresses the correspondence between the man and the woman. She is bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh. Note the wordplay (paronomasia) between “woman” (אִשָּׁה, ’ishah) and “man” (אִישׁ, ’ish). On the surface it appears that the word for woman is the feminine form of the word for man. But the two words are not etymologically related. The sound and the sense give that impression, however, and make for a more effective wordplay.

17 tn This statement, introduced by the Hebrew phrase עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken, “therefore” or “that is why”), is an editorial comment, not an extension of the quotation. The statement is describing what typically happens, not what will or should happen. It is saying, “This is why we do things the way we do.” It links a contemporary (with the narrator) practice with the historical event being narrated. The historical event narrated in v. 23 provides the basis for the contemporary practice described in v. 24. That is why the imperfect verb forms are translated with the present tense rather than future.

18 tn The imperfect verb form has a habitual or characteristic nuance. For other examples of עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken, “therefore, that is why”) with the imperfect in a narrative framework, see Gen 10:9; 32:32 (the phrase “to this day” indicates characteristic behavior is in view); Num 21:14, 27; 1 Sam 5:5 (note “to this day”); 19:24 (perhaps the imperfect is customary here, “were saying”); 2 Sam 5:8. The verb translated “leave” (עָזָב, ’azab) normally means “to abandon, to forsake, to leave behind, to discard,” when used with human subject and object (see Josh 22:3; 1 Sam 30:13; Ps 27:10; Prov 2:17; Isa 54:6; 60:15; 62:4; Jer 49:11). Within the context of the ancient Israelite extended family structure, this cannot refer to emotional or geographical separation. The narrator is using hyperbole to emphasize the change in perspective that typically overtakes a young man when his thoughts turn to love and marriage.

19 tn The perfect with vav (ו) consecutive carries the same habitual or characteristic nuance as the preceding imperfect. The verb is traditionally translated “cleaves [to]”; it has the basic idea of “stick with/to” (e.g., it is used of Ruth resolutely staying with her mother-in-law in Ruth 1:14). In this passage it describes the inseparable relationship between the man and the woman in marriage as God intended it.

20 tn Heb “and they become one flesh.” The perfect with vav consecutive carries the same habitual or characteristic nuance as the preceding verbs in the verse. The retention of the word “flesh” (בָּשָׂר, basar) in the translation often leads to improper or incomplete interpretations. The Hebrew word refers to more than just a sexual union. When they unite in marriage, the man and woman bring into being a new family unit (הָיָה + לְ, hayah + lamed preposition means “become”). The phrase “one flesh” occurs only here and must be interpreted in light of v. 23. There the man declares that the woman is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. To be one’s “bone and flesh” is to be related by blood to someone. For example, the phrase describes the relationship between Laban and Jacob (Gen 29:14); Abimelech and the Shechemites (Judg 9:2; his mother was a Shechemite); David and the Israelites (2 Sam 5:1); David and the elders of Judah (2 Sam 19:12); and David and his nephew Amasa (2 Sam 19:13, see 2 Sam 17:2; 1 Chr 2:16-17). The expression “one flesh” seems to indicate that they become, as it were, “kin,” at least legally (a new family unit is created) or metaphorically. In this first marriage in human history, the woman was literally formed from the man’s bone and flesh. Even though later marriages do not involve such a divine surgical operation, the first marriage sets the pattern for how later marriages are understood and explains why marriage supersedes the parent-child relationship.

21 tn Heb “And the two of them were naked, the man and his wife.”

sn Naked. The motif of nakedness is introduced here and plays an important role in the next chapter. In the Bible nakedness conveys different things. In this context it signifies either innocence or integrity, depending on how those terms are defined. There is no fear of exploitation, no sense of vulnerability. But after the entrance of sin into the race, nakedness takes on a negative sense. It is then usually connected with the sense of vulnerability, shame, exploitation, and exposure (such as the idea of “uncovering nakedness” either in sexual exploitation or in captivity in war).

22 tn The imperfect verb form here has a customary nuance, indicating a continuing condition in past time. The meaning of the Hebrew term בּוֹשׁ (bosh) is “to be ashamed, to put to shame,” but its meaning is stronger than “to be embarrassed.” The word conveys the fear of exploitation or evil – enemies are put to shame through military victory. It indicates the feeling of shame that approximates a fear of evil.



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