Genesis 2:21
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) And the Lord God caused a deep sleep (comp. Job 4:13, where it is the same word) to fall upon Adam.—Heb., the man.

One of his ribs.—The word is never translated rib except in this place, but always side, flank. This is the true meaning also of the Latin word by which it is rendered in the Vulgate, costa, as shown in the French côte, and our coast Both the Greek and Syriac also translate by words which primarily signify the side, but derivatively the rib. Woman was not formed out of one of man’s many ribs, of which he would not feel the loss. She is one side of man; and though he may have several sides to his nature and character, yet without woman one integral portion of him is wanting.

Closed up the flesh instead thereof.—Literally, closed up flesh under it, that is, in its place. This does not mean that man now has flesh where before he had this side, but that a cavity was prevented by drawing the flesh on the two edges close together. Metaphysically it means that man has no compensation for what was abstracted from him, except in the woman, who is the one side of his nature which he has lost.

Genesis 2:21-22. God caused a deep sleep, &c. — That the opening of his side and the taking away of his rib might be no grievance to him. While he knows no sin, God will take care that he shall feel no pain. The woman was taken out of the man’s side, and not out of a higher or lower part of his body, to show that she is neither to govern nor usurp authority over him, 1 Timothy 2:12.; nor yet to be his slave or servant: but, as his companion, to be treated with kindness; respect, and affection. How significant are all God’s works and actions!2:18-25 Power over the creatures was given to man, and as a proof of this he named them all. It also shows his insight into the works of God. But though he was lord of the creatures, yet nothing in this world was a help meet for man. From God are all our helpers. If we rest in God, he will work all for good. God caused deep sleep to fall on Adam; while he knows no sin, God will take care that he shall feel no pain. God, as her Father, brought the woman to the man, as his second self, and a help meet for him. That wife, who is of God's making by special grace, and of God's bringing by special providence, is likely to prove a help meet for a man. See what need there is, both of prudence and prayer in the choice of this relation, which is so near and so lasting. That had need to be well done, which is to be done for life. Our first parents needed no clothes for covering against cold or heat, for neither could hurt them: they needed none for ornament. Thus easy, thus happy, was man in his state of innocency. How good was God to him! How many favours did he load him with! How easy were the laws given to him! Yet man, being in honour, understood not his own interest, but soon became as the beasts that perish. - XIV. The Woman

21. תרדמה tardēmâh, "deep sleep," ἔκστασις ekstasis, Septuagint. צלע tsēlā‛, "rib, side, wing of a building."

23. פעם pa‛am, "beat, stroke, tread, anvil." אישׁ 'ı̂ysh, "man," vir. אשׁה 'āshah, "be firm, as a foundation;" ישׁה yāshah, "be firm as a substance;" אנש 'ānash, "be strong;" אושׁ 'ûsh, "to give help: hence, the strong, the brave, the defender, the nourisher." אשׂה 'ı̂śâh, "woman," feminine of the above; "wife."

The second creative step in the constitution of man as the natural head of a race is now described. This supplies the defect that was drawn forth into consciousness in the preceding passage. Man here passes out of solitude into society, out of unity into multiplicity.

Here we find ourselves still in the sixth day. This passage throws a new light on Genesis 1:27. It is there stated that man was first created in the image of God, and then that he was created male and female. From the present passage we learn that these two acts of creation were distinct in point of time. First, we see man was really one in his origin, and contained in this unity the perfection of manhood. It does not appear, however, that man was so constituted by nature as to throw off another of the same kind by his inherent power. In fact, if he had, the other should have been, not a female, but another human being in every respect like himself; and he would thus have resembled those plants that are capable of being propagated by a bud. Besides, he would have been endowed with a power different from his actual posterity; and thus the head would not have corresponded with the members of the race.

The narrative, however, is opposed to this view of man's nature. For the change, by which the woman comes into existence, is directly ascribed to the original Maker. A part of the man is taken for the purpose, which can be spared without interfering with the integrity of his nature. It manifestly does not constitute a woman by the mere act of separation, as we are told that the Lord God built it into a woman. It is needless, therefore, to speculate whether the part taken were literally a rib, or some other side piece designedly put there by the provident Creator, for the purpose of becoming the rudiment of a full-grown woman. It is expressly called, not A rib, but one of his ribs; and this evidently implies that he had other similar parts. This binds us, we conceive, to the literal rib of bone and flesh. And thus, in accordance with the account in the foregoing chapter, we have, first, the single man created, the full representative and potential fountain of the race, and then, out of this one, in the way now described, we have the male and the female created.

The original unity of man constitutes the strict unity of the race. The construction of the rib into a woman establishes the individuality of man's person before, as well as after, the removal of the rib. The selection of a rib to form into a woman constitutes her, in an eminent sense, a helpmeet for him, in company with him, on a footing of equality with him. At the same time, the after building of the part into a woman determines the distinct personality and individuality of the woman. Thus, we perceive that the entire race, even the very first mother of it, has its essential unit and representative in the first man.

The Almighty has called intelligent beings into existence in two ways. The angels he seems to have created as individuals Mark 12:25, constituting an order of beings the unity of which lies in the common Creator. Man he created as the parent of a race about to spring from a single head, and having its unity in that head. A single angel then stands by himself, and for himself; and all his actions belong only to himself, except so far as example, persuasion, or leadership may have involved others in them. But the single man, who is at the same time head of a race, is in quite a different position. He stands for the race, which is virtually contained in him; and his actions belong not only to him as an individual, but, in a certain sense, to the whole race, of which he is at present the sum. An angel counts only for the unit of his order. The first man counts for the whole race as long as he is alone. The one angel is responsible only for himself. The first man is not only an individual, but, as long as he is alone, the sum total of a race; and is therefore so long responsible, not only for himself, but for the race, as the head of which he acts. This deep question of race will meet us again at a future stage of man's history.

Since the All-wise Being never does anything without reason, it becomes an interesting question, why the creation of woman was deferred to this precise juncture in human history. First, man's original unity is the counterpart of the unity of God. He was to be made in the image of God, and after his likeness. If the male and the female had been created at once, an essential feature of the divine likeness would have been missing. But, as in the absolute One there is no duality, whether in sex or in any other respect, so is there none in the original form and constitution of man. Hence, we learn the absurdity of those who import into their notions of the deity the distinction of sex, and all the alliances which are involved in a race of gods. Secondly, the natural unity of the first pair, and of the race descended from them, is established by the primary creation of an individual, from whom is derived, by a second creative process, the first woman.

The race of man is thus a perfect unity, flowing from a single center of human life. Thirdly, two remarkable events occur in the experience of man before the formation of the woman, - his installment in the garden as its owner, keeper, and dresser; and his review of the animals, as their rational superior, to whom they yield an instinctive homage. By the former he is prepared to provide for the sustenance and comfort of his wife; by the latter, he becomes aware of his power to protect her. Still further, by the interview with his Maker in the garden he came to understand language; and by the inspection of the animals to employ it himself. Speech implies the exercise of the susceptive and conceptive powers of the understanding. Thus, Adam was qualified to hold intelligent converse with a being like himself. He was competent to be the instructor of his wife in words and things. Again, he had met with his superior in his Creator, his inferiors in the animals; and he was now to meet his equal in the woman. And, lastly, by the divine command his moral sense had been brought into play, the theory of moral obligation had been revealed to his mind, and he was therefore prepared to deal with a moral being like himself, to understand and respect the rights of another, to do unto another as he would have another do to him. It was especially necessary that the sense of right should grow up in his breast, to keep in due check that might in which he excelled, before the weaker and gentler sex was called into being, and intrusted to his charge. These are some of the obvious reasons for delaying the formation of the woman to the present crisis.

21. deep sleep—probably an ecstasy or trance like that of the prophets, when they had visions and revelations of the Lord, for the whole scene was probably visible to the mental eye of Adam, and hence his rapturous exclamation.

took one of his ribs—"She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him."1. God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, that he, who was without sin, might feel no pain in the taking away of his rib. And in this sleep some think Adam was in an ecstasy, wherein he saw what was done, together with the reason and mystery of it.

2. He took one of his ribs, together with the flesh upon it, Genesis 2:23; or, one of his sides, for the Hebrew word signifieth a side as well as a rib, which may be taken synecdochically, for a part of one of his sides, viz. a rib and the flesh upon it; or, for one part out of each of his sides; as if the two ribs clothed with flesh were taken out of the man, because he saith, Genesis 2:23,

This is bone of my bones, not, of my bone. The woman was taken out of this part, not out of the higher or lower parts, to show that she is neither to be her husband’s mistress, to usurp authority over him, 1 Timothy 2:12; nor yet to be his slave, to be abused, despised, or trampled under his feet; but to be kindly treated, and used like a companion, with moderation, respect, and affection.

Quest. How could a rib be taken from Adam, but it must be either superfluous in Adam, while it was in him, or defective afterwards, both which reflect upon the Creator?

Answ. 1. It was no superfluity, but a conveniency, if Adam had at first one rib extraordinary put into him for this purpose.

2. If Adam lost a rib upon so glorious an occasion, it was but a scar or badge of honour, and no disparagement either to him or to his Creator.

3. Either God created him a new rib, or hardened the flesh to the nature and use of a rib, and so there was no defect in him.

3. He closed up the flesh, together with another bone or rib, instead of that rib and flesh which he took away from him, which was easy for God to do.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept,.... This was not a common and natural sleep that Adam fell into, occasioned by any weariness of the animal spirits, in viewing the creatures as they passed by him, and in examining them, and giving them suitable and proper names; but it was supernatural, and from the Lord, his power and providence, who caused it to fall upon him: it was not a drowsiness, nor a slumber, but a sound sleep: his senses were so locked up by it, that he perceived not anything that was done to him; and it seems to have been on purpose, that he might feel no pain, while the operation was made upon him, as well as that it might appear that he had no hand in the formation of the woman; and that he might be the more surprised at the sight of her, just awaking out of sleep, to see so lovely an object, so much like himself, and made out of himself, and in so short a time as while he was taking a comfortable nap:

and he took one of his ribs; with the flesh along with it: men have commonly, as anatomists (k) observe, twelve ribs on a side; it seems by this, that Adam had thirteen. The Targum of Jonathan is,"and he took one of his ribs; that is, the thirteenth rib of his right side:''but our English poet (l) takes it to be one of the left side, and also a supernumerary one (m). God made an opening in him, and took it out, without putting him to any pain, and without any sensation of it: in what manner this was done we need not inquire; the power of God was sufficient to perform it; Adam was asleep when it was done, and saw it not, and the manner of the operation is not declared:

and closed up the flesh instead thereof: so that there was no opening left, nor any wound made, or a scar appeared, or any loss sustained, but what was made up by an increase of flesh, or by closing up the flesh; and that being hardened like another rib, and so answered the same purpose. (Adam probably had the same number of ribs as we do today. Otherwise the genetic code for creation of an extra rib would cause at least some people today to have thirteen ribs. I know of no such case. Also, we know that acquired characteristics cannot be passed on to the next generation. A man who loses both legs in an accident, usually has children who have two legs. Ed.)

(k) Bartholini Anatomia, l. 4. c. 17. p. 516. Vid. Scheuchzer. Physica Sacra, vol. 1. tab. 27. p. 28. (l) Who stooping opened my left side, and took From thence a rib.--- Milton's Paradise Lost, B. 8. l. 465. (m) Ib. B. 10. l. 887.

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. deep sleep] The word is used in Genesis 15:12, 1 Samuel 26:12, Isaiah 29:10 indicating a mysterious heavy sleep sent by God. Heb. tardêmah, LXX (ἔκστασις, Lat. sopor. The mystery of Divine working is thus hidden from man’s perceptions.

one of his ribs] Symbolizing the closeness and intimacy of the relation between the sexes. Woman, formed from the side of man, is to be the “help meet for him.” As his own flesh, he is to watch over and protect the woman. The story is a parable interpreting the instinct of love.

It is man’s description, respecting the origin of woman, as of one made for man, after man, and subordinate to him. The “rib” is mentioned presumably, because “ribs” are comparatively numerous, and it was thought that one could be spared without structural loss.

21–22. The Creation of Woman

The description in these verses is remarkable for its delicacy and beauty. Nothing could be more clear than that we are dealing with the poetry of symbolism, not with the record of literal fact.Verse 21. - And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept. This was clearly not a sleep of weariness or fatigue, in consequence of arduous labors undergone, but a supernatural slumber, which, however, may have been superinduced upon the natural condition of repose. Lightfoot, following the LXX. who translate tardemah (deep sleep) by ecstasy, ἔκστασις, imagines that the whole scene of Eve's creation was presented to Adam's imagination in a Divinely-inspired dream, which has at least the countenance of Job 4:13 Such a supposition, however, is not required to account for Adam's recognition of his bride. There is more of aptness in the observation of Lange, that in the deep sleep of Adam we have an echo of the area-tire evenings that preceded the Divine activity. "Everything out of which some new thing is to come sinks down before the event into such a deep sleep, is the farseeing and comprehensive remark of Ziegler. And he took one of his ribs (tsela = something bent, from tesala, to incline; hence a rib), and closed up the flesh (literally, flesh) instead thereof. Whether Adam was created with a superfluous rib, or his body was mutilated by the abstraction of a rib, is a question for the curious. In the first, Calvin finds nothing "which is not in accordance with Divine providence," while he favors the latter conjecture, and thinks that Adam got a rich compensation - "quum se integrum vidit in uxore, qui prius tantum dimidius erat." Luther inclines to think that Adam's language in ver. 23 implies that not the bare rib, but the rib with the accompanying flesh, was extracted. Creation of the Woman. - As the creation of the man is introduced in Genesis 1:26-27, with a divine decree, so here that of the woman is preceded by the divine declaration, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him כּנגדּו עזר, a help of his like: "i.e., a helping being, in which, as soon as he sees it, he may recognise himself" (Delitzsch). Of such a help the man stood in need, in order that he might fulfil his calling, not only to perpetuate and multiply his race, but to cultivate and govern the earth. To indicate this, the general word כנגדו עזר is chosen, in which there is an allusion to the relation of the sexes. To call out this want, God brought the larger quadrupeds and birds to the man, "to see what he would call them (לו lit., each one); and whatsoever the man might call every living being should be its name." The time when this took place must have been the sixth day, on which, according to Genesis 1:27, the man and woman were created: and there is no difficulty in this, since it would not have required much time to bring the animals to Adam to see what he would call them, as the animals of paradise are all we have to think of; and the deep sleep into which God caused the man to fall, till he had formed the woman from his rib, need not have continued long. In Genesis 1:27 the creation of the woman is linked with that of the man; but here the order of sequence is given, because the creation of the woman formed a chronological incident in the history of the human race, which commences with the creation of Adam. The circumstance that in Genesis 2:19 the formation of the beasts and birds is connected with the creation of Adam by the imperf. c. ו consec., constitutes to objection to the plan of creation given in Genesis 1. The arrangement may be explained on the supposition, that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beasts, went back to their creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historians, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same thought would be simply this: "God brought to Adam the beasts which He had formed."

(Note: A striking example of this style of narrative we find in 1 Kings 7:13. First of all, the building and completion of the temple are noticed several times in 1 Kings 6, and the last time in connection with the year and month (1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 6:14, 1 Kings 6:37-38); after that, the fact is stated, that the royal palace was thirteen years in building; and then the writer proceeds thus: "And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram from Tyre...and he came to king Solomon, and did all his work; and made the two pillars," etc. Now, if we were to understand the historical preterite with consec., here, as giving the order of sequence, Solomon would be made to send for the Tyrian artist, thirteen years after the temple was finished, to come and prepare the pillars for the porch, and all the vessels needed for the temple. But the writer merely expresses in Semitic style the simple thought, that "Hiram, whom Solomon fetched from Tyre, made the vessels," etc. Another instance we find in Judges 2:6.)

Moreover, the allusion is not to the creation of all the beasts, but simply to that of the beasts living in the field (game and tame cattle), and of the fowls of the air-to beasts, therefore, which had been formed like man from the earth, and thus stood in a closer relation to him than water animals or reptiles. For God brought the animals to Adam, to show him the creatures which were formed to serve him, that He might see what he would call them. Calling or naming presupposes acquaintance. Adam is to become acquainted with the creatures, to learn their relation to him, and by giving them names to prove himself their lord. God does not order him to name them; but by bringing the beasts He gives him an opportunity of developing that intellectual capacity which constitutes his superiority to the animal world. "The man sees the animals, and thinks of what they are and how they look; and these thoughts, in themselves already inward words, take the form involuntarily of audible names, which he utters to the beasts, and by which he places the impersonal creatures in the first spiritual relation to himself, the personal being" (Delitzsch). Language, as W. v. Humboldt says, is "the organ of the inner being, or rather the inner being itself as it gradually attains to inward knowledge and expression." It is merely thought cast into articulate sounds or words. The thoughts of Adam with regard to the animals, to which he gave expression in the names that he gave them, we are not to regard as the mere results of reflection, or of abstraction from merely outward peculiarities which affected the senses; but as a deep and direct mental insight into the nature of the animals, which penetrated far deeper than such knowledge as is the simple result of reflecting and abstracting thought. The naming of the animals, therefore, led to this result, that there was not found a help meet for man. Before the creation of the woman we must regard the man (Adam) as being "neither male, in the sense of complete sexual distinction, nor androgynous as though both sexes were combined in the one individual created at the first, but as created in anticipation of the future, with a preponderant tendency, a male in simple potentiality, out of which state he passed, the moment the woman stood by his side, when the mere potentia became an actual antithesis" (Ziegler).

Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man (Genesis 2:21). תּרדּמּה, a deep sleep, in which all consciousness of the outer world and of one's own existence vanishes. Sleep is an essential element in the nature of man as ordained by God, and is quite as necessary for man as the interchange of day and night for all nature besides. But this deep sleep was different from natural sleep, and God caused it to fall upon the man by day, that He might create the woman out of him. "Everything out of which something new is to spring, sinks first of all into such a sleep" (Ziegler). צלע means the side, and, as a portion of the human body, the rib. The correctness of this meaning, which is given by all the ancient versions, is evident from the words, "God took one of his צלעות," which show that the man had several of them. "And closed up flesh in the place thereof;" i.e., closed the gap which had been made, with flesh which He put in the place of the rib. The woman was created, not of dust of the earth, but from a rib of Adam, because she was formed for an inseparable unity and fellowship of life with the man, and the mode of her creation was to lay the actual foundation for the moral ordinance of marriage. As the moral idea of the unity of the human race required that man should not be created as a genus or plurality,

(Note: Natural science can only demonstrate the unity of the human race, not the descent of all men from one pair, though many naturalists question and deny even the former, but without any warrant from anthropological facts. For every thorough investigation leads to the conclusion arrived at by the latest inquirer in this department, Th. Waitz, that not only are there no facts in natural history which preclude the unity of the various races of men, and fewer difficulties in the way of this assumption than in that of the opposite theory of specific diversities; but even in mental respects there are no specific differences within the limits of the race. Delitzsch has given an admirable summary of the proofs of unity. "That the races of men," he says, "are not species of one genus, but varieties of one species, is confirmed by the agreement in the physiological and pathological phenomena in them all, by the similarity in the anatomical structure, in the fundamental powers and traits of the mind, in the limits to the duration of life, in the normal temperature of the body and the average rate of pulsation, in the duration of pregnancy, and in the unrestricted fruitfulness of marriages between the various races.")

so the moral relation of the two persons establishing the unity of the race required that man should be created first, and then the woman from the body of the man. By this the priority and superiority of the man, and the dependence of the woman upon the man, are established as an ordinance of divine creation. This ordinance of God forms the root of that tender love with which the man loves the woman as himself, and by which marriage becomes a type of the fellowship of love and life, which exists between the Lord and His Church (Ephesians 5:32). If the fact that the woman was formed from a rib, and not from any other part of the man, is significant; all that we can find in this is, that the woman was made to stand as a helpmate by the side of the man, not that there was any allusion to conjugal love as founded in the heart; for the text does not speak of the rib as one which was next the heart. The word בּנה is worthy of note: from the rib of the man God builds the female, through whom the human race is to be built up by the male (Genesis 16:2; Genesis 30:3).

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