Genesis 2:24
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
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(24) Therefore shall a man leave . . . —These are evidently the words of the narrator. Adam names this new product of creative power, as he had named others, but he knew nothing about young men leaving their father’s house for the wife’s sake. Moreover, in Matthew 19:5, our Lord quotes these words as spoken by God, and the simplest interpretation of this declaration is that the inspired narrator was moved by the Spirit of God to give this solemn sanction to marriage, founded upon Adam’s words. The great and primary object of this part of the narrative is to set forth marriage as a Divine ordinance. The narrator describes Adam’s want, pictures him as examining all animal life, and studying the habits of all creatures so carefully as to be able to give them names, but as returning from his search unsatisfied. At last one is solemnly brought to him who is his counterpart, and he calls her Ishah, his feminine self, and pronounces her to be his very bone and flesh. Upon this, “He who at the beginning made them male and female “pronounced the Divine marriage law that man and wife are one flesh.

Genesis 2:24. The sabbath and marriage were two ordinances instituted in innocence, the former for the preservation of the church, the latter for the preservation of mankind. It appears by Matthew 19:4-5, that it was God himself who said here, a man must leave all his relations to cleave to his wife; but whether he spake this by Moses or by Adam, is uncertain. The virtue of a divine ordinance, and the bonds of it, are stronger even than those of nature. See how necessary it is that children should take their parents’ consent with them in their marriage; and how unjust those are to their parents, as well as undutiful, who marry without it; for they rob them of their right to them and interest in them, and alienate it to another fraudulently and unnaturally.

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.These might be the words of the first man Genesis 2:24. As he thoroughly understood the relation between himself and the woman, there is no new difficulty in conceiving him to become acquainted at the same time with the relationship of son to father and mother, which was in fact only another form of that in which the newly-formed woman stood to himself. The latter is really more intimateand permanent than the former, and naturally therefore takes its place, especially as the practical of the filial tie, - that of being trained to maturity, - is already accomplished, when the conjugal one begins.

But it seems more probable that this sentence is the reflection of the inspired author on the special mode in which the female was formed from the male. Such remarks of the writer are frequently introduced by the word "therefore" (על־כן kēn-‛al). It is designed to inculcate on the race that was to spring from them the inviolable sanctity of the conjugal relation. In the primeval wedlock one man was joined to one woman only for life. Hence, in the marriage relation the animal is subordinate to the rational. The communication of ideas; the cherishing of the true, the right, the good; the cultivation of the social affections; the spontaneous outflow of mutual good offices; the thousand nameless little thoughts, looks, words, and deeds that cheer the brow and warm the heart; the common care of children, servants, and dependents; the constant and heartfelt worship of the Father of all, constitute the main ends and joys of the married state.

After the exclamation of the man on contemplating the woman, as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and therefore physically, intellectually, and morally qualified to be his mate, we may suppose immediately to follow the blessing of man, and the general endowment of himself and the animals with the fruits of the soil as recorded in the preceding chapter Genesis 1:28-30. The endowment of man embraces every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. This general grant was of course understood by man to exclude the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was excepted, if not by its specific nature, yet by the previous command given to man. This command we find was given before the formation of the woman, and therefore sometime before the events recorded in the second and third clauses of Genesis 1:27. Hence, it preceded the blessing and the endowment. It was not special, however, to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be intended for other purposes than the food of man, as there are very many other trees that afford no proper nutriment to man. The endowment, therefore, refers to such trees as were at the same time nutritive and not expressly and previously forbidden.

This chapter is occupied with the "generations, issues or products of the skies and the land," or, in other words, of the things created in the six days. It is the meet preface to the more specific history of man, as it records his constitution, his provision, his moral and intellectual cultivation, and his social perfection. It brings us up to the close of the sixth day. As the Creator pronounced a sentence of approbation on all that he had made at the end of that day, we have reason to believe that no moral derangement had yet taken place in man's nature.

24. one flesh—The human pair differed from all other pairs, that by peculiar formation of Eve, they were one. And this passage is appealed to by our Lord as the divine institution of marriage (Mt 19:4, 5; Eph 5:28). Thus Adam appears as a creature formed after the image of God—showing his knowledge by giving names to the animals, his righteousness by his approval of the marriage relation, and his holiness by his principles and feelings, and finding gratification in the service and enjoyment of God. These are the words of Moses by Divine instinct, or his inference from Adam’s words.

Shall a man leave his father and his mother; in regard of habitation and society, but not as to natural duty and affection; and in conjugal relation and highest affection, even above what they owe to their parents, they two (as it is in the Samaritan, Syriac, and Arabic translations, and Matthew 19:5) shall be esteemed by themselves and others to be as entirely and inseparably united, and shall have as intimate and universal commmunion, as if they were one person, one soul, one body. And this first institution shows the sinfulness of divorces, and polygamy, however God might upon a particular reason for a time dispense with his own institution, or remit the punishment due to the violators of it.

Therefore shall a man leave his father, and his mother,.... These are thought by some to be the words of Moses, inferring from the above fact, what ought to be among men; and by others, the words of Adam under divine inspiration, as the father of mankind instructing his sons what to do, and foretelling what would be done in all succeeding ages: though they rather seem to be the words of God himself, by whom marriage was now instituted; and who here gives direction about it, and declares the case and circumstance of man upon it, and how he would and should behave: and thus our Lord Jesus Christ, quoting these words, makes them to be the words of him that made man, male and female, and supplies and prefaces them thus, and said, "for this cause", &c. Matthew 19:5 so Jarchi paraphrases them,"the Holy Ghost said so:''not that a man upon his marriage is to drop his affections to his parents, or be remiss in his obedience to them, honour of them, and esteem for then, or to neglect the care of them, if they stand in need of his assistance; but that he should depart from his father's house, and no more dwell with him, or bed and board in his house; but having taken a wife to himself, should provide an habitation for him and her to dwell together: so all the three Targums interpret it, of quitting "the house of his father, and his mother's bed":

and shall cleave unto his wife; with a cordial affection, taking care of her, nourishing and cherishing her, providing all things comfortable for her, continuing to live with her, and not depart from her as long as they live: the phrase is expressive of the near union by marriage between man and wife; they are, as it were, glued together, and make but one; which is more fully and strongly expressed in the next clause:

and they shall be one flesh; that is, "they two", the man and his wife, as it is supplied and interpreted by Christ, Matthew 19:5 and so here in the Targum of Jonathan, and in the Septuagint and Samaritan versions: the union between them is so close, as if they were but one person, one soul, one body; and which is to be observed against polygamy, unlawful divorces, and all uncleanness, fornication, and adultery: only one man and one woman, being joined in lawful wedlock, have a right of copulation with each other, in order to produce a legitimate offspring, partaking of the same one flesh, as children do of their parents, without being able to distinguish the flesh of the one from the other, they partake of: and from hence it appears to be a fabulous notion, that Cecrops, the first king of Athens, was the first institutor of matrimony and joiner of one man to one woman; whence he was said to be "biformis" (p), and was called unless, as some (q) have thought, that he and Moses were one and the same who delivered out the first institution of marriage, which is this.

(p) Justin. e Trogo, l. 2. c. 6. (q) Vid. Saldeni Otia Theolog. Exercitat. 1. sect. 14. p. 13, 14.

Therefore shall a man leave {p} his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

(p) So marriage requires a greater duty of us toward our wives, than otherwise we are bound to show to our parents.

24. Therefore shall a man, &c.] This verse contains the comment which the narrator makes upon the words of the man in Genesis 2:23. The word “therefore” introduces his inference. As in Genesis 10:9, Genesis 26:33, Genesis 32:32, a sentence beginning with “therefore” supplies the application, or relation, of the ancient narrative to later times. It is the man who is to leave “father and mother,” not “the woman.” Some compare the story in Jdg 15:1, where the woman remains with her family or clan, and Samson comes to live with her. This feature has been thought to illustrate the primitive usage of “the matriarchate.” But it is unlikely that the Hebrew narrative would contain a reference to such conditions.

Instead of “shall leave,” the full force of the tense in the Hebrew would be given by “doth leave” and “cleaveth.” The sanctity of marital relations is thus referred back to the very birthday of human society, being based on a principle laid down before the Fall.

The relation of the man to his wife is proclaimed to be closer than that to his father and mother. By the words, “shall cleave unto his wife … one flesh,” is asserted the sanctity of marriage. Polygamy is not definitely excluded; but the principle of monogamy seems to be implied in the words “cleave” and “shall be one flesh”: and this principle is upheld by the prophets as the ideal of marriage, in their representation of the relation of Jehovah and Israel under the metaphor of the married state.

This is the classical passage dealing with marriage to which our Lord appeals, Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-8, in His argument against divorce.

St Paul quotes it in 1 Corinthians 6:16, in condemnation of unchastity, and in Ephesians 5:31, when describing the ideal relationships of Christ and His Church.

and they shall be one flesh] Lit., as LXX καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν, Lat. erunt duo in carne una, where the addition of “the two” is supported by the Syriac Peshitto, the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan, and the quotations in the N.T., Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16.

Verse 24. - Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife. There is nothing in the use of such terms as father and mother, or in the fact that the sentiment is prophetic, to prevent the words from being regarded as a continuation of Adam's speech, although, on the other hand, the statement of Christ (Matthew 19:5) does not preclude the possibility of Moses being their author; but whether uttered by the first husband (Delitzsch, Macdonald) or by the historian (Calvin, Murphy), they must be viewed as an inspired declaration of the law of marriage. Its basis (fundamental reason and predisposing cause) they affirm to be

(1) the original relationship of man and woman, on the platform of creation; and

(2) the marriage union effected between the first pair. Its nature they explain to be

(1) a forsaking (on the part of the woman as well as the man) of father and mother - not filially, in respect of duty, but locally, in respect of habitation, and comparatively, in respect of affection; and

(2) a cleaving unto his wife, in a conjugium corporis atque animce. Its result is stated in the words which follow: and they shall be one flesh (literally, into one flesh; εἰς σάρκα μίαν, Matthew 19:5, LXX.). The language points to a unity of persons, and not simply to a conjunction of bodies, or a community of interests, or even a reciprocity of affections. Malachi (Malachi 2:15) and Christ (Matthew 19:5) explain this verse as teaching the indissoluble character of marriage and condemning the practice of polygamy. Genesis 2:24The design of God in the creation of the woman is perceived by Adam, as soon as he awakes, when the woman is brought to him by God. Without a revelation from God, he discovers in the woman "bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh." The words, "this is now (הפּעם lit., this time) bone of my bones," etc., are expressive of joyous astonishment at the suitable helpmate, whose relation to himself he describes in the words, "she shall be called Woman, for she is taken out of man." אשּׁה is well rendered by Luther, "Mnnin" (a female man), like the old Latin vira from vir. The words which follow, "therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall become one flesh," are not to be regarded as Adam's, first on account of the על־כּן, which is always used in Genesis, with the exception of Genesis 20:6; Genesis 42:21, to introduce remarks of the writer, either of an archaeological or of a historical character, and secondly, because, even if Adam on seeing the woman had given prophetic utterance to his perception of the mystery of marriage, he could not with propriety have spoken of father and mother. They are the words of Moses, written to bring out the truth embodied in the fact recorded as a divinely appointed result, to exhibit marriage as the deepest corporeal and spiritual unity of man and woman, and to hold up monogamy before the eyes of the people of Israel as the form of marriage ordained by God. But as the words of Moses, they are the utterance of divine revelation; and Christ could quote them, therefore, as the word of God (Matthew 19:5). By the leaving of father and mother, which applies to the woman as well as to the man, the conjugal union is shown to be a spiritual oneness, a vital communion of heart as well as of body, in which it finds its consummation. This union is of a totally different nature from that of parents and children; hence marriage between parents and children is entirely opposed to the ordinance of God. Marriage itself, notwithstanding the fact that it demands the leaving of father and mother, is a holy appointment of God; hence celibacy is not a higher or holier state, and the relation of the sexes for a pure and holy man is a pure and holy relation. This is shown in Genesis 2:25 : "They were both naked ערוּמּים, with dagesh in the מ, is an abbreviated form of עירמּים Genesis 3:7, from עוּר to strip), the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." Their bodies were sanctified by the spirit, which animated them. Shame entered first with sin, which destroyed the normal relation of the spirit to the body, exciting tendencies and lusts which warred against the soul, and turning the sacred ordinance of God into sensual impulses and the lust of the flesh.
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