Part II: The Seed of the Woman
And He Called Their Name Adam
Let us make man
in our image
and after our likeness.
For (in Christ) there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
In the resurrection
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but are as the angels of God in heaven.
Traditions of the
original bisexual nature of the first man and of his subsequent
reduction to two sexes by the formation of the first woman out
of him, are ancient and widespread. Probably the best known of
these traditions are those of the Greeks whose ideas on the subject
have been familiar to Classical scholars for centuries. Yet Jewish
and Christian commentaries had very early reached the same conclusion
on the basis of the Genesis account.
The Greeks seem to have derived
much of their mythology from Egypt, and Egypt in turn had derived
much of its mythology from Babylonia. In his Legends of the
Jews, Louis Ginsberg notes that according to the German scholar,
Jeremias (in a work available only in
German titled Altes
Testament im Lichte des Orients), the view that Adam was
originally andrognynous was familiar to the Babylonians. *
So far I have not been able to find any unequivocal
evidence of such a tradition in the currently available Cuneiform
literature, though Ginsberg's reputation as a scholar should
be sufficient authority. However, the Society of Biblical Archaeology
published a three volume work in 1873 which contains a useful
collection of Cuneiform texts relevant to Bible history translated
into English under the title Records of the Past,** but
there is no indication even in this collection of any such tradition.
Then in 1916, Barton published the first edition of his most
useful work Archaeology of the Bible,†
but again I found no evidence of any strictly parallel account
of the formation of Eve out of Adam. Nor, to my knowledge, has
one been added in later editions.
We now have Pritchard's authoritative
Ancient Near Eastern Texts and a careful reading of the
Sumerian 'Paradise Myth' reveals a brief incident towards the
end of this poem which might possibly provide a link with Genesis
2:21 and Adam's so-called 'rib,'‡
though it is certainly a tenuous one. We shall look into this
more carefully subsequently.|
Possibly the real source of Jeremias'
reference is, however, the rather obvious parallel account that
is to be found in the work of Berossus written about 260 B.C.
Francois Lenormant observed that this ancient historian, whose
works are known to us now only from quotations by other authors
of antiquity, has a statement to the effect that the first man
was created "with two heads, one that of a man and the other
that of a woman, united in the same body with both sexes combined."◊
From India we have traditions preserved
in the Rig Veda which, however, have none of the sobriety of
the biblical account though clearly pointing to a similar circumstance
relating to the constitution of the first man. According to the
Bundehesh, (chapter xv � a work dedicated to the exposition
of a complete cosmogony written in Pahlevi and known only from
the period subsequent to the conquest of Persia by the Mussulmans),
Ahuramazda completed his creative
* Ginsberg, Louis, Legends of the Jews,
Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Association of America,
1955, vol.V, From Creation to Exodus, p.88, note 42.
2 of 13
** Records of the Past: English Translations of Assyrian and
Egyptian Monuments, Society of Biblical Archaeology, London,
Samuel Bagster,1873, in 3 volumes.
† Barton, George, Archaeology of the Bible, Philadelphia,
American Sunday School Union, 1916.
‡ Pritchard, James B., Ancient Near Eastern Texts,
Princeton, 1969, p.40, 41, lines 263-266.
◊ Lenormant, Francois, The Beginnings of History,
New York, Scribners, 1891, p.62.
work by producing a certain
Gayomard, "the typical man." Unfortunately, Gayomard
was later put to death by an enemy of Ahuramazda but his seed
germinated in the earth and there sprang up a plant rather like
a rhubarb. In the centre of this plant was a stalk with a kind
of stamen in the form of a man and a woman joined together. Ahuramazda
divided them, endowed them with motion, and placed within each
of them an intelligent soul. Thus were born the first pair from
whom all human beings are descended.
A rather similar view is reflected
in the Cosmogony of Zatapatha Brahmana which is included in the
Rig Veda, though it is generally considered to be very much later
in origin � perhaps the fourteenth century B.C. or even as
late as the ninth century B.C. * It
is apparently highly fanciful, yet it does bear witness to a
very early tradition about the original androgynous nature of
The same basic idea may also be
found in early Chinese literature. According to Lord Arundell
of Wardour, quoting L'Abbe Gainet, the Chinese cosmogony speaks
of the creation of men in the following way: "God took some
yellow earth and he made men of two sexes," which
is generally interpreted to mean bisexual.†
Plato, of course, is unequivocal.
In his Symposium (chapter XIV), he wrote: "Our nature
of old was not the same as now. It was then one man-woman, whose
form and name were common both to the male and to the female.
Then said Jupiter, 'I will divide them into two parts'."
Subsequently Plato remarks, "When their nature had been
bisected, each half beheld with longing its other self."
Plato elaborated his views in his work The Banquet by
having one of his characters, Aristophanes, say: "In the
beginning there were three sexes among men, not only the two
which we still find at this time as male and female, but also
a third which partook of the nature of each but which has now
disappeared, leaving only the name Androgyn behind."
Aristophanes' speech confuses the issue somewhat by proposing
that there were three sexes among men from the beginning, yet
the idea of androgynous man as the original type is clearly reflected
in Plato's reference to Jupiter's decision. Lenormant believed
that the whole idea, common to the Ionian School of Greek philosophers,
had been borrowed from Asia in the first place.
Empedocles (c. 495�435 B.C.),
a Greek philosopher of Agrigentum in Sicily, set forth a reconstruction
of the history of plant and animal
* Lenormant, Francois, ibid., p.62.
† Lord Arundell of Wardour, Tradition. Mythology
and Law of Nations, London, Burns, Oates, 1872, p.134.
life which foreshadowed
the theory of Evolution to some extent. It is highly fanciful,
but a propos of the present subject it is of interest.
The Encyclopedia Britannica article on his works states
his position as follows: *
His most interesting views dealt
with the origin of plants and animals, and with the physiology
of man. As the elements combined through the work of love, there
appeared quaint results � heads without necks, arms without
shoulders. Then as these structures met, there were heads and
figures of double sexes. But most of these disappeared as suddenly
as they arose; only in those rare cases where the several parts
were adapted to each other did the complex structures last. Soon
various influences reduced the creatures of double sex to a male
and a female, and the world was replenished with organic life.
of course, were much influenced by the Greeks, and like the Greeks
they seem to have held that a bisexual individual was a superior
one. In his book, The Religion of Greece in Prehistoric Times,
Axel Persson underscores how very ancient this idea was.†
The earliest deities were, like Cybele (the Mother of all other
gods) hermaphroditic. According to their most ancient beliefs,
Cybele generated the other deities by self-fertilization.
Greek thinking on this whole matter
influenced the Hellenized Jews, as it had influenced educated
Romans. Philo Judaeus (born about 20 B.C.) was one so influenced.
He was aristocratic, eloquent, and a well informed Pharisee who
seems to have been particularly familiar with the works of Plato.
Indeed, he attempted to reconcile the Mosaic system with Platonic
philosophy and is usually credited with having first made popular
among the Jews the concept of the Logos as intermediary between
God who is pure spirit and the physical world of matter. He became
one of the more notable intellectual opponents of the Christian
faith and his works were a source of constant concern to the
early Church Fathers as they sought to elaborate and construct
a Christian world view.
One of the much discussed issues
in both Jewish and Christian circles was this question of the
androgynous nature of Adam as first created. Philo, as shown
in his Quaestiones (1:19), was well acquainted with rabbinic
lore on this subject but he believed that the derivation of Eve
out of Adam was not sober history but allegory. To this many
of the Church Fathers took exception. In his Contra Celsus
* Encyclopedia Britannica, 1958 edition, vol.8, p.400.
† Persson, Axel, The Religion of Greece in Prehistoric
Times, University of California Press, 1942, p.106.
Origen observed that
Jews as well as many Christians considered the account of the
creation of Eve out of Adam to be allegory. But Louis Ginsberg,
when noting this fact, is careful to underscore that, "in
the earlier rabbinic literature now extant, no such allegorical
tendencies are known. Nor was Philo able to give firm sources
for his own views from rabbinical literature." *
Actually, according to Ginsberg,
Philo is himself contradictory and it is thus difficult to know
precisely what he believed. He seems to have thought that the
best explanation was that Genesis 1:27 ("male and female
created He them") implied a bisexuality and Genesis 2:7
("formed man of the dust of the ground") no sex at
Justin Martyr who lived from 100�165
A.D., in his Hortatory
* Ginsberg, Louis, Legends of the Jews,
Philadelphia, Jewish Publications Association of America,
1955, vol.V, From Genesis to Exodus, p.89.
† It is conceivable that Genesis 1:27, which seems
to relate the maleness and femaleness of man as created with
the image of God, is in fact telling us something about the nature
of God Himself. Perhaps part of the 'image' of God in man is
reflected in the compound of which we now observe only the two
elements. As originally united in Adam, that compound of male/femaleness
was an essential aspect of the divine image.
Karl Barth entertained such
a view. He held that the simplest exegesis of Genesis 1:27 would
equate a maleness and femaleness compound in Adam with the image
of God. The subsequent division of man into two sexes was for
man's own good by making him no longer self-sufficient and in
some real sense potentially asocial. An important aspect of the
image is the unity in fellowship between men and women under
ideal conditions and Barth makes much of the uniqueness of this
fellowship of love in purity [Church Dogmatics, vol.
III, chapter 1, translated by J. W. Edwards, et al, Edinburgh,
T. & T. Clark, 1958, p.214. See also Paul L Jewett, Man
as Male and Female, Grand Rapids, Eerdman's, 1975,
p.43ff., and G. C. Berkouwer who says, "Barth is convinced
that the text gives us a 'well-nigh definitive statement' of
the content of the image," Man the Image of God, Grand
Rapids, Eerdman's, 1975, p.72, footnote 16].
There is another aspect of the
male/female relationship in all higher forms of life. A. J. Thebaud
suggested some years ago that one of the earliest concepts of
the nature of God was hermaphroditic. "The principle of
deity is always accompanied by a goddess, commonly called his
wife but in reality his 'female energy' as we find in Hindustan,
in the case of Siva in particular" [Gentilism: Religion
Previous to Christianity, New York, D. & J. Sadlier &
Co., 1876, p.254].
The supposed 'wife figure' is taken
in this view to be a symbol of the deity's creative principle
or energy. Some early Egyptian statues show 'God' as a giant
figure signifying strength and majesty, while his generative
energy is represented by a female figure, often relatively small
in size, placed beside him.
Ideas of this kind tend to be discounted
today. Our culture is fatally inoculated with the view that the
new is better than the old, that novelty (even in ideas) is itself
a virtue. Modern intelligence in such matters so far outstrips
the intelligence of writers of only a century ago (let alone
millennia ago) that such views can be quite safely ignored. Tradition
was once held in very high regard, but it is now argued that
this was due to lack of sophistication in former times.
But little by little we have come
to accord greater respect to the thoughts of earlier times and
have discovered how often archaeological findings have vindicated
these ancient traditions � not just in a general way but
almost always in a highly specific and detailed fashion. It could
be that many of the traditions, and some of the symbols that
were anciently shared by many nations about the original nature
of man as a special creature of God and created in his image,
reflect the truth of the matter in ways we did not suspect.
Address to the Greeks
(chapter 30) follows Philo almost
literally in his explanation of the double account in Genesis,
but I do not think for one moment that he shared his cynicism.
Tertullian, who lived from 160 to 230 A.D., in his Adversus
Hermogenem (chapter 26), and Hippolytus (died c.230 A.D.)
both agree with the rabbinical view (Baraita 32 and Middoth,
no.12) which held that the Bible gives first a general account
and then a detailed one. That the rabbis truly believed Adam
was originally hermaphroditic is clear enough from a number of
sources, though they elaborated this simple truth along rather
fanciful lines. Louis Ginsberg gives a number of references,
* and leaves one with the impression that these are merely some
out of many.
Chumash, edited by A. Cohen, has a
note on Genesis 1:27 by the famous rabbinical scholar Rashi (born
1040, died 1105 in the Rhineland) who wrote a commentary on the
Pentateuch and was credited with "an encyclopedic knowledge
of rabbinic literature," in which the rabbi says, "The
Midrash explains that man as first created consisted of
two halves, male and female, which were afterwards separated."†
One of the most famous rabbis of
Medieval times and one of the most philosophical expounders of
Judaism was a man named Moses ben Maimon (1135�1202 A.D.),
who is more popularly known as Maimonides. He strongly supported
the view that Adam was created as a man-and-woman being, having
two faces turned in opposite directions, and that during a stupor
the Creator separated his genuine feminine half (Hawah, Eve)
from him in order to make of her a distinct and separate person.
A century later, Nahmanides (1220�1250)
in his commentary on Genesis 1:1-6:8 which has been recently
translated by Jacob Newman, has this to say on Genesis 1:27,
"[Adam and Eve] were created with two faces." Newman
in a note (#144) interprets this to mean, "hermaphroditic."‡
Now The Jerusalem Targum, which
may have been begun as early as the second century B.C., amplified
the text of Genesis 2:21 and said that "Eve was formed out
of the third rib on the right side"! Whatever may be said
of this kind of comment, it is surely quite clear that Hebrew
scholars were interpreting the record very literally. They
* Louis Ginsberg's references: Midrash
Bereshith Rabbah on Genesis, chapter 8, paragraph 1, and
chapter 17, paragraph 6; Berakoth, chap.ter 61a, a Talmudic
Tractate on Prayers and Benedictions; 'Erubin, chapter
18a, a Talmudic Tractate on the Sabbath; Midrash Weyikra Rabbah,
chapter 14; Midrash Tanchuma hagidom Wahishan, Book
III, p.32; Midrash Tehillim, chapter 139, p.529; Midrash
Tanchuma Tazria, 2.
† Cohen, A., The Soncino Chumash, London, Soncino
Press, 1964, p.ix, 7.
‡ Newman, Jacob, Commentary by Nahmanides, Leiden,
Brill, 1960, p.xx.
understood that a real
cleavage by some kind of surgical operation divided Adam into
complementary selves which, being thereafter "joined"
in true marriage, were reconstituted as "one flesh."
Modern Jewish scholars still either hold to this view or acknowledge
it as by no means impossible; even those medically trained agree.
Dr. Robert Greenblatt, in his little book Search the Scriptures,
remarks in this connection: *
Metaphorically we may assume
that the original man, Adam, was hermaphroditic. Such an assumption
is quite permissible, for it is twenty-one verses after reporting
the creation of man that Genesis (2:18) tells us "and the
Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone: I will
make a help meet for him."
In this history of human events is thus recorded man's earliest
conception of the establishment of the sexes. Some of the most
distinguished Hebrew writers, according to Hans Selye, interpret
the first chapters of Genesis as describing Adam as being of
So now we may find
it proper to trace back our ancestry until we arrive at a first
father who carried in himself both seeds, and after the division
had been effected, sinned and introduced into his body some disturbing
agent which has upset the normal transmission of the chromosomal
allotment assigned originally by God to each sex once they had
been separated. Any such disturbance, arising from chromosomal
anomaly, surely suggests that the potential for both sexes is
still resident in suppressed form in each individual. Such is
the stuff of inheritance in all of us, a fact which seems to
point to a past when the potential was effectively resident in
a single person, and then to some occasion when the potential
was modified � though not without leaving a vestige of itself
to remind us that it is indeed a modification.
The quote from the Jerusalem
Targum above brings us to a consideration of the meaning of the original
Hebrew word (
tsela'), rendered RIB in virtually all our English translations.
The Jewish version of this Targum by members of the famous Ibn Tibbon
family (of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, A.D.), and the version
of Maimonides, both translate this word as side rather than rib.†
This is not surprising since the Septuagint translators employed the Greek
word pleuran ()
which, if we are to be guided at all by
* Greenblatt, Robert, Search the Scriptures,
Montreal, Lippincott, 1963, p.50.
† Tibbon: see Robert Tuck, Age of the Great Patriarchs,
London, Sunday School Union, no date, p.102.
New Testament usage has
only the meaning of side. It appears in John 19:34; 20:20,
25, 27; Acts 12:7. It is important to notice that this is the
meaning attached to it in the New Testament Greek. Since the
New Testament rests heavily for its usage of Greek words upon
that already adopted by the seventy-two who gave us the Septuagint,
one should assume, I think, that the latter's use of pleura
for tsela' indicates how they also understood the
word: i.e., as side rather than rib.
Hebrew word tsela' is only translated RIB in English versions
in this one place. Its renderings elsewhere, as in the King James
Version for instance, are such as the following: beam, chamber
(twice), plank, corner (twice), side chamber (9
times), and side (19 times). The rendering side appears
mainly in connection with descriptive details of the tabernacle
� in Exodus 25:12, 14; 26:27, 35; 27:7; 36:25, 31, 32; 37:3;
38:7; 2 Samuel 16:13; and Job 18:12. These are all the occurrences
in which the word appears. In some of them it is so translated
twice in a single verse. In the Latin Vulgate it is rendered
side; as it is also in the Syriac version. It is therefore
all the more surprising that so few modern English versions have
adopted it in Genesis.
The question is, What really is
the best word to use? If we allow ourselves to be guided by the
passages in which it is rendered side-chamber, we have
possibly a closer approach to what may have been the intent of
the original. The word is so rendered nine times in the following
places: Ezekiel 41:5, 6 (twice), 7, 8, 9 (twice), 11, and 26.
Ellicott in his Commentary is surely correct in saying
that "Adam could hardly have felt the loss of one rib out
of 24 actual bones with which the body is provided � much
less in view of the fact that the wound was completely healed
after the operation." Whether he would have been aware of
the disappearance of some internal organ such as a gonad or a
fully developed ovary is a moot point. But he might very well
have become aware of a new need, directed towards the woman.
It is worth noting in passing that,
according to Moulton and Milligan, the general extra-biblical
meaning of the Greek word used in the Septuagint is side of
a human being or lung or chest. But it is also
noted that "an unusual use of the word is vessel, as
found in one papyrus of the late third century A.D. in reference
to some glass vessels." *
Liddell and Scott
in their Lexicon of Classical Greek give the meaning of
pleuron as rib, equating it with Herodotus' use
of the word, but as they point out, "mostly in the plural
like the Latin costae, i.e.,
* Moulton, James H. and George Milligan, VocabuIary
of the Greek Text: Illustrations from the Papyri and Other
Non-Literate Sources, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1972, p.518.
'side' of a man."
They give a secondary meaning as "the membrane that lines
the chest." A third meaning is as the side of a rectangle,
and a fourth meaning as a page of a book. It has also, they observe,
the sense of wife. This is interesting in that among the
Arabs a cognate word of the Hebrew tsela' is used to signify
a bosom friend, a person who is "at one's side." *
None of these comments are decisive, but I think in general they
certainly allow the choice of the word side rather than
rib as a meaningful translation of the Hebrew of Genesis
Turning to the very
oldest actual documents we have, i.e., cuneiform tablets, we
find some curious indications that the Hebrew word tsela'
had a more profound significance than merely the designation
of one of Adam's ribs. One of the best authorities on Sumerian
Cuneiform literature, Samuel Kramer, in his book From the
Tablets of Sumer† notes
that the Sumerian word for rib is TI (pronounced TEE).
Now this sound value associated with the word TI forms part of
several names under rather interesting circumstances.
Some of the earliest tablets tell us that the name of one of
the gods was EN-KI. This name seems to be compounded from two
words meaning Heaven (and) Earth, a circumstance
which may reflect something about the supposed nature of the
being who bore the name. There is little doubt from a study of
Sumerian mythology that EN-KI was really the counterpart of original
man, exalted to the status of a deity. We are told that EN-KI
became sick, and the sickness affected eight parts of his body
� an observation which is probably intended to indicate only
that the whole man was sick. The tablet which gives us
the details of this event also spells out where the sickness
afflicted him, although some of the words are not now decipherable.
They do include his head, his arms and his chest. The ailment
arose because of EN-KI's disobedience in eating a fruit which
he had been expressly forbidden to eat and which is identified
as a cassia plant, of which we have already spoken.
Being a highly favoured creature
of the gods, steps were at once taken to heal him, and for this
purpose a goddess was specially created. Her name was NIN-TI,
which is a compound of two words meaning "the lady of the
rib." Kramer tells us that NIN-TI came to be known later
as "the lady who makes live." Thus the same compound
name, NIN-TI, acquired by association two different meanings.
The first compound (NIN) kept its sound value and meaning, but
TI came to be
* Skinner, John, Commentary on Genesis,
Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1930, 2nd edition, p.63.
† Kramer, Samuel, From the Tables of Sumer, Indian
Hills, Colorado, Falcon's Wing Press, 1956, p.172f.
associated with both
"the rib" and "the one who gives life." The
student of Scripture will see at once that we have here what
looks like a confused reflection of the grand truth set forth
in Genesis 2:21 and 3:20 which shows Eve as first formed from
a tsela' (translated more correctly, I think, as side),
later to become "the mother of all living." If
EN-KI is equated with Adam, then clearly the female NIN-TI, created
to heal the only ailment from which a perfect Adam could be suffering
(i.e., a sense of aloneness) would logically be equated with
What Kramer did not note in either
of the books in which he has made particular reference to this
matter, * is the fact that the cuneiform sign or ideograph for
TI sheds its own interesting light on the meaning of the word
translated rib. In Rene
Labat's Manuel d'Epigraphie Akkadienne,†
the cuneiform sign for TI is written as at (a) in Fig. 6,
in late Assyrian. But in the very earliest texts known this sign
appeared as in (b), which is clearly the same pictograph in simplified
form. However, it is known that these cuneiform signs were very
early turned through 90 degrees for some reason, so that they
were originally written in the upright position. The sign shown
in (b) would therefore have been drawn at first as shown in (c);
and there seems to be little doubt that it was once a simplified
picture of a woman wearing a skirt.
values which Labat attaches to the sign are various. They include
rib or side member (of a vehicle or a boat); but
the sign also forms part of the verb "to make alive."
We know from later texts employing this sign how it was to be
pronounced. The sign was not merely read as TI (as among the
Sumerians) but by the Babylonians as TSILU, which is readily
seen to be related to the Hebrew TSELU.
The Babylonians adopted the earlier
Sumerian ideographs and used them to signify the same objects
as the Sumerians had, but they applied to them their own sound
values which were usually (though
* Kramer, Samuel, From the Tablets of Sumer,
Indian Hills, Colorado, Falcon's Wing Press, 1956,
p.172 f., or The Sumerians, University of Chicago Press,
1965, p.149 f.
† Labat, Rene, Manuel d'Epigraphie Akkadienne,
Paris, Imprimerie Nationale de France, 1952, p.68, 69.
not always) somewhat
different. This is a widespread practice. The Japanese did precisely
the same thing when they adopted the Chinese ideographs in order
to put their own language into writing. Looking at the sign the Sumerians would read it as
TI but the Babylonians and Assyrians would read it as TSILU.
Each of them would immediately picture in their minds either
a RIB (or a side, depending upon which is the correct
interpretation) or LIFE-GIVING WOMAN, depending upon the context.
The word used in the Hebrew of Genesis 2:21 (tsela')
is certainly a cognate Semitic word with the Babylonian and
The reader may be misled here into supposing that I am supporting
the view that the Sumerian language is earlier than Semitic languages
such as Assyrian, Babylonian and Hebrew. It is at present true
that the earliest records (tablets) are in Sumerian. But this
is by no means absolute proof of any priority of the Sumerian
language over Semitic. For reasons which have been elaborated
elsewhere, * I am persuaded that the language of Noah and his
family was not Sumerian but Semitic in form � not necessarily
Hebrew, though it might have been proto-Hebrew. One of the strongest
arguments in favour of this assumption is that the names of his
immediate descendants as set forth in Genesis 10 are clearly
Semitic words which, for the most part, have recognizable meanings
even in Hebrew as we know it today.
It is clear that
the names have not been translated or modified radically from
their original form, since they are still preserved with comparatively
little change in their descendants who are now found to constitute
the nations of the world. Japheth, for example, is clearly recognizable
in the Japetos of the Greeks whose ancestor he is, though
the Greeks are certainly not Semitic people. These names have
been carefully traced by the author in another work.†
The importance of this fact is that people do not give their
children names which are entirely foreign to their own language.
We do have a notable exception in the case of biblical names
adopted in Christian families, but this is a special situation
that did not apply on any wide scale in pre-Christian times.
A Chinaman who happened to be a metalworker would not call his
son Smithson, because Smith is an English word,
not a Chinese one.
People customarily give their children
names that are meaningful in their own language, and the forms
of such names provide a clue to
* Custance, Arthur, "The Confusion of Languages"
Part V in Time
and Eternity, vol.6 of the Doorway Papers Series, Grand Rapids,
Custance, Arthur, "A Study of the Names in Genesis 10" Part
II in Noah's Three Sons, vol.1 of the Doorway Papers Series,
Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1975.
the language spoken
by those who use them. When Noah and his family gave names to
their children they were clearly speaking Hebrew or something
akin to it: and if Noah was doing so, it is a fair assumption
to say that Adam also spoke the same form of language since the
confusion of languages was much later.
From which I would conclude that
the supposedly later form of the word tsela' is not in
fact later at all, but the original. The form is only assumed
to be earlier because historical accident has placed in our hands
Sumerian tablets in which the word TI appears and these happen
to be earlier than any tablets in which the word TSILU occurs.
We do not have any tablets, yet, which truly come from the pre-Flood
world, but it seems virtually certain that a society which had
metallurgy and could construct an ark larger than any vessel
till quite modern times must have had some method of keeping
It does not seem likely that we
can filter from such indistinct leads very much in the way of
concrete information of substantive value, but certainly there
is a story here the details of which in the Scriptural account
are clear enough. The biblical record is free of the exaggerations
and absurdities which mar all the pagan traditions. It is sensible
to view it as the original.
I do not think it altogether unreasonable
to assume that when Adam exclaimed, "This is now bone of
my bone and flesh of my flesh," he had an intuitive
understanding of the fact (or was it revealed?) that Eve had
been formed from something much more fundamental to himself and
to his nature and constitution than merely one of his ribs. The
supplementary statement made afterwards, "and they shall
be one flesh," surely implies more than that Eve would in
some mystical way merely make up for a missing rib � especially
in view of the fact that man does not have, and is unlikely ever
to have had, an odd rib on one side.
Adam was in no position to be able
to understand in precisely what way he had been "divided"
even if God had revealed to him the magnitude of the operation.
But it seems rather certain that if Eve had merely been formed
from one of his ribs and the wound had then been completely
repaired, he would hardly have discerned in Eve a creature so
complementary to himself in such a profound way. His sense of
her complementarity was initially psychological not anatomical,
though he felt it so concretely that he expressed it in anatomical
language. And surely, the two becoming one flesh when truly married
reinforces the concept of an original "unity."
It is an interesting thing to note
in the Sumerian account that the "Lady of the Rib"
was formed in a way which was notable for the speed with which
it all happened while not yet being actually instantaneous. The
normal nine months gestation period is reduced in the
poem to a mere nine
days: a day for a month. Perhaps this was a way of saying that
this "Lady who makes alive" was not formed by the ordinary
processes familiar in human generation nor yet by a process totally
independent of it, but by some quite exceptional means of which
not the least remarkable factor was the short time it took to
complete the operation. But it was an operation; it did
take time; it was not instantaneous creation but formation.
* (Genesis 2:22).
And so we can perhaps
add to the evidence from physiology the confirming voice of tradition,
confused as it is, as well as the considered opinion of the more
famous Jewish commentators who evidently found the Genesis account
leading them to a similar conclusion: Eve was literally formed
out of the man because Adam as first created was truly androgynous.
I believe he was androgynous not only physiologically speaking
but in the very essence of his nature also: hormonally, he was
truly male and female.
There are other important reasons why such
a truly androgynous constitution should have characterized the
first man, and these have to do with the method by which God
was to redeem the race that sprang quite literally from Adam's
loins, of one, i.e., a single individual, not "of one
blood" (Acts 17:26) as the King James Version has
it.† And this is the subject
of the next chapter.
* The Hebrew word used is banah
, meaning "to build."
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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† It is widely agreed by scholars of evangelical as
well as liberal persuasion that the word blood should
be omitted as it is in a number of MSS. This is the procedure
followed in the RV, RSV, Rotherham, Berkeley, and many others.