(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

     The title for the lesson is: “God Made a Woman.”  Our primary text is Genesis chapter 2 verses 18 through 25.  We will get to the text in the body of the lesson.  Up to this point in the creation narrative a repeated statement of God was “it was good” and even “it was very good.” Genesis chapter 1 and verse 31. So, it comes as a bit of a shock to read at the beginning of our passage, Genesis chapter 2 verses 18 through 25, that the LORD God said, “It is not good.”  How are we to understand this?

     Perhaps the phrase “not good” made it clear that creation was not finished until woman had been created.  Nobody should think that God made any mistake or that woman being created was just an afterthought of God.  A perfectly omniscient God does not make mistakes nor has secondary afterthoughts.

     Let’s look deeper at our text: Genesis chapter 2 and verse 18 “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  God knew that the male of human beings should not be alone, to remain uncomplemented, but instead complemented as were all the other creatures that God had made.  God here emphasized that man was made for relationship.  First with his Creator God, and then with the female that complemented and completed him.  God saved the creation of woman, as part of his completed creation till last.  Obviously, God also knew in advance how the human race was going to reproduce and populate the earth, like his other creatures.  Reproduction therefore insured that man would not remain alone.

     Furthermore, woman would be the perfect and suitable helpmate to man.  God intended that woman be respected as a helper not a slave.  The original Hebrew word translated ‘helper’ used elsewhere in the Old Testament is never demeaning.  The term conveys one who can provide what is lacking in another. God created man in such a way that he was complemented by the help of a mate to fulfill God’s intended purpose for both of them together in companionship. “Suitable for him” is from the Hebrew expression that literally means “according to his opposite.”  The woman therefore would share the same nature as man.  It was to be a partnership created by an all-knowing and all-loving God for their close intimacy together. 

     A commentator writes: “The creation of the woman thus functions as the high point of chapter 2.  She is the capstone of creation.”  We should remember that chapter 2 is a repetition of the basic narrative in chapter 1 of the book of Genesis, but with added detail.  For example, in chapter 1and verse 27 it reads: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Then in Genesis chapter 1 and verse 31 it reads: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  And there was evening, and there was morning – the 6th day.”  We should not understand this as any sort of contradiction.  God cannot contradict himself.  And all scripture is God-breathed (inspired) of God.  The ‘not good’ of Genesis chapter 2 and verse 18 was only in reference to man being alone.  It was not God’s oversight but instead God’s insight. This also suggests that in the very beginning, even though man was created first, he was not superior, and she subordinate.  Both man and woman were co-equals as “very good” in their roles.  Since the woman was created as “suitable for him” she is the mirror image of man and therefore can genuinely be his equal helpmate.

     Then God illustrated how man was going to have dominion over the lessor creatures God had created.  Genesis chapter 2 verse 19 and 20 “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the bird of the air and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the air, and all the beasts of the field; but for Adam no suitable helper was found.” Notice the LORD God brought the creatures he had already created to man.  Man did not seek them out.  The assignment of names the LORD God delegated to man.  Naming them was an act of dominion and authority given to man.  Why is this naming of these creatures after God introduced that he would make a helper suitable for man?  Simply this: when man named the animals, he would have noticed that all the other creatures had a mate, had a match, but that he was unique, no other creature who corresponded or complemented him.  But man was powerless to do anything about it.  Only the omnipotent LORD God could create the perfect helpmate and intimate companion.  Man, therefore would have realized that no helper was especially suitable for him.

     Warren Wiersbe writes: “What was “not good” about man’s solitude?  After all, Adam could have fellowship with God, enjoy the beauty of the Garden and eat of its fruit, accomplish his daily work, and even play with the animals.  What more could he want?  God knew what Adam needed: “a helper suitable for him”.  There was no such helper among the animals, so God made the first woman and presented her to the man as his wife, companion, and helper.  She was God’s special love gift to Adam.”  Then God details how God created woman most uniquely beyond how he had created man.  Genesis chapter 2 verses 21 and 22 “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep.  And while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man and brought her to the man.”

     Notice the words “the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep.”  Therefore, man was not conscious at the time of woman’s creation.  So, creation of woman was accomplished sovereignly by the LORD God without any input from man.  This gift of woman was accomplished while man was put into a deep sleep.  Interestingly, scripture reveals two other times when people were asleep and as God affirmed a special relationship.  You can look these up in Genesis chapter 15 verses 12 through 16 and in Genesis chapter 28 verses 10 through 15.  Consider this illustration from human history regarding “falling into a deep sleep.”  Imagine surgery before the day of anesthesia.  Patients were strapped down while scalpel and saw cut through tissue and bone, every slice and turn of the knife causing unimaginable pain. 

     One Christian physician determined to do something about it.  Sir James Young Simpson, who lived from 1811 through 1870, practiced medicine in Scotland.  He became Senior President of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh when only age 24, and in time received virtually every possible honor and position.  He dreamed of finding a way of putting patients to sleep during surgery.  On Monday evenings, Simpson periodically invited small groups of physicians to his home to experiment with chemicals, crystals, and powders, which were placed over a burning brazier while the doctors inhaled the fumes.  Nothing worked until November 4, the year of our Lord 1847.  One of the men had purchased a crystal called chloroform in Paris.  As the doctors sniffed the burning substance, they fell to the floor unconscious.

     Simpson had his answer, but he soon encountered another problem.  He was attacked by fellow Christians who claimed that pain was a God-ordained part of this life.  Freedom from pain comes only in heaven, and it is immoral to devise dangerous ways of escaping it on earth.  Sir James went to the scriptures seeking answers.  He no sooner opened his Bible when he came to this verse: “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 in its place.”  Carefully studying the text, Simpson wrote an article entitled, ‘Answer to the Religious Objections Advanced Against the Employment of Anesthetic Agents in Midwifery and Surgery.’  He ended his paper saying, ‘We may rest fully assured that whatever is true on point of fact or humane and merciful in point of practice, will find no condemnation in the Word of God.’  Simpson’s critics were silenced, and a new day dawned in medical science.” 

     There are a number of unusual elements in Genesis chapter 2 verses 21 through 22.  First, it should be understood that the word translated “rib” is not used anatomically (meaning of or pertaining to anatomy) anywhere else in the Old Testament.  The original Hebrew term instead is usually used to refer to the side, such as of a building or room.  A second unusual element is in the first half of verse 22.  The verb “made” means “to build”, and the “side/rib” is set up as the direct object of the verb “made”.  Everywhere else in scripture the direct object of the verb ‘made’ is that which is being built such as a wall, temple, city, etc., rather than here the material “side/rid” being used.  Adam was made from the dust or clay of the ground, Genesis chapter 2 and verse 7, but Eve was made from Adam’s side, bone of his bone and flesh or his flesh.  Genesis chapter 2 and verse 23. Noted Bible commentator Matthew Henry who lived 1662 to1714 wrote: “She was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near to his heart to be beloved.”

     The apostle Paul wrote that: “The woman is the glory of man”. First Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 7. For if man is the head, First Corinthians chapter 11 verses 1 through 16 “Then woman is the crown that honors the head,” as Warren Wiersbe writes, it’s also interesting to note that the creation of woman was not a totally distinct creation since she was made from preexisting material – from man’s side.  She therefore would share much in common with man. A commentator writes “The use of the rib from man does not indicate that man ‘lost’ something.  The differences of a female are not the ‘preowned’ aspects of the male.  God made her different so she might complement the man in his need of companionship.

     The fact that procreation is obviously God’s method for offspring in the animal world indicates that woman was never an afterthought in the mind of God.  She was created after man so man might first experience loneliness and then recognize her great value to him.” One might ask, why was the woman made from man and not directly from the ground?  Perhaps because otherwise the human race would seem to have two different beginnings, one for males and one for females.  Men and women are different physically, psychologically, motivationally, and temperamentally.  Anyone who has had two young children can tell you that boys and girls respond differently.  Give both a doll, and the girl will cuddle it, while the boy will more likely use the doll as a projectile or club.  Give them each two dolls, and the girl will usually have the dolls talking to each other, while the boy will have them engaged in combat!

     There is an important concept here we should understand in our next verse: Genesis chapter 2 and verse 23 “And the man said: This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.” Here man’s initial response to the woman is that he recognizes her similarity to himself.  But he would be mistaken to think that Adam names the woman ‘Eve’ here.  Note “she shall be called ‘woman’, the original Hebrew for woman sounds like the Hebrew for man. So, here Adam named to indicate only what category of human being she pertains to – that is woman or female.

     When Adam named the animals in Genesis chapter 2 verses 19 and 20 a different original vocabulary and syntax are used.  Adam there was carrying out his function of ruling in that whatever he called a creature became its name.  His naming of the animals was an exercise of authority.  This same vocabulary is not used until Adam’s naming her ‘Eve’ in Genesis chapter 3 and verse 20 but not so in Genesis chapter 2 and verse 23. Here he simply states that she will be recognized as, and she will be recognized on the basis of her relationship to man.  Similarly, categories for the animals were indicated in Genesis chapter 1 verses 24 through 25 before names were given to them.

     A commentator writes: “When the LORD brought the woman to the man, you might say she was ‘beside himself’! ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ is a way of stating that the woman was of the same essence as the man.  The term ‘woman’ would be a constant reminder that she had her origin in man.  Later the apostle Paul affirmed the truth of the seniority of the male (he was created first) but reminded believes, “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman.  But everything comes from God.”  First Corinthians chapter 22 verses 11 through 12.”

     In summary, in the Hebrew and English languages there is wordplay between the term’s ‘man’ and ‘woman’.  The term ‘woman’ is not a personal name.  Adam only names the woman ‘Eve’ after the fall in Genesis chapter 3 ad verse 20. It is then when subordination through personal naming is implied and confirmed explicitly by the apostle Paul later, of course in the New Testament.

     In our next verse God establishes the very first human institution.  Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become one flesh.” “United to his wife, and they will become one flesh” means the institution of marriage.  The purpose is to assert that the marriage relationship, because it was created in the beginning, must take precedence over every other human relationship, even the duty of children to their parents.

     Regarding a man “united to his wife” a commentator writes: “A married person must not only leave his or her parents, but also “be united” to the spouse.  The New International Version’s paraphrase seems a bit weak.  The Hebrew verb translated ‘united’ literally means ‘to stick to’ and is used of clinging very closely to another person.  Just as sticky things bond to each other, so the mates in marriage are to ‘cling’ to each other.  Notice the text says “his wife” in the singular.  Here Genesis states that marriage as the LORD God designed it, was to be monogamous.  Whatever it has become through the corrupting effects of sin, it was created as a wonderful relationship between one man and one woman.  The result of leaving one’s parents and sticking closely to one’s spouse is “becoming one flesh”.  While certainly sexual expression in marriage is one of the implications of this statement, its primary emphasis is on the unity that the marriage relationship establishes.  It is as though the husband and wife shared the same flesh.”

     Marriage therefore could be summed up by both ‘leaving’ and ‘cleaving.’  For Adam of course, there were no parents to leave.  But for the rest of mankind usually a leaving what up to now was the most special human relationship; that of a son or daughter to a parent, is needed for a marriage to work.  This underscores the priority of a new relationship and the authority that is no longer a parent-child relationship. Notice again that the pattern for marriage was not devised by man but by God himself.  Marriage was born in the loving heart of God for the blessing and benefit of mankind. Warren Wiersbe writes: “No matter what the courts may decree, or society may permit, when it comes to marriage, God had the first word and he will have the last word. In Hebrews chapter 13 verse 4, you can look this up and see what the Hebrew writers are to God wrote concerning marriage and the marriage bed. Martin Luther called marriage ‘a school for character.’  Marriage is an opportunity to exercise faith, hope, and love and to mature in sacrifice and service to one another for God’s glory.” 

     Lastly comes a curious verse as to its placement and implication.  Genesis chapter 2 and verse 25 “The man and the wife were both naked and felt no shame.” The traditional view on both counts is that Adam and Eve had nothing to hide from each other, and no reason to hide from God, before sin.  They had no shame or guilt of any kind and were secure in themselves and in one another.

     The alternative view suggests that this description corresponds to a childlike innocence that they see no need for clothing.  That perhaps they were unaware of their sexuality.  That this verse underscores their openness and trust that existed originally between man and woman, in a perfect environment. A commentator writes: “They were completely transparent to each other and felt not even a twinge of discomfort at the fact.  This verse was also a bridge to the next verse Genesis chapter 3and verse 1. The Hebrew word for “naked” has a wordplay associated with the Hebrew word “crafty” (or subtle) in the very next verse describing the serpent. Therefore, “naked” seems to be the very opposite of ‘crafty’ and means not only physical nakedness but the right sort of naivete (or innocence).  The contrast therefore is striking between the woman and the tempter.”

     Finally consider the choice words of Warren Wiersbe: “Adam was put to sleep and his side opened that he might have a wife, but Jesus died on a cross and by his bloodshed that he might have a bride, the church.  John chapter 19 verses 33 and following “But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”

     And today Jesus is by the side of his Father, “actually at his right hand, interceding for us.”  According to Romans chapter 8 and verse 34.  Precious truths for all believers.

                  David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, In.