on Genesis 2 :21
The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, etc. - This was neither swoon nor ecstasy, but what our translation very properly terms a deep sleep.
And he took one of his ribs - It is immaterial whether we render צלע tsela a rib, or a part of his side, for it may mean either: some part of man was to be used on the occasion, whether bone or flesh it matters not; though it is likely, from verse Genesis 2:23, that a part of both was taken; for Adam, knowing how the woman was formed, said, This is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone. God could have formed the woman out of the dust of the earth, as he had formed the man; but had he done so, she must have appeared in his eyes as a distinct being, to whom he had no natural relation. But as God formed her out of a part of the man himself, he saw she was of the same nature, the same identical flesh and blood, and of the same constitution in all respects, and consequently having equal powers, faculties, and rights. This at once ensured his affection, and excited his esteem.
on Genesis 2 :21
- 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.
on Genesis 2 :21