Categories: Creation, Women in the Bible, Women in the Old Testament
- In Genesis 2:18, the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone."
- While the man slept, God took one of his ribs and made it into a woman.
- Then Adam said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."
- The man called her "woman" for out of man she was taken.
- Just as the man, adam, is taken from the ground, or adama, the woman is issah, because she was taken from man, which is rendered ish. The man and woman are both identified by words that are presented in two different forms.
- The woman was a "helper" for the man. That word is ezer. The Psalms also refer to God as an ezer.
- Some translate ezer as a helper "fit for him." It suggests that the woman is equal to him, corresponding to him, fit for him.
- But what kind of help is the woman supposed to be giving the man?
- Genesis 1:28 commanded them to "be fruitful and to multiply, and fill the earth."
- Neither one can fulfill this command without the other. They have to work together.
- Such a reading is enhanced by the directive that follows, that "a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
- 2:25 continues, "They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." The word for naked is arum, the same word used for the subtlety of the serpent.
- So the serpent asks the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
- The woman has to think because God did prohibit them from eating of one tree, but not of all trees.
- Though addressed to the woman, the "you" is plural, so the man is obviously included as well.
- The woman replied to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.' "
- The woman added the "touching" part.
- Here, scholars see evidence of her intelligence for if the tree is never touched, obviously the fruit cannot be eaten.
- The serpent, however, claims that eating the fruit would have positive consequences.
- The woman thinks about the tree.
- She "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise." In its simplest form, she affirms God's creation.
- She doesn't discuss this with the man who is with her; she doesn't ask for his advice or permission.
- "She took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."
- Immediately "the eyes of them were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons."
- The Lord God enters the garden, and the man and woman hide from him.
- God asks the woman, "What is this that you have done?"
- This isn't a "yes or no" question either. Once again, she is placed in a situation in which she has to think.
- She states, "The serpent tricked me, and I did eat."
- To say she was 'tricked" suggests that she acted in good faith. Now, however, after thinking things over, and maybe after listening to the exchange between God and the man, she realizes that it was a mistake.
- To her, God says, "I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
- It recognizes that ancient women had to work very hard and had to bear a lot of children. These words in Genesis acknowledge the contribution of women in both these areas.
- Despite the dangers of childbirth in primitive cultures, her desire will be for her husband and he will predominate over her.
- The result of all this is that the man names the woman, Eve, because she is the mother of all living.
- Scholars aren't sure about the etymology of Eve, which is connected with life or living. A literal translation would read, "The man called his woman's name Life, which is the word for Eve, for she is the mother of all that lives."
- She is a mother whose name is connected with life-giving forces.
- To date, Eve has not had any children, but Adam declares through her name that they will not be the last of the human race.
- Adam "knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain."
- She joyfully proclaims, "I have produced a man with the help of the Lord." She and the Lord are co-creators.
- Next, she bore his brother Abel.
- Lastly, Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, "God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him."
- Around 300 BCE, the serpent began to be identified as the devil, woman became the temptress, and man became sinful.
- By 180 BCE, Ben-Sirach wrote for Greek-speaking Jews in Egypt, "From a woman, sin had its beginning, Because of a woman we all die."
- The books of Adam and Eve and the Apocalypse of Moses share a similar view.
- In the first century, Paul worried in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "…I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ."
- Sometime after this, another author, writing in I Timothy (2:13-14), stated, "…Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."
- Despite these attempts to vilify Eve, she will forever remain the mother of life.