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For one of Women and Marriage Throughout Redemptive History click here: 8.5×11″; A4 paper


e) Gen 2:21–23: In the process of naming the animals, Adam recognized that he lacked his own perfect counterpart (Gen 2:19–20).

Moses wrote, “Then the Lord God caused a supernatural stupor (tardema) to fall upon the man.”[1]

God put Adam into a coma, unable to perceive the Lord’s creative work.[2]

The raw material for Eve came from Adam’s side. However, just as the ground did not spontaneously form a man (Gen 2:7), so a woman did not materialize until Yahweh performed a creative divine act.[3]

He took her from Adam’s side to stand at his side.[4]

Upon awakening, Adam responded with a rapturous poetic outburst, turning all focus to her:

This, this time,

[is] bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh.

This shall be called woman,

for from man was taken this![5]

In Hebrew, the word translated as “flesh” (basar) also means “weakness” (Isa 31:3), while we can render the term for “bone” (etsem) as “strength” (Gen 26:16).[6]

By combining these antithetical terms into a word-pair, Adam employed merism, a literary device which employs a pair of opposites to denote them both and everything in between. Thus, Adam conveyed that he and the woman were alike across the range of human experience.

The phrase “my/your bone and flesh” also reflects a covenant formula of reciprocal unalterable loyalty (Gen 29:13–14; Judg 9:1–2; 1 Chron 11:1–3).[7] This forms the biblical counterpart to many modern marriage vows, “in weakness (flesh) and in strength (bone).”[8]

Adam recognized that he and the woman shared equal footing (Gen 1:27) yet differed from the animals.[9]



A 25th century BC Pyramid Text used a similar rhetorical device to insist upon the immortality of a deceased pharaoh by identifying him with the resurrected god Osiris. It says:[10]

“O Atum, the one here is that son of thine, Osiris, whom thou hast caused to survive and to live on. He lives—(so also) this King Unis lives. He does not die—(so also) this King Unis does not die.

Thy body is the body of this King Unis. Thy flesh is the flesh of this King Unis. Thy bones are the bones of this King Unis. When thou departest, this King Unis departs. When this King Unis departs, thou departest.”[11]



Not until after the fall of humanity did Adam name Eve (Gen 3:20). In Gen 2:23, Adam identified her as his true counterpart.[12]

In Hebrew, the term “woman” (ishah) is simply the feminine form of the word “man” (ish).[13],[14] Moses emphasized the shared identity and equality of this first couple.[15]

This poem portrays the ideal marriage in ancient Israel, characterized by harmony and intimacy.[16]

While difficult to express in English, God’s pronouncement of “very good” after Eve’s creation forms a superlative: everything was the very best it could be (Gen 1:31).[17]

Within the Ancient Near East, only Israel reported a separate creation account for the first woman.[18]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Gen 2:21–23. Why did Adam react as he did when he saw Eve? What did he communicate about her?




Go to A Transfer of Loyalty (Gen 2:24)

[Related posts include Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); God Evaluates His Creation (Gen 1:31); The Lord Breathes Life (Gen 2:7); Not Good! (Gen 2:18); A Parade of Animals (Gen 2:19–20); A Renewed Covenant (Gen 3:20); A Restoration of Status (Matt 28:10); Author and Date of Genesis; and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Women and Marriage Throughout Redemptive History; or to Chapter 5: A View from the Ground (Genesis 2:4–25)]


[1] Holladay, “תַּרְדֵּמָה” (tardemah), CHALOT, 395.

[2]M. Oeming, “תַּרְדֵּמָה” (tardemah), TDOT 13: 338–9.

[3] Hamilton, Genesis, Chapters 1–17,177, 179.

[4] Walton, Genesis, 188.

[5] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 69–70.

[6]Victor P. Hamilton, “Marriage (Old Testament and Ancient Near East),” in ABD 4:559–69, 568.

[7]Walter Brueggemann, “Of the Same Flesh and Bone, Gen 2:23a,” CBQ 32, no. 4 (1 October 1970): 532–42, 534–5.

[8] Hamilton, Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 179–80.

[9] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 70.

[10]Pritchard, ANET, 32.

[11]John A. Wilson, trans., “The Conquest of Death,” in ANET, lines 167–93, 32–3.

[12] Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3, 97.

[13] Botterweck and Ringgren, eds., “אִשָּׁה” (ishah), TDOT, 1:429.

[14] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “אִישׁ” (ish), 35,

[15] Hamilton, Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 180.

[16] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 69.

[17] Gesenius, GKC, 426,

[18]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 177.