Genesis 2:18-24: Notes on the Creation of Woman

ʏʜᴡʜ God said, it is not good [for] the man to be alone. I will make him a helper corresponding to him. ʏʜᴡʜ God formed from the ground every beast of the field, and every flying creature of the heaven, and he brought [each of them] to the man to see what he would call it; and whatever that the man called it, the living creature, that was the name of it. The man named all the livestock, and the flying creatures of heaven, and every beast of the field, but for man there was not found a helper corresponding to him. ʏʜᴡʜ God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he fell asleep. He took one of his ribs, and he closed the flesh [that was] underneath it. ʏʜᴡʜ God, with the rib which he had taken from the man, built a woman, and he brought her to the man. The man said, this one finally [is] bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh. This one shall be called woman, for from man this one was taken. For this [reason] a man shall leave (or, "a man leaves") his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18-24, my translation)

The Creator took extraordinary measures to emphasize the creation of Woman and the principle of the family unit. First of all, it is impossible to overlook the deliberate stress laid on לֹא־טוֹב (lō-ṬŌV, not good). Man's lack of companionship is the first thing in creation to be called לֹא־טוֹב, in stark contrast to the previous chapter, in which טוֹב (ṭōv, good) or טוֹב מְאֹד (ṭōv mᵉōd, very good) are used seven times.

In the parade of animals, God makes clear to Adam his need for a suitable female companion, through a long, arduous process. Adam is required to observe and to name every pair of animals in creation.[1] While Adam certainly would have represented the peak of human energy and intelligence, as the first created man in paradise, all the same it would have been a taxing task to fulfill.

After the long task of naming all the birds and the beasts, Adam is unable to find his "help meet" (KJV) among them. Of course, "help meet" is not really a word, but is part of the phrase מָצָא עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ, "an help meet for him", "suitable helper" (NIV), "a helper fit for him" (ESV), or as I have translated it, "a helper corresponding to him".

I will avoid pursuing a long word study on עֵזֶר (˓ē-ZER, helper), leaving that for now in the hands of more capable scholars. But I will note that "corresponding to him" translates כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ (kᵉneg-dō). HALOT gives the meaning as "proper for him" or more literally "like his opposite". It is a marvel of God's wisdom that he gives to man a companion who is both strikingly similar to him, yet remarkably different.

In executing the creation of woman, ʏʜᴡʜ God first places Adam into a deep sleep. While this is obviously an expedient to performing surgery on Adam, we see also that in Scripture, when it is noted that God causes someone to be overcome with sleep, this is usually in connection with some event of great significance. A most notable example is in Genesis 15, when God puts Abram into a deep sleep, and reveals to him his covenant and prophetic details of the coming Exodus. Some other interesting examples are Isaiah 29:10 and Luke 9:32.

God could have created a woman out of soil, as he did man, but chose to build[2] the woman using a rib extracted from the man. Though there might be other reasons for this as well, the primary reason was to establish clearly the close biological and thus familial relationship between the man and the woman, allowing Adam to say "this one finally [is] bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh".[3]

So it is then, once we reach verse 24, that we have been given the historical data required to understand the origin of marriage and the family, and God's design for it. The plan is that a man should leave[4] his parents, which is not necessarily a geographic distancing, but rather a shifting of his thoughts and priorities.[5] And he "cleaves" to his wife. I like the connotations of the English word "cleave"[6] but the basic idea of the Hebrew word (דָבַק, dā-VAQ) is to cling to someone. The same word is used in Ruth 1:14, in regards to Ruth's firm determination to stay with Naomi, even though going back to Moab seemed the more advantageous choice in every way.

The phrase "they shall become one flesh" is commonly thought to refer to the sexual union, but NET Bible notes argue that it should be understood to refer primarily to the formation of a new family unit, tying back to the "flesh and bone" of verse 23, which in other places in Scripture refers to a biological or legal kinship.[7]

In conclusion, here we should ponder the great gift of God, and the wisdom God displayed, in the giving of woman to man.[8] Also, if we believe the Scriptures, we must abandon all the premises of the modern LGBTQ movement, for the two are hopelessly irreconcilable. From the narrative we have just studied, the Creator's design for gender, sexuality, and family is made clear and unambiguous.


[1] Only the livestock (לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה) flying creatures (לְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם) and beasts of the field (וּלְכֹל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה) are mentioned. It seems reasonable to suppose that only heads or representatives of the various "kinds" would have been brought, rather than the much more numerous assortment of species or variations we see now.

[2] Root בנה. HALOT lists this instance under "to build" sense 2 "with acc. of material" (the rib), though indicating derived meaning "to create" for this instance. Usually the word is used for the construction or rebuilding of objects such as houses and altars.

[3] HALOT gives "once, finally" for this instance of פעם. The idea is that this time, he has been presented with a suitable companion, unlike in all the previous cases of being shown the animals.

[4] Regarding יַֽעֲזָב־אִ֔ישׁ, English translations are generally divided between the more traditional translation "shall leave", which indicates a command, and "leaves" indicating a characteristic action. The former corresponds with Williams §173 injunctive imperfect, while the latter corresponds with Willams §168 iterative imperfect, a.k.a. customary or habitual imperfect.

[5] So argues the NET Bible notes.

[6] Cleave: "to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly". <>, accessed May 1 2022.

[7] References given are Genesis 29:14, Judges 9:2, 2 Samuel 5:1, 2 Samuel 19:12, and 2 Samuel 19:13 taken with 2 Samuel 17:25 and 1 Chronicles 2:16-17.

[8] Of course, the Fall of mankind, and the sinfulness of our hearts, has inserted much grief and difficulty into the relationship between the two genders.

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