Online Adult Jewish learning

Other Courses in this Series:

Bible 1: Abraham

Bible 2: Isaac

Bible 3: Jacob

Bible 4: Bible Overview

Bible Series:
Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel

The Garden of Eden; Formation of Woman - (Genesis 2:4 - 25)

Lecture Two examined the formation of living creatures on earth, climaxing with the creation of man. In this lecture, we study the Torah text that begins the Torahs focus on human history alone. The lecture is divided into four sections:

  1. G*d establishes the mediums for sustaining life on the earth, particularly human life (Genesis 2:4-7)
  2. A description of the Garden in Eden (ibid. 2:8-15)
  3. The forbidden fruit (ibid. 2:16-17)
  4. A female partner for man (ibid. 2:18-24)

Tip on viewing the Sample Lecture: To switch between the main text and the footnote, click on the highlighted footnote.  To switch back from the footnote section to the main text, click on the highlighted footnote number that appears at the beginning of each footnote.


2:18

[1]G*d, Master of all forces, purposefully thought without effort

 

Man will not continue to exist[2] as a lone hermaphroditic human being; [3]

 

I will make for him the[4] female helper as a separate person before him. [5]

2:19

[6]G*d, Master of all forces, fashioned from the earth

 

all wild animals of the field,

 

and - from water[7] - all birds of the sky.

 

In anticipation of fashioning the separate female helper,[8] G*d first brought them before Adam[9]

 

to see what classifying name[10] he would give each one in accordance with Adams insight into the animal or bird species essential nature,[11] which included identifying each animals and birds proper mate.

 

Any animal or bird species that Adam would classify by name as suitable to his human nature,[12] G*d would refashion it into a female human being.

2:20

Adam named every species of herbivore,[13] bird of the sky, and carnivore[14] of the field - according to its intrinsic nature;

 

however, for the name man,[15] Adam did not find from among them a suitable female that could be refashioned as a human female to stand before him as a separate person.

2:21

[16]As a result of Adams craving to find a suitable female helper, G*d, Master of all forces, caused man to fall into a deep sleep, and he slept;

 

G*d took one of mans ribs and closed the flesh in its place.

2:22

G*d built the rib that He took had taken from Adam into a woman,

 

and He brought her to Adam.

2:23

[17]Adam expressed his own profound feeling of attachment to her:[18]

 

Now I have found a female helper who is worthy of being called man, since she is a bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh;

 

she shall be called Woman, because she was taken from man.

2:24

Consequently,[19] Adams male descendents exhibit a similarly profound attachment to their wives:

 

A man leaves his close blood-relation bond to his father and mother

 

and bonds to his wife.

 

[20]The husband and wife bond as blood relations more intense than his bond to his parents.[21]

2:25

Adam and Eve were both naked, yet they were not embarrassed.


 

[1] Verses 18 24 recount the sequence of events leading to G*ds formation of Eve from Adams body. The verses can be divided into four sections:

1.        G*d reveals his plan to fashion a separate female helper for man (verse 18).

2.        G*d arouses man to crave a suitable female helper by having him name animals and discover their unsuitability to become his female helpmate (verses 19-20).

3.        G*d fashions woman from mans own body (verses 21-22).

4.        Adam expresses his profound feeling of attachment to Eve; this intense feeling becomes part of the male psyche forever (verses 23-24).

[2] As explained in Lecture Two (footnote 14), in the context of Creation, the Hebrew word tov means G*ds ongoing support for the existence of objects or creatures in its completed form. Here, the Torah states G*ds view of mans present makeup: it is not tov. G*d will not support mans continued existence in his present form. G*d will alter mans original makeup. In the next footnote, Ramban describes mans original makeup that G*d planned to change.

[3] Question: Earlier (Genesis 1:27), the Torah described G*ds formation of man as male and female human beings; yet here, the Torah recounts womans formation as occurring only after mans futile search for a female partner among animal life. It is unlikely that G*d originally fashioned man as a lone male that was incapable of procreation. All other animal life was fashioned originally in male and female genders for the purpose of procreation, and even plant life was fashioned with the ability to reproduce. What, then, was mans original constitution?

Answer: The Oral Tradition (Talmud, Berachot 61a) relates that G*d originally fashioned man as a single-body hermaphrodite possessing male and female facial features that faced opposite directions. Genesis 1:27 records this original human makeup. Here, the Torah describes events that led to G*ds division of man into separate male and female bodies.

[4] Ramban explained in the previous footnote that the female helper had existed previously as part of a hermaphroditic body. The Torah uses accusative case since the female already existed as part of man.

[5] In mans original male-female composition, the female part of man existed in what the Torah calls an ezer (helper) to the male part. Therefore, this verse does not mention G*ds intent to fashion a female ezer, since it already existed as part of man; rather G*d planned to detach the female ezer from the male portion, so that the male could see her, and bond to and separate from her at will.

[6] Earlier (Genesis 1:20-25), the Torah narrated the formation of all animal life. As an introduction to Adams search for a female helper, the Torah here briefly recounts the formation of animal and bird life only. Ramban will explain that man could have chosen from among them a suitable female helper that G*d would have refashioned into a human female.

The Torah omits mention of fish, rodents, insects and other small crawling animals, since they are not sufficiently developed forms of life to have been considered for refashioning into a female human being.

[7] In its description of creation, the Torah records that birds were fashioned from water (see Lecture Two, Genesis 1:20).

[8] G*d had a two-fold purpose in bringing the animals and birds before man:

         to arouse Adam of his need for a separate female partner rather than exist as a hermaphrodite,

         for Adam to recognize fully that his female partner could not be found from among any animal.

From the outset, G*d knew that man could bond only to a female fashioned from his own body. However, G*d wanted Adam to realize this truth, and consequently crave a suitable female helper - as G*d had provided for all other animals. G*d would then intervene to fashion a separate female from Adams body.

[9] The Hebrew word Adam defines both as the entire race of mankind, and the first man, Adam. Here, the Torah refers to Adam the man.

[10] Naming animals and birds: G*d designated man to name the animals, and endowed him with profound insight to perform this task. The names that Adam gave to the animals identified the true nature of each animal and bird species, including its proper mate for procreation. In naming the animals, Adam ascertained that no female animal was suited to be his female helper.

[11] The Biblical Hebrew names for animal species and other living beings define their essential nature (e.g., par/parah ox/female cow, kelev/kalbe male/female dog). Rabbi Bachyai (Torah commentary of Rabbi Bachyai, d. 1340, Spain) explains the deeper allusions of the Hebrew names of several animals.

[12] G*d had fashioned man as a unique living creature, possessing a Divine soul. Clearly, Adam could not be expected to find a suitable female counterpart from among the animals, all of which were formed completely from earthly components (see Lecture Two, footnotes 5 and 43). Indeed, G*d had not intended for Adam to mate with a female animal or bird in its existing animal composition. Rather, Adam could have chosen from among the animal and bird species the one that most suited his own human nature. G*d would have then refashioned the existing female animal or bird into a human female, both physiologically, spiritually and intellectually, by imparting into its body a Divine soul, as G*d had previously done in fashioning Adam from the earth. This would have obviated the need to fashion an entirely new female body from Adams body.

[13] See Lecture Two, footnote 8

[14] see Lecture Two, footnote 10

[15] In the course of naming the animals and birds (i.e., identifying each species essential nature and proper mate), Adam became acutely aware of his inability to identify a female animal or bird that was suitable to his unique human personality.

Adams rejection of an animal mate was not a subjective decision; rather, as explained above (footnote 33), Adam ascertained that man possesses a unique nature that cannot mate with other living creatures, even in a refashioned human state.

[16] G*d responded to Adams incipient craving for his own separate female helper by fashioning Eve from his own body.

[17] This verse describes Adams intense feeling of attachment to Eve that stemmed from her having been fashioned directly from his own body. The next verse describes the intense feeling of attachment that Adams male descendents feel toward their wives albeit of a lesser intensity than that of Adam.

[18] Adam expresses his intense appreciation at having found a suitable female helper.

[19] The Torah digresses to record the far-reaching effect of Adams intense feeling of attachment to Eve. Adams experience of reuniting with a portion of his body that had been fashioned into a female has been transmitted to all his male descendents, albeit in diminished intensity.

[20] The verse ends by describing the intensity of the husband-wife relationship by comparing it to another intense human relationships.

[21] Scripture occasionally uses the Hebrew word bassar (literarily flesh) to refer to blood relations as opposed to relations by marriage or friendship (e.g., No person shall approach a close bassar (blood relative) to commit a sexual offense. [Leviticus 18:6]). Here, the Torah underscores the intensity of the marriage relationship by comparing it to naturally intense bassar relationships. Although husband and wife are not blood relatives, the intensity of their close relationship surpasses that of blood relatives, including their relationship to their own parents, who raised them from birth.