Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

The Human (Ha’adam), Man (Ish) and Woman (Ishshah) in Genesis 2

creation eve adam ish ishah ishshah Genesis 2 human man woman

This relief of the creation of Eve depicts a traditional understanding of Genesis 2:21-22.

This article is also available in Spanish here.

Was the first human in Eden a man?

In Genesis 2 we read the creation account of the human that God made and placed in the Garden of Eden.[1] In many English translations of Genesis 2, this human is simply called “man.” This “man” is understood by many people as referring to a male human rather than to a generic human. However, in the Hebrew text, the first “man” is not specifically referred to as a male human (ish) until the operation mentioned in Genesis 2:21-22 when a part, or side, is taken out of him.[2]

After the operation, the now undoubtedly male human sees the female human and says, “This one is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! She will be called ‘woman/wife’ (ishshah) because she was taken out of ‘man/husband’ (ish)” (Gen. 2:23). The author of Genesis 2 may want his readers to understand that this husband and wife may have each been a part of, or one side of, the same human being (ha’adam).[3]

Adam can mean “human” and “humanity”

The Hebrew word adam can mean “human being,” and not necessarily a male human being.[4] For instance, in the Hebrew of Genesis 5:2, God refers to humanity—both men and women—as “adam.” And in Genesis 1:27 it says that “God created humanity, or the human, (ha’adam) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In Genesis 2, the first human is consistently referred to as ha’adam (הָאָדָם), especially before the operation.[5]

In the screenshots below, I have highlighted every incidence of ha’adam (the human) in yellow.(N.B. In verse 5 there is no article but the context indicates that adam is not a proper noun.)[6] I have also highlighted every incidence of ish (man/husband) with blue, and ishshah (woman/ wife) with pink. Looking at the screenshots below, we clearly see an ish, a male person, when the side that is made into ishshah is taken out of ha’adam, but not before.

Have a look.

Genesis 2.4

Genesis 2.15

Genesis 2.22_25

Genesis 2.22

The Hebrew and English texts in the screenshots are taken from mechon-mamre.org and are used with permission. I have added the coloured highlights and I have omitted verses 9-14.

Equality, not Hierarchy

I believe the Genesis 2 creation account was designed to show the mutuality, compatibility and unity of the first man and woman. It may be we are even meant to understand that they both had the same source, ha’adam, and shared the same flesh made from the same dust of the ground that had been personally enlivened by God’s own breath (Gen. 2:7). Genesis 2 thus gives further insight regarding the equality of men and women already stated in Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:26-28 tells us that men and women had the same status, the same authority, and the same purpose at creation. And in both Genesis 1 and 2, no one, man or woman, was given authority over another person. There is no hint of any gender hierarchy, or a difference in status, among humankind before sin entered the world.

Evidence of a so-called “creation order” in the Genesis 2 creation account, often used to support the notion of male-only authority, is not clear cut. Though we can say that Adam was created first, he was a considerably different person after the “operation” than before. A chunk of him was now missing. It had been taken out by God and had become an integral part of the first woman. Since a significant part of the first woman was a part, or a side, of the first human, the concept of “the created order” is not clear cut or decisive. And we miss the purpose of the Genesis 2 story when we read a gender hierarchy into it.

Footnotes

[1] The story of Adam and Eve may not be the story about the very first, or only, humans God created, but the story of the couple who were the first people created in an ancestral line that would include Israel.
To some, the idea may be new that God created human beings other than Adam and Eve, but the biblical text shows us that Adam and Eve’s oldest son Cain was aware of humans other than those of his family. He was worried they would attack him when God drove him away from his farmland (Gen. 4:13-15). Furthermore, Cain went to live in a land called Nod, a land with a name and, therefore, presumably an inhabited land (Gen. 4:15). And he may have found his wife there (Gen. 4:16). Cain later built a city called Enoch. Who were the inhabitants of this city? Were they only Cain’s descendants?

[2] Some argue that because ha’adam says in Genesis 2:23 that ishshah (woman) was taken out of ish, that is, taken out of a man, this indicates that ha’adam was indeed a male person. However, the use of ishshah and ish in Genesis 2 may be a play on words, a pun designed to highlight the connection between woman and man, wife and husband; the intention may not have been to convey the idea that ha’adam was originally male. There are a few puns in the Genesis 2-3 story that highlight connections and contrasts:

Adamah אֲדָמָה (dirt, ground, earth) H127—adam אָדָם (human) H120, in Genesis 2:7
Arom עָרוֹם (naked, “naive”?) H6174 Genesis 2:25—arum עָרוּם (wise, shrewd) H6175, in Genesis 2:25-3:1
Ish אִישׁ (man/husband) H376—ishshah (woman/wife) אִשָּׁה H802, in Genesis 2:23-24.

[3] An integral part of the first woman was literally taken out of the first human. The Hebrew word traditionally translated as “rib” (tsela) typically means “side.” (See here.) In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), the Greek word for “side” (pleura) is used, a word that typically refers to a side of the body. An English translation from the Septuagint is that God “took one of his sides … and he built the side into a woman” (Gen. 2:21-22).

[4] In Numbers 31:11, 26, 28, 30, 35, 40, 46, 47, adam refers exclusively to female human beings who were prisoners of war. By referring to them as adam (human), they are distinct from the animals that were also plundered.

[5] The man continues to be mostly called ha’adam in Genesis chapters 2, 3, and 4 after the operation, apart from four verses where he is called ish with the sense of “husband” (Gen. 2:23, 24: 3:6, 16). After the operation, he is called ha’adam in Genesis 2:25, 3:8, 9, 12, 20, 22, 24, 4:1 and perhaps also in Genesis 3:17 & 21 where the definite article ha is hidden by an inseparable preposition. In Genesis 4:25, ha’adam is called Adam clearly for the first time.

[6] In chapters 2-4 of Genesis, adam is typically used with the definite article, ha’adam, meaning “the human being.” Occasionally, however, adam serves as the proper name “Adam,” typically written without the article. The first unambiguous instance in the Hebrew text of the first human being called “Adam” is not until Genesis 4:25. (See note above.)
Some versions of the Septuagint transliterate (rather than translate) the Hebrew ha’adam into the proper noun “Adam” several times in Genesis 2.

Postscript: Jewish and Christian texts that refer to the first human having a male and female side

Several Jewish writers and rabbis, both ancient and modern, have the understanding that ha’adam was originally both male and female. For example, the Genesis Rabbah, a midrash of ancient rabbinic interpretations of Genesis compiled in the fifth century, states,

Rabbi Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He created him an hermaphrodite [bi-sexual] {or, androgyne}, for it is said, “Male and female created He them and called their name Adam” (Gen. 5:2).
Rabbi Samuel b. Nahman said: “When the Lord created Adam He created him double-faced {or, with two faces}, then He split him and made him of two backs, one back on this side and one back on the other side.”
Genesis Rabbah 8.1 (Source p. 53) (My use of braces.)

Rabbi Samuel b. Nahman (c. 3rd-4th century CE) thought Adam and Eve had been joined along the back, but when separated they then each had their own back.

The Megillah comments on an early translation of Genesis 5:2.

They also wrote: “Male and female He created him,” and they did not write as it is written in the Torah: “Male and female He created them” (Genesis 5:2), to avoid the impression that there is a contradiction between this verse and the verse: “And God created man” (Genesis 1:27), which indicates that God created one person.
Megillah 9a.13 (Source)

[Amnon Shapira briefly discusses this further in his paper, “On Woman’s Equal Standing In The Bible—A Sketch: A Feminist Re-Reading of the Hebrew Bible: A Typological View,” in Hebrew Studies 51 (2010): 7-42, 13-14. (JSTOR)]

The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (d. circa 50 CE) interpreted Genesis allegorically. Concerning Genesis 2 he states,

“Therefore, the lawgiver relates that the woman was formed out of the rib of the man, indicating by that expression, that one half of the body of the man is woman.” (cf. Gen. 2:21-24)
Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis Book 1.25  (Source)

In another work Philo comments on Genesis 1 and writes the first human was asexual, neither male or female:

“But man, made according to the image of God, was an idea, or a genus, or a seal, perceptible only by the intellect, incorporeal, neither male nor female, imperishable by nature.” (cf. “Let us make man in our image” Gen. 1:26a)
Philo, On the Creation of the World, 134 (Source)

Philo’s meaning is less clear in this paragraph.

“And very beautifully after he had called the whole race ‘man,’ did he distinguish between the sexes, saying, that ‘they were created male and female;’ although all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus, and are beheld, as in a mirror, by those who are able to discern acutely.
Philo, On the Creation of the World, 76 (Source)

In Poimandres, an anonymous second-century CE Hermetic text, the primal human is described as an androgyne coming from an androgynous father: “Though male-female (Greek: arrenothēlous), as from a Father male-female.” Poimandres 15 (Source)

Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon (d. 202), briefly mentions the idea of a masculo-feminine human, an idea which he disapproves of.

“Some of them also hold that one man was formed after the image and likeness of God, masculo-feminine, and that this was the spiritual man [cf. Gen. 1:26ff]; and that another man was formed out of the earth [cf. Gen. 2:7].” Against Heresies 1.18.2 (Source)

Clement of Alexandria, a Christian theologian (d. 215), relates a teaching of the heterodox teacher Valentinus:

“… in the case of Adam, the male remained in him but all the female seed was taken from him and became Eve, from whom the females are derived, as the males are from him.”
Excerpta ex Theodoto of Clement of Alexandria (Extracts from the Works of Theodotus and the So-Called Oriental Teachings at the Time of Valentinus in Clement of Alexandria’s writings), 21. (Source)

Furthermore, Dr John H. Walton, Old Testament scholar, professor at Wheaton College, and an evangelical Christian, discusses the idea of ha’adam being split in half, and more, in these videoed lectures on Genesis 1-3. (See especially lecture 3 beginning at the 42.23 minute-mark here.)

You can support my work for as little as $3 USD a month.
Become a Patron!

Image

“The Creation of Eve”: A marble relief on the left pier of the façade of the cathedral in Orvieto, Italy. © Georges Jansoone 2008 (Wikimedia Commons).


Related Articles

Gender in Genesis 1
The Complementarian Concept of “The Created Order”
A Suitable Helper in Hebrew
A Suitable Helper in the Septuagint
Kenegdo: Is the woman in Genesis 2 subordinate, suitable, or similar to the man?
Do women have a special obligation to be helpers?

artigos em portugues sobre igualdade entre homens e mulheres no lar e na igreja

112 thoughts on “The Human (Ha’adam), Man (Ish) and Woman (Ishshah) in Genesis 2

  1. Marg, this is such a great piece!!

    I’ve just finished a seminary course where we got into this very discussion a few weeks ago. We were talking about how the church has traditionally limited leadership to males because Jesus taught us to call God “Father”, Jesus himself was male, and he chose 12 male disciples.

    One of the students suddenly asked, “Why do we need Jesus to be FULLY male? In order to fulfill his mission on earth, wasn’t it enough that he was FULLY HUMAN and not some other species like a dog or a bird?”

    This question spurred on a whole new discussion and I made a similar comment to what you say in this post: that before Eve was taken out of Adam, he was both male and female. Since Jesus is our 2nd Adam, doesn’t it make sense that he needed to be like the 1st Adam in every way? As the great HighPriest for BOTH genders, Jesus needs to be able to identify with EVERY temptation that BOTH men and women are exposed to.

    Yes, he came in a male body with the advantage that much of his mission involved doing what only men were privileged to do but I think it’s important that we do not import our “male gender definitions” onto him.

    The virgin birth reminds us that Jesus did NOT have the genetic DNA pool of an earthly male father (neither did the 1st Adam) and therefore we need to give greater mystery to exactly what kind of human being Jesus really was.

    1. Wonderful commentary. I’ll just say at this time simplicity may over rule the more concentrated thought.

    2. The answer to your questions (s) is recorded in Genesis 1, specifically verse 27 clearly records ‘. . . he created them male & female!”

      Also the word adam means ‘made of dirt’. Furthermore, you are relying on Christian ‘Canon Law’ doctrine to get an understandng. I suggest you read the Old Testament, which is the History of the Creator of the Heaven & Earth, the god of Yisroel [the man, the son of isaac, who The Creator of the Heaven & the Earth change his birth given name from Jacob to Yisroel]

      The puzzle is already put together, There are not missing pieces. And until you read the history, called the Old Testament for yourself, you will never understand who you are and why you are here.

      Furthermore, in 325 AD Constantine combined all the gods of the heathens into a one God to be worshipped in the Roman Christian Church, which divided into two churches of people: Catholic & Protestants! So, the God of Constatine, and the god of Yisroel, is two different entities. Which one do you want to be your god?

      1. Hi Leatice,

        A few thoughts in response to your comment:

        ~ No one denies that the Genesis 1 creation account states that God made humans male (zakar) and female (neqebah), a fact that remains obvious today.

        ~ This article looks at the Genesis 2 creation account and at whether Adam was fully male when first created or if he had both a male and female side before God operated on him.

        ~ The Hebrew word adam means “human being” and is derived from the Hebrew word adamah which means “dust,” “topsoil,” or “humus” (cf. Gen. 2:7).

        ~ Your idea that Constantine combined all the heathen (Roman?) gods is problematic, and is not sound or accurate. The fact is that, from the earliest days of Christianity, some Christians have been meshing together pagan and Christian concepts.

        The Protestant Church had its beginning in the Reformation in the 1600s. Hundreds of years before that, in 1054, the church in the east and the church in the west separated. The western church became the Roman Catholic Church and the eastern church became the Eastern Orthodox Church. (Neither of these splits had anything to do with Constantine who died in 337.)

        I think we are all in agreement that the God of the Hebrew Bible is the only true God. I have no idea why you would presume we haven’t read the Old Testament.

        1. I read your reply and thought what a great answer. Only then did I realize the great article was also written by you. Thanks for your light.

    3. The first man Ha’adama means HUMANITY, the Bible kept addressing The-God-lookalike being as such until when even was created out of Adam. Humanity in the sense that his gender was literally unidentifiable… When Human had gender was when GOD created the woman (the Ish) and made some differences in her (for regenerational purposes), after which called her Ishash meaning a man with a womb. It simply means that woman is no different from the man except that she was man with a womb which made her Wombman. Churches leaders are not limiting women from the service of GOD (for God himself id the caller) but that Woman were naturally made for this difference. To take of childbearing and to take of men’s belly. That’s why women were specifically designed to have the tools responsible for childbearing in their body, which includes: the womb, the breast and others…… THE LORD also through Isaiah says, ” look unto Abraham thy father for I called him alone: and unto Sarah thy mother who bear thee. If call a woman to serve let her serve but let her maintain balance between the second calling and the first calling

      1. Hi Jex,
        I’m not sure why you called women “the Ish”? Did you make an error there? Genesis says that God created woman as woman (ishshah) not as a man (ish).

        It’s been over 30 years since I gave birth and nursed my children. Being a mother is just one role among many. Being a mother has not been my primary role for several years now.

        And while I agree that women need to balance their lives so that neither their ministry or their family suffers unduly, surely men need to do that also.

    4. Talking about DNA pool of Jesus Christ, let me ask you this; Who produced the DNA information of the first Adam?

      1. Who produced the DNA of the first human/adam? Isn’t it obvious? The Lord God produced the DNA of the first human from the dust of the earth.

        “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the human became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

        The gene pool of Jesus came from the Most High, that is, the Lord God, and from Mary.

        “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:31 & 35).

  2. Thanks Anne.

    I believe that Jesus was/is fully male [as well as being fully God], even though he got his earthly DNA from a woman. And yet Jesus is rarely called a “man” in the New Testament using the Greek word anēr (adult male person). He is by far most commonly referred to as an anthrōpos (a human being).

    As you say, it is because Jesus became human that he could save humanity.

    I like what my friend Eric has said about this:

    “I think a reason Christ came as a male was so God’s salvation would be seen as involving and including both males and females. Had Christ, born of Mary, been a female, then salvation could be seen as being from and for and involving only females and the female nature. But the male Christ was born of a woman. And as the first Eve was brought forth from the first Adam, so the second or last Adam was brought forth from the second Eve (as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches regard Mary). (Cf 1 Corinthians 11:12.)”

    More on this here:

    1. If there is a second Eve it would follow the pattern of the first.

      That is the Church came out of Him, relating the first imagery of coming from Adam’s side to Yeshuas from His pierced side.

  3. Another aspect is that the Hebrew word “bara” is in the text, making it a Creation/Origins text like Gen 1 (this should be an underwhelming insight), but per John Walton on Gen 1, the WAY God creates in Gen 1 is to take an undifferentiated “thing” and divide it into 2 parts, so that each part can function as intended; and this same idea seems to be what is going on in Gen 2.

    Gen 2 has 2 phases, the first is where there is no water for irrigation, so God forms a human to make sure the garden is watered, but then the human by itself is not fully functional, so God “splits the adam” forming male and female.

  4. Wow. That’s very interesting, Don. I’ll need to look into that more. Have you got a link?

    I was going to use the phrase “splitting the adam” in the article, but for many Christians this concept is new, and I didn’t want to seem trite.

    1. I hope you allow off the wall contributions. In my thoughts I put together a thought about the creation of man in God’s image. If by taking the woman from the side of a being (human) maybe this is where entanglement possibly has an explanation. I just wanted to see if anyone might think this is something to follow up on.

      1. I’m not sure what you mean by “entanglement”, Bill.
        I think the story is to meant to show the affinity and unity of the first couple.

  5. Here is a link to a discussion where John Walton responds to my comment and adds a link to his position on “Genesis and Gender” (it’s close to the top of the comment feed).
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/09/03/a-game-changer-in-the-genesis-1-2-debates/

    In view of Don’s comment about “splitting the Adam”, I think it’s helpful to look for the bigger redemptive picture in the creation narrative:

    The body of the first Adam (who is a “pattern” of the 2nd Adam in Romans 5) is “broken” (1 Cor. 11) so that Eve (representing the Church as the Bride of Christ) can be birthed. The distinction of male and female that occurs after Adam’s “surgery” is a picture of how both men and women together become “the Body of Christ” or “The body of the 2nd Adam, here on the earth.

    Wow, we’re going deep here early in the morning 🙂

  6. oops, just realized I had to email John for the link.
    It’s far too lengthy to copy and paste here so you will have to contact him directly with the email he provided.
    His new book on the subject will be out early 2014.

  7. Just to clarify, I see no requirement to see “ha adam” as bisexual, rather as undifferentiated and therefore ungendered before the split. Some Jews in the Talmud have noticed this aspect also, IIRC.

    On the names used for the man and woman, I like to use them as given in Scripture, simply because there is so much that is not actually taught in Scripture that is taught as if it is, partly because these are taught as “children’s stories” after suitable editing. For example, Gen 5:2 points out that the names for both of them was Adam, the name Chavvah/Eve is only given after the Fall, which I do not see as authorized.

  8. Don, I think that is an important distinction.
    One thing we need to consider is that Jesus came to the earth for a Bride that was both male and female. This fact alone should remind us that his “sexual orientation” (if he even had one) was different than any other man on the planet. To assume that Jesus was wired sexually, like all other men, is a harmful assumption to make, especially in light of his redemptive purposes. Again, we need to be careful here but I believe there needs to remain a huge element of mystery and openness around this topic.

    What we must not lose sight of is this: Jesus was fully God AND fully human.

  9. I see God marrying united Israel (but divorcing Ephraim yet staying with Judah) and Jesus marrying the ekklesia all as metaphors in a patriarchal culture and the question with any metaphor is how far to take it. I see God as spirit and therefore not gendered, as gender is a part of Creation. Jesus was of course male and circumcised as a Jew. For him not to marry would have been seen as scandalous, see Instone-Brewer on “The Jesus Scandals”.

  10. Marg, this is fascinating! I’ve read so much on the issue of women in the Bible that it seems there could be nothing new for me to consider. Yet, it seems the Scriptures are exhaustive and your observations in this post are not something I’d read before. This does shed tremendous light on the whole “creation order” and hierarchy perspective. Thanks for your work. As I’ve said before, you should write a book!

  11. Anne and Don: What an interesting conversation!

    Don, thanks for stating this so well: “I see no requirement to see “ha adam” as bisexual, rather as undifferentiated and therefore ungendered before the split.”

    Anne, I got your personal message. Looking forward to learning more. I’m reposting this link in case someone misses it in your comment: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/09/03/a-game-changer-in-the-genesis-1-2-debates/

    Laura, I think it’s fascinating too. I think there are many Bible stories where the dots have been joined incorrectly by scholars who have interpreted the scriptures through their own cultural bias. I think that I may write a book one day. But that day is still a long way off. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  12. Wonderful work, Margaret. Does this ‘Adam’ of Gen.5:2 then apply to Rom.5 and the ‘Adam’ there who has been labeled the ‘federal head’ of the human race and takes the entire race into sin?

  13. Kathryn,

    Kind of. Because Adam was the first human being, he makes a good representative of humanity. Phil Payne has written a good article about “federal headship” here. (There’s also a comment from me on that page.)

    I’ve written about Adam as a type of Christ here.

  14. It’s interesting (or sad) that English Bible translators have such a problem with this.
    German has different words for human being (Mensch), man (Mann) and woman (Frau; Weib in old German). Even Luther in his translation of 1545 correctly renders the terms. He even coins “Männin” (grammatically female form of “Mann” ) to show the similarity of ish and isha.

  15. Thanks, Karen, That is interesting.

    I read about Luther’s translation in Leonard Swidler’s “Biblical Affirmations” but having no knowledge or experience of German I wasn’t sure how significant it was.

    Because English hides the human and male-human distinction we need gender-accurate translations. But even the NIV and the NRSV translate ha’adam as “man” expecting us to know it is possibly a generic human being.

    I had another look at Luther’s translation. It is clearer than the English in how it refers to the people in Genesis 2. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%202&version=LUTH1545;NRSV

  16. Hi Marg.
    About the significance: I think it means that older translations tried to be faithful to the Hebrew provided that their own language allowed them to render the distinction human/man/woman easily. I had a look at some French translations (in French, the common word for human being is also the word for man, “homme”). All the older translations had “homme” (man/human being); only some of the newer translations used “être humain” (human being) for “adam”.

    I think each language has its own troubles when it comes to Bible translations. German has only a few nouns that are gender-inclusive without being cumbersome (Mensch=human being, Geschwister=brothers and sisters, Gläubige=believers, plurals of participles), for everything else you have to explicitly say men and women. But if you use a formulation such as “male and female X” it draws attention to the fact that women were included, which is not what the original text stressed. Thus when I read a gender inclusive version such as the GNB (Gute Nachricht Bibel) and come upon a formulation such as “the disciples, the men and women” I have to go to a more literal translation to see whether the inclusion of woman was an emphasis of the original text or just the gender-inclusive translation.
    Plurals are also difficult in German. Grammatically male plurals are generally understood to include females unless stated otherwise, but it is seen as rude (at least in formal written German, which a Bible translation is) to not mention the females of the group.

  17. Thanks Karin. That’s helpful.

    It can sound awkward to say “human” or “person” so I understand why English and French translations opt for “man” and “homme”, but these translations disguise the nuance and meaning of the original Hebrew text. It’s the same for New Testament passages where English translations do not discriminate between anthrōpos (“person”) and anēr (“adult male person”).

  18. Hi Marg,

    It is a little more complex, forms of anthropos can refer to just a human male or males, while forms of aner can refer to a person or persons. The basic rule is that immediate context determines which way to lean. These words are like 1950’s English when one just supposedly KNEW when men referred to just males or to everyone.

  19. Karin, I’ve written about 1 Tim 3:1ff here. No biblical author actually states that women cannot be elders or overseers, or that women cannot be church leaders. And yet countless Christians infer it from a couple of verses that are genuinely difficult to interpret.

    Don As you say, the context is the key in determining the gender(s) of the actual person. However, I feel that at least in some instances it is important that anthrōpos is translated as “person” or “human” rather than “man”, even when referring to a male (e.g., Jesus who is rarely referred to as an anēr in the NT.) Anēr may include women in a few specific usages (usually rhetorical), but these are few and far between. The Greek NT uses the words correctly, but the English translations do not translate consistently. I read Greek most days and your comment does not line up with my observations.

  20. As general statements, yes, anthopos usually refers to a human or humans. But not always. This surprised me also, hence my mention of it.

    1Co 7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

    The word translated “man” in the above verse is anthropos, but I do not think human is what was intended.

  21. In 1 Cor. 7:1, and in many other instances, including the verses about Jesus, the context shows that the person is a man, just as the context of 1 Peter 3:4 shows us that the context of anthrōpos is women. However the meaning of “human” is still the primary sense being conveyed; this is obscured to English readers.

    Generally speaking there are reasons why the original biblical writers chose to use the word adam vs ish in the Hebrew and anthrōpos vs anēr in the Greek. Sometimes these reasons are subtle and negligible, at other times they are vital to understanding the author’s intention.

    For example: If we are to truly understand the author’s intention in 1 Timothy 2:5, this verse should be translated as “there is one mediator between God and humankind, the human being Christ Jesus.” (The use of anthrōpos here in no way suggests that Jesus was not a male human being.)

    The use of adam vs ish is vital to understanding the intended meaning in Genesis 2. As someone has said, “There was no ish until there was an ishshah.

  22. Dear Marg:

    I stumbled upon this site after someone made reference to it, regarding this very topic of Genesis 2:21-22 as you explain here. I command you for noticing the difference in the two words used and translated commonly “man” in our English translation.

    I have read the link you provided as well as your own reasoning. But I find it hard to counteract the points both Alan and Kenton made. If I may, I would like to bring two observations and one illustration to your attention. Indeed, this subject cannot be ignored. However, I have a question reading your assertion that before Genesis 2:21-22, “man” was only a “generic human.

    Let’s look at the very context of those two verses. Just 3 verses “Before” this passage, God makes this very clear statement in Genesis 2:18 – And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” –

    My questions are:
    1. If the first man was genderless until the operation of Genesis 2:21-22, why was there a need for a help?
    2. If the first man was genderless until the operation of Genesis 2:21-22, why was there a need for that help to be a “woman”?
    3. How is a woman “comparable” to a generic human who essentially is already part man and part woman?
    4. Isn’t this statement clearly showing that the first man was really a “man”?
    5. How does a “woman” complete a generic human (who really has both man and woman nature)? Doesn’t this statement from God clearly indicate that the first human was indeed a man?

    A simple illustration: My wife and I have a Nissan parked in the garage. She asked me: “Honey, take the car out of the garage”. I understand this request very clearly, because there is only one car in the garage. But if we buy a second car, say, a Toyota, and my wife says “Honey, take the car out of the garage”, this request is not longer clear. My wife would have to be more specific: “Honey, please take the Toyota out of the garage”. Did the nature of the original car changed? Of course not. It’s still is the Nissan, but now just saying car is not sufficient because there is another car.

    Between Genesis 2:18, and the illustration above, I just do not see how the “generic human” hypothesis holds. And we do not need to go deep to analyze such thing. God had to use a different term for man, because now there was another “man”. Adam is a man, and so is Eve, but the gender of the first is male and the gender of the second is female, just like Nissan is a car and Toyota is a car, but they are different models.

    I am very curious about your response on this. God bless!

    Serge.

  23. Hi Serge,

    My time is limited so I’ll just have a go at answering question 1 (which may go towards answering the other questions.)

    The following is with apologies to John Walton.

    In Genesis 1:2 we read that the earth was useless and empty. God’s creative processes were aimed at making the earth useful and full. God created by separating, dividing, and differentiating in order to make things more functional.

    On day one, God separated and differentiated the darkness from the light in the cosmos, and light was created. On day two he separated and differentiated the water so that there was water in the atmosphere as well as on earth, and sky was created. On day three he separated the waters on earth so that seas and dry land were created. On the following three days he filled the cosmos, the sky, the seas and the dry land. God’s creation was good because it was functional and full.

    On the sixth day God also created the first human, who became more functional when he was divided and differentiated during surgery in Gen 2.21.

    I can only guess why it was not good for the first human to be alone. Loneliness? I can only guess why he needed a helper. All we know is that the animals were not satisfactory companions (Gen. 2:18-20).

    Also, the Bible doesn’t tell us precisely what sort of help God had in mind when he formed the first woman. All we know, judging from the use of the word ezer elsewhere in the OT, is that it was a vital, strong, rescuing help.

    In a way, the woman is comparable to the undifferentiated human, because she was part of, or one side of, that human (ha’adam). But the woman was not built to be comparable to the undifferentiated human. Rather, the first woman (ishshah) was built to be comparable to the now male human (ish). And, conversely, the male human is comparable to the female human.

    The narrative of Genesis 2 makes it sound as though the woman was an afterthought, but we know that this is not true; the narrative merely uses suspense to tell the story. The human is alone—that is a problem—the animals do not solve the problem—but God comes up with a masterstroke: he divides and differentiates the human into man and woman.

    Humanity, like almost all of the animals, comes in two sexes: male and female. Humans, differentiated as male and female, is God’s design, and it was his intention from the beginning (cf. Gen. 1:27f).

    I believe the point of the Genesis 2 narrative, unlike creation narratives of other cultures, is to show that man and woman have the same origin, that they are fully compatible and equal, and that they are capable of a profound unity.

    The analogy of the two cars kind of works if we understand that parts were taken out of the Toyota and that the Nissan was built from these parts.
    The Toyota is no longer the same as before because bits are missing. And can we really call the second car a Nissan if its primary components came out of a Toyota? The good thing, however, is that we now have two cars. Two cars are more useful than just one car.

    I hope this helps to explain my thinking on this topic.
    Marg

    P.S. I am aware of the conversation with Alan and Keaton you refer to, but I have not been following it.

  24. Hi Marg:

    Thank you for your reply. I truly appreciate it. Notwithstanding the other 3 questions I have raised but you did not get the time to answer, and without going into the huge topic of creation, I will simply bring out what I believe is a flaw in this hypothesis of separation generating proper functionality.

    But first, let me assert that I believe than Man and Woman were indeed perfectly equal at the beginning…the scriptures makes it more than clear by describing Eve as “comparable” to the man. So there is no issue, and her being made from his side does not make any less than man. I just have a problem with this “generic human”.

    But here is my issue: The earth was useless and empty…therefore it could not function. As you rightfully said: God’s creative processes were aimed at making the earth useful and full. So God starts to separate and therefore all the elements can start functioning (the waters, light and darkness, etc.). Yet, if your theory is true, then Genesis 2:19,20 is a huge problem, because it is when man is still “unseparated” that He is able to tackle the monumental task assigned by God of naming every living creature!

    This shows to me that generic man was absolutely functional, except that he could not fill the earth because he needs a partner for that. Furthermore, nothing of the sort you mentionned is being said about the animals (the other living creatures). They are created in Genesis 1:20-21, and then right in Genesis 1:22, they are instructed to multiply. Are you suggesting that the same process of separation had to take place between males and females and between their creation (Genesis 1:21) and their instructions (Genesis 1:22)? Yet this was not recorded? I will find it hard to believe. And if therefore they were already created male and female, then God we see perfectly that it was God’s plan from the start to have man and female, and indeed woman was not an afterthought. But does not make the first man generic.

    If the car illustration is not satisfactory, consider the following: In Genesis 2:7, God formed man out of the dust of the ground. Will you suggest that before that process the ground was generic and thereafter changed nature after dust was taken from it? I may missing something, but in my opinion, the scriptures simply do not support this theory. And this theory is not necessary either to demonstrate that woman and man were perfectly equal…God already making it perfectly clear in Genesis 1:22.

    I understand that we may not agree at the end, but this hypothesis leaves too many questions that “cannot” be answered (such as whether the first animals were also generic to begin with, or how much functionality was possible in a generic state, which itself goes against the notion that order had to be place first before functionality could be evidenced).

  25. http://goddidntsaythat.com/?s=anthropos has Joel Hoffman weighing in on the complexity of translating anthropos.

    On Gen 2, the human is partly functional (the human was formed to make sure the garden is irrigated and charged with keeping it and guarding it), just not fully functional and hence it is “not good” as in not fully functional as God will intend, as there are not 2 genders. Gen 2 describes a 2 step process. So God builds a woman from a side of the human and what is left is patched up to form a man.

  26. If you were to please answer my questions first, then perhaps there could be ground for more discussion, unless you are not interested in actually finding the truth. The scriptures speak of itself. You guys are simply not looking at the context.

    Here is just one more question, although you may not answer it either: Have you checked what happened right after the woman was created? Adam speaks and says Genesis 1:23 –

    This is now bone of “my” bones
    And flesh of “my” flesh;
    She shall be called Woman,
    Because she was taken out of Man.

    1. I thought the task of naming every living creature was given to the generic man? Who gave Adam the right to carry on that task?
    2. Whose bones? Adam’s
    3. Whose flesh? Adam’s
    4. Who called Eve “Woman”? Adam, just like he called everything before. The man is fulfilling the task of naming every creature to the “T”.

    How in the world can you still maintain that this first man was not Adam itself? I do not think you are here to find the truth, and that is unfortunate…picking and choosing verses here and here to fit an agenda is very dangerous business. Please remember that.

  27. Serge,

    The human was not given a charge of naming the woman (not Woman, since it is not a name, rather it is recognition of belonging to the group of female humans [No one thinks when a baby is delivered that the doctor is naming the baby when they say “It’s a girl.]). The Hebrew naming formula was not used, where the word “shem” name is used.

    The bones are from the human/adam. The flesh is from the human/adam.

    It is critical to see that the human was not given authority to name the woman, so when he does it after the Fall (and the word shem/name IS used), it is yet another sin by the man, a usurpation of authority by him.

  28. That is an interesting perspective, although I’m agree with Adam being both male and female until god created Eve. I believe Adam was indeed a man, then god created the woman Eve by removing his ribs. I do recall In Genesis, that god created mankind making both male and female in his own image. I saw this that he created both genders in his own image by first creating Adam out his own image, then Eve out of Adam’s image. Others have reasoned that god is not fully male but is both male and female and therefore created Eve, the female side of god out his image.

  29. Serge, let me first say that your questions have come on the weekend, a time when many of us do not have adequate time, or interest, to sit at our computers so that someone we do not even know can have the answers he wanted yesterday.

    With all due respect, please extend grace to bloggers who would rather say nothing than respond in haste to these very complex theological matters.

    Secondly, it is apparent (from your questions) that you have not understood the Temple context that scholars like John Walton (and GK Beale) have brought to the Genesis narrative. Genesis 1-3 is now being seen by most scholars as a unique literary genre (a form of poetry) and so the interpretive approach is not as black and white as you seem to think. Walton does an excellent job explaining some of these challenges and it would be a waste of our time to write out everything that is already written and accessible to those with genuine interest. I would encourage you to take the necessary time to research their materials and discover the amazing richness of God’s word as you begin to see the BIG picture, extending from Genesis all the way to Revelation. I am sure many of your questions will be answered in the process.

    On a side note, some of us are very aware that there are many believers who no longer look to what the original text has to say. Instead, they have put their confidence in leaders like John Piper and Wayne Grudem (authors of “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”). Thos who follow these teachings appear to reject everything that doesn’t fit into the Piper/Grudem hermeneutic and, for many of them, it is no longer “Scripture alone” but “Piper alone”.

    In closing, I do believe these are valuable discussions for believers to have with one another but we must remain teachable, respectful, and loving to each other. May we have open hearts and open minds to hear what the Spirit wants to say to his Bride today.

  30. Anne:

    Thank you for your response and sorry if I sounded disrespectful. My arguments are in response to the very post on this article “Human (Ha’adam), Man (Ish) and Woman (Ishshah) in Genesis 2”. And since the entire article is on evidence from scriptures alone, I am also using scriptures alone…meaning the other verses in the same context you used.

    So as it stands, the arguments set forth in this article can be discussed without having to go elsewhere but to the same context you used. And there unfortunately lies my problem. We have to look at the context of this passage and we should be able to answer these very problematic questions that your hypothesis, in my view, generate.

    In your article, you brought none of those external resources (e.g. John Walton) to make your case. You decided to look at scripture alone. And what I am saying is that when I look at the larger context of the same passage you discuss, I simply do not see how you can reach such conclusion.

    Please rest assured dear Anne of my deepest respect to all my brothers and sisters in Christ. May God bless you.

    At Don:

    I may have missed something about your response, but it seems to me that Adam classified “Woman” just like he classified all the animals of the field before. Perhaps me using the word “call” threw you off. Adam took on the responsibility of defining her “Woman” just as he did with all the other animals in Genesis 2:19,20. And my question is: How can we conclude that the one who undertook this naming assignment are actually 2 different persons. I just do not see it. As these questions eventually gets answered, I will be in better position to judge your position.

  31. Thanks, Serge.

    Just to clarify, I did not write this post. Marg did.
    But in my comments to her post, I did reference John Walton and the benefits his material brings to this whole discussion. I believe the context of Genesis 1-3 IS a Temple context and therefore the creation of humanity/male/female needs to be understood within this broader Temple theme (which can actually be traced throughout the entire Bible).

    To understand the bigger picture of “Temple Context” and the 1st Adam, think of how Jesus’ body was broken, and from his wounded side the Church (men/women) was formed. Jesus left the earth but equipped His Body, Bride, Church (men and women) to be his hands and feet on this earth. He breathes the “Helper/Holy Spirit” into his Bride. The 2nd Adam ascends to heaven and suddenly there are multiple little “adams”, image bearers, men and women, who represent him on this earth.
    Our bodies are now the Temple where his presence abides.

    Perhaps that helps show a bit of the redemptive imagery going on in the creation narrative. Perhaps not….
    Anyway, blessings to you, Serge.

  32. Hi Serge, I have been busy. And I am very interested in learning more. In fact, I have learned a lot from some of the discussions here, and elsewhere on the internet, regarding this post.

    Just to be clear, nowhere do I state (or maintain) that the first man was not Adam. However, he was not called by that name, clearly anyway, in the Hebrew of Genesis 2 which is my focus here. (N.B. Both men and women are called adam in Genesis 5:2.) One of my main points is that the man after the operation is different in some way to the man (or human) before the operation.

    I’m not exactly sure what your disagreement is. Perhaps we actually agree but are highlighting different aspects of the Genesis 2 account. I believe my initial response to your first comment answered most of your questions either directly or indirectly.

    The word “man” (ish) in Genesis 2:23 may well be part of an ishishshah pun. The author of Genesis 2-4 uses a few puns to make comparisons. I mention this in a footnote.

    Also, I take the Genesis 2 account to be a separate account, and not a follow-on, from Genesis 1. Judging by how God is consistently referred to in Genesis 1:1-2:3 as Elohim, and in Genesis 2:4ff as YHWH Elohim, I believe the two accounts were written by two different authors. We run into difficulties if we conflate the two accounts.

    1. I think the struggle is the pain women have felt being told that there is scriptural basis for them being denied roles outside of childbearing and taking care of the home, unlike men who have had more role-freedoms. So, since interpretation is the issue, let’s get the “correct” interpretation, right?

      We woman WANT equality, right? Or at least we want not to be denied equal opportunities to pursue our interests and take on leadership roles. So, is it because we love our Lord that we’re diving into get “truth” from these verses? If “adam” was a male, or masculine without reproductive organs before the removal from the side, and women throughout history consistently had the same role-freedoms as men anyway, would we even be scrutinizing these scriptures to this extent? Wouldn’t it be just fine if he happened to be the manliest man ever as long as we were equal?

      My point is, I think when our personal pains and ambitions drive our scrutiny of scripture, we may not get pure truth. But when we examine scripture as an act of adoration and worship, we get more of Jesus because He is the Word. It’s all about Him. Luke 45:25 (I believe) says Jesus had to open the scriptures to the disciples understanding. He holds the keys to understanding and He weighs our motives.

      In the heavenly realm, we are not male or female, but here on earth we are. We yearn to achieve, and that’s awesome, but I pray we do so without undermining intentional differences in scripture. I pray we are clear what the Lord is saying through our differences.

      1. Hi Al, It is important to scrutinise the way we interpret scripture and any underlying agendas, but I can’t see any issue of pain or struggles in the discussion presented on this page. Was Philo, or ancient and modern Jewish rabbis, or other male interpreters blinded by pain when they understood the first human as being androgynous? I strongly doubt it. And I love being a woman.

        The thesis of this article is: “In the Hebrew text, the first ‘man’ is not specifically referred to as a male human (ish) until after the operation mentioned in Genesis 2:21-22 when a part, or side, is taken out of him.” This statement is true. What people do with this information is up to them. I myself do not say the first human was androgynous. I simply discuss the idea.

  33. Hi Curious Thinker, Thanks for your comment.

    I do not think that God the Father or God the Holy Spirit are either male or female, or both. God is spirit and above, or beyond, sex and gender. Jesus Christ, however, became a male human being while retaining his divinity.

    I have written about this here: https://margmowczko.com/is-god-male-or-masculine/

  34. Serge, one final thought:

    As there is much value in allowing scripture to interpret scripture, I believe 1 Cor. 11: 23-24 also speaks (with elements of mystery) to what is happening in Genesis 2:
    vs.23: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

    The one flesh/one spirit experience we have with our 2nd Adam is brought into view every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. There is something very significant in the fact that our Lord commanded us to “eat his flesh and drink his blood” until he comes again. Every time we do so, we are reminded of the intimate “union” we have with our Bridegroom.

    The language of 1 Corinthians 11 is almost identical to what the 1st Adam says of his new Bride: that she is “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone” (keeping in mind that blood is made in our bones).

    There is still much mystery and complexity in exactly how we are to make application yet the language and imagery that both passages include (in regards to the 2 Adams) is far too similar to be merely “coincidental”.

  35. Hi Marg:

    I promise I will not longer be this long:)

    Thank you for your response by which I am much comforted. I am pleased that you clarified that the first man was indeed Adam, and having made that clarification, I too should too be able to clarify where I have a point of disagreement.

    I do not believe that because God took something out of Adam to make the woman, Adam became different in some way after the operation. And even if he became different in some way (as someone who just donated one of his or her kidney), there is nothing that proves the change was of the magnitude you imply in your article, meaning…that he went from being “genderless” to being “male gender”, unless we are going to say that he really had both sexes. Which would have to include “all” the other organs of the female, and that all God had to do was to remove those female parts and make the woman outside of him.

    Yet this hypothesis too is highly unlikely, because whether we speak of a “rib (one of them at that)” or the “side”, none of this translations suggest that the kind of body-wide operation what I just described above would necessitate.

    When God describes the woman as an help comparable to man, or as the septuagint puts it…”like to himself”, logic demands that when the woman was finally made, she was like the “original” person. Yet, if we maintain that Adam (the original person) became different in some way, as in significantly different because of gender, then what God planned did not happen. She is not comparable to the new Adam, but to the old, genderless one.

    What is unfortunate is that society has demonized the role of woman, something I deplore everyday. What is true according to scripture is that the woman was be the “equal” partner of man. There was not to be difference between them.

    But what is also true is that the woman did have to pay a hefty price for succumbing to the devil. The 3-fold price she paid is recorded in Genesis 2:16, and one consequence is “…and thy submission shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Of course, Adam had to pay a hefty price too, matter of fact an even more consequential one, as recorded in Genesis 2:17-19.

    Clearly, it was not meant to be this way. Man was not supposed to “rule over her”. She was his equal. This is a punishment, that Christ, with His accomplishment, banished! And that is why today, there are no more male, or female, jews or gentile, but only children of God, because we have been “freed” from sin through Jesus-Christ. Our responsibility, as Christians, is to live-up to that position Christ has given us. This is not about rebellion, say in relationships. This is about living free for Christ, truly demonstrating that love and respect for our neighbor, regardless of whether they are male or female.

    Sorry for being this long. But I perceive a longing to know the truth, and I can only be sensitive to the injustice that still prevails in our society toward woman, even among Christians themselves. Please be assured of my deepest concern for my sisters in Christ.

  36. Dear Anne:

    There is indeed a lot similarities and imagery connecting the old testament (starting with the account in Genesis) to Christ, His commandments to us and His return for the bride. The whole account is sometimes too beautiful to grasp completely. It is not coincidental, which is yet one more proof that the Word of God is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit and is not the will of man.

    The similarities between the Old and New Testament are everywhere, and it is our privilege to uncover them and share them so that collective knowledge is increased. I actually have learned from some of your writing since we have been discussing this article, and I thank you for that.
    It is what I believe to be extrapolations that I have a problem with. My “very” simple rule is that the Word of God cannot contradict itself, and any interpretation as to fit with the very verse addressed, with the context in which that verse is used, and the larger context which is the whole Word of God.

  37. Serge, you are a dear brother and I have so appreciated our conversation.

    It is indeed a privilege to dialogue through the internet and to be mutually encouraged in our desire to understand God’s Word better. Yet our knowledge will always be “in part” until we see Him face to face, in all of his glory.

    Have a blessed Christmas!

  38. Hi, I just read through some of your comments.
    If Adam would be male and female, I thought, beginning from Genesis 1, 28 adam has to be adressed in a singular form. In my german bible everything stands in plural. I dont know, how it is in hebrew?
    Why the need of splitting a male and female adam? I remenber a teaching from my Pastor about the trinity of God. Why is HE mit only one? Because HE is a God of relationship.
    Hope You understand my englisch.
    Anke

  39. If adam would be male and female, should not be, beginning from Genesis 1, 28 every pronoun in singular. In my German bible is it in plural, how is it in hebrew?
    Why should a perfect adam be splitted into two parts? I just remembered a teaching of my pastor about the trinity. Why is God three, why couldnt He be one, because HE is a God of relationship.

  40. Hi Anke,

    In Genesis 1 adam, or mankind, is made up of many people, both male and female, so plural pronouns are the correct way to convey this.

    Genesis 2 is a different account that zooms in on the creation of the first man and woman. God said that it was not good for the first human to be alone: the human may have been perfect but the situation was not perfect. So God builds a woman from a part, or side, of the first human, a part that already belonged to the first human.

    I think the analogy of the Trinity shows that one “person” can be made up of three “persons”: 1+1+1=1. Similarly, the first human can be thought of as having a male side and a female side that were surgically separated by God and then joined again in “marriage”: 1+1=1.

    I don’t think the analogy of the Trinity should be pushed too far though. The Bible nowhere states that the Trinity is an illustration or model of marriage. More on this here.

  41. When I thought about the Trinity it was not about submission in the Trinity or different roles, it was only about the aspect, that God Himself loves to be surrounded from other beings. He is perfect, He could have stayed alone and felt perfect. Adam was created in the image of God, so for me it is no surprise, that he wanted to have a partner.

  42. I have seen it too that ha Adam is mentioned in the first parts, so what was Paul quoting when he said man was created first? Even if he was correcting gnostic beliefs why would he twist scripture if he knew ha Adam was first and not man. I don’t think he would twist scripture since scripture is God breathed. Do you know if Rabbi’s would give different meaning to scriptures so they can deal with certain issues?

    1. Paul may have been correcting the idea that Eve preceded Adam, an idea found in some ancient Gnostic literature. Paul did not twist scripture but gave a simple and correct summary of Genesis 2 and 3. Adam (or ha’adam) was formed before Eve.

      In Rabbinic literature, rabbis frequently give different meanings, or highlight certain meanings, in response to certain issues.

  43. Also I have heard that ezer kenegdo isn’t a role assigned before the fall to women. But instead it means in context that the woman is human also. She is a help corresponding she is a being like Adam in that she is human. Is this at all a right interpretation of the Hebrew?
    I see how women can be a role of a protector since from what I have seen all women used by God are used in Times where men need protection.
    Huldah warned
    Deborah warned and gave advice
    Zipporah protected moses
    Priscilla protected Apollos from bad theology
    Even being a prophetess is to protect people from evil men and women, so warn and strengthen.
    Esther protected and saved Israel.
    Through Mary’s womb a savior came
    Sarah gave her opinion on a matter
    Abigail protected David.

    So I see God using women in a way that goes with the interpretation that women are to protect men. So what is with this translation of ezer kenegdo meaning only that Eve is a human that aids Adam since she can reproduce?

    1. We all should protect one another, depending on our ability and regardless of gender.

      The first woman was created to help ha’adam, but it is wrong to think that, once she was around, he did not help her.

  44. Pricsilla protected Apollos from his bad theology. Also how can women do their role if it has been given away? We are told men are protectors. There is even a Jewish tradition where a woman circles her husband 7 times and this symbolizes her checking her husband for any problems. It symbolizes her checking him to see if he is right, and to protect him.

  45. In the first creation story, God created male and female in His own image. Therefore, God is neither male nor female, or both. (Genesis 1:26-28)
    In the second creation story, God created man, and then made his female helpmate. I think that it is absurd to think that God created man as masculine, then look for a helpmate from among the beasts. (Genesis 2:7, 18-23)
    To my mind, the creation account is an allegorical story describing the archetypal man and origin of sin and suffering.

    1. Hi Thangaveloo, Yes, God also created the animals male and female. Sexual differentiation is how animals and humans reproduce. But since God doesn’t reproduce, our sexuality is probably not a part of the “image of God.” I think it is our regency, or dominion of his creation, that reflects the “image of God”.

      And I agree with you that it doesn’t make sense that God created the first human as male or masculine and to be all alone. What’s the point of being male without a female to reproduce with?

      And I do believe we are meant to look at the message of the story, rather than take the events as historic or scientific fact. After all, truth can be told with metaphors and parables as well as with facts. Jesus used metaphors and parables to teach the truth about his kingdom.

      1. Thank you Marg for your kind and thoughtful response. I do agree with you but I was thinking not biologically, instead figuratively when I ascribed maleness and femaleness to God. I think of God as “father” and “mother”, though I believe his personhood transcends both. I was just trying to connect with gender equality and that image of God is reflected in all gender variations. Perhaps, I inferred wrongly. Regarding the image of God in the sense of “regency or dominion over creation”, I am more comfortable with the term “stewardship” (Genesis 2:15 and Genesis 9:1-7). I see that God created man in his own likeness before he conferred the mandate (Genesis 1:26-28). I consider the mandate of dominion presupposes responsibility (Luke 16:1-12; Psalms 24:1). I am inclined to think that “image of God” refers to our spiritual identity.

  46. Hi I just wanted to say thank you for writing all these articles. They’ve helped me understand what God’s real plan is men and women, husbands and wives. Also, it really encourages me to know that I’m not the only Christian who believes in real gender equality. Sometimes I get discouraged since I’m surrounded by people who believe in traditional gender roles.

  47. God named everything except Eve; Adam named Eve. There’s the hierarchy right there.

    1. Umm . . . God named all humans “adam.” This includes both men and women; this includes Eve.

      “Adam” is a Hebrew word that means “human” or “humanity.”

      “He created them male and female and blessed them and named them adam in the day he created them” (Gen. 5:2).

      “Then God said, ‘Let us make adam in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Gen. 1:26).

      “So God created adam in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).

      According to Genesis 1:26-28 men and women have the exact same status, authority, and purpose.

      There is nothing in the text of Genesis that implies that Adam naming Eve was an act of superiority or hierarchy. A few chapters later, Hagar named God with a name that is recorded in scripture (Gen. 16:3). But here there is a clear hierarchy: God, the name-ee is superior to Hagar the name-er.

      Sorry Mats, naming does not necessarily denote a hierarchy with the name-er in top position. More on this here.

  48. The Apostle Paul who was Hebrew and understand the Hebrew language refutes the above assumptions:

    1Co 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
    8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
    9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

    1Co 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
    1Co 11:12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God

    1. Why do Paul’s words refute what I’ve written?

      The sex of the first human is not specified in Genesis 2 before the operation. After the operation, when a side or chunk of him had been removed and made into the woman, he is undoubtedly male.

      However, it is perfectly reasonable for Paul to use the word “man” and “woman” in 1 Corinthians 11, as his teaching was given to, and is applicable to, men and women.

      The story in Genesis 2 lines up well with 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 and with Paul’s teaching here:

      “Nevertheless (or, except that), in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God” (1 Cor. 11:11-12).

      Whichever way you want to interpret it, the Genesis 2 story tells us that the first woman was made from a side of the first (hu)man to be his perfect counterpart and partner, and to rescue him from his solitude.

      As soon as the woman was created, the first human was no longer alone. He had been rescued. From then on the man and woman were mutually dependent on one another. This interdependence is especially true for us who are “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:12).

      Paul’s message of mutuality and interdependence is a lovely teaching, and I don’t want to spoil it by insisting that the first human had both a male and female side. Rather, I offer it as a suggestion based on the text of Genesis 2.

      As a side note, 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 is written as a chiasm. It is entirely possible that Paul quotes the Corinthians in the first half of the chiasm (1 Cor. 11:3-10) and then provides more correct statements in the second half (1 Cor. 11:11-16). More on this here: https://margmowczko.com/the-chiasm-in-1-corinthians-11_2-16/

      1. Marg, it contradicts what you wrote because Paul clearly states that “man” is not from “woman”, but “woman from man”. The woman was created on account of the man. Man there being “aner” meaning “man/husband” not “anthropos” which means “human”. There is no hint of any weird nosexual/bisexual human being which was split into male and female. The “ish” is said to have been from “Haadam” in Gen 2:22 and from “ish” in 2:23. Therefore, “haadam” and “ish” are the same in this context.

        Likewise 1 Timothy 2:13 says that Adam was formed first, and then Eve.

        1. Hi Clint,

          I think I’ve presented the idea about ha’adam adequately in the article, and I certainly don’t expect people to whole-heartedly accept it. I myself don’t. Nevertheless, there is no contradiction between what the author of Genesis 2 wrote and what Paul writes. Rather Paul uses Genesis 2 to make his own points in 1 Corinthians 11.

          Paul’s concern in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is the respectable appearance of men and of women who were praying and prophesying in Corinthian assemblies. He wanted them to observe gender-appropriate hairstyles (or head-coverings). To support his concern about gender distinct appearances he appeals to the story in Genesis 2: “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man …” It doesn’t make sense for Paul to use anthrōpos here or later in 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 where he alludes to creation again:
          “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.”

          I’ve written more about 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 here: https://margmowczko.com/category/1-corinthians-11-2-16/

          As for 1 Timothy 2:13, Adam, as ha’adam, was formed first and then Eve. Ha’adam is mentioned in Genesis 2:7. Eve doesn’t show up until Genesis 2:22 even though she was formed from a side, or part, or chunk, of the original ha’adam. 1 Timothy 2:13-14 contains accurate summary statements of Genesis 2 and 3.

          I’ve written more about 1 Timothy 2:13-14 here: https://margmowczko.com/tag/1-timothy-213-14/

          None of this, including the word ish (“man”) in Genesis 2:23-24 (see footnote 2) negates the possibility that the author of Genesis 2 may have wanted his audience to understand that the original ha’adam had a male and female side. This is how many ancient and modern Jewish scholars understand it.

          One other point: Genesis and other books of the Old Testament help us to understand some of Paul’s illustrations and points, but it doesn’t always work the other way around. Paul sometimes uses Old Testament characters and stories in new ways to make certain theological and practical points in his letters. For example, Paul uses the example of Hagar and Sarah allegorically in Galatians 4:21-31. And in 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul says that the rock in the wilderness that produced water was Christ. The Old Testament helps us to understand some of Paul’s points, but we need to be cautious about reading Paul’s own theological ideas and his new uses of the texts back into the Old Testament narratives.

          1. Thanks for your quick reply even so many years after the original article.

            One of my concerns is particularly with what you said about Genesis 2:23: ‘After the “operation,” the now undoubtedly male human sees the female human and says, “This one is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! She will be called ‘woman’ (ishshah) because she was taken out of ‘man’ (ish)” (Gen. 2:23). The first woman (ishshah) and the first man (ish) may have both been a part of, or one side of, the first human being (ha’adam).[3]’

            If the text literally says that the “ishshah” was taken out of the “ish”, how can you make the conclusion that the first human being (ha’adam) was anything other than the same “ish” from which the *one* rib (Gen 2:21) was taken? The simplest explanation seems to be that ish and ishshah are meant to emphasize the relationship of husband and wife not male and female. Especially since Hebrew, Greek, and English all have different words for male and female as opposed to husband/man and wife/woman. (See Genesis 1:27)

            In that sense, you would be right to say that ha’adam was not a husband before verse 22, but to say that he was not male seems to be quite a stretch (heterodox 2nd-century Christian and Jewish rabbinical thought not withstanding). It contradicts Paul and both the literal text and context of Genesis 2.

            You only mention Genesis 2:20 in the footnotes regarding whether it should be translated man or Adam, but you neglect to address the point of the verse that there was not found a suitable helper for ha’adam, and so in the next two verses God rectifies the situation not by spliting ha’adam into two new beings (ish and ishshah), but by putting ha’adam to sleep, taking a piece from his side (note the 3rd person masculine singular suffix in Hebrew), fashioning an ishshah from that part, and bringing said ishshah to ha’adam just as all the beasts and birds had been brought to him in 2:19.

            It doesn’t sound to me like the ish was in anyway distinct from ha’adam in this context.

          2. Hi Clint, I appreciate that you see ish as being indistinct from ha’adam. I’m fine with that and I have no desire to change your mind. But others, some modern scholars too, understand the story differently. (I chose to use ancient sources to show that the male-female or sexually undifferentiated ha’adam is not a new idea.)

            In answer to your question, “How can you make the conclusion that the first human being (ha’adam) was anything other than the same “ish” from which the *one* rib (Gen 2:21) was taken?”
            Answer: Because a part or side or chunk was literally taken out of ha’adam and this part was formed into a woman.

            I don’t understand some of your points, but I completely agree with this: “The simplest explanation seems to be that ish and ishshah are meant to emphasize the relationship of husband and wife not male and female.” I believe this emphasis on relationship is indeed why these words are used in Genesis 2:23-24.
            Ish and ishshah do not mean “male” and “female.” Nevertheless, their sex as male and female is implicit in these words. The Hebrew word adam, on the other hand, can refer to either sex or both sexes, to men and to women.

            Anyway, I present the ideas in this article as ideas. This is why I use the word “may” a couple of times:
            “The first woman/wife (ishshah) and the first man/husband (ish) may have both been a part of, or one side of, the first human being (ha’adam).”
            “It may be we are even meant to understand that they both had the same source, ha’adam, and shared the same flesh made from the same ground that had been personally enlivened by God’s own breath (Gen. 2:7).”

            I do not categorically or pedantically say that the ha’adam must be understood as having both sexes. Rather, I think it is an interesting idea. What I do assert, however, is the first human was altered when a part was taken out and was used to make the woman.

  49. Hello Marg,

    Not too sure I agree with what your believing.

    In the first instance, your understanding of Galatians 3:28 needs some correction. You may like to read John 17:21 in relation to the Galatian text. We are all one in Christ Jesus (spiritually speaking). God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). That is to say, we are of the same spirit believing the same things about ourselves and God. Gender roles are part of His plan and we honour Him by being who He created us to be – that is true worship.

    In the Corinthian text, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that headship (covering) remains with the husband and he establishes that teaching with the Genesis account (1 Cor 11:8-12). The wife is not independent of the husband, but must be in agreement with him in their covenant roles. Paul rebukes the wife who acts independently of her husband (1 Timothy 2:12) and confirms the headship of man in such letters as Ephesians (see 5:22-24).

    The husband and wife were created for each other – it is a sacrifice of self (Ephesians 5:22-33 and Genesis 2:22 -23) Christ being the example of His sacrifice for the church. So we are one in Christ when we commit ourselves to sacrificial love in accordance with the Word of God. We are not one when we believe different things leading to wrong behaviours.

    Husbands are not to demean or control their wives, but to love them (Ephesians 5:28-29). These realities need to be appreciated before marriage takes place. And, at the end of the day, it’s all about obedience to Christ (John 14:15).

    1. Hi Ron,

      I agree that we are “one” in Christ spiritually but, since Paul explicitly gives the social categories of people in the Greco-Roman world, I take this to mean that we as God’s people are “one” socially as well. Also, as I’ve said elsewhere, while there may be exceptions, I’m wary of supposed spiritual realities that have no practical significance or outworking. You acknowledge, “So we are one in Christ when we commit ourselves to sacrificial love in accordance with the Word of God.” I couldn’t agree more. Surely this love will have practical and visible outworkings.

      Galatians 3:26ff is about our identity as members of the community of God’s people. John 4:24 is about worship. John 17:21ff is relevant, however. John 17:21ff tells us that Jesus and God are equal and unified (or “one”) and that we, as redeemed humans, can be equal and unified (or “one”). Jesus said, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me —so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22-23, italics and bold added).

      We do see Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians differently. I cannot see anywhere in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 that Paul indicates husbands (or men) are coverings of any kind. And while the wife (or woman) is not independent, neither is the husband (or man). Christian men and women are mutually interdependent. After a discussion on heads and hair, Paul writes, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God” (1 Cor. 11:11-12). Both men and women have God as their ultimate source, another indication of equality and the potential for social unity. (Origins is a theme of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.)

      I agree that Paul is censoring the behaviour of a wife in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, though what exactly she was teaching and what exactly she was doing to her husband is unclear. I offer a suggestion here.

      I completely agree that husbands are to love their wives. But wives are not exempt from this responsibility. I also completely agree that obedience to Christ is paramount.

      It seems that, apart from a different understanding of kephalē, the Greek word for head, we are very much in agreement.

      1. Thank you Marg for your educated reply.

        Yes, the scholarly understanding of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is varied and somewhat strange in some cases.

        I understand the text in the context of a husband and wife in ministry. Perhaps Paul was referring to the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila as they ministered in Corinth with Paul. Certainly, the whole text refers to husbands and wives and that is why Paul uses the Genesis account.

        Yes, the issue with the translation/interpretation of the Greek word for head is problematic – many volumes have been written about that particular word and the way it should be interpreted in this text. Perhaps “The New International Greek Testament Commentary” edited by I Howard Marshall and Donald A Hagar, provides the most comprehensive exposition of the text and the possible meaning of Kephale.

        However, Christ isn’t the source of man – God is and Paul makes that clear in 1 Cor 11:3. Indeed, Paul makes a point – in the text – of showing that Christ was submitted to the will of the Father – this is consistent with what Jesus taught (John 5:19, 30).

        I have interpreted the Greek Prep “Kata” in verse 4 as “against”, with the verse reading, ” Every husband who has something against Christ while ministering dishonours Christ. It follows that verse 5 may read “And every wife who acts independently of her husband while ministering dishonours her husband – she is no different to one who commits adultery”. That is to say, she is not honouring her covenant agreement (marriage) through her independence (hence 1 Tim 2:11-15 and Eph 5:22-23).

        The Genesis account Paul uses is in the context of marriage – Adam and Eve. Eve, acting independently of Adam, was lured and deceived by Satan – an angel – (1 Tim 2:14). So this answers verse 10 for us. That is, when the wife acts independently of her husband, as Eve did, they /she will be open to the lure and deception of the devil. Thus, if the wife is acting in a rebellious way – independently and without her husbands agreement and authority, then she will be open to the very same temptations as Eve. The sign of her authority in verse 10, is her God ordained submission to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). The heart and mind of God is found when we are obedient to His will and not our own.

        Should a wife submit to her husband – the Bible says YES.

        As for the huge amount of commentary about hair and veils – I would ask “Where is the Theology of all of that??” Why is it a disgrace for men to have long hair? If it is a disgrace for men to have long hair then either Paul or Aquila had long hair when they were at Corinth (Acts 18:18). In this sense then, if one were to take a Nazarite vow and grow their hair long, then it is a disgrace and not a way of worshipping and honouring God?? I don’t think so.

        There is no Theology for head covering or veils – only secular first century cultural devices (such as the work of Bruce Winter “When Paul Left Corinth”). Paul did not want the church to conform to the pattern of the world and his argument or encouragement in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is solely Theologically based and the only right translation/interpretation will be found in and through the Scriptures. In short, Paul is not appealing to society, but to God and His ways and therefore the answers are found within His Word.

        ” Trust in the Lord and Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own sight…Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” (Prov 3:5-7).

        All the best from the Central Coast – it’s where Jesus is.

        1. I agree that Thislteton’s commentary on 1 Corinthians (NIGTC) is one of the best, as is his discussion on kephalē.

          I’m glad he highlights the scholarship of Andrew Perriman and Judith Gundry-Volf, as there is, at the very least, a nuance of “prominence” or “preeminence” in kephalē. On page 817, Thisleton writes, “. . . Perriman convincingly urges that the . . . assumption in first-century Hellenistic contexts would be to construe the metaphorical force of head not as authoritative leader in charge, but as one who is “prominent, foremost, uppermost, preeminent.” There is no doubt that men were typically more prominent in Greco-Roman society than women.

          For the time being, however, I suspect “origin” is the primary meaning of kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11:3. I see no great problem with the idea of Christ being the source, or origin, of all men: “by him all things were created” (Col 1:16).

          I disagree that husbands and wives are in view in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Accordingly, Thisleton writes on page 822, “. . . the overwhelming majority of writers convincingly argue that the issue concerns gender relations as a whole, not simply those within the more restricted family circle.”

          Furthermore, I love Thisleton’s title for his section on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16: “Mutuality and Reciprocity: Self Respect, Respect for the Other, and Gender Identity in Public Worship (11:2-16)” He sees gender distinctions, rather than a gender hierarchy, as Paul’s concern. Mutuality and interdependence, while retaining gender distinctions, is Paul’s theology here. And I’m all for that!

          I love living on the Central Coast. 🙂

          1. Thank you Marg, I have enjoyed reading your considerations.

            Yes, Thisleton and his commentary on First Corinthians is thorough and well argued. He is right to say @ page 799, “the rhythmic discourse on love sums up the major issues in all parts of 11:2-14:40”.

            I guess, Marg, that we could continue this discussion for some time – the Bible is worth talking about! However, I would like to some up Thisleton’s title “Mutuality and Reciprocity: Self Respect, Respect for others, and Gender Identity in Public Worship (11:2-16)” with Scripture:

            Ephesians 5:22-33

            John 14:15

            1 Corinthians 13

            Galatians 5:16-26

            When we follow the teachings of the Scriptures, then we are doing all that Thisleton is saying in his thesis title. When we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and not our own fleshy desires, then we are not fulfilling the desires of the flesh, but are living according to the Word.

            Marg, I would love to read the Theology behind the notion of women wearing a covering or a veil while they are ministering. And of course, if you can find the Theology that supports the shaming of men for having long hair, well, I would love to read that too. I’ve search long and hard and can find nothing to support such notions.

            Worshiping in Spirit and in Truth does not demand a veil, covering or well groomed hair! All that is required is being born again and filled with the Holy Spirit – such is the joy of being in discipleship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Joy!

          2. Just quickly: I don’t think Paul is saying women need to wear a veil when they are praying and prophesying. In fact, he says women already have hair as their covering (1 Cor. 11:15).

            There are several hints in the Corinthian letters which indicate that the Corinthian Christians thought they were already living the resurrected life and that sex no longer mattered. Paul, however, taught that celibacy, or sexual renunciation, was not for everyone. (See 1 Cor. 7:1ff.)

            Paul wanted sexual and gender differentiation, according to respectable Corinthian norms, to continue. Mutuality and interdependence, while retaining gender distinctions, is Paul’s theology.

            Having said that, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is notoriously difficult to exegete. We only have Paul’s side of the conversation, and no interpretation seems to make sense of every verse or phrase.

            Thankfully, we have plenty of clearer scripture and the Holy Spirit to guide us.

            All my articles on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 are here: https://margmowczko.com/category/1-corinthians-11-2-16/

  50. Thanks so much, but are is there any way you can spread these lessons in Rwanda? There are many problems about it because religion made people stop to think more deeply of those fload.

    1. Hello Kwizera Jean,

      The only way I can teach in Rwanda is by using Skype or Facebook video chat, or a similar video or audio program.

  51. My apologies if this was posted elsewhere on the page, but might you direct me to some peer-reviewed academic journal articles on this topic? Kinda exciting stuff!!

    1. Hello EET, I’ve come across these ideas, from time to time, in books written by Jewish scholars—Christian scholars are more reticent about discussing these ideas—but I can’t remember the names of these Jewish scholars and I haven’t read any journal articles on this topic.

  52. I think all notions of male hierarchy in the creation account come from the New Testament as it is not present in the Hebrew creation account. In Colossians 1:15-22, Jesus Christ is given preeminence for being the firstborn out from the dead and for existing in time before all things and creating all things by, through, and for him. The head comes before the body and the body forms out of the head and is held together by joints and ligaments that come forth from the head. Somewhere along the lines, this primacy got transferred into marriage as man was created first and was the material the woman was taken from.

    I think they simply looked to Christ as being the source of the church body and transferred it to the marriage to fit Greco-Roman gender ideologies. If Christ is superior for being before the body and giving it it’s life, then the husband must be too, at least that’s what I think the thinking behind it was. The sacrifice of Christ in Col 1:20-22 is even carried over into the marriage passage in Ep 5:25-27 for husbands to mimic.

    In Hebrew, the man was not the head of the woman, that is a Roman idiom for head to symbolise source. There is no hierarchy present in the Genesis narrative on account of the man being created fist. The woman being created second and the naming of the animals was a process to show how valuable she is in relation to the man and her quality with him, not a placement of subordination. In their culture, to be contrasted with the animals and then exalted as being way above them, not like them, but instead like the man, that would have been a compliment.

    1. I completely agree that the naming-of-the-animals exercise was to highlight the value and necessity of the woman, and to highlight her compatibility and equality with the man.

  53. Marg, I would say, just from looking at the highlighted text, that the WOMAN was made before the MAN. So, if someone wants to push that point of “order” a quick look at the Hebrew would surely make one question the position.

    1. Hi Jack,

      Generally speaking, I believe we are making the Genesis 2 narrative work a lot harder than the original author(s) ever intended. I imagine they would be shocked at the level of scrutiny and debate over their words.

      I’m still not sure what to make of the “splitting of the adam.” But I am reasonably confident that the so-called ‘created order‘ has no significance whatsoever in the body of Christ.

  54. Except that it is specifically cited by Paul as to why women should not teach with authority over a man. And that in the scripture no one renamed anyone except God after they had been given a promise that they were to trust and believe, Or that God was changing their status. IE. Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul. Except Adam who named and renamed Woman. He is first to call her woman and God call her that from now on just like when Adam named the animals, whatever the Man called them, that was their name. And after the fall God promises the seed of the woman would crush the head of the snake and in faith Adam renamed Ishshah (woman, from man) to Eve the mother of all living, showing once again that although mankind had lost authority over the earth he still retained authority in his household.

    1. Hi Chris,

      I don’t understand why you’ve begun your comment with “except that.” And I don’t understand why you think this has anything to do with names. Ha’adam, ish and ishshah are not names. They are common nouns, not proper nouns. The proper nouns Adam and Eve are absent in the Hebrew of Genesis 2.

      Paul gives a correct summary statement of Genesis 2 in 1 Timothy 2:13 and a correct summary statement of Genesis 3 in 1 Timothy 2:14, but he says nothing about what I’ve written about in this article. This is not Paul’s area of concern in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, and he keeps his statements about Genesis 2 and 3 terse.

      Adam being formed first, and then Eve, and Adam not being deceived but the woman becoming a transgressor, may not be reasons for why a woman in Ephesus is prohibited from teaching. Paul often gives extra information when he is making a point. 1 Timothy 2:13-14 may be the correct information regarding a woman’s teaching rather than the reason why she may not teach. More on this here: https://margmowczko.com/interpretation-of-1-timothy-212/

      Paul did not believe the created order had significance for relationships between men and women, and Jesus doesn’t mention the created order at all in any of the Gospels. It’s also never mentioned again in the Hebrew Bible. I’ve written about this here: https://margmowczko.com/the-created-order-nutshell/

      Both men and women had the same status, the same authority (authorisation), and the same purpose at creation (Gen. 1:26-28). This may have been tarnished and compromised by the fall, but I don’t recall God ever saying men and women had lost permanently lost or forfeited these things. And now that Jesus has dealt with sin, including the sin of the fall, and we have the Holy Spirit and his power, I think we should just get on with the job of being God’s image bearers (regents).

  55. Chris Fisher,

    Marg is right that “woman” is a common noun and not a proper noun. This is because Adam did not have parents to leave and the whole declaration in Gen 2:23-24 is prophetic poetry. The female race is still called by the common noun woman, not the individual name Eve.

    1 Tim itself does not even make a point out of Adam naming the woman. No gender hierarchy is established in 1 Tim 2:11-15 on account of Adam naming the woman. This idea to make the naming of the woman about authority comes from men looking for justification for hierarchy in creation after being exposed to 1 Tim 2:11-15 going beyond even the reasons given in 1 Tim itself. Torah observing Jews do not extract a gender hierarchy out of the creation narrative because no gender hierarchy exists in Gen 1 or 2 neither overtly nor covertly.

    God wanted to teach Adam something important so naming the animals was the method used to accomplish that goal. God realized that it was not good for the man to be alone, but did the man know that in the absence of not experiencing contrast? Follow the sequence of events leading up to the naming of the woman.

    God said it was not good for the man to be alone let me make an Ezer Kenegdo for him. Yet, God did not do that right away, instead, God brought the animals to Adam to “OBSERVE” what Adam would name them. After the naming process was done, it says no Ezer Kenegdo was found for him. Do you think when God was observing the naming process that He really expected one of the animals to be a suitable partner for the man? Of course not, this was a lesson for Adam who needed to experience contrast and void.

    Then God proceeds to create the woman and brings her to the man. When the man sees her he exclaims “This time” bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. The opening exclamation on Adam’s end about “this time” signifies that during the naming process of the animals he became aware of both his aloneness and that none of the animals were suitable companions for him. The whole point of naming in this context was about the identification of essence.

    The man needed to become aware of his own essence by experiencing the contrast of his essence against the essence of the animals. This is how Adam eventually knew no Ezer Kenegdo was found for him among the animals. Adam needed to realize that he was alone and had a void which was not good and that is exactly what happened after having a contrast for comparison with the animals through this naming experience. Recognizing a void that was not good makes the woman valuable to him. This was all a climax to the grand final, the introduction of woman.

    The ground was laid, All of this was so that when the woman was brought to him, he could identify her essence with his own and subsequently with his status. That is why he named her after a cognate of his own name. That was the real point of naming, to highlight the value, sameness, and status of the woman as being equal to him. God invested Adam with the authority to identify and declare his partner as equal to him.

    Note that when God named people, He never exalted and honored them by naming them after a cognate of His own name “Yahweh” like Adam did when he called her “Woman” because she was taken out of Man. If renaming implies a change of status, then, in this case, after the fall the woman was demoted by Adam. She went from “Woman” which implies mutual status on par with him since she was taken out of him, to the functional status of life-giver. It would mean Adam no longer identified her with himself. The man ruling over the woman was something new, not something retained

  56. Several ancient and modern Jewish scholars regard ha’adam in Genesis 2 as being an androgynous or sexually undifferentiated human. Furthemore,

    Several Greek Church Fathers had presented sex difference as a result of sin and claimed that humanity, in its original state, had been not androgynous, but entirely asexual. This strongly neoplatonic reading, which goes back to Philo of Alexandria [On Creation XLVI (134)] and Origen, is based on a radical distinction between body and soul and on the idea of creation as a progressive departure from the spiritual towards the inferior world of material bodies. In this view, the first creation story in Genesis had to be understood as the creation of the human soul, which is immaterial and asexual, while the second described its incorporation, leading to the appearance of sex difference. Gregory of Nyssa, followed by John Damascene, qualified sex difference more explicitly as a result of the Fall. Created after God’s image, original human nature was incorporeal, eternal, and asexual; this is the existence humans will recover after the Resurrection. However, since God foresaw that, because of their sin, Adam and Eve would lose their immortality, he created beforehand the means for them to overcome death. According to Gregory of Nyssa, sex difference existed in paradise, but already deviated from the prototype of human nature in God’s mind.
    Maaike van der Lugt, “Sex Difference in Medieval Theology and Canon Law: A Tribute to Joan Cadden,” MFF 46.1 (2010): 101–121 (Source

  57. I just find your web today, as I had the question, and found the answer with you Marg, thank you. I can say a lot, but what I read is a good build-up, but I do not find what I want to say.

    In Gen1:27 we read that the Human was created, man and woman. but in verse 26, we find He made Adam the Human.

    In Gen2:7- we find that He forms the Human out of the dust, verse 26-27 we find that He separated them to be man and woman.

    When that took place, Eve got something Adam didn’t get, Unconditional love, compassion, honesty, and forgiveness. If the woman hadn’t got that, she would never have been able to become the mother she was made to be.

    I am always saying it, the woman has 3 different parts in her. 1. she is young and in many ways acting like the man. 2. when she becomes a mother, her gift has become active, and many men don’t find the same woman he married, her focus is her children. She is ready and willing to protect her children with her own life. 3. When she on day become a grandmother, her excellent way of compassion comes out to her whole family, and she is protecting it with all she has, dont overrun her, then you are in problem.

    Yes, we are made equal with the same right in front of the throne, but we do not operate in the same gifts. We have all come from one body, and we are again all united to the same body, with the same right, but we have different duties and gift, it would have been terrible if we all were the hand.

    Thank you for your work, it’s a blessing to read it, and I will love to see that the woman get the right she has been given by Yeshua. Just for info, I am a man.

    1. Thanks, Finn.

      I am both a mother and a grandmother, but I am not just these two things. I do lots of things that are not related to these two roles.

      I agree that we all have different gifts, and some of them have very little to do with whether we are male or female, or whether we have children or not.

  58. Thank you so much, Marg! I first learned about this original translation in a seminary class and it BLEW. MY. MIND. Later when this verse was referenced to at a wedding, I wanted to show my husband this idea, but I didn’t know how to explain the ha’adam and “Adam” distinction that I had learned about. Thankfully I came upon your post! I have revisited it many times now and I love how you’ve put it together. Thank you for this.

  59. Thank you for this post, Marg (if I may). I find it very helpful. I have a question that I hope you’re willing to answer.

    In footnote five, you write: ‘The man continues to be mostly called ha’adam in Genesis 3, except for Genesis 3:6 & 16 where ish is used with the sense of “husband.”’

    Why do you suppose the Hebrew reverts back to ha’adam in Genesis 3 (aside from in vv. 6, 16)? It seems to undo the work of differentiating between the man and woman in Genesis 2.

    1. The narrative of Genesis 2-3 focuses on ha’adam before and after the creation of the woman. The use of “ish” is to highlight his relationship as husband of ishshah. Accordingly, ish only occurs in verses where the relationship between husband and wife is emphasised, in Genesis 2:23-24 and Genesis 3:6 and 16. After this, ha’adam is called Adam; it becomes his name (without the definite article).

      1. Thank you, Marg – I see your point. But I’m still wondering about how ha’adam as a word is used: if ish is emphasised in Genesis 3:6 and 16, I don’t see why the passage reverts to using ha’adam alongside ishshah (so far as I can tell; my Hebrew isn’t great) in (say) Genesis 3:8. Reverting to ha’adam appears to suggest that somehow this character in the text has become the undifferentiated ‘earth creature’ of the earlier part of the passage, despite the presence of the creature’s ishshah. I suppose we could say that, theologically, continuing to use ha’adam at this point indicates a sudden rupture or disconnection in the relationship between ish and ishshah which itself is indicated by the reintroduction of ha’adam – but I don’t know if (a) that is stretching things, (b) the text can carry that degree of interpretation, and (c) I have any real idea of precisely what I’m trying to articulate here! 😉

        1. Terry, if I could just inject something here. I believe the reason you are confused it because this whole article is trying to turn this entire passage on its head into some gobbledygook version where God created some non-gendered original human and then split that being into two parts (male and female; husband and wife; whatever).

          But the text is very clear throughout that ha’adam, the ish, and Adam are all one in the same being. God creates man/mankind in 1:27 and the words “male and female” are used. Chapter 2 goes back and elaborates on the circumstances of that creation. Note the repeated use of the masculine singular in both English and Hebrew.

          Genesis 2:18 is a very important verse that is completely ignored in the article. God doesn’t want the man to be alone and makes a helper suitable FOR HIM. He doesn’t spilt him into two parts so that the two new creatures can help each other. Then when the woman/wife is fashioned from one of the ribs/”sides” of the man, God presents the woman to the man just as he presented all the animals in 2:19. Verse 23 is of the utmost importance because the man (ha’adam) clearly states that “she will be called ishshah because she was taken out of ish”. He says “she is bone of MY bones and flesh of MY flesh”. Ha’adam was unchanged save for the part taken out of him to create the suitable helper.

          So if the text says that the ishshah was made from something taken from ha’adam and also that she was taken from the ish, then the ish and ha’adam have to be the same in this context. They are used interchangeably.

          Then 2:25 plainly states that ha’adam and his ishshah were naked and felt no shame. I don’t think any of that makes sense if ha’adam was really some genderless being or hermaphrodite original “human” who was split up into halves or something as the footnotes allude to.

          I suppose you could make some argument from the concept of monozygotic twinning that two beings came from one being without changing who the first being was. But since identical twins are always the same sex, that’s not really comparable to what God did here. Of course, the Biblical narrative is not meant to explain to us the genetic makeup of the first two humans and how they came to be as they are, but considering that God can create whatever he wants from a word, I don’t think we need to worry about that.

          There is definitely something to the argument that woman and man together form some sort of whole. That goes with the idea that the two will be one flesh, but this who article pushes it to the realm of absurdity for me. I think I agree with Marg on about 90% of what she has on her explain egalitarianism page, but I don’t see any wisdom in trying to reinterpret 4,000 years of Biblical understanding to fit with some modern cultural narrative. The same thing is happening with homosexuality, and it’s not good.

          1. I appreciate your willingness to interject here, Clint, but my question to Marg concerns the use of specific terminology. If, as you say, ha’adam and ish are used interchangeably, I would like to know why they are used interchangeably and why, say, ish is used at one point rather than ha’adam.

        2. Not quite sure where this message will go in the thread. There wasn’t a reply button under your last response.

          To be clear, when I say interchangeably, I mean both used to refer to the same person in this context and to describe the same events happening to the same person.

          ISH only occurs 4 times in chapter 2 and 3, and each time it emphasizes the relationship between the husband and wife. In 2:23 the ISHSHAH is said to have been taken out of the ISH and to be bone of bones and flesh of flesh. This also shows the derivation of the word which seems important since Adam had recently been naming everything presented to him. 2:24 continues the thought that an ISH will leave his parents and be united with his ISHSHAH and the two will be one flesh. Then the other two references are in 3:6 (her ISH) and 3:16 (your [that is Eve’s] ISH).

          After that in Genesis, ISH is variously used as a general term for a “man” (as opposed to a woman) and again to say “her husband” in 16:3. There is an interesting usage in 7:2 where the animals to be brought on the ark are to be “an ISH and his ISHSHAH”. That would indicate to me that the mating relationship is being emphasized not just that they are “male and female” because there are different words for that (see Gen 1:27).

        3. Hi Terry, The word ha’adam in and of itself doesn’t denote gender. It’s context that does. A part or side was taken from ha’adam and it was formed into the woman. It’s this piece of information about the part/side that may indicate the original ha’adam had a male and female side.

          Ha’adam is altered during the operation–a part/side is removed–but he is still ha’adam and now he is also ish as the counterpart of ishshah.

          I don’t understand Clint’s concern. What I present here is simply an idea, an idea accepted by some and rejected by others. Still others, like me, are undecided. It’s an idea I enjoy mulling over. I’m certainly not saying it must be understood one way or the other. Far from it.

          However, I believe it’s worthwhile to consider that the original author of Genesis 2 did mean for his audience to understand ha’adam had a male and a female side.

          Whatever the case, the point of the story is to show that man and woman are perfectly compatible; an integral part of the woman’s body was part of ha’adam‘s body; they shared the same body in some way at one point in time. I really don’t know how to explain it any better.

          1. Thanks for your continued engagement, Clint, but I think you’re answering a question I’m not asking.

            And thanks again, Marg, for your response. I’m trying hard to articulate precisely what I’m thinking here, too, so thank you also for your patience. I’m not overly fussed about the gender or oterwise of the players in the text.

            Let me try to put it another way. Assuming that ha’adam = the human, ish = the man/husband, and ishshah = the woman/wife, then is there a reason why the text moves from using ish [the man/husband] in, for example, Genesis 2:24, back to using ha’adam [the human] in 2:25? It seems odd to me here that, on a lexical level, having emphasised the distinction between ish [the man/husband] from ishshah [the woman/wife], the Genesis author(s) should now describe the pairing in terms of ha’adam [the human] and ishshah [the woman/wife].

            Perhaps all this supports Clint’s point about the interchangeability of the terms, after all! I understand Clint to mean that ha’adam [the human] and ish [the man/husband] are in fact numerically identical, and this return in Genesis 2:25 would perhaps support this position. But I cannot help wondering if we are invited to see in Genesis 2 a similar pattern or echo of separation as we see in Genesis 1: just as God separates ‘light’ from ‘darkness’, thus producing ‘Day’ and Night’, so in Genesis 2 God separates ishshah [the woman/wife] from ha’adam [the human] and in so doing creates the distinction between ish [the man/husband] and ishshah [the woman/wife]. If this holds good, then I am not sure why the Genesis author(s) would then go back to using ha’adam [the human] in relation to ishshah [the woman/wife]. Is this just a lexical oddity or quirk? Am I missing something, either in the Genesis texts themselves, or in your responses? Am I making too much of all this? Is this the stuff PhDs are made of!? 😀

          2. I think I’m getting a better sense of what you’re thinking about Terry.

            Here are a few more thoughts, though some are repetitive.

            Ish is a more specific word than adam. Ish typically refers to a male person. (Clint mentions the interesting use of ish and ishshah for the animals of Noah’s ark who were mating couples of male and female animals in Genesis 7:2.)

            Ha’adam, who was made from adamah, occurs over two dozen times in Genesis 2-3. I actually don’t understand why ha’adam is used again in Genesis 2:25 when the emphasis is very much on marriage in this verse. Perhaps it is to make sure that the audience doesn’t lose the plotline that ha’adam and ish is the one person, though altered by having a chunk taken out of him. And of course, his name becomes Adam. There is a continuance despite the separation.

            I take Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Genesis 2:4-3:24 as two distinct narratives; they are composed by different authors who use different literary devices and are making different points. And yet the idea of separation and differentiation is what happens in Genesis 2:21-23 as in Genesis 1.

            The fact is that after Genesis 2:21-23, the woman is separated from the (hu)man no matter what we call either of them.

            The noun adam is typically used generically of humans and humankind in the Pentateuch. It is unusual to keep referring to an individual as ha’adam. But Adam was an especially unique person. Since he was made from adamah (earth, soil, humus), it is apt that he continues to be called ha’adam (the earthling, the human).

            I can’t imagine that I have any more to add to this. But it might be a good topic for a PhD. 🙂

          3. Hi Marg, I enjoy thinking about this stuff as well. Though one of my favorite speculations about Genesis 2-3 is whether the serpent was actually more akin to a dragon (as the Revelation 12:9 may to indicate) and thus the source of the rather universal dragon mythology around the world as crafty, dangerous creatures.

            My main concern is that while you aren’t being dogmatic about this possible interpretation, the article seems to ignore rather address the verses which would falsify it. I’ve mentioned some of those verses above (possibly in another thread), so I won’t go into it again in detail. But the fact that ha’adam is used throughout chapter 2 and 3 to refer to the same person both before and after the operation seems to indicate to me that nothing substantial was lost in the procedure which would fundamentality change his nature. (This is something to note Terry, it’s not odd that the narrative goes back to using ha’adam because it uses it throughout, as Marg mentions a full two dozen times, compared to only 4 occurances of ish. And the usage in 2:25 is similar to that in 3:8 and 3:20-21).

            I find your conclusion at the end of the second paragraph of the article quite strange: “After the operation, the now undoubtedly male human sees the female human and says, “This one is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! She will be called ‘woman/wife’ (ishshah) because she was taken out of ‘man/husband’ (ish)” (Gen. 2:23). The first husband and wife may have both been a part of, or one side of, the first human being (ha’adam).[3]”

            The verse you quoted specifically says that the ishshah was taken from the ish using the same preposition as in 2:22 in the phrase “from ha’adam”. That seems to indicate to me that the ish is ha’adam and the woman was made by God from part of his body just as God had created something totally new by making man from the earth. It’s not as if the earth was part male before ha’adam was made from its dust. And considering that the creation of man is in the same account as the creation of woman in your understanding (2:4–3:24), I don’t see how you can get around the similarity (though perhaps the accounts are not as parallel as I think…the verbs are different).

            I do agree with your statement: “Whatever the case, the point of the story is to show that man and woman are perfectly compatible; an integral part of the woman’s body was part of ha’adam‘s body; they shared the same body in some way at one point in time. I really don’t know how to explain it any better.”

            But I think to take it too far, especially in light of apostolic teaching to the contrary is not good.

            A thought occurred to me last night though you might enjoy thinking about though. Have you ever considered the parallel between the woman being taken from the side of the first man and the water and blood that flowed from the side of “the last Adam” which purchased the bride of the Lamb? I’m a firm believer in the inspiration of the Scriptures, so I’m inclined to believe that a good deal of the details from the story of Adam and Eve can teach us about the mystery of Christ and the church (though I’m equally inclined to accept them as historical and not simply legendary or allegorical stories, by the providence of God I see know reason it can’t be historical and prefigure/compliment God’s plan for the church).

          4. Hi Clint, No, I haven’t considered the parallel between the woman being taken from the side of the first man and the water and blood that flowed from the side of “the last Adam”?

            Concerning the Bride of the Lamb: In Revelation, “the bride” (nymphē) or “the wife” (gynē) of the Lamb is the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev 19:7 “wife”; Rev 21:2 “bride”, Rev 21:9-10 “bride” and “wife”; Rev. 22:17 “bride”; cf. Rev 3:12).

            John the Revelator wrote, “‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” (Rev. 21:9-10).

            Paul used a different analogy and wrote in Galatians 4:26, “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”

            I can’t see that the Bible clearly refers to the church as the bride of the Lamb, or the bride of Christ. This seems to be a later metaphor for the church.

  60. Thanks, Marg. Your responses here are helpful, particularly the longer paragraphs four and seven. These give me something extra to chew on!

    1. No worries. I enjoy thinking about Genesis 1-3.

  61. Hi Marg,

    Thank you for this! How might we understand an androgynous human in light of verses like Gen. 2:23 where ishshah is taken out of ish; 1 Cor. 11:8-9; and Paul correcting the Ephesian teacher’s error in 1 Tim. 2:13?

    Might the first human’s body have had a male side and a female side, but had Adam’s soul/personality/consciousness? Perhaps this was the lonely soul looking for a companion, the soul retained in the male half during the operation, while the female half was given her own soul? I hope this makes sense 🙂

    I’ve been thinking a lot about 2 Cor. 5:16 and “regarding no one according to the flesh,” since “we no longer regard Christ this way,” merely as flesh, but as God, as spirit, who lives in us. Both male and female bodies are God’s Body-temple. It seems many churches are overly focused on the flesh as the defining identity of a person rather than “fixing our eyes on what is unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18).

    1. Hi Jenna, In Genesis 2:21 & 22 it says that God took the part out of ha’adam; God doesn’t use the word ish. Then in Genesis 2:23-24, ha’adam uses the word ish for himself and ishshah for the woman. This is a play on words and it highlights the man-wife relationship. Verses 23-24 are about marriage. I have a note about this in footnote 2.

      Whether ha’adam was androgynous or not, he was created before the first woman was made as an individual, and Paul’s reference to Genesis 2:23-24 echoes the language in the Septuagint. Ha’adam continues as person who afterwards is named Adam. We are meant to understand that ha’adam is altered after the operation, but he does not become a completely new or different individual.

      I have an article about Paul’s use of the created order here: https://margmowczko.com/the-created-order-nutshell/

  62. Thank you, Marg, I really appreciate your help and the link. I would love to hear your thoughts on 1 Kings 6:34 if you have time, which describes a bi-fold door, and each panel is called a tsela. I know tsela denotes multiple things in Scripture such as side chambers, cedar planks, and walls, but this door reference puts in mind ha’adam being separated right down the middle, in equal halves. Like two mirror-image “panels” (sides) of a single “folding door” (body). I have no idea if there’s any validity in this, though.

    1. Tsela usually means “side.” But in architecture it can have other senses. The two doors in Solomon’s temple each have two side panels or leaves that turn on sockets within each door like louvres. (The Hebrew is very difficult in this verse.)

      It does sound like there is a symmetry in the door panels, a symmetry that might, at a stretch, be applicable to the original ha’adam.
      However, I really can’t see a connection between the doors and ha’adam apart from the word tsela, especially as 1 Kings 6:34 mentions two sides, whereas Genesis 2 only mentions one side, the side that became the woman.

  63. Thank you for your help. I forgot to mention that I was thinking of the two “sides/panels” in light of ha’adam perhaps being androgynous. One male side and one female side, but with only Adam’s consciousness. I was wondering if God might have 1) removed the anatomically female side, 2) reconstructed the now-only-male Adam, and 3) then completed the female half to create a second person.

    1. I did get what you were implying about the two sides of ha’adam, and that it was only one person, one consciousness. I do think it’s possible this is what the author of Genesis 2 is conveying. 🙂

      The author briefly refers to the reconstruction of ha’adam, which occurs after the (female) side is removed and before the woman is formed, in Genesis 2:21: “God took one of his sides and closed up the flesh at that place.”

      However, I still can’t see that 1 Kings 6:34 adds understanding to tsela that is useful for understanding Genesis 2, except that its use in 1 King 6:34 somewhat reinforces the “side” meaning. But I did enjoy looking at the verse and thinking about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Marg's Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Loading

Join Marg's Patreon

Would you like to support my ministry of encouraging mutuality and equality between men and women in the church and in marriage?

Archives