Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner...” So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
—Genesis 2:18; 21-22
In their fascinating book, Wrestling with Angels: What Genesis teaches us about our spiritual identity, sexuality, and personal relationships, authors Naomi Rosenblatt and Joshua Horwitz write,
We humans are the most social creatures on the planet; we flourish in groups and perish alone…Alone we stagnate. We can grow and mature only through our intimate relationships with other people.
Some have interpreted this famous “Adam’s Rib’ story as a case for women’s dependence upon men. That is far from the original intent. The literal translation of the Hebrew word rib is side, as in the side of a ship. Correctly interpreted, man and woman are two halves of a larger whole.
Rabbis commenting on this passage opine that if God had created woman from Adam’s feet, he would have walked all over her; if from his head, she would have lorded it over him, so woman was created from his side—an equal partner. And please note: it was God who created woman, not Adam!
As we know from experience, equality means different things to different men and women, but this creation account sets as the ideal cooperation—not competition—between the sexes. Equality is not based on role playing but on a deep commitment to listening and understanding another person. This is true not only in a marriage but also in the workplace, in extended families, in church communities.
This creation account reminds me of my responsibility to listen objectively to men—husband, co-worker, or boss—and also to speak clearly and honestly about my feelings and needs.
Help me, O God, to be fully the person you have created me to be. Amen.
Copyright © 2010 Margaret Jones.