Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. So said Adam to Eve when he saw the woman God had built for him. Unusual response. Why?
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh is not what you’d expect to hear from a man who’s just met his bride-to-be. I doubt that Adam could even see any of his future wife’s bones. Maybe her cheekbones?! this unlikely statement carries much more meaning than the English translation reveals. We have to delve into the original language, Biblical Hebrew.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 3.15)
To start with, we have to go back to the previous verse, where the text uses the word rib. That’s a bone.
22 And the rib (H6763), which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Did you know that in the entire Bible, this is the only time the English translation rib appears? Yes, undoubtedly, God did take one of Adam’s ribs, since it was a bone. But there is a more significant meaning here.
צֵלָע tsêlâʻ tsay-law’; or (feminine) צַלְעָה; from H6760 (צָלַע); a rib (as curved), literally (of the body) or figuratively (of a door, i.e. leaf); hence, a side, literally (of a person) or figuratively (of an object or the sky, i.e. quarter); architecturally, a (especially floor or ceiling) timber or plank (single or collective, i.e. a flooring):
KJV – beam, board, chamber, corner, leaf, plank, rib, side (chamber).
צָלַע tsâlaʻ tsaw-lah’; a primitive root; probably to curve; used only as denominative from H6763 (צֵלָע), to limp (as if one-sided):
KJV – halt.
Go over to UnlockBibleMeaning.com and find Genesis 22:22. Verify the word rib (H6763), and you’ll find it’s translated side about 40 times. Adam’s rib was on his side, just like your ribs are. Here’s the sleuth work. How can Strong affirm that the root, H6760, of rib is to limp or one-sided? The translators never use the word limp in the Bible! I’ve given you a clue in Further Study below. It has to do with an essential episode in the life of Jacob.
The point is, Adam’s removed side-rib, which figuratively denotes him being one-sided, unbalanced, or limping, was built into a beam, a board, a plank, a side, other nuances of this word tsala (H6760). Put in other terms, they SUPPORT the structure, just as the woman was built to support the man. They are to support each other, but in this context, we are explicitly talking about womanhood and her role. The rib, part of the rib-cage, supported Adam. Upon removal, he was lop-sided. God built this same rib into a supportive woman.
After her creation, Adam declared about his rib-woman, you are “bone (H6106) of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Look at the Biblical Hebrew meaning of bone, especially its root, (H6105) or basic construction.
עֶצֶם ʻetsem eh’tsem; from H6105 (עָצַם); a bone (as strong); by extension, the body; figuratively, the substance, i.e. (as pron.) selfsame:
KJV – body, bone, ⨯ life, (self-) same, strength, ⨯ very.
עָצַם ʻâtsam aw-tsam’; a primitive root; also denominatively (from H6106 (עֶצֶם)) to bind fast, i.e. close (the eyes); intransitively, to be (causatively, make) powerful or numerous; to crunch the bones:
KJV – break the bones, close, be great, be increased, be (wax) mighty(-ier), be more, shut, be(-come, make) strong(-er).
Bone of my bone is expressing a symbolic truth, strength of my strength. We, often pejoratively, refer to women as the weaker sex. The Bible refers to the woman as my strength, man’s strength. Did you notice the translation of H6105, selfsame?, this indicates that woman has the SAME strength as man. We’re not talking about physical strength here, that’s obvious. We’re talking about mental strength. So many women are so much stronger than many men. A one-sided man needs a strong woman to lean on. He shouldn’t push her over, and she shouldn’t have to carry all the weight. The one supports the other. They carry the load together.
Now let’s look at the Biblical Hebrew deeper meaning of flesh, in the term flesh of my flesh.
בָּשָׂר bâsâr baw-sawr’; from H1319 (בָּשַׂר); flesh (from its freshness); by extension, body, person; also (by euphemistically) the pudenda of a man:
KJV – body, (fat, lean) flesh(-ed), kin, (man-) kind, + nakedness, self, skin.
בָּשַׂר bâsar baw-sar’; a primitive root; properly, to be fresh, i.e. full (rosy, (figuratively) cheerful); to announce (glad news):
KJV – messenger, preach, publish, shew forth, (bear, bring, carry, preach, good, tell good) tidings.
Likewise, flesh is not just pointing us to the outer layer of skin over the skeleton of a human being. H1320 reveals a clear notion of kin and (hu)mankind. The woman is kin to the man. Physically, they are the same, certainly with different functions and attributes, but the same, nonetheless.
Did you also notice that basar (H1319), figuratively, means rosy and cheerful, tell good. Ask any man if he’d like a cheerful woman by his side. Basar characterizes BOTH the man and the woman. We should have both a cheerful man and a cheerful woman. When one is down, the other should be able to cheer their partner up. Adam states she’s bone of MY bone; they are both bone and flesh; this is the mutual support one for the other.
Adam’s statement, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, goes far beyond the physical. The material is even less critical than the immaterial implication. In essence, he’s giving the metaphorical reason for her creation, when one is lop-sided and down the other is there, as a beam, to support them. She is bringing her strength and cheerfulness to bear on her husband, and it’s reciprocal.
In Genesis 2:20, we read, “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” With his statement, “this is now (H6471) bone of my bones,” he’s declaring, “wow, this time (another translation of H9471) I’ve found a perfect help meet for me.” God built him the perfect counterpart support.
Spiritual Woman – The Church
Readers of these passages in Genesis 2, like bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, focus on the physical implication. But this refers to a much higher level of spirituality. We’ve already discussed that implication in Ephesians 5:31-32 “…a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife… This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. The statement bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh is New Testament theology directly referring to the Church being part of Christ’s bones and flesh. Meditate on the following verse in this light. It precedes the above verse and IS THE GREAT MYSTERY.
Ephesians 5:30, “For WE ARE MEMBERS OF HIS BODY, OF HIS FLESH, AND OF HIS BONES.” I have put that in capitals, italics, and bold because it is the focus and ultimate purpose for the creation of the woman. It is also the primary reason for the way and method of her creation as expounded in these nine verses in Genesis. Yes, it refers to the woman, but even more so, to the Church. The New Testament refers to this overall understanding as WE ARE MEMBERS OF HIS BODY. The body incorporates the flesh, the bones, and the blood of Christ
Here are some corroborative contexts to drive this point home. I’d say this relationship of “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh,” related to Christ’s body, is a new concept for many readers. Take time to study and meditate on this.
- Hebrews 10:19-20
19 Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,20 By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (Sam: we become flesh of His flesh joined to Him).
- Colossians 1:21-22
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
- John 6:51, 56
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, (Sam: Adam gave of himself for the life of Eve) which I will give for the life of the world.56 He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. (Sam: do you see the union of Christ and His people? That’s flesh of my flesh)
- Luke 22:19
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (Sam: the act of communion portrays that we are spiritually the flesh of the Second Man’s flesh which He gave for us).
- Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body (G4983), of his flesh, and of his bones. = bone of my bones. In NT body is associated with flesh and bones.
I’ve repeated this last verse in Ephesians. Notice below in G4982, the origin of the word body, its relation to help meet, in Genesis. There it refers to support; here it is to heal, preserve, save, do well, make whole. Those are all roles of both the help-meet-woman and the Church.
σῶμα sōma so’-mah; From G4982; the body (as a sound whole) used in a very wide application literally or figuratively:
KJV- bodily, body, slave.
σώζω sōzō sode’-zo; From a primary word σῶς sōs̄ (contraction for the obsolete σάος saos safe); to save that is deliver or protect (literally or figuratively):
KJV – heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.
The man and the woman prefigure Christ and the Church. We find the spiritual counterparts of the physical right here on earth. As God is and does, so humankind is and does. God equipped man to be and do as Himself, in His Image, in His likeness. Man, woman, marriage, children, the Garden of Eden, and even Earth are physical counterparts of God and God’s spirit environment. The very brief chart below extrapolates this point and merits a few chapters that we don’t have space to cover here, but we will revisit these concepts as we develop The Explanation.
|Christ left the Father to establish the Church||as||The man leaves his father to set up his new family||Gen 1|
|Christ loves the Church||as||Husband is to love and bind to his wife||Eph 5:25, 33|
|The Church is to respect Christ||as||The wife is to respect her husband||Eph 5:33|
|Christ and the Church are one||as||Christ and those in Christ are one||Eph 5:30|
|Christ marries Church||as||Husband marries wife||Rev 19:7|
|The Church has (multiplies) children||as||The woman has (multiplies) children||Gen 1|
|Jesus and the Church, of which He’s the Head, nurture God’s children||as||The family composed of the father, who’s the head, and mother nurture their children||Eph 5:29|
|Jesus and Church dominate and subdue the earth||as||Husband and wife dominate and subdue their environment. In the proper sense. They have the responsibility to govern.||Gen 1|
One cannot comprehend the why of humankind, man, woman and children nor the fundamental relationships between these members of a family, the primary worldwide human institution of marriage that sets the stage for all other types of organizations where government (dominate and subdue in the proper sense of the terms) is involved unless we comprehend that man is in the image of God, how He works, and how He set out His plan for humankind in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.
Christ, Cornerstone of the Church’s Stones
We already saw the verb used in Genesis 2: Yahveh built the woman. It’s the first time in the creation story that the text uses this verb. It signifies something unique: God builds His Assembly, His Church, His Ekklesia. Christ said, “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). You might wonder why there’s so much emphasis on the Tabernacle and the Temple in the Old Testament? Why did God instruct such precision building and beauty? They represent the building of the woman; they prefigure the Spiritual Temple, the Church, the spiritual group of God’s people. The Woman represents the Church. Her destiny is to give birth to physical children.
The destiny of the Church is to give birth to spiritual children. The Church is a composition of God’s people.
Christ is Founder and Cornerstone of the Church
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, (Sam: the Husband, the Second Man, Christ) elect, precious: and he that believes (the Woman, Wife, Church members of His Body) on him shall not be confounded.
5 You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house… (Sam: God’s people are the Church, this is bone of Christ’s bones, flesh of Christ’s flesh, body of Christ’s body).
The Preeminence of Christ and the eminent supporting role of the Church. Christ the Cornerstone and all the other stones built to form a solid spiritual building. It is the combination of the two, the Man and the Woman, the Husband, and the Wife, Christ, and the Church, that engender and nurture children to adulthood and triumph. With Christ and the Church, it is victory over you shall surely die. It is partaking of the Tree of Eternal Life.
Remember H1319 above, בָּשַׂר bâsar baw-sar’; a primitive root; properly, to be fresh, i.e. full (rosy, (figuratively) cheerful); to announce (glad news): KJV – messenger, preach, publish, shew forth, (bear, bring, carry, preach, good, tell good) tidings.
Isn’t it amazing that flesh carries the meaning, preach good tidings!! It is the Woman, the Church, and her role! Of course, it’s Christ’s role too. Biblical Hebrew word relationships never cease to amaze me. Why would flesh mean good tidings? Now we know. There’s no way to see this in a translation. And there’s no way to understand this with comprehending the mystery the Apostle Paul refers to in Ephesians 5.
The Garden of Eden narrative reveals all this basic life knowledge, the first five minutes of the Story of Humankind. The plot is right there from the start.
That is the reason this section of the creation of the woman follows die die (Genesis 2:17). It is the only remedy to turn the situation around. The Savior and the Church are the only way to save the family of humankind. Their collaboration allows humanity to recover from the tree of death, which all humans merit and eat of the Tree of Life. From die die, God has a Plan, via Christ and the Church, to advance humankind to eternal life. He has assembled the pieces of the puzzle perfectly. Not one is missing; not one is out-of-place — what a message of good tidings.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 3.15 of the book Origin of Humankind.
How can Strong, in his concordance, affirm rib means to limp and one-sided?
Understand the beauty of Biblical Hebrew. How the vocabulary, how the words interplay with each other; this is the sixth and seventh key to mastering Biblical Hebrew to unlock Bible meaning.
Strong draws this conclusion from the episode about Jacob. Genesis 32:31 And as he [Jacob] passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted (H6760) upon his thigh.
H6760. צָלַע tsâlaʻ tsaw-lah’; a primitive root; probably to curve; used only as denominative from H6763 (צֵלָע), to limp (as if one-sided): KJV – halt.
The angel with whom Jacob wrestled all night, until the sun rose, dislocated his thigh joint to end the contest. As a result, Jacob halted, he suffered on one-side, causing him to limp. I don’t know about you, but each time I see this interplay of words, based on the root-meanings, their various nuances, I’m amazed. These are the word stories that open-up insight into Bible meaning.
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