One flesh is a two-word description of marriage. The Biblical Hebrew and the context reveal so much more. It’s the ultimate goal of humankind.
One flesh, in Genesis, is traditionally associated with the marriage union. Two human beings, biblically, a male and a female, joined together. It’s definitely that. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg; this is the finality of the creation week. One flesh points to the culmination of God’s Plan. Here’s the more profound meaning.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 3.17)
We’re approaching the end of The Explanation of Genesis 2. The entire chapter is the expansion of Genesis 1:27. It reveals the details of the creation of man and woman and the physical relationship between them. We tend to focus on the translation, which points to marriage. Rightfully so, but this is only a minor aspect of the infinite Plan of God. Genesis 1 and 2 reveal the Bible plot, God’s entire story of humankind; this is the first five minutes of the play, and God is setting the stage.
So God created man (H120, this is NOT the gender this is humankind, all humans) in his own image, in the image of God created he him (humankind); male and female created he them.
The above verse teaches us that humans have God’s image. God’s image comprises BOTH male and female. When God created the male and the female, He took His UNIQUE Image and separated it into TWO parts, two separate, compatible human beings, male and female. Each with a different PART of His image. Together, they possessed the WHOLE image.
Genesis 2, with the detailed creation of the male and the female, gives vivid details of Genesis 1.27, concluding with verses 22-24.
22 And the rib, 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.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
I’ve already expounded on the rib made into a woman, bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. Now, step back and look to the whole picture of Gen. 1:27 and Gen. 2:24. First, God SEPARATES His image into TWO (male and female). Then He brings the female to the male, and they are to CLEAVE together and become ONE FLESH.
I want you to see the order of events in the above three verses. God SEPARATES them only to COMBINE them again. Why would you want to separate something and then combine it again? Outwardly, it doesn’t make sense, leave it as it is, combined in ONE Image, the image of God.
Understanding the answer to that question tells us the ENTIRE PLAN of God. WHY He created HUMANKIND. WHY He created MALE and FEMALE, it goes far beyond the admirable institution of marriage, which, of course, it includes.
Male and Female = Christ and Church
I’ve already pointed out the relationship between the male and female to Christ and the Church.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The profoundness of this sacred text reveals that Adam was the first imperfect man who prefigured Christ, the second perfect man. Eve was the first imperfect female who prefigured the made-perfect Church. The Father presents the bride, the Church, to Christ at His Second Coming. And the TWO are JOINED TOGETHER to become ONE. Genesis 1:22-24 prophecies the incarnation of Christ (the man), His FIRST coming to Earth, some two-thousand years ago. It further prophecizes His establishment of God’s Church (the woman). And, ultimately, the marriage of Christ and His Church.
I cannot get into all the details of these momentous, astounding events: the culmination of God’s Plan for humankind. A vital, but intermediary step will occur when all of God’s people (both, those who have died and those who are alive at Christ’s Return) will inherit IMMORTALITY (1 Corinthians 15:51-54), like Christ. They will have the IMAGE of GOD.
That’s why Christ said they would NOT marry but be like the angels. (Luke 20:35-36, But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.) God’s sons and daughters will have God’s COMBINED IMAGE, the perfect balanced image of male and female described in Genesis 1:27. The mystery is grandiose.
Let’s verify this by taking a closer look at the Biblical Hebrew and corroborating this scenario with New Testament theology. There’s NO difference between the profound message of God in what we call the Old and New Testaments. There are different circumstances and situations; the Old is a precursor of the New. But, the underlying message of both is identical just as Adam and Eve (Old Testament) are precursors of Christ and the Church (New Testament). Physical and Spiritual representing TWO sides of ONE, and ONLY ONE coin. There are continuity and corroboration.
Taken out of man but bone of his bone
Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh has become such an idiomatic expression that many might not even realize what it’s origin is. Even if they do, do they grasp the implication or rather imbrication, of how they fit together? To describe this enmeshment, we have two couples of words: male + female, man + woman. If you go back and re-read the explanation of zachar (male) and nekava (female) you’ll see that this reveals two separate independent entities, each equal before God united with each other, let’s say two meshed into one.
From the formation of the latter pair, we have, issuing from the one-man the second individual, one becoming two. When you put this together, male and female, man and woman are interwoven, interlaced, interlocked together, in a communal adventure. Mutually, in concert, man with woman, woman with man they forge ahead as a single unit, as the overseeing human masterpieces of God’s creation in the adventurous voyage their Creator has in store for this inseparable couple. Here are the unity and indivisible nature of the man and the woman.
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.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
The Lord brought her to the man
The Lord God brought her to the man (Gen 2:22). It’s akin to a father walking his daughter down the aisle to present her to her future husband. In New Testament language, God presents the Church to Christ. Once again, we find Genesis projecting us into the future.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
God’s Plan starts in Genesis and culminates in Revelation with both books combining to present the same events. The first on a physical plane to prefigure the second on a spiritual plane. The woman brought to the man. The righteous saints (the Church also representing New Jerusalem) presented, as the bride, by God to the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
Leave and cleave to Church alone!
I used to be a diamond cleaver. The idea is to SPLIT a raw stone right through an impurity so you’d have two smaller but purer stones. In the context of Genesis and Revelation, cleave means exactly the opposite. In modern Hebrew, the word in Genesis 2:24 is used for glue. That translates the concept of husband and wife and Christ and the Church glued togetherness in total oneness. You can verify these references at UnlockBibleMeaning.com.
דָּבַק dâbaq, daw-bak’; a primitive root; properly, to impinge, i.e. cling or adhere; figuratively, to catch by pursuit
KJV: abide fast, cleave (fast together), follow close (hard after), be joined (together), keep (fast), overtake, pursue hard, stick, take.
Again, we see the parallel between physical marriage and spiritual marriage; this leads to the ONE flesh. This parallel is so real; it helps us understand a couple of other points.
1. The Lord, in the Old Testament, the future Jesus Christ, was MARRIED to Old Testament Israel. If you haven’t heard this concept before, here it is in Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
That verse carries a lot of explanation. Your Maker means Creator. Very relevant to Genesis 1 and 2, where we’re talking about Creation. His name is the Lord, that is YAHVEH. And YAHVEH is the husband of Israel. That is a marriage relationship, and marriage is binding until death (1 Corinthians 7:39). Since that’s marriage law, under those circumstances, the Lord could NOT marry the New Testament Church, that would be bigamy. But, when Christ died, His former marriage ENDED. He is now free to marry the Church.
His death liberated Him from that former union so He could take His new Bride, the Church. Old Testament Israel had been a neged-against wife. His new bride is to be an azer-neged, a helpmeet, a suitable helper, a neged-beside, at His right side for all eternity. I could say much more about this, but not now.
2. The idea that Christ married Mary Magdeleine is nonsense. Spurious books, including some that are considered sacred, refer to Jesus in a marital state with Mary, even with children. The Da Vinci Code, among other fictions, popularized this idea. It is false information. As Isaiah says above, Christ was ALREADY married to ancient Israel. He could not marry anyone during His lifetime on Earth.
The Lord was glued to the Old Testament nation of Israel. He will be married and glued to the New Testament Church.
How glued is glued? The last two words of verse 24 answer that question.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one (H259) flesh (H1320).
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one (H259) flesh (H1320).
Here’s the understanding of the Biblical Hebrew for one.
ֶאֶחָד ‘echad (ekh-awd’); a numeral from OT:258; properly, united, i.e. one; or (as an ordinal) first:
KJV – a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any (-thing), apiece, a certain, [daily-], each (one), eleven, every, few, first, highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together,
אָחַד ‘achad (aw-khad’); perhaps a primitive root; to unify, i.e. (figuratively) collect (one’s thoughts):
KJV – go one way or other.
H259 is the word for the cardinal number 1 (one), that’s togetherness, it can neither be added to nor divided.
Strong does not associate the next words with echad (H259), but I’m taking the liberty of doing so. Why? Because the aleph (א) of H259 and the yod (‘) of H3161 are interchangeable letters, (like vowels). While the other two consonants (חד) are common to both words, the key to understanding is the meaning — notice, particularly H3173, darling, and solitary. Being Christ’s darling is the epitome of the positive sense of one flesh. That is a manner of speech, but you see what I mean.
On the other hand, the second key to mastering Biblical Hebrew comes into full play here with the word solitary. The total opposite of darling, it means being estranged from, cut off from Christ. Now, the translation of H258 makes even more sense, go one way or other. Humans have one of two choices. Becoming Christ’s darling OR being alone and solitary. Think about it. That’s the story of the two Trees, the choice between Life and Death.
יָחַד yachad (yaw-khad’); a primitive root; to be (or become) one:
KJV – join, unite.
יַחַד yachad (yakh’-ad); from OT:3161; properly, a unit, i.e. (adverb) unitedly: -alike, at all (once), both, likewise, only, (al-) together, withal.
יָחִיד yachiyd (yaw-kheed’); from OT:3161; properly, united, i.e. sole; by implication, beloved; also lonely; (feminine) the life (as not to be replaced):
KJV – darling, desolate, only (child, son), solitary.
Christ and the Church are well imbricated, as you can see. Here are some of the explicit Words of Christ:
“At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20). “He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him” (John 6:56). “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
God’s people are IN Christ, and Christ is IN them. You can’t get any more ONE and unified than that.
We already discussed flesh when we elaborated flesh of my flesh. But, there was a part of the definition I didn’t comment on, specifically, the root or basis for the Biblical Hebrew word flesh. Let’s do it now.
בָּשָׂר basar (baw-sawr’); from OT:1319; flesh (from its freshness); by extension, body, person; also (by euphem.) the pudenda of a man:
KJV – body, [fat, lean] flesh [-ed], kin, [man-] kind, nakednessself,, skin.
בָּשַׂר basar (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.
Notice: preach, publish GOOD TIDINGS. Yes, that’s old English, but you understand it. One flesh means the good news of being Christ’s helpmeet. It’s an excellent message published from the beginning of Creation. It’s the fabulous outcome of the creation of man and woman, the advent of Christ and His Church. What could be better news than that? It’s the Gospel – the Good News of what God has planned for all humanity.
Only through the UNION of Christ and the Church, His Church, the One He founded, of which He’s the Cornerstone, which He nurtures, betroths and marries can God’s Plan be accomplished.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 3.17 of the book Origin of Humankind.
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