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Genesis 2:21-22
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from him, and formed the woman. Does that sound fantastical? Does it seem strange? Well, it’s no stranger than God taking a lump of clay and making Adam in the first place. I figure He must have done a bit finer job with the woman, seeing that He already had a head start![1] For man, He only had dirt to work with. The woman He crafted out of bone. And since blood is produced in the bone marrow, the apostle correctly stated that God made from one blood all the nations of the earth.[2]

When God breathed the breath of life into Adam, he became a living soul that fully reflected the image of God. But the Lord said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. He needed a helpmeet, who together with him, would teach their children how the Bride was to relate to her heavenly Bridegroom. So God drew blood from the man’s side and pulled the woman out. She was in there! She was in Adam. What he had been in himself he now could be only with her. The two became the image of God. Separately they were but half the picture. This is why two men in union together cannot reflect the true image of God any more than two women can. They instead reflect an abomination. God pulled out the constituent parts. Men and women fit together not because they mirror each other but because they complement each other. We have opposing pieces and jagged ends throughout our entire beings—spirit, soul, and body—that fit together, pieces of the puzzle that complete each other. Men and women aren’t supposed to be alike. They are intended to be different so that they may show different aspects of God’s image.

It was from the rib that the Lord chose to fashion the woman. The Hebrew term translated “ribs” in verse 21 and “rib” in verse 22 is tsela’. It means, surprisingly enough, a rib! Its 41 uses are translated variously in the King James Version as a beam, board, chamber, corner, leaf, plank, rib, or side. The first two uses you have already read in Genesis 2:21-22. Once it is used as the side of a man in the book of Job.[3] It is also used once in reference to the side of the Mount of Olives.[4] All the other remaining 37 uses have reference to tabernacle or temple structures: nineteen for the sides of the tabernacle of Moses and its furnishings (the Ark of the Covenant and the altar of incense), seven for the temple of Solomon (its boards and chambers), and eleven for the temple in Ezekiel 41 (its sides and chambers). As we shall see, the use of Adam’s rib in the sides of God’s house isn’t accidental.

Bone and Flesh
Did the above section title throw you? Did you want to read “flesh and bone”? I know I wanted to type it! For English-speaking peoples, flesh seems to come first, for some reason. We say “flesh and bone” and “flesh and blood.” Somehow, we are fixated on starting with the outside and working our way in. This is not God’s mind or His way; He begins on the inside and works His way out.

Genesis 2:23-24
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 unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

I personally believe that verse 24 is what the Lord said in response to Adam’s declaration in verse 23.[5] He prophesied over them that they should have children and that those children should leave home and establish their own households. But most importantly, He declared that the two should become one flesh. Flesh was the endpoint, not the starting point.

Notice that Adam didn’t look at the woman and say, “My, my, what a fine piece of flesh. I think I’ll call her Mine, for she pleases me.” He didn’t start with the flesh. He said, “She is bone of my bones.” He recognized that she had been crafted from the very core of his being. He knew that it was because of the bone that she was his flesh. All the animals of the world had paraded before Adam and he cared not to marry any one. Imagine his wonder when he awoke to find the woman. “You are me,” he said in joy and wonder. “I thought the garden was nice! And all the pets are great! But Lord, You really topped Yourself here. What a marvelous creature! I shall call her woman because she came out of me.” This wasn’t narcissistic on Adam’s part. It was a revelation of the rare preciousness of his bride. He understood that because she had been in him, they two really were one flesh.

The Hebraic expression “bone and flesh” is the equivalent of our English idiom “flesh and blood.” It means that we are related; that we are family.[6] It is the red marrow in our bones that produces stem and blood cells. Up until the age of seven, all of our marrow is red. But as we age, fat tissue (also called yellow marrow) begins to replace the red marrow. It is the yellow marrow Scripture is referring to when it speaks about fat bones.[7] In adult humans, red bone marrow is found only in the vertebrae, the hips, the breast bone, at the ends of the long bones of the arms and legs, the skull, and the ribs. In Adam’s rib, the Lord had a wealth of stem cells and blood cells with which to work. Isn’t it interesting that all the places our Lord was pierced contained red marrow?

Hebrews 2:14
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil…

Though the Lord is not ashamed to call us brethren, He could not rightly call us His flesh and blood for He only took part. But when we believed on Him, we became His bone and flesh.

[1] From the Hebrew, man was formed like a clay pot. The woman was built or crafted like a house or an altar.
[2] Acts 17:6
[3] Job 18:12
[4] 2 Sam 16:13
[5] Indeed, Jesus ascribes these words to the Father in Matt 19:4-5
[6] See also Gen 29:13-14 and 2 Sam 19:11-15
[7] Prov 15:30; Is 58:11