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Genesis 2: The Finishing Touch

Posted by Gary Labels: , , ,

I'm pretty much plagiarizing myself here. I hope you guys don't mind me re-posting what I wrote under "When a Man loves a Woman (Part I)." I don't think I could ever top that dramatic (and romantic) retelling of Genesis 2. And so, without further stalling...

Here God is an intimate potter, crafting humanity with his hands. He set the man, his first creation, in a garden he had planted, so that the man could work the garden. More than work, God has given man food, too! But despite God's full presence being near to the him, the man feels lonely, and in God's infinite wisdom, it is not good for the man to be alone. God seeks a solution within what He has already made: He brings every living creature that he had made to the man, to see what he would name it. Nothing would work, though.

So God puts on a knowing smile, and tells the man to lie down and relax. After making the man sleepy, God pulls a second blueprint, one much like the man's own, out of the man's dreams. God strokes his beard for a moment and says to Himself: "Now, if I use this blueprint, it's going to take a rib. Neither one will be complete alone if I do this thing. But... nothing else could possibly do." With a nod of His head, God goes to surgical work and extracts a rib, then closes the flesh around the wound, and he crafts the rib into the most amazing thing the man ever dreamed of.

When the man wakes up, he asks the Lord God what happened, and He just smiles and says "One sec. Let me show you what I've been working on while you were asleep." Then, with a flourish of his hand and a few angelic trumpets in the background, in walks the woman.

The man is overjoyed, and immediately makes a pun (which sounds like something I'd do). First, he calls her "a bone of his bones" and "flesh of his flesh," which is something an ancient Hebrew would say that more or less means you've adopted someone as your "blood brother" or "soul sista." The irony is that she is literally crafted from his bone and flesh. Then he makes the pun: I will call her woman, for she was taken out of man!" (The pun is true in Hebrew as well, though it's completely lost in Greek.)

The chapter near its end with an explanation that this Edenic experience is the reason that a man shall forsake/leave his parents and cling to his wife, and the two become one flesh. This means much more than just "they're gonna hold each other tight and have sex." However, the wording should make that very thing spring to your mind, because that is symbol of union between man and woman (and God, whose name is often invoked during the union). It symbolizes that in marriage, the two become a completely new entity. A new family. Their new bond to one another supersedes the child-parent bond (though it doesn't nullify it).

Chapter two concludes by telling us that the two of them were naked, and they felt no shame. This is the part of the passage that preachers tend to omit. Have you noticed that? It always makes me giggle. This little statement shows that originally, the man and his wife were in a state of harmony with one another and had perfect innocence. There was none of that inner psychological turmoil that comes from shame. And yet, despite the happy picture this entire chapter paints, it does end with the first negative word in the Bible: shame.