Genesis 2:21-25

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.

22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He 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 a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

deep sleep (v.21) — The Hebrew word tardemah, used in [this passage] is not the usual word for “sleep” and does not denote the common nightly slumber but a very special repose brought on by God or by a spirit. The word “shenah” is the regular word for sleep and “shakab” means to lie down. In contrast to these words “tardemah” is not a spontaneous and natural sleep but a stupor that is brought on for some purpose. — Bultema, page 11.

If we consider the three other instances in the Hebrew Bible in which God places people into a deep sleep (i.e., Genesis 15:12; 1 Samuel 26:12; and Isaiah 29:10), it becomes clear that the point in all of these is one and the same—namely, to underscore the people’s need for complete dependence on God and, by the same token, God’s complete and exclusive ability to meet that need in the proper way. In this instance, therefore, God excludes Adam from even a visual participation in the process of creating Eve, that when he awoke he would immediately perceive that his need had been completely and properly met by God. —Wechsler, pages 87-88.

ribs (v.21) — It is likely that the word “rib” is a poor translation. The Hebrew word tsela appears thirty-five times in the Old Testament and this is the only time it has been rendered “rib.” … A “side” would include both flesh and bone, as well as blood, released from the opened side. Adam could later say, “This is not bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” — Morris, page 100.

Eve was thus made from Adam’s side, to work alongside him in carrying out the divine commission to “fill the earth” and to “subdue” it. She not only had the same “flesh” (that is, body) and “life” (that is, soul) as did Adam, but she also had an eternal spirit, as he did; but the spirit (or, better, the “image of God”) was directly from God, not mediated through Adam as was her physical life. This we know from Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image … male and female created He him.” — Morris, page 101.

This next quote, from Taylor, is speculative, but I think it makes sense.

It is entirely logical that God should make Eve from Adam, rather than making her in the same way He made Adam. If Eve had been separately created, then she would have been a representative of all women. … women would need a representative other than Jesus—a female Messiah. However, Eve was made from Adam, so that she contained related genetic material. Adam originally contained all the genetic material of the human race. He therefore represented the whole human race—men and women. Therefore, we need a Last Adam; a new representative, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the new Adam, representing all of us, both men and women. As the Apostle Paul said (with my emphases added), “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). — Taylor, page 95.

made (v.22) — The woman is distinguished in her creation from that of man by the specific use (here for the first time) of the verb fashioned. Whereas the verb “formed” applied to man in 2:7 is otherwise typically employed with reference to the work of a potter, the verb fashioned—which may be translated “built”—is typically applied to the making of more complex and carefully maintained constructions. — Wechsler, page 88.

brought her to the man (v.22) — a semi-formal expression which is otherwise used in Scripture to describe the action of a father when bringing his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom (see Genesis 29:23); and indeed it is described as a marriage in v.24. This also serves to highlight what we have said concerning the relationship of God to man—namely, that the man, as now the woman, are treated by Him as His children. — Wechsler, page 88.

Woman (v.23) — In … the first recorded words of humanity, Adam expressed an immediate and clear awareness of the woman’s intrinsic equality as well as her feminine distinctiveness. He does this by means of a quite adept world-play, describing his mate by the term ishsha, which is typically translated “woman.” From the sound of it, thsi word presents itself as the feminine form of the Hebrew word for man, ish—as also impled by the statement in which they are used: She shall be called ishsha because she was taken out of ish—thus underscoring the woman’s intrinsic equality with the man: all that he is in essence, “beneath” his masculine packaging as a man, so too is she “beneath” her feminine packaging as a woman. The spelling of the word ishsha, however, shows that the feminine ending has not been added to the Hebrew word for man, but in fact to the Hebrew root meaning “soft” or “delicate.” At one and the same time, therefore, Adam is affirming both the woman’s equal value to man (per the sound of the word) as well as her distinctiveness (per the spelling of the word) as “a delicate vessel” (so in 1 Peter 3:7, in which the term typically translated “weaker” can—and should in view of the present passage—be translated “delicate” or even “tender”). — Wechsler, page 89.

Verse 24 was spoken by God — And He [Jesus] answered and said to them [the Pharisees], “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said,‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4-5).

In verse 24 we are presented with the biblical definition of marriage at its most fundamental and essential level—and indeed this is precisely how the passage is treated when later quoted in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31). Specifically, marriage is described as consisting of three essential actions. 

The first essential action, represented by the statement “a man shall leave his father and mother, is that of clearly shifting one’s primary human loyalty to their spouse. … It is worth noting … that the Bible nowhere actually presents us with the details or “proper form” of a marriage ceremony, yet always refers (in principle, at least) to the “relocation” of allegiance and relationship.

The second essential action is described by the clause, “and he shall cleave to his wife,” in which the word cleave refers not to the sexual union of the couple, but rather, consistent with its usage elsewhere, to an intentional and unbreakable commitment, with the best interest of the other party being both the motivation and the goal of the one making that commitment. Not surprisingly, therefore, this verb is often used to describe the ideal of Israel’s (or an individual’s) covenant relationship with God (cf. Joshua 23:8; Deuteronomy 11:20; 30:20; 2 Kings 18:6; Psalm 63:8; Jeremiah 13:11).

The third essential action is expressed by the statement, “and they shall become one flesh”—referring not merely to the sexual union that takes place within marriage, but in fact to all the physical needs of the other just as they would hope for those same need to be met in themselves. It is precisely this point that Paul makes in Ephesians 5:28-30, which, being an inspired comment on precisely this third clause, is worth citing here in full: So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. — Wechsler, pages 89-91. 

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