sermon: Imagining the Garden of Eden (Part Twelve)
Bone of My Bone
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 29-Jan-11; Sermon #1030; 73 minutes
Richard Ritenbaugh describes the function, placement, and characteristics of the 206 bones in the adult human body. Bones have excellent elasticity, good compressive strength, but poor tensile strength. God made bones to perform multiple purposes such as to provide structure for our bodies, protect our vital organs, store our bodies' minerals, regulate the levels of metals, and buffer the blood pH levels. One primary function is the production of red and yellow marrow, which contains three types of stem cells, making blood, bone, fat, and blood vessels. Because of their pluri-potent capabilities, these stem cells may have been the key explaining how a suitable mate could be built for Adam. As God carefully selected a companion for Adam, He will also carefully provide a mate for those who prepare themselves to be suitable companions. God used a deep sleep to perform a surgical procedure by taking Adam's rib to make Eve. Dr. Elton Stubblefield suggests that the rib contains all the necessary components (DNA and stem cells) to replicate an entire human being. Although authority over the family unit was given to the husband, man and woman were created to be complementary and supplementary to one another. Adam evidently was overwhelmed with gratitude when God presented Eve to him, realizing that God had successfully "hit the mark." The intimate relationship we share with our spouse symbolizes the kind of relationship Christ's bride should have with Him. Though men and women have delightful differences, they have more commonalities than differences, and are designed to cleave to one another and become perfectly compatible.
Most of us tend to take our bodies for granted. I do not mean that we do not take care of them; we have this urge to feed them, and clothe them, and clean them, and exercise them, and do all kinds of other things. But when it comes down to it, most of us really do not know very much about our bodies. We take them for granted. We may have taken a class in school, maybe a health class, or perhaps a biology class, or something like that, years and years ago, where we learned a little bit about it. But it is a pretty good bet that most of us have not done a great deal of in-depth study of our bodies.
Perhaps those of us who had a health problem in the past have gone to an encyclopedia, or picked up some sort of a health book, or maybe gone on the Internet to find out what is going on and what it is all about. But I think that for most of us, we just tend to maintain them and go on. We do not know all of the details about our bodies.
I would like to remedy that just a little bit today. This is not going to be the most in-depth study of the human body. I want to enlighten you about your bones. Bones are our most interior thing, except for a few bones that come close to the surface. We tend to ignore them most of the time. You adults who are sitting out there, you have 206 of them. The little child, who may be at your feet or on your lap, has 270 bones; they start with that many. Many of those bones fuse together as they mature, and by the time they get to be adults, they have the same as the rest of us, 206.
The biggest bone in your body, and the longest bone in your body, is the femur—that is your thigh bone. The smallest, the stapes (from the Latin meaning “stirrup”), is found in your inner ear. It is the smallest and the lightest bone. So these bones range from “this big” to all the way down to where you can hardly see it. But they are still your bones.
The primary tissue of bone is called osseous tissue, which is a Latin word that means “bone tissue.” Osseous tissue is relatively hard and lightweight. It is a composite material formed mostly of calcium phosphate. For those of you who like engineering and those types of things, your bones have relatively high compressive strength, but relatively poor tensile strength. To put it into language that the rest of us can understand, it resists pushing forces but not pulling forces. If you push against it, it can resist, but if you pull it, it tends to snap.
Bone is essentially brittle, but it does have a significant degree of elasticity because it is full of collagen. It is the collagen that is in animal bones that is processed to make gelatin, and you know how gelatin is. So it is the collagen in the bone that makes it a little bit elastic. Because we have collagen in our bones, we do not break our bones every time we stand up.
Bones have multiple functions, and it is probable that you have never thought of some of the functions. The most obvious one is that bones provide structure to our body. They are the frame on which the rest of our tissues hang, or are draped, or are knit. Some bones, particularly the bones of the skull and the ribs, provide protection for vital organs, like our brains (it might not be so vital in some cases, but in other people it is), as well as our heart and lungs.
Most bones also help us to move. I can move my arms; I can move my legs; I can move my spine and hips. Our hips, our legs, our ankles, toes, and feet: those things work together to get us moving, to get us to walk or to run. Our spine allows us to bend and stretch every which-way. Our shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers allow us to do such different things as throwing a ball, opening a door, playing the piano, or a thousand other activities. Our bones are all part of that.
As I mentioned before, we have bones in our ears, three bones in our inner ear that help us to hear. That is another function of bone, they pass along the sound.
The marrow in our bones produces blood that circulates throughout our bodies, in our arteries and our veins.
I think these last two are really interesting. Bones act as the body’s mineral storage units. It will release those minerals as they are needed. In the same way, they also remove heavy metals from our blood, because the bones are able to take the heavy metals better than some or our softer tissues. Eventually, if everything works out right (you are eating properly and doing all of the things that you should be doing), they eventually leach those heavy metals back into the blood where they are disposed of over time, so that they do not hurt you. I thought that was pretty interesting.
Finally, the one that I thought was the most impressive, that I had never thought of before, is that bones buffer the blood against excessive pH changes. They do that by absorbing or releasing alkaline salts. That is part of the minerals that are stored in the bone. They keep our blood at a good pH, if everything is working properly.
God put a lot of thought into these things. Man would just find some pieces of aluminum and put them in there, and they would be just for structure or strength. But God puts seven different functions, and there are more that I did not list that are a little bit more technical. God made our bones to do several different things and do them well.
To me, maybe the most interesting thing of all in these particular functions that I have mentioned is bone marrow. In newborns, all marrow bones are filled exclusively with what is called red marrow. That is what produces red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Everything that we have in our blood that makes up our blood is made in the red marrow.
As the child ages, the red marrow changes or is replaced by yellow marrow. Yellow marrow makes fat (I bet you did not know that). It is fatty marrow. In adults, red marrow is found mostly in the marrow bones of the femur, the ribs, the vertebrae, and the pelvic bones.
Not all of your bones produce marrow; obviously, the ones in your ears are too small to do something like that. But there are specific ones that produce most of the blood. Notice that they are spread out around the entire body. I said the femur that is in your legs, the thigh; the ribs, the vertebrae, and in your pelvic bones. God disperses the marrow throughout the body. That means that blood can be manufactured and sent out to where it is needed as quickly as possible.
This is interesting, too, that marrow constitutes 4% of an adult’s body weight. I thought that was pretty significant, 4%! I would have thought part of a percent. An average adult person has almost six pounds of marrow inside them. That is a bit more than I expected to find.
Most interesting of all, bone marrow contains three types of stem cells. There is this big argument over embryonic stem cells, but in our very marrow are three different types. Stem cells, if you do not know, are cells that can renew themselves readily, and be differentiated into more specialized cells that your body may need.
These three types that are in your marrow are the cells that make blood, bone, cartilage, fat, and blood vessels. What is interesting about these is that these particular stem cells are called multi or pluripotent cells, meaning that they can produce many different specialized cells, and not just the ones that I named. The ones that I named are the ones that they are normally used for, but there is some speculation that these stem cells could be used to produce other things as well. Some of this information, specifically about stem cells, will come into play as we go through the last verses of Genesis 2.
This, God willing, will be the last sermon in that series. This makes number twelve, so we are going to quit imagining the Garden of Eden after this, and go on to something else. Remember, this series has been designed as a rather long study into the use of our God-given imaginations, to enhance our Bible study. As usual, I want to caution us not to go beyond what God has revealed. We can do that by finding different places in scripture where these things are mentioned, and do comparisons and see what comes out.
Let us do a little bit of a summary of the sermon that was last time, as you may have forgotten what we went over. We covered Genesis 2:18-20 last time, which was a huge accomplishment (that we actually got three verses done). We saw that since God has said that it was not good for Adam to be alone (and we went over several reasons in the previous sermon for that), God decided to make a helper comparable for Adam. That took up a great deal of the sermon. This new creature, this helper comparable to him, was to be both a complement, meaning very much like Adam, but as well, a supplement to him, meaning that she added additional strengths and features that he did not have. So she was to be both like and unlike him.
As a helper, we also found that the wife is in no way inferior, or a kind of a servant, to the man. We saw that the idea of a “helper comparable to him” is very similar to God being a help to us, and God is in no way inferior to us. He is actually superior to us, but He helps us, giving us the strength, giving us a help, and/or giving us some sort of aid, that we lack. So this word, “helper,” is one who supplies strength in an area that is lacking.
We men know that if you can catch us when we are really being honest (and make us under pain of torture admit this), that our wives have strength that we cannot match. They are definitely not in the same areas that we have strength. Sometimes they are, but oftentimes not. To me, the greatest example of this is what man would ever have the fortitude to birth even one child, let alone several children? So ladies, I have got to hand it to you, there is a strength there that we do not have (men are wimps). We have our strength elsewhere; they do say that men have a lower tolerance for pain than women; and I think in that instance, we can see that is true.
We also covered Adam’s naming of the animals, explaining that when we read the text closely, we see that he did not have to name all of the animals. The number of kinds of animals in that time, right at the creation, was a lot less than what we have now. Speciation has occurred since the Flood to give us a huge number of species, whereas at the time, on the 6th Day, that day of creation, just the kinds were available; and they would separate into various species as time went on. So there were genus level or family level animals there, and not species level. Instead of having to name every kind of cat, all he had to name was the progenitor species of that, which may have been a lion. I do not know, we always think of the lion as being the greatest of the cats, but it may not have been at the time, it might have been something like a lynx, or a mountain lion, or a cougar.
Knowing what we have today, in terms of types of animals (we saw that it also included cattle, birds of the air, and every beast of the field), that we can get this down to about 2,500 different kinds; 2,500 different names that he would have had to come up with. Although this would have required a great deal of concentration and a very quick mind, it could have been done in a full afternoon. What did they say, three hours or so? That seems like a very quick thing; he had to come up with one every five seconds. He could have done it; he had the sharpest mind of any human that has ever been. It was clear and fresh. I am sure that everything about him was just clicking on all cylinders. So it would not have been an impossible task.
Yet, at the end of that, after he had gone through all of these animals and given them names, Adam was still left alone. There was no animal qualified as a helper comparable to him. So here we are today. We will start reading in verse 21.
Genesis 2:21-25 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. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 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.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
I want to point out, as I have tried to point out most every time that we have gone through these verses, that God again is shown to be the prime actor. It is made very simple for us, because He is the subject of the sentence: “the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam.” He was the one that makes things happen, especially in this chapter. He causes Adam to sleep, and thus He becomes the solution to the problem that has been bothering us for a couple of verses here. The problem being, there is no helper comparable to Adam. So the LORD God acts. He causes a sleep to fall upon Adam, and then he provides the solution.
This should be encouraging to us. It should be encouraging, especially to those of you who want to marry and have not found a mate yet. This is a specific instance in which this occurs. This is an illustration for us to look at, and to see that God found—He created—one for Adam. God is the one to have solved that problem, too. So if I can give any advice, to those of you who are unmarried and wish to marry, do what you can to be the right one for that special someone, and then God will bring the two of you together, the one He has chosen for you. It does not matter what the circumstances are, He can make it happen. It just takes a little bit of faith, a little bit of trust. God will work things out.
Let us look at Psalm 37:4. Ted was mentioning one of his favorite verses today out of the Psalms; this is one of mine.
Psalm 37:3-4 Trust in the LORD, and do good [I think this is something that for any of you who want to be married—this should be first on your list. Have your priorities straight]; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
So if you have your priorities straight—God first, you are doing things to be faithful to Him; you are, as it says here, “feeding on His faithfulness,” that is, He is feeding you, and you are returning faithfulness and trust to Him—He will give you what you desire most. It may not be in the way that you thought it would be. It may not even be someone that you even considered before. But if you are turning your life in the right direction, God will give you a mate just as He gave Adam a mate.
This is something that we need to understand at this time with the churches all scattered about. There are not a whole lot of mates available. We need to really hang onto this—that God will work things out. I admit there are many examples in the Bible of this occurring. It starts off here in Genesis 2, and we find a couple more in Genesis. Isaac did not have a bride, but God found one for him and brought Rebekah back to him. Jacob was fleeing for his life. He was on the lam! He thought Esau was going to jump out from behind a bush at any time. Instead of Esau, he got Rachael (and Leah, and Bilhah, and Zilpah—and Laban in the mix).
You see, God worked it out. He was making sure that things happened the way He wanted them to go, and He provided wives (do not expect wives, guys, God usually only gives one). There is also the story of Boaz and Ruth, where God provided a husband for Ruth and a wife for Boaz.
Ultimately, the greatest story is Christ and God finding a bride for His son. You could say that the entire theme of the Bible is this particular subject. God is faithful to provide mates for those who wish one. As we see here in this chapter, it is one of the greatest desires that one can have.
Let us read Genesis 2:21 and 22 again, so that we get the whole little subsection.
Genesis 2:21-22 The LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept. [Now just notice these details.] He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Those are big, overriding actions on God’s part, and I think we can break them down a little bit. God, as we see here, put Adam under a kind of divine anesthesia, and He did this in order to perform this surgical procedure on him. The words used for this particular deep sleep from God are fairly rare in the Old Testament; they are only used four times in scripture in this particular way, that God caused a deep sleep to fall. There is another couple in Job where the word is used, but it is not God causing a deep sleep, it is actually a person falling into a deep sleep.
In these four cases, only one is negative, if you want to put it that way. In the other three, and actually in the one that is negative as well, God does something wondrous during the deep sleep. He does something that is actually a wondrous blessing. It is not something bad that happens, but it is a miracle of good that comes out of it.
We can see, here, that this miracle of good that came as a result of God putting Adam into this deep sleep, was Eve. Not only Eve, but the institution of marriage and the institution of family. All of this came out of this particular action of putting Adam into a deep sleep.
Interestingly, in the negative case of this deep sleep, He sends upon Israel a spirit of ignorance and spiritual blindness. As you go later into the chapter, which is Isaiah 29, particularly verses 9 through 14, God Himself says that putting Israel into this deep sleep is a marvelous work and a wonder, because what it does is preserve Israel from going too far into sin. It sets them aside so that He could work with them later.
A more positive occasion of this happens in I Samuel 26:12, when David stole into Saul’s camp. God put a deep sleep upon Saul’s camp so that David could go in without being harmed. Doing this, having Saul there right at the tip of David’s sword, showed that David was the better man. He would not harm the LORD’s anointed. It showed who the LORD’s anointed actually was: it was David and not Saul.
The one I would like to go to is in Genesis 15:12, where God makes a covenant with Abraham. He then gives him the blessing at the end of it where He says that his descendants would go down to Egypt where they would serve others 400 years, and when they came up they would inherit the land.
Genesis 15:12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.
In this verse, it sounds like it is an awful thing that he went into this deep sleep and had a nightmare. But if you go through it, what he was experiencing was the horror—the same sort of horror that perhaps Jesus Himself went through in His crucifixion. What we see is a great deal of the conversion of Abraham. He was probably already converted by this point, but God puts the seal on it by making this covenant with him. As he comes out of this, he is given the promise that yes, he is the one that God is going to use; and his people would eventually inherit the land; and the savior would come from him. So we can see, if we think about it a little bit, that a marvelous work and a wonder was going to come out of this as well.
Generally, deep sleep is very beneficial for rest, repairing, healing the body, and relieving stress. It also allows our subconscious mind to order our brains, which sometimes triggers dreams. God often uses sleep to impart visions. There are a lot of examples of that in the Bible. Jacob had a vision when he dreamed and saw the angels going up and down on the ladder. The Egyptian butler and baker, which later came to Joseph; Pharaoh, which later came to Joseph; Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, other prophets; Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather; Peter, Paul—they all had dreams and visions in which God imparted some sort of information that was necessary to further either God’s work or His plan. So sleep seems to be the state in which the mind is more receptive to God. The reason is that our conscious mind and our human nature are temporarily subdued in that situation, and God then can give us information that we need without having to fight against our lower nature, you might say.
In Psalm 127:2, we use this in one of our hymns:
Psalm 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for so He gives his beloved sleep.
We see there that God gives His beloved people sleep. It is a gift of God.
Why did God take a rib from Adam and use it to make Eve? Why a rib? Many have noted there is a famous sentence about this, “Woman was taken not from Adam’s foot, that he might rule over her; not from Adam’s head, that she might dominate him; but from his side, that she might be his true equal and companion.” This is very sweet and romantic, and it is true, as far as it goes, but there are better reasons—one physical and one more spiritual—why He used a rib. By the way, for any of you who might be under the impression that men have one less rib than woman, that is not true. Men and women have the same number of ribs. Adam was the only one that lacked a rib, and he gave his up very willingly. He was asleep; he did not know. He was happy to do it when he saw what came out of it.
We have already alluded to the physical reasons for using a rib in the introduction, and that is those stem cells. There is a man, a Dr. Elton Stubblefield, a famed medical doctor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital (he was also a “Christian,” by the way), who conducted research into the mysteries of DNA. One time, while giving a public lecture, he said “The rib is the only portion of the human body that carries within it every type, of which there are several, of cell to be found in a human body; and theoretically it is absolutely possible to clone an entire human being from a single rib.”
We saw earlier that the marrow contains the stem cells for manufacturing various kinds of cells that a body needs. But obviously, despite what Dr. Stubblefield said, Eve was not a clone of Adam. It just makes sense because when you clone something, you get an exact copy. So if Eve was a clone of Adam, she would be a “he,” not a “she.” So Eve was not a clone. Eve was a special creation.
God took the raw materials from Adam and in a different process than what He did in making him, He created her in a special way to be like Adam but different. He used Adam’s material—bodily tissue, his DNA—but He made something very different out of her. Obviously, she was sexually different; she had a different gender. As I mentioned in one sermon: different parts. But she was very much like him. Think of the wonder of DNA that God put into Adam that has been transferred down to us. There was, in the DNA, enough information available so that He could make her, and still there would be enough extra information to produce all of us. And each one of us is different than anybody else, except for those twins who are identical. But even they turn out different from each other. They are not entirely the same, even though they have the same DNA.
How many billions of human beings have there been since Adam? And even Adam had to split his DNA with Eve, yet since the beginning of mankind, there has not ever been two the same. It is just an incredible thing to think about.
At this point, in looking at what is happening here, I have to imagine—remember, this is a series about imagination—I have to imagine God in surgical scrubs, putting Adam under anesthesia, then carefully performing an operation. You see Him in the little hospital, in the surgical room, He has all His tools about. There is Adam laying on a slab on a bed or whatever it happens to be, and God goes in there and He cuts Adam open, takes out a rib, and maybe some of the flesh around it. The Hebrew word for rib can mean “side,” so there is not any problem that God took additional tissue as well, the tissue around the rib. As a matter of fact, we know that in verse 23, Adam exclaims “she is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” So it was not just the bone, He took some of the flesh as well, most likely.
Now He has the bone out. He then closes up the wound. He heals Adam and knits up the place, and I am sure that with Adam, there was no scar. God did it perfectly. He brought Adam back to wholeness, except for the lack of a rib.
Then, right next door to his little surgical theater is a little laboratory or maybe a big laboratory. God goes in there, places the rib wherever He would place it, and starts to go to work. Now this is obviously not happening, but I am trying to get you to think through what went on here.
He takes the rib and extracts the stem cells and the other tissues that he needs to make Eve. Then, He meticulously builds Eve. The word there in verse 22 that says, “He made into a woman”…most margins will have a reference, and it will say “built.” He built a woman. The idea here is of a very detailed process, in which He started at the beginning with blueprints, a plan, and then He followed through very, very meticulously to try to make his final project turn out perfectly. It was like building a building. It is not done quickly (in God’s case, He could do it quickly if He wanted to), but it is not just done by throwing out a few boards and few nails, slapping it together. There is a certain process that is gone through. God went from point “A,” to “B,” to “C,” to “D,” and all the way through the instruction manual as it were, and He constructed the woman perfectly and brought her to completion.
The main idea that comes out of this is God did not say, “I have this rib, shazzam!” and suddenly there was Eve. The idea that the Hebrew wants you to understand is that God took His time, and that He went through a process of building, developing, making, constructing the woman by work. Just as He took the dust from the ground and made Adam by work, He then took this part from Adam and using His intelligence and His effort, He built the woman.
What we are to understand is that He took the same care in making Eve that He had taken in making Adam. They were both special creations. He took the time, He took the meticulous care, to do both. Again, there is an equality. God did not treat one less than the other. He just did it a different way. We can say that about men and women. Neither one is better than the other; they just do things different ways (…and it gets us into a lot of trouble).
We see this likeness alongside the difference again. It is very interesting to me to see all of this—that God did not want either one of us to say, “Well, men are superior creations, because God took us from the dust of the ground.” A woman could come back and say, “Well, we are superior creations because God took something out of you and made us, and look how we are! We are more beautiful.” We cannot say that because God took the same care with each.
There is something in I Corinthians 11 that we have to mention here, because God does give the authority in the family to the man. This is the thing that differentiates the difference in authority.
I Corinthians 11:8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man [he is talking about at creation]. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.
So the authority is given to the man, here, because man was created first; woman was created out of him, and woman was created to be a helper for him and not the other way around. Man, in this case, is given the authority in the family, which he says there in verse 3: “I want you to know that the head of very man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” So women, you do not have to worry (too much); each man has an authority over him as well. He is subject to Christ, and so he had better behave properly in the authority that he has been given.
Otherwise, men and women are fairly equal. Obviously men have strengths that women do not have, but as I have mentioned also, women have strengths that men do not have. So we end up being complementary and supplementary. But only the authority is given to the man in the marriage.
Let us get back to this. We were on the point where God meticulously builds Eve, the same way He meticulously created Adam. He took these tissues out of the rib and He made certain ones into one part—one organ, one thing—and He did all of this, set them all out, and connected the tissues together. At some point…we do not know how long this process took, but it was less than a day (I do not know how long God took to do this, but this whole chapter is taking place within the sixth day)…so these things were happening fairly quickly. But this is God we are talking about and not man.
So He has Eve completely assembled and ready to go; and just as He did with Adam, He breathes into her nostrils the breath of life. It does not say that, but we can assume it, because that is what God does. When He wants to give life, He says it right there in verse 7, just as He did with Adam, I am sure He did with Eve. And probably, in the same way as He did with Adam, He introduced Himself, “Hello, I am your creator, welcome to life. I have someone you should meet.” So He takes her by the hand, helps her to her feet, and brings her to Adam. That is a very beautiful picture, is it not? God took the same care as He did in waking up Adam and does the same with Eve.
In this case, Adam was probably still asleep, so He had a little bit of time alone with her as well, just as He had time alone with him. Who knows what He instructed her in, perhaps He told her the same thing that He told Adam: “There are two trees in the midst of the garden, you can eat of all of the trees freely in the garden, but of this one—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—you shall not eat of it because in the day you do, you shall surely die.” He then brings her to Adam (I am just assuming that). Perhaps Adam instructed her, but it could very well have been that God, in order to emphasize the lesson, told her directly.
He brings her to Adam and puts her hand in his, and we can imagine this last part as their wedding ceremony. God gives her away, as it were, as her father and creator, and Adam takes her as his wife.
Genesis 2:23 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.”
He was in a “naming habit;” he had been naming things all afternoon, so “Here she is—this is woman. I finally found the one, the helper comparable to me.”
Many commentators make a big deal out of Adam’s exclamation upon seeing her. They are describing things like “his eyes pop out,” “his face breaks into a huge grin,” and he says “Wow! God, you outdid yourself!” And do you know what? The Hebrew actually supports this. Not in those particular words, but there is a bit of that underlying the Hebrew term here.
It is actually one word, and that word is “this.” “This” or “this now” in the King James Version, the “is” is italicized. “This is now bone of my bones.” The “is” should not be there, it should be “This now, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” The “this” here is emphatic in the Hebrew, so it is “This!” But the word interestingly also contains an element of time.
Normally, we think of “this” as “this thing.” It has the element of an object. But this Hebrew word has an element of time. You could say that he is saying, “This time, bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Or “This now, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Or, “Now, at last! Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Remember, his last thoughts were “gorilla, no; cow, no; cat, no; dog, no; sheep, no; no, no, no….nothing here.” He goes to sleep; there she is, ah ha! This now is it, this is the one! So it is “now, at last!”
The word properly means, and this is interesting, a “smart, bold, successful stroke.” What it signifies is hitting the precise time of any action. The ball comes from the pitcher and is decisively hit. That is what it means; it is a stroke that is timed perfectly to produce the results that you desire. It is hitting the precise time of any action or requirement. It is equivalent to our phrase, “this hits the mark.”
What he is doing is complimenting God. Adam was more than satisfied; he was amazed, in saying “God, you did it! This is perfect! You are right on target!” Keil and Delitzsch call it “Adam’s joyous astonishment.”
But when God does something, He hits the mark every time. He never fails, and we have a song about that—“His mercy never fails.” It does not matter; His mercy, His love, whatever—it never fails. When He creates, it is perfect. It hits the mark.
Then he exclaims, “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” In this case, Adam means it literally. Somehow he knew that God had taken this rib from him, and he recognized himself in her; that she was, literally, his bone and his flesh. God had just made it bigger, amplified it, formed and shaped it into Eve. She was indeed made of his bone and his flesh. The phrase then came to mean in Hebrew, “a blood relationship.” An exact blood relationship, almost.
Let us go to Genesis 29, which is an interesting place to see it. It is a true thing, because we think so badly of Laban, but here Laban uses it with Jacob.
Genesis 29:13 Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son [showing us the relationship; he was Jacob’s uncle], that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. So he told Laban all these things. And Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him for a month [and 20 years].
Obviously, Laban uses the term in regard to Jacob as uncle to nephew. They were truly blood-related through his sister. He was related to her by blood, and Jacob was related to her by blood, and therefore they were related to each other.
Later, if you chase this out throughout the Old Testament, you will find that extended families (I believe it was the family of Abimelech) had things going on, and he said “Hey, I am flesh and bone with you.” Later on, the whole tribe of Judah came to David and said, “You are our flesh and bone.” It was used to signify a close bond of blood. Nothing can be stronger in the physical realm.
Did you know that the blood bond between siblings is closer than any other blood bond that there is? That is because they share the same chromosomes with each other, but they only share half with their father and half with their mother. So siblings are more closely related than parent and child.
What this tells us, if we can jump to a more spiritual meaning or a more marital meaning, is that the bond between husband and wife is supposed to equal that of an actual blood bond that was between Adam and Eve. This is not done via blood; this is done via love and care. It takes a whole lot more work.
You do not have to do anything to be a blood relationship with one of your kin. But when it is man and wife, where there is no blood relationship, that relationship has to be built by the way we act, speak, and get along with one another. That is what we are trying to reach.
Let us go to Ephesians 5:28. Martin has been here; I will not stay long; I do not want to step on his toes, but I just want to bring this out.
Ephesians 5:28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies [That is what Adam did, was it not? Eve was his own body, it was his rib walking around.]; he who loves his wife loves himself.
That is the way we have to look at it. We are to have the same love and care for each other, as husband and wife that blood relations should have just by virtue of being in the same family. It is because husband and wife share the same DNA, as it were; not literally, but that is the way that God looks at them.
They are one flesh once married. They should have everything in common. They share life and time. They share children, ultimately. They share resources; they share goals, hopes, and dreams. But most of all, the thing that should make this work best is that they share a relationship with God. He is the one, if we have faith, that brought the two of them together. This hints, then, at the spiritual reason for God forming her from his rib.
Ephesians 5:30 is where we want to go; it is where the spiritual reason for forming her from his rib is found.
Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of His [Christ’s] body, of His flesh and of His bones.
It is that same idea that Adam brought out in Genesis 2. The intimate relationship that we are to have with our spouses is a type of the intimacy that a Christian is to have with Christ. So much so, that we become a part of His body, His bones, His flesh. We become one with Him. We become a unit. As we have learned, He, as the head, calls the shots; and we, as the body, follow His lead willingly and faithfully. Like I said, we have been seeing this in Martin’s series on marriage, so I do not need to expound that any further.
Back to Genesis 2. Adam called Eve “woman.” That is the name he gave her. In Hebrew, this is ishsha. That is merely the feminine form of what he was: he was ish, man, and she was ishsha. It is a parallel idea to the fact that she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. You can see how all of this goes together. “This now, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” This is poetry, and all of these lines are saying the same thing. We are just supposed to get a little bit different out of each way he says it.
So she was just like him, but female. He was ish, she was ishsha. But they were both human. They were not animals. They were not gorillas, lions, dogs, sheep, or anything like that. They were ish. And she was a subpart of that, ishsha. They were of the same kind.
So what he is doing in this section, where he says “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man,” is recognizing her likeness to him. He then identifies her with him. Since he is ish and she is ishsha—that means they identify with one another. But there is also a recognition of difference, because he calls her not another ish, but she is an ishsha. She is a little bit different. She is a “man,” a human, but just his feminine counterpart.
What he is doing is recognizing that she is of the same species as him, but with enough difference that they are not the same. Therefore, they can procreate because that was the difference, the big difference.
This is easier to see in English than it is in Hebrew. In English the words “man” and “woman” are much more descriptive linguistically. “Woman” was originally “womb-man.” In other words: man with a womb. So when he says, “she shall be called womb-man,” he is recognizing that she was “hu-man,” but she had a womb that he did not have, so she was different. Thus she was feminine; she was ishsha.
Most of what he emphasizes here, though, is that she is the same. She is similar. Likeness is much more emphasized than difference. “Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she is ishsha; even though I am ish, she is just a little different because she was taken out of man. We have the same stuff. We are made of the same stuff.”
As you can see, God stresses likeness, not difference. Remember what He said about man in Genesis 1:26? “Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” And through chapter 2, He does not mention that, but He mentions time and time again that woman and man are like each other. You can look at it this way: the Divine looks at things and sees likeness, sees commonality, sees ways that we can get along.
But do you know what? Man sees difference and it drives him apart. Just a little bit of a hint of the difference between the mind of man and the mind of God. God looks at things and says, “Hey! We have something in common!” But man, because of sin, sees things that drive us apart. I should not say just sees, man stresses [things that drive us apart].
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This is most likely a comment inserted as explanation by Moses; that is my guess. Moses went through the story and saw what Adam said, so he decided to make a comment about what Adam was actually saying. What he is telling us is that, with this statement, Adam acknowledged Eve as his divinely ordained spouse. In other words, he said, “I do.”
So right here, we see the final Godly creation on the sixth day—the institution of marriage—and with it, its divinely sanctioned product, the family. It has to start with a marriage, and then the rest of the family comes along later. What He is doing, of course, is setting the stage for us to understand His own plan—that there is going to be a marriage, and from this marriage, the God family is going to be produced.
We could call verse 24 the basic version of the marriage covenant. A man becomes mature enough to live on his own, so he leaves the family unit that he grew up in. He takes a wife, and he cleaves to her. I actually like that word better than “joined to,” as in the New King James, because “cleave” is so much more descriptive. It means “cling.” It means “adheres to,” like tape adheres to whatever you place it on. Like glue, it means “hold fast to.” You get the idea of the two of them giving each other a big hug; they do not want to be broken apart. The word “cleave” also gives an intimation of faithfulness, and that brings it into the spiritual realm. They not only came together as husband and wife, but they are going to stay together and be faithful to one another.
Thus begins a new family unit, and their relationship is to be so close and so intimate, they become totally united in everything that they do. What we have here in this chapter is the epitome of what God expects—that we are to become so totally united in everything that we are as perfectly compatible as Adam was to Eve. We are to think of it in these terms. God created Eve especially for Adam, so they would be perfectly joined one to another and be the perfect couple.
We have to have faith in God that He chose the perfect mate for us, too. We have the same potential to be as united as Adam and Eve were, in the Garden of Eden, before sin came and started ruining things. That is what we are shooting for. It is a great, big, almost impossible goal. But with faith in God, we can make good strides toward it.
Genesis 2:25 They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
This verse is a transitional statement, setting the stage for chapter 3, because the very next verse introduces the serpent. When he starts coming in, you had better watch out. But at this point, they were still innocent. They were still pure. They did not have wicked thoughts in any way. But in chapter 3, the conditions that produce shame come into existence. So we have this little period here where we can take a breather, knowing though, these things are coming.
As soon as human rebellion and sin reared their ugly heads, shame, guilt, and self-consciousness took over. As we see, when we read through chapter 3, they became aware that they were naked, once they sinned. Since then, nakedness has been unnatural, outside of marriage. God intended it to remain in marriage; even had they not sinned, I am very sure that we would not all be running around naked. God intended that this be only between a man and his wife.
The Hebrews called sexual sins “uncovering the nakedness of another.” You can find that in Leviticus 18. So obviously, nakedness, outside of marriage, is something that is shameful.
God provided clothing in Genesis 3:21 to cover them after they had sinned. What we see it as, in that case, is his gracious response to human rebellion. He covered it. He covered the sin.
Genesis 3:21 For Adam and his wife, the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
What we can understand, then, is He had to kill an animal, and it was probably one of the sacrificial animals, an ox, a sheep, or a goat. In order to make clothes for them, there had to be a death to cover sin. We are taught immediately, in these first chapters, of how this works: that there must be blood to cover sin. Clothing, then, comes to represent the covering for unrighteousness.
Being unclothed becomes a metaphor for being exposed to the judgment of God. However, we desire to be clothed in righteousness, which takes us to the end of the book, in Revelation 19, where God says He clothes the bride with fine linen, which is the righteousness of the saints.
Let us now conclude this long series in Psalm 119.
Psalm 119:17-18 Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law.
It has been my desire throughout this whole series to help you see more wondrous things from God’s Word, and I thank you for bearing with me over these twelve sermons.