The Adam and Eve Story: Eve Came From Where?
Adam and Eve in the Bible
Biblical Archaeology Society Staff • 01/02/2017
This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2015.—Ed.
“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”
—Genesis 2:21–22, NRSV
ADAM AND EVE IN THE BIBLE. This mosaic from the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, depicts the creation of woman in the Bible. Eve is shown emerging from Adam’s side. Most translations of the Adam and Eve story say that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, but Ziony Zevit contends that she was created from a very different part of Adam’s body.
According to the Bible’s creation account, after making the heavens and the earth, God created humankind. The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 states that God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, and then Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs. But was it really his rib?
The Hebrew word that is traditionally translated as “rib” is tsela‘. Ziony Zevit, Distinguished Professor of Biblical Literature and Northwest Semitic Languages at American Jewish University in Bel-Air, California, believes that this translation is wrong, as do many scholars. It was first translated as “rib” in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible from the mid-third century B.C.E. However, a more careful reading of the Hebrew word for “rib” in the Adam and Eve story suggests that Eve was created from another, very different, part of Adam’s anatomy—his os baculum (penis bone).
Zevit carefully examines the account of the creation of woman in the Bible in his article “Was Eve Made from Adam’s Rib—or His Baculum?” which appears in the September/October 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
In the free eBook Exploring Genesis: The Bible’s Ancient Traditions in Context, discover the cultural contexts for many of Israel’s earliest traditions. Explore Mesopotamian creation myths, Joseph’s relationship with Egyptian temple practices and three different takes on the location of Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.
Of the 40 appearances of tsela‘ in the Bible, the Adam and Eve story is the only place where it is translated as “rib.” Usually it means the side of something. Zevit explains the nuance of this word:
This Hebrew word occurs some 40 times in the Hebrew Bible, where it refers to the side of a building or of an altar or ark (Exodus 25:12; 26:20, 26; 1 Kings 6:34), a side-chamber (1 Kings 6:8; Ezekiel 41:6), or a branch of a mountain (2 Samuel 16:13). In each of these instances, it refers to something off-center, lateral to a main structure. The only place where tsela‘ might be construed as referring to a rib that branches off from the spinal cord is in Genesis 2:21–22.
According to Zevit, “rib” is the wrong translation for tsela‘ in the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. Zevit believes that tsela‘ should be translated as “a non-specific, general term,” such as one of Adam’s lateral limbs, in the Adam and Eve story. Thus, it refers to “limbs lateral to the vertical axis of an erect human body: hands, feet, or, in the case of males, the penis.”
Which of these lateral limbs lacks a bone? Human males do not have a penis bone, but many mammals do. Zevit concludes that in the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, the woman was created from the man’s baculum to explain why this appendage does not have a bone.
To see Ziony Zevit’s full explanation of the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, read his article “Was Eve Made from Adam’s Rib—or His Baculum?” in the September/October 2015 issue of BAR.
PROPHESY IN GENESIS
“In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth”, is frequently interpreted that the Hebrew word (Elohim) is a plural form. Christians believe that this plural form of the word, which means God, is approving or prophesying the likelihood of three persons in one God which has become the Roman Christian conclusion as to the divinity of their saviour Jesus Christ. The God-man, Jesus Christ has established eternal connections through many inferences in the old and new testaments, namely, Psalm 22:18, “They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture.” and John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” are just two examples.
This theme is concreted into the Christian and Messianic religion: One supreme being who rules over the universe as opposed to other ancient religious themes that have supposed that gods are in the sun and the moon and the trees and the ocean etc. These are things that since mere humans cannot understand how they actually work, they must therefore be manifestations of a spiritual power beyond our control. Men control religious themes and teach them to the masses.
My question is not unique but is highly snubbed in religious circles. Does Jesus have to be God? All of these supposed prophetic lines which verify the triune God can be otherwise explained. Isn’t a triune God contrary to the original Jewish bible which declared above all else that there is only One Almighty? Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” seems pretty clear.
There could be another explanation to the use of Elohim and the plural form of the word referring to God.
1)When we refer to management, it is implied to be many people although at the top there is one supreme leader in almost all cases who decides the rules and who rises and who falls.
2)When we refer to government it is also implied similarly.
Therefore I reject the theory that Elohim is a prophesy pointing towards the three persons in one God.
This theory would contradict the traditional Jewish interpretation of their scriptures.
One must ask a learned Jew why Elohim is in the plural form.
More prophetic results are coming….
Making a case for the validity of ancient texts and the powerful insight into human behaviour documented in the bible, this is one of many examples.
In Genesis 4, it is supposed that due to extreme jealousy and an extreme competitive nature, Cain killed his brother, Abel. This is often considered a one-off evil deed of the most vile kind, a psychological disorder, and nobody (especially me) would ever degrade to such a measure.
However, I will suggest that the Cain Scenario is alive and well in most of us and is still as active today as when the Holy Bible was written.
IT IS NATURAL FOR US TO WANT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED. COMPETITION IS INHERENT IN US ALL AND IS DIVISIVE.
When we have not been acknowledged, or rewarded, or praised for our good works, or even just for our being, there is a loss of mood at least. There may even be an acting out, like in the extreme case of Cain against Abel, or just a shrinking inside oneself.
In my case, it’s always been the fleeing from the situation. You might even say, by removing myself, it was a killing of people who had achieved, when I didn’t. Now, in these times, it seems very common for people to ignore and abandon close friends and family members just for differences of opinions. It’s actually a murder when we remove people deliberately from our lives. Some times people are hurt by it, but most times people will just go on without much thought.
In the case of Cain: he offered his sacrifice to the Almighty, as did Abel, but Abel’s sacrifice was shown favour. There is no evidence from the writing that Abel gloated or boasted about the favour he was shown, but Abel was the target of Cain’s wrath. In Cain’s eyes without Abel around, the Master would have no choice but to favour Cain. As simplistic as this sounds (blaming one for the actions of another), this scenario is being played out on a regular basis in our workplace, among our friends, and in our families on a lessor scale but potentially with an equally tragic result, because emotional hurt can be devastating.
This is just human nature. We were warned about this in the book of Genesis written over 2500 years ago. It amazes me how enlightened the ancients were and how much wisdom they were unselfishly sharing with mankind. It’s no wonder the Bible is still loved and read so many years later.