Did God Really Make Eve from Adam’s Rib?

I’ve always believed that God created this universe with specific physical laws that are being revealed to us over time. Because of this, a miracle is only a term we use to explain an event or result that cannot be understood with the human knowledge presently available. As an example, flashlights or torches (British) are items we use in our everyday life. If we could take one back in time to several thousand years ago, people in that primitive period would consider the beam of light emitted from the flashlight as a miracle.

Part of our education on this earth is to learn the secrets of these various physical laws of God and use them to benefit humankind. Modern science has added much to the understanding and validity of various biblical miracles and, because of this, I feel that the Bible is even more logical and more believable than it was just a century ago. The processes of cloning, genetic engineering, gene splicing, and much more will someday be used for proper Godly reasons, rather than for selfishness and profit as they are today. So, let’s keep all this in mind as we study the miracles in the following story.

In Genesis, chapters one and two, we are told that God brought into existence the heavens and the earth and finished-up his work by creating the human species. He makes man, then creates a woman from his rib. These two people were Adam and Eve. At least that is the way we have always been taught in our Christian churches and Sunday schools. I have no doubt these miracles are true, but there must be more to it, right?

Genesis chapter one is an overview of the creation process, while chapter two gives details. Remember that Genesis was a historical record written in one continuous block of text and only later divided it into chapters and verses by scholars.1 For the proper context, read Genesis 1:26–2:24, but our study will only involve the following five verses concerning the direct creation of Adam and Eve.

Genesis 1:26 & Genesis 2:18, 21–23

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26, ESV).2

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept 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. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21–23).

The English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible is fairly accurate in verse 1:26 using the term man, but not so with several other translations. Instead of man some versions translate the word as human beings, or even humankind. However, we want accuracy, not political correctness. Even the term “make a man in our image” is not what most people think it means.

A note for verse 1:26 in the ESV states that the word translated as “man” is the Hebrew “adam” which is actually the generic term for mankind and only later becomes the proper name for the first male member of the human race. So, the verse above refers to man as “man and woman” collectively.3 Strong’s Dictionary also indicates the Hebrew word adam (אָדָם ˒âdâm), as used in this instance, can also translate as an individual or the whole species of human beings.4 Another source points out that the Bible uses the Hebrew word ˒âdâm in all of its senses: collectively (mankind), individually (a man), gender nonspecific (man and woman), as well as a male human (man).5 It is necessary to understand the proper context of its use.

For a bit of clarity, let us take a quick look at the detailed description of the making of man (the adam) in the second chapter of Genesis. God found it was not good for man to be alone, so he decided to make the man a helper.

In verse 2:18, God indicates he will make a suitable helper that is “fit” for the man. Instead of fit some versions say counterpart, just right, comparable, or suitable.6 A popular Bible commentary says that this suitable helper was to be neither higher like God, nor lower like the animals. The helper must be the man’s equal and the Hebrew usage for suitable “suggests something that completes a polarity, as the north pole is ‘suitable’ to the south pole. One without the other is incomplete.”7

In describing verses 2:21–23, theologian Victory Hamilton says that God causes a deep sleep by administering anesthesia of some type, and makes a helper from one of the adam’s ribs. It is notable that a Hebrew word for rib is translated side everywhere else in the Old Testament. Hamilton continues, “Actually the text says that the Lord ‘built’ woman.”8

Pulling It All Together

So, let’s pull this all together. The first creature God made was the adam. The adam was a complete human being, in the image of God, having his traits and personality and containing both male and female definitive characteristics. God put the adam to sleep, and removed a part, or a “side,” from which he crafted, or built a woman. As mentioned above, male and female, like two poles of a magnet, are opposites and attract each other and are suitable for completing a circuit. The male (now named Adam) and the female (named Eve) represent the two different sides of God’s original creature (˒âdâm); they need each other to become a completed whole being. Or, as the Bible interprets marriage, the man and the woman become one flesh. Author Allen Ross stated it this way, “They both had the same nature. But what man lacked . . . she supplied, and what she lacked he supplied. The culmination was one flesh — the complete unity of man and woman in marriage.”9

Because of this man-woman closeness, when performing wedding ceremonies, I used to quote the idea that C. S. Lewis had about ‘oneness’ in marriage.10 He said that the Christian idea of marriage is based on God’s words that a husband and wife are to be regarded as a single organism – for that is what the words “one flesh” would be in modern English. And, Christians believe that this is a fact, just as when one says that a lock with its key is one mechanism, or that a violin with its bow is one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us, that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined in every aspect of life.

I pray that this article has introduced a new perspective to the creation story for you. When reading or studying the Old Testament or New Testament, thinking about this curious, but accurate, view of marriage will help you to realize the importance of God’s institution for joining the male and the female — and only a male and a female. This concept demonstrates the faulty reasoning used to justify homosexuality, as well as the current gender-changing attitudes. You may also look upon the marriage of Jesus (husband) to the Church (bride of Christ) with new insight. The Bible is an amazing book and a great deal can be learned with deeper study.

Copyright © 2018 Dr. Ray Hermann

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Reference & Notes

  1. “Do Genesis 1 and 2 record two different creation accounts?” (Compelling Truth, retrieved 21 December 2018), https://www.compellingtruth.org/two-creation-accounts.html
  2. Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The text has been used by permission. All rights reserved.
  3. Whitaker, Richard, et al., The Abridged Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament, [Based on the Lexicon of Wilhelm Gesenius] (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1906).
  4. Strong’s Hebrew word #120, אָדָם ˒âdâm
    Strong, James, The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996).
  5. “Adam,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 19 December 2018), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam
  6. counterpart (YLT), just right (NLT), comparable (NKJV), suitable (NIV)
  7. Hamilton, Victor P., “Genesis” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), vol. 3, p. 13.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ross, Allen P., “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures,  J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, (eds.),(Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), vol. 1, p. 31.
  10. Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1952), chap. 6, p. 95.
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22 thoughts on “Did God Really Make Eve from Adam’s Rib?”

  1. a COMMENT, (ink well is running on ahead of schedule; and, with normalcy bias + factitious disorder by proxy! We have ‘lift off’.

  2. Another enjoyable article.

    Since most men and women have the same number of ribs, 12 pairs, I’ve always assumed that woman could have been made with the DNA of some bone marrow of one of Adam’s ribs such as the treatment of a leukemia patient.

    Just like bud grafting of citrus trees, you only need a small splinter from one that bears fruit and insert it into a non-fruit bearing tree for it to start propagation.

    Perhaps Adam was made from a modified source of DNA from God performed by another God?

    • Thanks for the great comment, and from a well-known New Orleans guitarist, as well.

      This conversation could lead us down a rabbit hole. I don’t mean a ‘drug trip’ that some think of when speaking about Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” but that the conversation is entering a confusing place with many bizarre, but plausible, possibilities—all speculative, of course.

      I remember back in the 1960s experimenting with cloning of orchid plants and people telling me that although possible with plants, one could never clone an animal. Well . . . look at us now! And splicing DNA may get as easy as as bud grafting of citrus trees in the not too distant future. All this technology will be useful in God’s new future world; he is just schooling us now.

      Now about another God . . . well, you may have a point there, too. Jewish intellectuals thought of “two powers” as heavenly rulers, one visible and one invisible. This consisted of Yahweh at the top with two distinct personalities, basically two Yahwehs. One was supreme and the God of Israel and the other subordinate to him. The early Christians accepted this idea and considered Jesus as the second individual personality of Yahweh, but subordinate to the almighty God of Israel.

      An analogy may be considered by looking at “Yahweh” as being the corporate office staffed with a President-CEO (Almighty God) as the “top guy” and a Vice President-Manager (Jesus) as the “second in command.” Down the corporate hierarchy would be angels and other spiritual beings. I’m not suggesting these views are right or wrong, only that some serious academics consider the possibility. See, https://outlawbiblestudent.org/why-did-god-say-let-us-make-man-in-our-image-after-our-likeness/

    • hi, i believe the word for rib means curve, so ppl assumed it must be rib. Today we can understand more about genetics. Cloning is possible only by using the “helix curve” God is amazing! Allan

      • Hi, Allan. Thank you for reading the article and taking the time to make a comment. You are correct that צַלְעָה (tsal˓âh) can sometimes be used to mean “rib” when using the word to describe a “curved body part.” That is why most Bibles state that Eve was made from Adam’s rib. It can also mean “side” when speaking of a person’s literal side, which some scholars choose to do.

        I hadn’t thought about it before, but the curve shape could suggest one side of the DNA double helix molecule. That is getting more technical than my simple mind can apprehend, but thanks for the additional input and suggestion. And I agree—God is amazing.

    • You are assuming, I suspect, that the days of creation were literal 24 hour days. So, Genesis 1 seems to indicate Adam and Eve were created after the animals on the sixth day (Genesis 1:23-27, NRSV). But, Genesis 2 seems to indicate Adam was created before the sixth day, even before plants and animals.

      I believe that Genesis 2 is a recap of Genesis 1 which includes more details, but not necessary in chronological order.

      Getting to your comment, I believe it was the sixth day that both Adam and Eve were created. In a literal 24 hour day, Eve was probably later in the day. If the “day” was a different period of time (longer than 24 hours), Eve may have been created only after Adam had time to realize, by observing the animals, that he needed a mate, too.

    • Hi, chapter 1 & 2 of Genesis tells a very interesting tale that can be viewed in many ways. Chapter 1 is in my opinion a 7 day ritual/prayer/meditation by God. Similar to other ancient practices of seven day fasts etc.
      Chapter two onward then is the tale as it happened in real time or should I say the unfolding of the Plan and Creation of God.

  3. I’d avoid the word “really” when discussing bible stories. Does the bible say that God Made Eve from Adam’s Rib? is a question that can be answered. Did God Really Make Eve from Adam’s Rib? is an unanswerable question. Not just because those who transcribed the books of the bible did so after many many years of oral history, which as we all know (from the old game telephone) changes as it’s told from person to person, but also, as pointed out by Zevit, because translations are not perfectly or literal.

    Now I did believe the rib story till I was around 10-12 or so; and reading something regarding either archeological or in-utero sex identification. Well, duh, what’s the big deal? Just count the ribs! Oops – women do not have one fewer rib than men.

    Interesting article

    • Thank you for reading this post and for sharing your thoughts – and your nice comment, too.

      My title, or “hook” to get attention to this article was taken from the type of questions I would get on this subject. Most often it was stated: “Did God Really Make Eve from Adam’s Rib?” There was doubt in their mind and they were inquiring if it was imagery or fact – was it verifiable. I have no objections to someone using “really” during Bible discussions, but I do get your excellent point.

      As to if he ‘really’ did (sorry about that), I would state, “Probably not!” I think advancements in science will soon allow for the growth of a human from singular cellular/DNA materials and they will not need the whole rib (or any other large part) to do so. Theoretically, I guess, God could have just used a microscopic part of that rib. Or maybe not; we just don’t know. And most scholars believe the translation should be “a side,” not “rib”…whatever that may mean. Any answer is pure speculation.

    • Hi Pam,
      A couple of points to consider:
      1. While it is not impossible, it is also not necessary for that “history” to be oral: there is no specific reason, especially given how long ago even secular historians place the origin of writing, why it could not have been written and passed on. At points throughout Genesis, a chapter will start with the “This is the book of the generations of … (e.g. Gen 5:1) – although that phrase better suits being the last verse of the previous chapter(s). This certainly implies a written record, quite likely by the person named. Although Moses is often described as writing the Pentateuch, he is more likely to have been an editor (various verses indicate the addition of “editor’s notes” to facilitate the readers’ understanding).
      Further, the game of Telephone or Chinese Whispers is only fun because we (modern Western society at least) have lost the skill of verbally passing on information. This has not necessarily been true of all cultures throughout history – our brains can accurately memorise large amounts if we train them.

      2. You have the “missing rib” idea the wrong way around: men would be the ones with fewer ribs. There are two reasons why men are not missing a rib: primarily because injuries or surgeries are not passed on genetically. If you lost a limb in an accident, your subsequent children would still be born with four. Another reason is that ribs are the only bones that can regenerate – if God, who by definition knows how to do it, were to take a specific piece of Adam’s rib to fashion Eve, the remaining bit of rib could easily regrow.

      There is no logical reason why you cannot believe the “rib story”.

    • Thank you for reading this post and taking the time to comment.

      Yes, that is, indeed, a theory, but I don’t find it credible. American academic Ziony Zevit argues that Eve was not made from Adam’s rib, but from his baculum (penis bone). Zevit said that humans don’t have a baculum, and says this fact is supportive of his theory; he suggested it was removed from the first creature (the adam) and used by God to make Eve. He says “the Hebrew word tsela, taken from the Old Testament, does not translate as ‘rib’ and instead refers to limbs sticking out sideways from an upright human body.”

      I have no idea why a baculum would be required to make Eve; God assuredly has the means to extract, manipulate, and edit DNA without the need of any penis bone. And since there are other mammals without a baculum, it is not a unique feature of humans. For anyone who is interested, here is a reference to this claim.

      O’Hare, Ryan, “God made Eve from Adam’s penis and not his rib, claims religious academic,” (Daily Mail, 29 December 2015), https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3377487/God-Eve-Adam-s-PENIS-not-rib-claims-religious-academic.html


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