Musing on Genesis 2
On Day 6, God gets his hands dirty. He forms a man out of the dust, gets his face in there and breathes his very own breath into the man’s nostrils. God and man face to face, up close and personal.
The earth needs a man to cultivate it, and God gives the man a head start with a pre-planted garden. Now the man has a place to live and the responsibility of tending the grounds. No freeloading here. Paradise does not mean lazing around, doing nothing but eating fresh fruit and ordering umbrella drinks.
The man is living in this perfect world, but he is alone, and God says, “This aloneness thing, it’s not good.” The man needs a helper. I don’t think God says this because he sees the man struggling to manage the garden on his own. But who knows? How many ways can a woman complement a man?
God knows his creation. He doesn’t need to hold auditions to find the perfect helper. He could’ve created the right partner and had her waiting. Instead God chooses to make it a joint venture with this man he made.
As he did with the rest of creation, God designs the animals and birds with the man in mind — Who would challenge him, fascinate him, and make him laugh? Who would keep him on his toes? Who would be his friend?
He brings each one to the man for naming. God brings them. To the man. He doesn’t summon him. He doesn’t send him out and say, “Go, name those creatures.” He brings each one — like a gift. And then he waits to see what the man will say.
More than slapping on a label, the name declares what the creature will be. I don’t know if God tells the man what they’re looking for in this animal pageant. But the God of all creation who knows all things, waits for the man to discover what he already knows: the creatures are all shapes, sizes, and personalities but nothing fits the bill.
Maybe before this, the man didn’t even realize it wasn’t good for him to be alone. He’s living in paradise after all. Could it get any better? In the middle of the naming maybe, it dawns on him that he is the only one made in the image of God. And suddenly there’s a yearning for connection. In all this perfection, something is missing.
So God creates the woman. God could do this in a million ways, but he makes her from a part of the man. The woman is made from the man’s rib, literally taken from his side in a flesh and blood operation. Why does the Bible have to tell us God closed the opening in the man’s side? Is this to emphasize there was no going back?
He makes the man sleep through the whole operation. Why? Is there the possibility of pain in paradise? Is it a long time? When the man says “At last!” is he referring to the time it took God to complete the surgery or the fact that the woman arrives only after he has vetted everyone else on the planet?
Whether he had any inkling before, when the man sees the woman, he is struck by his need. I’m sure of this because it still happens.
God allows the man to name this new creation, as well. He calls her “woman,” so no one will forget where she came from. I’m joking. Sort of. But actually, there’s a sense of ownership here, ownership in a good way. Remembering that this woman is an “extension” of his own body will make it easier for the man to love her as he loves himself. Hopefully.
The woman is taken from the man and created for the man to be his helper. God brings her to him. This might have given the man (and all future men) the notion that he is the main attraction, the woman being a mere add-on for his own convenience.
Maybe this is why God directs that a man should leave his parents and be joined to his wife, not the other way around. He didn’t say they should both leave their parents, which would seem more egalitarian. No, the man must disrupt his life to be joined to his helper. He must leave behind his former ways and adapt himself to her.
I think the woman has to do this, too, by the way. But I think she’s more likely to do so without being told. And even if she isn’t, just by following the edict, “Be fruitful and multiply,” the woman’s life will be radically altered. It’s in the biology. Everyone gets a chance to be selfless. In the image of our Maker?
The man and woman are bare naked. They aren’t ashamed because they have nothing to hide. They are beautiful, wonderfully made in the image of the Almighty. The circle of intimacy that began with God and man is now complete.