Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gen 1-2 for Jan 1

Of special interest, from Genesis 2:23-24, is the reason for a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving to his wife. In the man's own words, "she [lit., this one] was taken out of man...." So it is restorative from the prior event, that while she, "this one," the woman, was taken out of the man's flesh, a man will cleave to his wife to be united with her as one flesh: "therefore they [together] shall become one flesh." Ishah, the word for "Woman," is also, by the pun, "taken out," that is, derived from, Ish. The cleaving complements the original taking out.

Another special item of interest is the "givenness" of the woman. God brought her to the man. God was not parsimonious! He had placed man in the Garden of Eden as well. Prior to God bringing the woman to the man, the "search" that had been going on prior, in 2:20, is the way the narrative highlights the uniqueness of the woman compared all else to be a help corresponding to him. That highlights the language pun of above, that just as Ishah corresponds to Ish, the woman corresponds to the man. Whatever benefit the cattle and beasts of the field are, they are specifically not a help corresponding to the man.

In the "implied contrasts" department, without going overboard, it's also interesting to see that God makes "a" helper suitable for (corresponding to) the man in 2:18. God makes her. God makes one of her. God "brought her to the man" (2:22).

There is a second implied reinforcement of the significance of the relationship: The man is one man. God makes one helper for him. This is continued in the "one of his ribs" phrase in 2:21, and the "one flesh" phrase in 2:24. One for one is a correspondence made by God, logically (at least) prior to the provision of society, friends, relatives, etc.

God bringing the woman to the man strikes us hopefully with a smile: God had brought the animals to the man prior to that! And here, ostensibly not knowing it happened (he was asleep for the process, 2:21, a "deep sleep"!), the man, who had been brought the animals before to name them, sees God bringing the woman to him. Are we to think, as God did with the animals (2:19), that God was bringing the woman to the man "to see what he would call" her? Indeed, that! But more than that! There's some humor there. God had something better in mind than seeing what her name would be.

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