Genesis 2:18-25
Created Male And Female

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. Today I would like for us to think about the phrase in chapter one and verse twenty-seven at the third line to it, in which it is written that "[God] created [them] male and female." We read the words from chapter two and verses eighteen onward related to that phrase. This is a part of the story that continues from the second half of chapter two and verse four. The phrase from chapter one of "[God] created [them] male and female" is being used in this chapter by the same story.

Created Male And Female

2. It goes without saying but it isn't just the human man and woman, who have differences between male and female [so do the other creatures made by God]. But even though that is true, the text says about humankind that "[God] created [them] male and female," and it is worth noticing in chapter two an account of the circumstances is given that leads deliberately to when man and woman [come] into existence. It might mean that we are to see as fundamentally important that humankind exists as man and woman, which even more generally speaking, is that [humanity] exists in the plural. We see this also from where "[God] created [them] male and female" is written in chapter one immediately after the phrase "[God] created [them] in the image of God." These two lines cannot be divorced.

3. The fox was [made as] one fox. The monkey was one monkey. But it didn't seem to go that way for the human beings. To say the least, it didn't seem that way in God's design. Therefore, in today's passage of scripture the text reads that "It is not good for man to be alone," (verse eighteen). In the story of the creation of the heavens and the earth in chapter one, recall that the word "good" had been [used] over and over. The Bible says, at the end that "God looked at all that he had created. Behold, it was very good," (1:31). But the phrase "it was very good" comes after the words that "[God] created [them] male and female." "It is not good for man to be alone." It wasn't according to the will of God. Thus, we need to remember first that "Human beings do begin to become genuine humans in relationships with others." Also, as we think of these bonds with others, we want to observe four more points from this story.

Defining Human To Human Relationships

4. First, the relationship is expressed by the word "help." I will read you verse eighteen again. "It is not good for man to be alone. Let's build a person to be a help to him," (verse eighteen). Well, this word "be a help to, helper" has more times when it is translated as just "help," and in the traditions of Israel, God himself is "help" first. For example, the expression "The Lord is our help, our shield," (Psalm 33:20), is found repeatedly in the Psalms. Thus then, the expression "helper" by its original nature does not include in it the general idea of a subordinate relationship. In saying that the one created here as "the helper" is female, it is wrong to link this with a lower view of women.

5. Whatever though, the main thing here is that one person is a being that must be helped by the other. Humans as individuals have deficiencies. We will see that by looking at the developments in the narrative. "[God] took out a section of his ribs, and closed up the wound with flesh. Then he built up the woman with the ribs that he took out of the man," (verses twenty-one and twenty-two), says the scripture.

6. Of course, in the real world the relationship between "the helper" and "the helped" is not fixed. It turns out [in life] that "the helper" can next become "the one getting the help." But, whatever the case may be, the helper and "the helped" do make a match and the understanding that they are both people is very important in the every day world of doing things. In this country [of Japan] we raise our children telling them, "Don't be an imposition upon others." Of course, it is important not to be [bothersome]. However, if, because of that, we raise them thinking it is good that a person can do it alone without borrowing the help of someone else, then that is very unfortunate. As a matter of fact, because of that, allowing oneself to be helped is something that many people are unskilled in. There are numerous cases of old age being truly miserable [though] "self supportive and independent"with the person doing it all by himself or herself. It is important to be good at being assisted. We shouldn't forget that when God made the second person, he said, "Let's build 'someone to be a helper' to the other person."

7. Second, God created the second person a different person from the first one. It says in the scriptures that "[God] created [them] male and female," and the text doesn't say that "two human beings were created." In the story in chapter two, God didn't make the second person out of the earth as he did with the first person. God did not make a clone to help the first person. He made a fundamentally different being. The differences between man and woman might be what is fundamentally different between the two. If we go that way with it, it would be [as] the best seller, not too long ago, called "Why Men Don't Listen And Women Can't Read Maps: How We're Different And What To Do About It," (by Allan Pease and Barbara Pease). Even my wife is quick to say "You're way different from me" as she points out to me my way of thinking and going about doing things. I think [she's] pretty different, too. But, it's meant to be, it's what God designed to be, it is good. Of course, this isn't limited to just spouses. We thank God there are no two people the same as ourselves. God planned that somebody else totally different from ourselves, who doesn't like things the way we like them, exist as our helpers. And that is good.

8. Third, [our] relationships with others are simply described as "a gift from God." Once again please read verses twenty-one [and twenty-two]. It says, "The Lord God, then, made him fall asleep. When he went to sleep, he took out a rib section, and closed up the wound with flesh. Then, he built up the woman with the ribs that he took out of the man," (verses twenty-one and twenty-two). He was sleeping. Thus, in so far as another human being being in existence, he had no involvement at all except for having supplied the ribs. The ribs were not voluntarily supplied either. In other words, the existence of another human being was something that happened completely apart from human will. And even their meeting did not come of human volition. "The Lord God brought the woman to him," it says, (verse twenty-two). In short, the existence of the other human being and the meeting with the other person all belonged to God and could be called "holy."

9. Because it is a holy matter, we ought to have an attitude of fear and respect. Were we the one who caused the other into being, we would be free to deny their existence. We'd be free to say "If they weren't around, it would be better." However, in actuality, it wasn't us who brought the other into being. If the meeting and all came from us, we'd be free to throw the inconvenient relationships with others into the trash. But, we cannot actually choose the time period or the place where we were born. The meeting does not come from us at all. Thus then, since it doesn't come from us, but comes from God, we need to have an attitude of fear and respect.

10. Then fourth, this story tells us that in our relationships with others which God has given to us lies the deep emotion and joy of humanity by nature. Let's listen to the outpouring of the man's emotion and joy. "At last, this very one is the bone of my bone, the flesh of my flesh. I will call this very one woman (isha), because she was truly taken from man (ish)," (verse twenty-three). He was placed in the Garden of Eden. It was a place where "every kind of tree, which was pleasant to view and brought forth good things to eat" flourished immensely, (verse nine). It had there a beautiful and abundant flow of water. It was a place that even yielded forth gold in abundance. But, [we do] not [get] a picture of man looking at all this and shouting out for joy. It's the same thing when even though somebody all by himself is surrounded by a wad of money, he is the least bit happy. True happiness and joy is in the "being [with others]" [part of the word "human being"]. It is in God being with human beings, it is in human beings being with other human beings - in these relationships which God has given.

To Recover Being A Human Being

11. So far we have looked at the relationships with other people which God has designed for human beings. It is when people live in those bonds together that they first can truly be fully human. But, we know that this story is not done in chapter two. The Lord commanded them and said, "You may take and eat from all the trees in the garden. Just though, you must not eat at all from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat [from it], you will surely die," (verses sixteen and seventeen). But, the people ended up taking and eating from the tree forbidden to them by God. What the Bible is stating is not some old timey fairy tale. What is being pictured here is the reality of the world turning its back in rebellion against God.

12. "You may take and eat from all the trees in the garden." Thus, there were many things given to humanity as blessings and there was much permitted unto them. Even still though, humankind went ahead to do what God did not want. For that reason, the bond between God and humans was broken. The Bible describes this hard reality as "Adam and the woman avoided the face of the Lord God and hid among the trees of the garden," (3:8).

13. What were the results of this then? The bonds between one person and another were also broken. God asked [him], "Did you eat from the tree which I commanded you not to take and eat from?," (3:11). His answer was "The woman that you gave me to be with me took from the tree and gave it to me and I ate it," ( 3:12). Compare this statement with chapter two and verse twenty-three, "At last, this very one is the bone of my bone, the flesh of my flesh." What a difference I'd say. I stated just before that the true joy of humankind "lies in people with people." But, the real world isn't that way. There is so much suffering and pain between one person and another. Human sin truly doesn't just break down the relationship between God and a person, but breaks down the relationships between people. Even if the fact of sinning against God doesn't come into focus clearly for someone, one should be able to clearly and fully understand that sin does destroy relationships with others.

14. Earlier I mentioned that "Human beings first truly become fully human in their bonds with other persons." But, as this story shows us, humans have lost their true nature now. This very thing really is the situation that humans must be saved from. What humankind needs is not salvation from just the visible suffering. That's not it, rather we must be saved from the real world where we are no longer able to live as fully human in our original natures. We must get back to being human. To do that, our broken relationships need to be mended, and this mending must originate itself by our relationship with God first of all. That's the very reason Christ came. Christ paid for the sins of humanity with his own suffering, he brought God's forgiveness, and he made it so that people could live again in a bond of fellowship with God. That way being with God people will live with other people and they will recapture the figure of the original human being which was created in the image of God.

 
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