Surprising openings: 3

We have commented on the seemingly stumbling opening words of the serpent here and of the beginning of the Bible here. Adam’s first quoted words are also surprising, though they do not stumble.

After God has presented every beast and every bird to Adam, the Lord fashions Eve and brings her to Adam. Adam responds: “This time is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23). Though not captured in translation, the combination of the words zeh (‘this’) and paam (‘time’, in the sense of an event or occurrence) is strong.* In context, it has the sense of “at last” or “finally we have got there”.

bone of my bones, flesh of my fleshAfter looking through and naming all the different classes of birds and beasts, Adam has become impatient with God (the first, but certainly not the last, person in the Bible to do so). The first words addressed to God in the Bible are ones of impatience, not worship, or praise or thanksgiving. What is Adam impatient about? He is impatient for a companion. Fellowship with other human beings as well as with God is vital to each of us. As God says in Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for man to be alone.”

In verse 24, it says “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Marriage is presented as the potential ideal realization of that closeness that each human being so desires. The following chapter of Genesis sees that closeness dented.

The message is that our primary driver is the search for companionship and that in this we can become impatient with God. But note that this impatience arose after Adam did not find a suitable companion amongst the animals. God had endowed Adam with the breath of life (nishmat chaim) in Genesis 2:7. Consequently, Adam had – as we have – the potential to go beyond mere animal existence. Adam was not to be satisfied with less. This search for more is how humanity first speaks in the Bible.

*The four other occasions in the Torah where this word combination occurs, each have a definite edge to them (Genesis 18:32, Genesis 27:36, Exodus 8:32, Numbers 14:22).

2 Responses to “Surprising openings: 3”

  1. Tweets that mention » Blog Archive » Surprising openings: 3 -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Otto RvF. Otto RvF said: Surprising openings: 3: We have commented on the seemingly stumbling opening words of the serpent here and of the … […]

  2. Yolando Knickman Says:

    so that is exactly what becomes of darwanism