Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Adam's Rib

I love the story of Adam and Eve because within it there are SO many eternal truths about the role and purpose of women and interactions between the men and women. Yet, it saddens me that this beautiful story has also been the justification for so much of history's oppression and discrimination against women. One part of the story that some people have traditionally used to justify giving women a subservient and oppressive role in society is that fact that God made Eve from Adam's rib ( Gen. 2:22; Moses 3:22; Abr. 5:16)-- saying that this shows that God intended for Eve to be lower than than Adam.

Creation of Eve by Michelangelo Buonarroti.

I have to admit that I've often been confused by this part of the story as well. It has been hard for me to understand why Eve was created from Adam's rib. Why didn't God just create her out of the dust like He did Adam? Was it because she wasn't as important as Adam? Why was she made second and not first? Was it because God intended for woman to be subservient and lower than man? No, I don't think so and neither does Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who said:

"When Eve was created—when her body was made by God—Adam exclaimed, “Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man” (Moses 3:23).

From the rib of Adam, Eve was formed (see Gen. 2:22; Moses 3:22; Abr. 5:16). Interesting to me is the fact that animals fashioned by our Creator, such as dogs and cats, have thirteen pairs of ribs, but the human being has one less with only twelve. I presume another bone could have been used, but the rib, coming as it does from the side, seems to denote partnership. The rib signifies neither dominion nor subservience, but a lateral relationship as partners, to work and to live, side by side."

- Russell M. Nelson, “Lessons from Eve,Ensign, Nov 1987, 86

Eve was taken from Adam's rib because she was his equal and God intended for her to stand beside him-- not below him, not behind him and not above him. Adam and Eve were literally to be "of one flesh" and to be unified in all things. It is true that God did not give them the same responsibilities, but he did make them equal partners with talents, gifts and abilities to help each other fulfill those individual responsibilities. This symbolism of Eve being taken from Adam's rib is beautiful and bears testimony of the beautiful truth that God intended from the VERY beginning for men and women to be equal partners, working side by side in all things and supporting each other in the divine work that God has for them to do. How different the world would be (how different most marriages and relationships would be) if each man and each woman understood and believed this sacred truth !


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog. It has inspired me to be more interested in scripture reading, and I love to hear your insight. I used to feel that women seemed unimportant in scriptural history, and I had a hard time relating. I dont feel this is the case any more. Very enlightening.

  2. In Genesis it says that God created woman to be a helper to man. I was taught that the word used as helper in this instance is only used in the Bible in one other place and that is in a context of when God is helping man. There are many other words for helping that could have been used (in a servant capacity, for example), but they weren't. Something to look into at least, I don't remember where I saw that but I can find it.

    Also, in the creation story, God kept getting more advanced and complex as He created. First Earth and Sea, then plants, day and night, then birds and fish, then animals, then Man, who He gave dominion over the animals, to look after them and name them. And THEN He created woman, to help the man and look after him. The logical assessment here if you look at it outside of our cultural context is that the woman is the more advanced and complex creation. Man alone was not enough. He needed woman, not as a servant, but as a partner.

  3. I also love this story of Eve. She was a great example for mothers. I think this story also gives a small hint to how our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother work together.

  4. Woman was created from adam's rib ,not to walk behind, not to walk ahead...But to walk beside as a equal. Women are met to be loved and cherished. when god created woman he broke the mold, woman his/her greatest gift.