Genesis chapter 1 provides an overview of the creation. From the beginning God made heaven, earth, land and sea, and all that is in them. The culmination of this creative act is found in verses 26 to 28, ” Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground [italics mine.]”
Humans male and female are created in God’s image. Note we are in His image, not He in ours. It seems this is more about nature than appearance. We are creative, and we are to fill the earth (with our own kind), and to subdue it (to our God-guided purposes). Note Eve as well as Adam has this characteristic.
But chapter 2 goes on to embellish the story for us. And we are given a more information about our relationship with God, and our purpose. Verse 7 tells us, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Yet, at this point Man (Adam) is the love human. God places him in the paradise of Eden, “to work it and take care of it (verse 15). God then tells Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die'(verses 16-17).” This instruction given, God brings every creature that has been created to Adam to be named. But none are found to be a suitable companion for him.
Okay, you might be thinking, “this is a lot on Adam, but the post is supposed to be about Eve.” Good point! But, this background on Adam’s need for a companion, and his instruction on the trees is vital in our study of Eve.
So here it goes, verses 20-22 read “But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”
This account of Eve’s creation is so powerful, especially in the realm of gender relations. No suitable companion for Adam was found in all of creation. Eve was made to fill a void in Adam’s life. But the manner of her creation, is important. She was made from “a rib,” or more literally from “the flesh of his side.”
There is a rabbinic tradition that states the symbolism of this thus, “She was not made of his head, that she might lord over him. Nor was she made of his heal that he might master her. But from his side, that they might stand as equals.” In fact, this unity is first expressed by Adam, ““This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ or she was taken out of man (verse 23).”
Humanity has been called the crowning glory of creation. After the heavens, the earth, and all within them, humanity was made. But Eve was the final creation, a glory of that glory. A fulfillment of man.
Genesis 3 is the account of the entry of sin into the world. When the serpent engineers the downfall of humanity. The serpent approaches Eve, and tempts her with the fruit of the forbidden tree. She at first responds correctly, but with second hand knowledge, that it is not to be eaten, in fact it is not to be touched. Interestingly, this is an instruction given to Adam, she was yet (at the time of its giving) to be created. The tempter does not relent, and challenges her knowledge and she gives in. Okay, abbreviated greatly, but she falls for it. Was this only head knowledge for her? Was it something she only knew from Adam (after all her depiction of it is different than God’s actual words). Did she doubt what Adam had told her? Or was it something revealed to her by God? We may never know. The result, however, is that she not only eats, but shares with Adam (who goes along with it, by the way).
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it (verses 8-12). Adam is quick to blame – both God (“the woman you put here”), and Eve (“she gave it”). So much for “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
“Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate (verse 13).” Okay, she passes some blame too, but does at least admit the fault (“I ate”).
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,” [And the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on – sorry couldn’t resist]. In the end the fall was by both Adam and Eve. Yet, she usually get’s the blame. What questions can we ask? Did Adam make it totally clear to her? If she did know, was Adam any less guilty by going along with it? No, verse 17 suggests, he was even more guilty, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it’.”
The chapter ends with the naming of Eve, verse 20, “because she would become the mother of all the living.” Eve is the mother of us all.
What can we say of her then? She is a crowning glory. She is the mother of humanity (physically, but also in our character). She was created to be a suitable partner, and equal in the work of Adam. She was deceived (yes, she had human weakness), but was at least honest about it.
As we encounter the consequences of the fall, let us not be overly judgmental of our mother. We too are daily tempted, and often fall. As we encounter sexism, remember the high place and purpose Eve was created for. As we go about rebuilding our relationship with God (a gifted opportunity opened to us in Christ), let us approach it together “male and female” in spreading God’s word (even as our first parents worked together in Genesis 1: 28) to tame and tend God’s world.