The Bible is a narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. The story problem (the point of no return) is when Adam and Eve break the covenant in the garden of Eden and are cast out. The rest of the Bible is about God incrementally moving closer to restoring the relationship with mankind until we reach the conclusion where we’re restored in fellowship and dwell together once more in the New Jerusalem.
So, to understand how the entire Bible is structured, it’s important to know what God originally intended, because He’s moving us all back closer to that first design.
“God’s original intent is his final intent, and everything that lies between is one extraordinary rescue plan.” Sandra Richter, Epic of Eden
What Was God’s Original Intent With Woman?
Eve had paradise and she blew it. And maybe that’s all many of us know about Eve, but obviously that wasn’t God’s original plan for her.
Every living thing in God’s creation has a place, a purpose, and their place and purpose serve the greater good of all creation. Woman was not created as an afterthought, a solution to the problem of procreation, or as a slave for men. Rather, she was created to be an ezer neged, a co-regent and coheir, but let’s continue to dive into the account in Genesis 1 and 2 and see what else was in God’s original plan for woman.
Fashioned vs Formed
Writers are wordsmiths. Typically, they don’t just use different words to vary the vocabulary, there’s a purpose or plan with each word that’s chosen–for effect, for sound, for word associations and connotation. The Bible writers were intentional with their word choices so we should always keep that in the back of our minds when studying.
Genesis 2:7 NASB: Then the LORD [Yahweh] God [Elohim] formed [yatsar] man [adam] of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.
This word “formed” is used across every translation I looked at.
Genesis 2:22 NASB: The LORD [Yahweh] God [Elohim] fashioned [banah] into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
The NASB uses “fashioned,” but most other translations use the word “made.”
You’ve probably read these verses dozens of times–I know I have. I’ve assumed formed and fashioned (or made) were simply variations of the same Hebrew word, but when you look at the Hebrew you discover two distinct words were used. Let’s dig deeper.
Yatsar means to: form, fashion, frame, squeezed into. The root word for yatsar means: to be spread out, laid out. No surprises there.
Banah means to: build, builder, rebuild, to be built up. The root word for banah means: understanding, insight, intuition.
What? Back the train up. What was that root word? I was surprised too – stay with me.
So, God frames or forms Adam from the earth in Gen 2:7. God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone, and makes a helper suitable (ezer neged) for him (Gen 2: 18, 20). Adam, on his own, wasn’t the complete picture of God. God formed every living thing, including Adam from the dirt, but that’s not how he chose to fashion Eve.
Back To The Root Word Of Fashioned
Take another look at the word banah and the root word it comes from. Woman was made with greater intuition or insight than the man. I can’t help but be reminded of the two names God gives us for Himself in these chapters of Genesis.
Yahweh — I AM, He is holy, jealous, and seeks justice.
Elohim — the plurality of the trinity, Elohim is the name used when the Bible speaks of covenants, Elohim is love – Elohim remembers…
Within the character of God, we see this juxtaposition of love/mercy/compassion (emotion) with holiness and justice (logic/reason), but instead of being at war with one another these aspects of God’s character mesh and blend perfectly without conflict.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” Genesis 1:26-27 NASB.
The people in the desert with Moses who were the first to hear this story would have understood what an idol was–that it was a visible representation of a god and was to be worshipped. Moses reminds them they were not have idols or other gods–not only that they were to only worship one god, but that there was only one God–the others are fake.
“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
God created living idols in mankind and imbued this duality of his own nature in them– two parts that together form a complete image of who God is. Just as the two names God gives his people for himself in the first two chapters of Genesis (Yahweh and Elohim) are a reflection of this two-sided aspect of his divine nature, man and woman also represent that duality in that one is more naturally inclined toward reason and logic–seeking justice and retribution and the other more naturally inclined toward intution and understanding. Eve is equal but fashioned differently; she has the same purpose as man, but a different perspective. Both halves are needed to mankind to fulfil their Eden-given purpose.
“Life changes dramatically when romance comes into our lives. Christianity changes dramatically when we discover that it, too, is a great romance. That God yearns to share a life of beauty, intimacy, and adventure with us. “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3)…
“So God endows Woman with certain qualities that are essential to relationship, qualities that speak of God. She is inviting. She is vulnerable. She is tender. She embodies mercy. She is also fierce and fiercely devoted. As the old saying goes, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” That’s just how God acts when He isn’t chosen. ‘I the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god’ (Ex 20:5 NLT). A woman’s righteous jealousy speaks of the jealousy of God for us.
“Tender and inviting, intimate and alluring, fiercely devoted. Oh yes, God has a passionate, romantic heart. Just look at Eve.” John & Stasi Eldredge, Captivating
Over and over in various accounts, the compassion and mercy of women as well as their ability to fiercely protect the ones they love are recorded in Scriptures. I’m thinking of women like Rachel, Tamar, Abigail, Rahab (both of them), Jael, Deborah, Sarah, Hagar, Hannah, and others. It was the women who remained at the foot of the cross and women who went after the Passover to properly prepare Christ’s body for burial.
You can’t force love, compassion or mercy on someone. Many women long to be pursued, be worth pursuing. You can force someone to face justice, face the truth, call to account, but love is offered, pursued, yearned for, and offered without cost.
Does knowing the deeper meaning of the words formed and fashioned as they’re translated in Genesis 2 change or affect your view of women or their place in Creation?