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Scripture Study
Selections from Genesis 1 and 2

God's Original Intention for Man and Woman

by Pat Joyce

In Genesis 1 God gives an overview of the entire creation including man and woman.  Genesis 2 provides details relating to their creation.  Our interest is in His human creation.  What can we learn of God's original plan for mankind? This is not a detailed analysis but an overview.  For those who want to explore further there are excellent books available.  We recommend some in the footnotes, and others can be found under Books and Sites.  The Word Study section may also help.  We do encourage you to get out your Bibles, concordances and lexicons and check out what is said. 

(Please note the following abbreviations for Bible translations: NIV = New International Version, NAS = New American Standard, NKJ = New King James, AMP = Amplified and KJ = King James.)

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (NIV)

The word "man" is adam in Hebrew meaning mankind or human being.  It is used here as a common noun not the name of a man nor a reference to males only.  This is true not only in this verse but in many others in the creation account.  Note that it says let them rule…

Genesis 1:27  "So God created man (adam = mankind) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (NKJ)

The Word proclaims mankind, both male and female, in the image and likeness of God.  "Image" according to Strong's means representative figure.  The man and woman were the beginning place for Him to reveal Himself--His image--on the earth.

Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, God and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves on the earth." (NKJ)

God is speaking to both when He commands them to multiply, subdue and have dominion.  Dominion is over the creatures, not each other.  It is also important to note that subdue, kabash in Hebrew, indicates that there is something in the earth that is hostile and must be conquered. 

Genesis 1:31 And God saw all that He had made, and it was very good… (NKJ)

This creation--all of it--was very good.

Genesis 2:7 the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.  (NIV)

In this case the scripture no longer says just "man" but specifies "the man" referring to Adam, a particular man.  The man, Adam, was formed first from the dust of the ground.  The Hebrew for formed is a different word from that for created.  It speaks of development rather than original creation.  "Adam and Eve (so far as the primal state is concerned) were created simultaneously, but Adam was formed, elaborated, first." 1, 2

Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.  The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  (NKJ)

Having formed Adam, God provides food, both physical and spiritual.  Both will be necessary for mankind to become what God created them to be.  The critical nature of this verse will be seen in Gen. 2:16-17.

Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (NAS)

The word keep in the Hebrew, according to Strong's (8104), means to hedge about, i.e.--guard, protect, attend to, indicating that there must have been something from which it needed to be protected.  The same word is used in Genesis 3:24 when it refers to the Cherubim keeping the way to the tree of life. 3

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (NKJ)

Had you ever noticed that it says, "commanded the man."  Just what was it that was commanded?  "May freely eat" sounds like giving permission but in the Hebrew there is a different connotation.  "Neither the words "may" or "freely" indicate God was leaving the 'if, when, or how much to eat' to Adam's own discretion.  Adam, having free will, could choose not to eat of the provision God had made, but it would be in direct disobedience to the command."4  Spiritual food was available from the tree of life, the very life of God, yet Adam did not choose to partake of this provision for "keeping" the garden.  It is a principle of scripture that God offers provision before He gives us a job.  The ability to "keep" the garden would come from partaking of the tree of life. 

Genesis 2:18 & 20 The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him…So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.  But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  (NIV)

God once called creation "very good" and now he says "not good." How did the "very good" pronouncement become "not good?"

Some, including William Law & Watchman Nee, believed that a falling away had already begun.  Jacob Behman, the great German philosopher, said: "There must have been something of the nature of a stumble, if not an actual fall in Adam while yet alone in Eden…Eve was formed to help Adam to recover himself and to establish himself in Paradise, and in the favor, fellowship and service of his Maker." 5   This interpretation is supported by the definition of the word "alone", which means something like "alone in his separation."  If God had meant just that one person alone was not a desirable thing, then the Hebrew expression for "one alone", as found in Isaiah 51:2, would seem more appropriate. 

A second interpretation of the meaning of "not good for man to be alone" is that God knew Adam needed a mate, but Adam needed to see his need.  By the time he finished naming the animals, it would be clear that he had no counterpart. 

Regardless of the state of Adam, we need to know what a helper suitable or as the KJV says, a help meet, is.  We have a full work up of the word helper (ezer in Hebrew), and suitable (kenego in Hebrew) in the Word Study section.  Suffice it to say that ezer is used of woman 2 times, of God helping his people 15 times, 1 time of God providing help through David, and 3 times for military power.  In all the latter three categories the one helping is equal to or superior to the one being helped.  Why would the first one be any different? Kenegdo means corresponding to or counterpart to, equal to or matching.  This does not indicate identical but complimenting or completing, an equal and perfect counterpart.  The idea of help meet meaning an assistant created for man's comfort, pleasure and use cannot be supported when we look at the meaning in the Hebrew.

Genesis 2:21-22 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 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.  (NIV)

The creator formed the woman from material taken from the side of the man.  Ribs had nothing to do with it.  Nowhere else is this word (tslea in Hebrew) translated rib.  The other forty-one times it is used it is translated side, corner, chamber or flesh.  (See the Word Study on rib for the origin of this mistranslation.) As the church came from the side of Christ, the Lord God took woman from the side of man--a beautiful type and shadow.  Eve was formed from Adam's substance.  Both were of human substance, yet formed differently.  She was the finishing touch and completion of God's creation of mankind. 6

Genesis 2:23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." (NIV)

The word woman in Hebrew is the feminine form of man (ish = man, ishshah = woman), and Adam called her woman recognizing in her the female version of himself--a human being--his perfect counterpart.

Genesis 2:24-25 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed. (NAS)

This is God's original plan for marriage.  It is to be given top priority among human relationships.  In Fashioned for Intimacy, Jane Hansen says, "The union between the man and woman was to be inseparable; it was not to be divided.  They were to truly know intimacy in the fullest sense of the word, far beyond what we often think of as the one flesh relationship, the sexual union.  Sexual intimacy was given to be the seal, the celebration of a much greater (and much more difficult to achieve) intimacy, which was intended to follow--that of heart, soul and spirit.  This kind of relationship would reflect, not only union with one another, but also with God." 7  In Ephesians 5:25-32, Paul says that the relationship described here shows forth Christ and His Church.  Man and woman in unity with each other and their Creator--one flesh--together showing forth the image of God." 8


1. Katherine Bushnell, God's Word to Women (Eagle Lake, TX,,God's Word to Women, 2004) paragraph 30.  God's Word to Women was first published under the title Women's Correspondence Bible Class; it first appeared under the present title in 1916.  It was printed in 1930 & 1998.  It was reprinted by God's Word to Women, and is available for purchase on this website.

2. There are many who say that in this first form Adam must have contained the essence of male and female since God later took from him to form the woman.  It is also possible that God used material from the man to form the woman like He used the dust of the earth as material to form the man, but that the creation, in God's eyes, was complete as two distinct entities-- male and female--in Genesis 1:27. 

3. The NIV says "to work it and take care of it." The meaning of work it is clear but the difference in interpretation between keep or take care of could be a problem.

4. Jane Hansen, Fashioned for Intimacy, (Ventura, CA, Regal Books, 1997), p. 44.

5. Bushnell, God's Word to Women, paragraph 13.

6. "The point being made… is not the difference between male and female, but their relatedness.  Descent from one ancestor establishes both the absolute unity of humanity and identical substance of both male and female in a way that separate creations from dust could not have done." Joy Fleming, Man and Woman in Biblical Unity Christians for Biblical Equality (Minneapolis, MN, 1993) p. 12. (Abstracted from a doctoral dissertation by Joy Elasky Fleming, A Rhetorical Analysis of Genesis 2-3 With Implications for a Theology of Man and Woman, University of Strasbourg, France 1987)

7. Mary J. Evans, The Place of Women in the New Testament Church (Master of Philosophy Thesis, London Bible College, December 1997) pp. 8-9.  Quoted in G. Taylor, "Woman in Creation and Redemption," Journal of the Christian Brethren Research Fellowship 126 (1974):18.

8. Hansen, Fashioned for Intimacy p. 45.

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