This is a fascinating translation of Genesis 2:21-22, giving almost the impression that God just split Adam in two to make Eve. I love it when a good commentary helps me see something I never saw before.


21 So Yahweh God cast a deep sleep on the man so that he fell asleep, and he took one of his sides and enclosed it with flesh.

22 Then Yahweh God built into a woman the side that he had taken from the man and brought her to the man.


Specifically, the text says that God took one of the ṣēlāʿ of man. Almost without exception this word has been translated as “rib” (hence even today the many puns on “Adam’s rib” and “women’s lib”). A better translation of ṣēlāʿ is side. The word designates a side or the shell of the ark of the covenant (Exod. 25:12, 14; 37:3, 5), the side of a building (Exod. 26:20; 36:25) or even a whole room (“side chamber, arcade, cell,” Ezek. 41:5–8), or a ridge or terrace on a hill (2 Sam. 16:13). Gen. 2:21 is the only place in the OT where the modern versions render this word as “rib.”* If we translate “side” rather than “rib,” then the passage states that woman was created from an undesignated part of man’s body rather than from one of his organs or from a portion of bony tissue.


* More than likely the translation “rib” is traceable to an Arabic root meaning “to curve, deviate”; hence, ṣēlāʿ is a curved bone. See G. R. Driver, “Notes and Studies,” JTS 47 (1946) 161–62.

 Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 178.