I’m giving Adam back his rib. He can have the one I broke last month. Yes, I fractured a rib. On the day before my birthday, when I was already kind of freaked out about getting older, I fell. Don’t ask me how; everybody else has already asked and I just don’t know.
At this point, it doesn’t matter. But as I try to take it easy and not move too much or too quickly, I’ve been thinking about ribs.
According to the creation myth in Genesis 2 (NRSV), the first woman was created from a rib taken from the first man.
Then God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then God took one of the man’s ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that God had taken from the man God made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of man, this one was taken.”
I much prefer the translation of The Inclusive Bible, which makes clear that the so-far genderless adam (human being) is made from the adamah (earth).
Then YHWH said, “It is not good for the earth creature to be alone. I will make a fitting companion for it.” So from the soil YHWH formed all the various wild beasts and all the birds of the air, and brought them to the earth creature to be named. Whatever the earth creature called each one, that became its name. The earth creature gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals. But none of them proved to be a fitting companion. So YHWH made the earth creature fall into a deep sleep, and while it slept, God divided the earth creature in two, then closed up the flesh from its side. YHWH then fashioned the two halves into male and female, and presented them to one another. When the male realized what had happened, he exclaimed, “This time, this is the one! Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! Now, she will be Woman, and I will be Man, because we are of one flesh!”
I also like that it leaves out the rib business. But I’m well aware that this notion of ‘Adam’s rib’ is ingrained in our biblical and cultural psyche. Patriarchy dictates that women are inferior – or at least secondary to men. And unfortunately, patriarchy has been able to look to the Bible for its “God-given” proof.
That’s why I say we give Adam back his rib. I have a broken one he can have.
Better yet, let’s break the patriarchy while we’re at it!