She Shall Be Called Woman
Part One Session One
Session One: Mythbusting!
Genesis chapters 1 and 2 give us an "overview" account recording God's creation of the human race. Genesis 1 focuses on creation. In this session we will be looking closely at the first two commonly held beliefs and seeking to know the truth as revealed in the Word of God.
Myth One : God created a man first.
Please read Genesis: 1:26-27 carefully.
26 "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
There are a number of things we need to see in this passage.
a) These crucial verses use the Hebrew word "Elohim" when referring to God as Creator. This is the plural form of God used when referring to the Triune (three-part) nature of God, or the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The passage also uses “Our” not “My” as the pronoun referring to God.
b) We can see clearly from this passage that the female as well as the male was in the mind and plan of Elohim right from the beginning of creation.
c) The Word proclaims humankind, both male and female, created in the likeness and image of God. We know that God is spirit so neither likeness or image is speaking of something physical. The word likeness (demuwth in Hebrew) seems to have more to do with LIKE NATURE or CHARACTER.
d) When we think of “image” we need to remember that as God has a triune nature, so too does man. Though human beings are not three persons; Father, Son and Spirit, we are three parts; body, soul, and spirit. As God is three in one, so man also is three in one. The word image (tselem in Heberew) also carries the idea of FUNCTION;–authority delegated to man by God.. However, function does not require an inward working as does likeness. As it says in Gen. 1:26, let them rule over all the earth and all its creatures.
e) In the same way as God said "Let there be light..." and "Let the earth bring forth grass" and His creative word was fulfilled, so too did He say "Let Us make man (human beings)......" God spoke forth creation from His own desire to create. Therefore, to suggest that the creation of woman is somehow an "afterthought" is error as we shall see later in this study.
Now notice also from verse 26: "Let us make man (adam in Hebrew)..."(1) "The Hebrew word used here is "adam" (lower case). In this verse "adam" means man in the sense of the human race, including both male and female. It is a common noun not the name of a particular man or a reference to males only.(2) To avoid confusion, it is best translated in the singular as the human being or person and in the plural as human beings or humankind rather than man or mankind.(3)
It is not a name for the male. The male is not called by the name Adam until AFTER God made the pronouncement that it was not good for the man to be alone (incomplete) in Genesis 2:18. Even here it seems to be tradition since the scripture never states that God named him Adam.
A short study on the word "adam":
In Genesis 1 & 2 the Hebrew word "adam" has two different, distinct meanings.
First, as we have just seen, it is a word meaning person, human, human being, humankind, or mankind and includes both genders and is lower case. This is also demonstrated in Chapter 2:7 "And the Lord God formed man (adam) of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." By turning a few pages to Genesis 5:2 we will find the scripture confirms this: "He created THEM, male and female, and blessed them and called THEM mankind (adam) in the day they were created.”(4)
Confusion comes in when we read the words "man" and the pronouns "he, him, his" in English or other translations. We naturally think of "a male", but the scripture is speaking of humankind, not the male gender.
Another authoritative translation, the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the first five books of the Old Testament uses the Greek word anthropos (meaning human being, humankind, mankind, human race) to translate the Hebrew word adam.
Hebrew has different words for "male" which are "ish" and "zakar", and the Greek word for male is "andros".
Second, the word "Adam" is used as a proper noun, the name traditionally given to the first male. However, it is not until Chapter 2 verse 19 that our translations call "the male" by the name "Adam" for the first time.
Myth Two: God gave dominion to men
28 "Then God blessed them, and God 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 thing that moves on the earth.”
29 "And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food."
30 "Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so."
31 "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
Read verse 28 carefully.
“Then God blessed THEM, and God 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.”....."
Notice here that God blessed mankind, male and female, and gave both dominion over the earth jointly and equally. Notice also that there is no suggestion in the scripture that the male's role was to lead and the female's role was to assist him.
In verse 29 the concept that God is speaking to male and female is confirmed by the fact that both times the word you occurs it is in the plural not the singular form in the Hebrew. Unfortunately this truth does not show up in English translations.
God is speaking to both when He commands them to multiply, subdue and have dominion. There is no indication of gender roles and dominion is over the creatures,(5) 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.
In the next session Myth Three provides a word study that will hopefully help us discern the very shaky roots of this idea that woman was created to assist the man.
1. Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (sprit) and man became a living soul (soul)
2. Further on in Genesis 5:1-3 reference is made again to man being made in the image of God, but in v. 3 it then says Adam begot a son after his OWN image and likeness. The scripture is making the point that Adam’s descendants were no longer in the image of God, but in the image of fallen Adam. That’s why the N.T. says we who are in Christ are being formed as new creations in the image of Christ, the last Adam, who is the image of God (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 3:10)
3. While the word mankind includes both genders, the word womankind does not.
4. Human beings are different from animals and God commands that human beings have dominion (rule) over the animals in creation. In the developed world animal rights activists put humans and animals on the same level. In some religions animals are worshiped. These verses plus others make it clear that, while it may be politically correct, neither of these is Biblically correct.
Questions for thought and/or discussion
1. What other words in Genesis 1:26 besides God (Hebrew plural word Elohim) support the concept God in three persons – Trinity?
2. What do you see when you picture God in your mind?
3. What is the meaning of the Hebrew word adam?
4. Why is it important to differentiate between adam and Adam?
5. When reading our English translation of scripture what figure is pictured in your mind when you see the pronouns he, him, or his or the nouns man or men?
6. Has the use of masculine nouns and pronouns influenced the way you understood scripture? If you answered “yes” what was the effect.
7. When was woman created?
8. In Genesis 1 what verses support the dominion being given to women as well as men? On what do you base your response?