The First Love Poem (Genesis 2)

I am a poet. And I am in love. For this reason I delight in writing love-poems. It’s also because of this that something in my soul resonates powerfully with the story of how Adam and Eve first met in Genesis 2. Adam was asleep when God took a rib from his side and used it to make Eve, so he had no idea what was about to happen. The last he knew, before falling asleep, was that no ‘suitable helper’ had been found for him among all the animals of the earth (verse 20). Can you imagine his reaction when he first saw Eve? Most people will know that when a hot-blooded young man sees an attractive woman, he tends to gawp, lose the power of articulate speech and even begins to struggle just to breathe. And that’s after a whole lifetime of seeing women all around us! What Adam must have felt when he first saw Eve must have been altogether greater – he would have been blown away.

The words he spoke to articulate what he felt were:

“This is now bone of my bones

And flesh of my flesh;

She shall be called ‘woman’,

For she was taken out of man.” (verse 23)

Now that might not sound terribly romantic, but the best vernacular translation I’ve seen puts it like this: ‘Wow!’ I think this was the world’s first love poem, one that was spoken, but not written down. It was the first time a man tried to put into words what he felt about a woman, revelling in their similarity, kinship and intimacy.

So many aspects of this brief, simple passage touch my heart. The way God ‘brought her to the man’ evokes a father walking his daughter down the aisle to give her away as a bride (verse 22). This for me says much about the loving father heart of God, and how He cherishes His daughters, in spite of many who still look at the Bible and see sexism and inequality.

Going back a bit, I also love the fact that Eve was made from Adam’s rib, as opposed to any other part of him (verse 21). I didn’t grasp the significance of this until I read Matthew Henry’s commentary:

“the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” (p. 7).

This might be a bit fanciful, but I think it provides a solid basis for understanding the interaction of men and women as based on equal value but differing roles.

Immediately after speaking his love poem, Adam and Eve ‘become one flesh’, learning physical intimacy as well as companionship and sensory attraction (verse 24). In verse 25 we glimpse, oh so briefly, the innocence, peace and contentment they experienced together in the Garden before the fall. Sinful man that I am, I strive for echoes of such bliss in quality time with my wife, even if I’m only likely to succeed with the help of Jesus.

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