According to Bereishit Rabbah 18:1, Eve was built out of the rib of Adam:


If Eve was made from Adam's rib, that explains "bone of my bone". But what about "flesh of my flesh"?

JPS Genesis 1: 21And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man, and he slept, and He took one of his sides, and He closed the flesh in its place. 22And the Lord God built the side that He had taken from man into a woman, and He brought her to man. 23And man said, "This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish (man)." 24Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.


Also, I notice that "bones" is plural. Why might that be?


3 Answers 3


It wasn't necessarily a rib. The Talmud (Berachos 61a) presents two opinions: one is that Eve was created as a fully-formed human, with she and Adam attached back-to-back, and then G-d separated them; the other is that Adam had a "zanav" (lit., "tail," although some of the commentaries explain that this just means any extra body part*). According to either of those, there was flesh involved too.

(The Midrash, Bereishis Rabbah 18:2, does say that it was a rib, but then that doesn't necessarily have to mean just the bone - it might well have included intercostal muscle too. Come to think of it, the ribs contain marrow, and that has the status of "flesh" in halachah as well.)

In a (since deleted) comment, the OP mentioned an idea that the bone in question was the baculum, and that the Torah is offering an explanation of its absence in human males. That seems unlikely, though, since hooved mammals (both kosher and non-kosher) don't have one either, and those would have been far more frequently encountered than the creatures that do have one. So there would have been little reason for anyone to think it obvious that humans should have had a baculum, and then have to create an explanation for its absence.

'* I see where Sefaria's English translation equates the "zanav" with a rib. Could be, but not necessarily.

  • I don't see any mention of Eve in Berachos 61a: sefaria.org/…
    – Ruminator
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:09
  • 1
    @Ruminator Added the link. (Yours goes to Bereishis Rabbah.) It doesn't explicitly mention Eve, but it refers to the relevant verse.
    – Meir
    Mar 4, 2020 at 20:12

The Shadal on the verse reads

עצם מעצמי ובשר מבשרי: זאת היא דומה לי וצורת עצמותיה כצורת עצמי ומראה בשרה כמראה בשרי, והנה היא עצם ממין עצמי ובשר ממין בשרי (תלמידי יוסף ירא), ואח"כ שפט כי ממנו לוקחה, ואומר לזאת יקרא אשה כי מאיש לוקחה זאת

That Adam was noticing that her bone and flesh structures and appearances mirrored him -- he was not commenting on how she was made, just what she looked like. Afterwards he realized that she was made by taking some portion of him.


I can only offer what I've been told by a christian minister, and as such, it might lack some nuance, but the source below captures the background and expounds upon it, if filtered through the lens of "G-d created women to serve men" that conservative christianity often looks at the work with.

I was told that the passage is, of course, not strictly literal, and that the english translation loses some of the intention from the original hebrew. The entire phrase, "bones of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" is important because "bone of my bones" also represents strength of my strength, and "flesh of my flesh" communicates a closer more personal kinship. Earlier in the passage Adam is seeking a helper, but was unable to find one in the animals so G-d created woman from man.

I did not explain that as eloquently as it was explained to me, but this blog post 1 goes into the hebrew and primitive hebrew roots of the words in question.

  • I think you give a helpful reminder that the woman was made to solve a problem; the problem of Adam's incompleteness.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 5, 2020 at 16:12

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