After seeing an amazing article from National Geographic about a recently observed bird (a cardinal) that naturally manifested as half male and half female (both external sexual characteristics and genetically and that it may be capable of reproducing), it brought to mind the emphasis in the Torah that Adam HaRishon was originally created half male and half female like is mentioned in Bereshit 1:26-27.

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבְכָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ כז וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

In most of the commentaries that I have seen, it emphasizes that this was a spiritual form prior to the descent into physical, material existence.

To emphasize, this is not a question about believing midrashim. The text of the Chumash enumerates both tzelem (which according to many meforshim corresponds with the feminine) and damute (which corresponds with the masculine and emphasizes through the letter Kaf [כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ] as being the concept of similarity) as components of a human. It then goes on to say that Adam HaRishon (אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙) was created with a particular variety of tzelem (בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים) and then emphasizes that these two qualities of damute and tzelem were created as masculine and feminine.

And as a clarifier, Moreh Nevuchim definitions might be helpful, but this question is pertaining to the creation of Adam HaRishon, not the nature of G-d.

Is there any discussion that this text of the Chumash is to be understood according to its plain meaning, meaning literally as a physical, material manifestation, similar to what we see with this cardinal?

It's worth noting that in the article, it references rare, but similar manifestations with a few other creatures like butterflies and lobsters.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally? – Salmononius2 Feb 1 at 16:07
  • 2
    @Salmononius2 I'm asking in the context of the Torah of Moshe, not midrash. It's not a dupe. – Yaacov Deane Feb 1 at 16:32
  • 5
    Call me crazy but I think the Chumash’s “plain meaning” is Adam was a male (not an androgynous or any other manifestation). – Oliver Feb 1 at 16:58
  • 1
    @Cyn Created "them" raises the question of what "them" refers to in the sentence. The easy assumption is that it is talking about multiple human beings. But the Torah emphasizes just a little further on that it started with a single individual who was later split into two individuals. If so, "them" would be referring to the categories of "tzelem" and "damute". And to point out, the general term 'tzelem' is masculine. – Yaacov Deane Feb 1 at 17:05
  • 1
    @Cyn What the precise concept is from the Torah of Moshe requires a great deal of discussion. That ""the first human" was more a meta human or larger idea of humanness" is accurate, if I understand you. My emphasis about 'the sources of light (Sun and Moon) coming later, was to emphasize that this 'later manifestation' is what corresponds to Adam HaRishon which was later sub-divided into Adam and Chava. It's worth noting that traditional Jewish teaching of this mentions that the first, single light was also divided into 2 sub-forms of light. That which was for the 'World to Come' and now. – Yaacov Deane Feb 1 at 19:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .