Held in Honor
10/1 – For This Cause (Genesis 2:18-25)
Introduction — Here the writer of Genesis gives more details of the first man and woman. The LORD God formed a man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. The man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden, in Eden. There He placed the man whom He formed. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would name them. The man gave names to all the cattle, birds, and every beast of the field. But there was no suitable helper for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. The He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He took from the man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” The writer now comments: for this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. God places these two in a garden. God gives these two life through Him. God forms them. God creates them for their good and for His glory. God forms two people—male and female. These two bear His image. They receive His blessings—work, productivity, community, companionship. They are suitable for each other. They do life together. They support each other. They cling to each other. They join together in a covenant relationship with God and with each other. These two become one flesh together. They know a time of no shame together. They honor God together.
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” And that’s what God did. He made a suitable helper, a woman from the man’s rib. He brought her to the man. The man and woman are united. They hold to each other.
They become one flesh. They know a time of no shame. They honor God together.
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.” 19 So the Lord God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found as his complement. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. 22 Then the Lord God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.
Comment: Here the writer of Genesis relates the story of God who is active in creation. The LORD God forms man of dust from the ground. The LORD God breathes into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man becomes a living being. The LORD God plants a garden. The LORD God takes the man and places him in the garden. The LORD God commands the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Then the LORD God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God forms every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brings them to the man to see what he would name them. The man gives names to all the cattle, birds, and every beast of the field. Yet, there is no suitable helper for the man. So the LORD God causes a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God takes one of the man’s ribs and closes the flesh at that place. Then the LORD God makes the rib He took from the man into a woman and brings her to the man. That the LORD God cares for this man and woman is obvious. By His words and deeds, the LORD God shows His power, love, and grace on behalf of the man and the woman. Question: Do you realize the creative beauty of this moment? Do you notice the design of God? Do you see the order of God’s creation? Do you see the wonder of relationships? Do you marvel at God’s work on our behalf?
23 And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man.
Comment: Here the writer relates the man’s response to God’s gift. The man sees the woman as God’s gift. The man delights in God’s gift, and the man declares the value of God’s gift. This one, at last, is like him, yet different from him. This one, at last, complements him. This one, at last, corresponds to him. This one, at last, is a helper who is just right for him. The woman is God’s gift to the man. The woman is God’s design. The woman, taken from the man, is to help the man. The woman is to come alongside the man. The woman is to follow the lead of the man.
Question: Do you see the marvel of God’s gift to this man? Do you see the wonderful gift of relationships? Do you affirm the value of those God brings to you? Do you delight in your spouse? Do you delight in your friendships? Do you thank God for His design?
24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.
Comment: The writer points to the outflow of God’s work. Here’s the thought: since God forms man, and since God puts that man in a good place, and since God makes the woman as a suitable helper for the man, then, in light of all God’s care and blessing toward them, for this cause a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. The statement is an enduring reminder of God’s good design for marriage. Marriage is God’s plan. Marriage is God’s gift. Marriage is good and right and beautiful. Marriage is to grow and thrive for a lifetime. Marriage is one man and one woman, joining together, holding strong, becoming one, and honoring God. Jesus affirms (see Matthew 19:1-12 & Mark 10:2-12) this statement. Jesus comments further about this statement, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Paul, too, affirms (see 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 & Ephesians 5:21-33) this statement. Paul urges everyone in the church to be subject to one another. He directs the wife to be subject to her husband. Paul tells the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Paul sees the wonder of marriage as a portrait of the greater wonder of the mystery of Christ and the church. After the writer points to the outflow of God’s work, he notes the current condition of the man and woman. Both are naked. Yet both feel no shame. There is a freedom and life here. There is innocence here. There is no shame or guilt here. Question: Do you see the wonder of God’s design for marriage? Do you honor God’s design for marriage? Do you hold marriage in honor? Do you work within God’s boundaries? Do you see freedom there? Do you hold your spouse near? Do we cherish our spouse? Do you affirm your spouse? Do you enjoy your spouse? Do you affirm God’s work in your marriage? Do you thank God for your marriage? Application: Affirm God’s design for marriage. Affirm marriage with your words and your actions. In light of God’s work, in response to God’s grace, for this cause: hold your spouse near and dear; work at your marriage; honor God with your marriage.
Word Study for Genesis 2:18-25
18 good (tob—pleasant; desirable; joyous; festive; beautiful; agreeable) 
18 alone (bad—solitude; apart from; separated; piece; solitary)
18 make (asah—fashion; create; labor; manufacture; accomplish; bring about)
18 helper (ezer—assistance; support; strength)
18 suitable (neged—that which is opposite; that which corresponds; counterpart; in sight of; in the presence of)
19 formed (yasar—fashion; forge; create; shape; plan; ordain)
19 brought (bo—to bring; lead in; gather in; include; carry)
20 gave (qara—to call; appoint; summon; proclaim; name)
20 name (sem—standing; reputation; fame; renown; the proper designation of a person, place, or thing)
20 found (masa—to reach; to obtain; to arrive at; uncover; attain; source)
21 took (laqah—grasp; take hold of; seize; collect; receive; obtain; grasp; marry)
22 fashioned (banah—build; make; construct; form)
22 man (adam—mankind; human; person; man)
22 woman (issah—female; wife; woman; queen)
23 bone (esem—skeleton; substance; self; limb; body)
23 flesh (basar—skin; the whole body; life)
23 man (is—male; husband; champion)
24 for this reason (alken—therefore; thus; so it happens that; for that reason)
24 leave (azab—let go; loosen bands; leave over; leave behind)
24 joined (dabaq—to cling; stick; cleave; hold; adhere; to be glued)
25 naked (arom—no barrier; nude; naked)
25 not (lo—no; without; not) ashamed (bos—humiliate; fail in hope; distress; disgrace; anxious; confusion; terror)
Application for Genesis 2:18-25
Let’s marvel at God’s handiwork.
Let’s see the grace of God in action.
Let’s rejoice God’s forming a suitable helper for the man.
Let’s see the beauty of the gift of relationship between man and woman.
Let’s remember God’s plan for marriage.
Let’s honor marriage.
Gospel Connections for Genesis 2:18-25
Christ is God. Christ is the Lord. Christ is creator. Christ is the word made flesh. Christ is with us. Christ is over all. Christ is our perfect companion. Christ is our best friend. Christ gave Himself on our behalf. Christ unites us to God and to one another through His sacrifice. Christ makes us new in Him. Christ brings no condemnation. Christ brings freedom. Christ brings joy. Christ brings wonder. Christ brings peace. Christ brings life.
Thoughts and Quotes for Genesis 2:18-25
Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. ~ Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us. ~ Timothy J. Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
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 by him, and near his heart to be beloved. ~ Matthew Henry
Commentary for Genesis 2:18-25
2:18 The Hebrew construction of v. 18 accentuates the negative phrase “not good” by placing it at the head of the sentence. God has made the man and provided a beautiful environment with honorable work, a setting men may sometimes consider idyllic, but God announces that more is to be done to achieve the ideal for the man. God’s concern is that man is “alone.” Whether the man felt his aloneness at first is not stated; only the divine viewpoint is given. God has created human life to have fellowship with him but also to be a social entity, building relationships with other human beings. “[Man] will not live until he loves, giving himself away to another on his own level.” Isolation is not the divine norm for human beings; community is the creation of God. The commissioning of man and woman to reign over the good land (1:28) involves procreation, and only together can they achieve their destiny. This unity, however, is not merely sexual; it involves sharing spiritual, intellectual, and emotional dimensions as well.
Genesis 2, then, lays the foundation for our understanding of ourselves and for our view of others. If human beings are special to God, we must learn to love others, and can love ourselves as well.
The rest of the Bible demonstrates how important human beings truly are to God. Despite man’s fall into sin, God continues to love. The Bible is the history of redemption, of God reaching out to humankind to rescue and to save.
➔ Image and Likeness. When found together, as in Genesis 1:26; 5:1, 3, selem and demut make a theological statement about human nature, affirming that we bear a “likeness-image” to God. Like God we are persons, with an emotional, moral, and intellectual resemblance to our Creator.
➔ Rule. The Hebrew word in 1:28 is found 25 times in the Old Testament and is used of the rule of human beings rather than of God. It does suggest authority, but also implies responsibility. We are to care for God’s earth, which He entrusted to humankind.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’ ” (2:18). Adam and Eve were different, but with a glorious purpose—that the two might fit together like hook and eye. Eve was a “suitable” companion. Perhaps Matthew Henry, the Puritan Bible commentator, said it best: “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 by him, and near his heart to be beloved.”
This is why it is important (and good!) for a man to “leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife” (2:24). Marriage, and healthy marriage in particular, is vitally important as a sign of obedience to God, as a building block for culture, and (most of all) as a beautiful and accurate portrait of the relationship between Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22–33).
2:24 The creation of the first couple leads naturally to their relationship expressed through marriage since it is the couple’s charge to procreate and subdue the earth (1:28). This verse is not the continued speech of the man but the commentary of the narrator, which is attributed to God by Jesus (Matt 19:4–5). “For this reason” (ʿal kēn) does not indicate an explanation of the foregoing but rather describes the consequence of God’s charge for the human family to propagate and rule. Marriage and family are the divine ideal for carrying out the mandate. As we noted, Jesus’ appeal to the garden (quoting Gen 2:23) as the basis of his teaching on marriage and divorce (Matt 19:3–9; Mark 10:2–12) indicates that the garden established a paradigm for marital behavior. That Eden was viewed by the Hebrews as the model, authoritative experience can be seen also in Jewish literature of the time but especially by Paul, who appeals to its events in speaking of the most profound theological tenets of Christianity (Rom 5:12–21; 1 Cor 15:45) and in offering instructions concerning the propriety of worship (1 Cor 11:2–16; 1 Tim 2:11–15), moral behavior (1 Cor 6:16), and marriage (Eph 5:31).
As a model for marriage this passage involves three factors: a leaving, a uniting, and a public declaration. The NIV’s rendering “will leave” is ambiguous (also NASB); it can be taken by the modern reader as a description of future behavior or as an exhortation to marry. Better is the rendering “leaves” and “clings” (NRSV), indicating by the simple present tense that marriage is a universal practice. Marriage is depicted as a covenant relationship shared by man and woman. Monogamy is clearly intended. “Leave” (ʿāzab) and “cling” (dābaq) are terms commonly used in the context of covenant, indicating covenant breach (e.g., Deut 28:20; Hos 4:10) or fidelity.
The significance of the language “leave” is that marriage involves a new pledge to a spouse in which former familial commitments are superseded. Marriage requires a new priority by the marital partners where obligations to one’s spouse supplant a person’s parental loyalties. Illustrative of this pledge is Ruth’s earnest desire to remain with Naomi: “Ruth clung [dābaq] to her” (1:14) and “Don’t urge me to leave [ʿāzab] you” (1:16).
Our passage cannot mean that a man is not married unless he departs his father’s house; it was customary in Israel for a man to remain, not leave, his father’s household. This is best illustrated by Jacob’s family, whose sons remained under their father’s influence despite the founding of their own families and wealth. Although the sons are subject to their father’s wishes, they also exercise some freedom and maintain their own household identity as shown by Reuben’s authority over the life and death of his sons (42:37). Hebrew custom, rather, called for the wife to join the house of her husband (cf. Rebekah [chap. 24] and Tamar [chap. 38]). In fact, the law assumed a woman remained under the auspices of her husband’s family even after her husband’s death (e.g., Deut 25:5–10). The Eden narrative does not suggest that before the fall in chap. 3 men were ideally to leave their family for the woman’s, which subsequently was reversed as a result of the fall. The judgment oracles do not speak to this, and it is best to view the reference to man’s “leaving” as due to his priority in the narrative interest. Therefore “leave” here is metaphorical rather than literal since it was the woman who actually left her father’s house.
Also marriage involves the two united in commitment; two parties are bound by stipulations, forming a new entity or relationship. The two people, although freed from their parents, are not isolated or independent; they become dependent and responsible toward one another. “One flesh” echoes the language of v. 23, which speaks of the woman’s source in the man; here it depicts the consequence of their bonding, which results in one new person. Our human sexuality expresses both our individuality as gender and our oneness with another person through physical union. Sexual union implies community and requires responsible love within that union. The sexual union of the couple is, however, only symbolic of the new kinship that the couple has entered. The sexual act by itself does not exhaust marriage; marriage entails far more.
Finally, this “leaving” and “uniting” involves a public declaration in the sight of God. Marriage is not a private matter. It involves a declaration of intention and a redefining of obligations and relationships in a familial and social setting. In our contemporary climate of sexual freedom and societal tolerance for moral deviance, we would do well to reconsider the biblical viewpoint toward marriage and sexual behavior. Without question 2:24 serves as the bedrock for Hebrew understanding of the centrality of the nuclear family for the survival of society. Monogamous heterosexual marriage was always viewed as the divine norm from the outset of creation. Mosaic instruction shows considerable efforts to safeguard this ideal against its dissolution by clarifying what is “family.” Sexuality was instrumental in defining what a household was in Israel; abrogation of sexual boundaries threatened the identity of this core social institution. Without proper limits “family” ceased, and the consequence was the undoing of Israel as a nation, the same fate suffered by their predecessors (Lev 18:24–30). Strong prohibitions against sexual offenses often prescribed the penalty of death, as in the case of the heinous sins of murder and idolatry.
 Word studies from various sources on Logos Software, including, but not limited to Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (1997) by Ernst Jenni & Claus Westermann, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
 Mathews, K. A. (1996). Genesis 1-11:26 (Vol. 1A, p. 213). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 26). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Strassner, K. (2009). Opening up Genesis (p. 24). Leominster: Day One Publications.
 Mathews, K. A. (1996). Genesis 1-11:26 (Vol. 1A, pp. 222–225). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.