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Genesis, Part 6: About Women

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Genesis, Part 6

About Women

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Genesis, Part 6: About Women

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A closer look at the passages in Genesis 1 & 2 relating to women and what they mean to us today.

Sermon Notes

Genesis Bible Study, Part 6

Introduction – The creation account in the first two chapters of Genesis lay the biblical foundation for understanding how women fit into God’s plan for humankind.

  • As is the case with nearly all matters of importance, the world is filled with many false concepts beliefs and practices and has been ever since the sin of Adam and Eve.

 

SPS – In today’s Bible study, we will take a close look at the passages in Genesis 1 & 2 relating to women and what they mean to us today.

  • When Jesus was asked a challenging question about divorce and remarriage, he answered the question by going back to God’s original intent at man’s creation (Matthew 19:8 Matthew 19:8He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • Likewise, to understand God’s design for women, the account of the creation of Adam and Eve is the proper place to begin. Genesis 1:26-28 Genesis 1:26-28 [26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and 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 created he him; male and female created he them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
    American King James Version×
    lays the foundation for understanding male and female roles and relationships.
  • Here we find God’s description of the origin and destiny of human beings.
  • Careful attention must be paid to every detail of this landmark passage.

NKJ Genesis 1:26-28 Genesis 1:26-28 [26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and 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 created he him; male and female created he them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
American King James Version×
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. 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."

  • “‘According to our likeness’ … appears to be an explanatory gloss indicating the precise sense of ‘in our image’” (The Word Biblical Commentary).
  • Notice the usage of pronouns him & them.
  • Verse 7 seems to state that Adam was created in God’s image, but Eve was not
  • When angels do appear in the OT they are frequently described as men.

NKJ Genesis 18:1-2 Genesis 18:1-2 [1] And the LORD appeared to him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; [2] And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, see, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
American King James Version×
Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.  2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground….

However, the Hebrew word adam, when not referring the name of the first man, means humans or humankind.

NKJ Genesis 5:1-2 Genesis 5:1-2 [1] This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; [2] Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
American King James Version×
 This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind [adam] in the day they were created.

NLT Genesis 5:2 Genesis 5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
American King James Version×
He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them "human."

NRS Genesis 5:2 Genesis 5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
American King James Version×
Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them "Humankind" when they were created.

  • So we would conclude that human beings—male and female—were created in the image and likeness of God.
  • But God clearly reveals Himself to us as our Father, not our mother or simply our parent.
  • This fact means that the Hebrew word selem (“image”) means more than simply similar appearance.
  • “While that [use of] ṣelem is not specifically defined, it does not appear to mean a physical likeness between human beings and God; rather, it is a moral and spiritual likeness. In contrast to animals, human beings can develop a relationship with God and can worship him”
    (Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

Notice also that God blessed both Adam & Eve and gave them both dominion over the creation.

  • The wording, “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion…’” shows that God intended for Adam and Eve (and by extension, all married couples) to work together as a husband and wife team to rule over all creation.
  • God made them male and female, designing them for different gender-based roles to fulfill his purposes.
  • God’s intention was for the male partner in a marriage (husband) to be the leader of the team.
  • This distinction is explained further in Genesis 2:18-25 Genesis 2:18-25 [18] And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. [19] And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. [20] And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. [21] And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; [22] And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man. [23] And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. [24] Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh. [25] And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
    American King James Version×
    .

NKJ Genesis 2:18 Genesis 2:18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
American King James Version×
 And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."

  • This account of man’s creation refers to Eve as a “helper.”
  • Some assume the term helper implies inferior rank or position, as in our contemporary term assistant.
  • No such implication exists in the meaning of the Hebrew word ezer.
  • In fact most other Old Testament occurrences of this word refer to God as a helper (Exodus 18:4 Exodus 18:4And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh:
    American King James Version×
    ; Deuteronomy 33:7 Deuteronomy 33:7And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be you an help to him from his enemies.
    American King James Version×
    ,26,29; Psalms 20:2 Psalms 20:2Send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion;
    American King James Version×
    , 33:20; 70:5; 89:19; 115:9,10,11; 121:1,2,8; 124:8; 148:5; Hosea 13:9 Hosea 13:9O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in me is your help.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  •  However, Paul refers to the creation accounts to show that God intended the husband to be the leader in the marriage.

NRS Genesis 2:18 Genesis 2:18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
American King James Version×
 I will make him a helper as his partner.

  • Here again, the ideal of a two-fold team appears.
  • The text further describes Eve as “comparable to” Adam.
  • The Hebrew word neged means “a front, i.e. part opposite; specifically a counterpart, or mate” (Strong’s concordance).
  • In other words, she would offer an added dimension of complementary qualities that Adam lacked.
  • She would also be a companion so Adam would not be alone.
  • So Eve was to be a suitable companion and counterpart for Adam to help him fulfill God’s will of dominion over the earth and the physical creation.

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve fell far short of God’s ideal intent for them.

  • Satan managed to seduce Eve into partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, despite God’s command.
  • Adam also ate of the tree.
  • Their disobedience brought tragic results for them and all mankind.

NLT Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
American King James Version×
 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

NKJ  Genesis 3:6-19 Genesis 3:6-19 [6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat. [7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. [8] And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. [9] And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you? [10] And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [11] And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat? [12] And the man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. [13] And the LORD God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. [14] And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: [15] And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. [16] To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. [17] And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; [18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; [19] In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return.
American King James Version×
 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.  7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 

8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"  10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself."  11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"  12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."  13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."  14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."  16 To the woman, He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain, you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."  17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.  18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.  19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."

  • The man would thereafter experience undue toil and negative results for his labors.
  • The woman would suffer greatly increased pain in childbirth.
  • Verse 16 describes a major change in the husband-wife relationship as another negative consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.''
  • God had initially offered Adam and Eve the opportunity of ruling over the entire creation.
  • Now, instead of the wife ruling over the creation with her husband, the husband would rule over his wife.

What is the meaning of the phrase, “your desire shall be for your husband?”

  • The Hebrew word translated “desire” occurs only two other times in the Old Testament.
  • “This noun appears only three times in the OT, once in Song Of Solomon 7:10 Song Of Solomon 7:10I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.
    American King James Version×
    . The woman says of her beloved: "I am my beloved's and his 'desire' is for me." The two remaining references are Genesis 3:16 Genesis 3:16To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.
    American King James Version×
    and 4:7. In the latter passage, God is speaking to Cain and says to him that sin is like a crouching beast "hungering, intent upon" Cain. In the former passage, God says, "Your 'desire' shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament).
  • Some scholars, perhaps because of the context of its occurrence in Song of Solomon, take the meaning to be sexual.
  • However, the common denominator is not the object but the intensity of the desire.
  • According to the Keil-Delitzsch commentary, the word means “a desire bordering upon disease” and is derived from a verb meaning “to run, to have a violent craving for a thing.”
  • Could this “desire” refer to a greatly intensified need for her husband’s affection, attention and approval?
  • Instead of feeding her emotional hunger, the husband would perceive his role in authoritarian terms to the neglect of his wife’s emotional needs.

Another possible meaning is offered by The Word Biblical Commentary:

Susan Foh … has … argued that the woman’s urge is not a craving for her man whatever he demands but an urge for independence, indeed a desire to dominate her husband. Such an interpretation of “urge” is required in the very closely parallel passage in 4:7, where sin’s urge is said to be for Cain, but he must master it. Here in 3:16 woman’s desire for independence would be contrasted with an injunction to man to master her.

  • This interpretation suggests that Eve’s sin, in which she acted as a self-appointed spokesperson to defend God, launched a power struggle in their marriage.
  • She thereafter desired to supplant Adam’s leadership role, so God urges Adam to overrule her in order to win the battle for leadership.
  • But God is addressing Eve, not Adam.
  • He is telling her the consequences of her sin, not advising Adam what to do about it.

The more likely explanation would be that the latter part of the verse is a continuation of the prediction of outcome of the power struggle—male domination and abusive use of authority.

  • The expression “rule over” refers to domination, not the kind of loving leadership that God originally intended for Adam to exercise in his role as a husband.
  • So God is telling Eve that her sin caused distrust of her husband, resulting in an oppressive form of rulership over her.
  • The Word Commentary says: “It is therefore usually argued that “rule” here represents harsh exploitive subjugation, which so often characterizes woman’s lot in all sorts of societies. “ ‘To love and to cherish’ becomes ‘To desire and to dominate’.”

Actually, both meanings could be implied.

  • Lack of emotional fulfillment can result in frustration and resentment that can lead to power struggles.

Consider the following scenario as a progression of consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin:

  • They unwittingly accepted the devil’s government when they rejected God’s, and plunged not only themselves but all generations to follow, into a lifelong struggle with a destructive carnal nature.
  • Their sin results in a change in their attitudes toward God and toward each other.
  • Fear, guilt, shame, and resentment distort their perceptions.
  • The self-centered way of get breeds competition and strife, resulting in diminishing returns for man’s labor. 
  • Man’s frustrations and resentments adversely affect his marriage.
  • His long hours of rigorous labor with meager results monopolize his time and divert his affections away from his wife.
  • Their sex life suffers, resulting in marital affairs and perpetuating the cycle of emotional neglect and abuse that continues to future generations.
  • Society becomes progressively more dysfunctional as men and women pursue economic and emotional survival.

This scenario pretty well summarizes a widespread trend of many cultures.

  • Ignorance and prejudice have also contributed to problems between men and women.
  • This is also true of some of the major presuppositions of many of the movers and shakers of various cultures, especially those that have affected the Western world.
  • Anti-woman bias stands out in the writings of many of the so-called “church fathers,” who to this day are looked upon with great respect as framers of Christian doctrine and practice.
  • Sexual desire was considered an evil distraction, and women were considered as snares of the devil.
  • These distorted beliefs form the philosophical foundation of modern Christian belief. In varying degrees, the effects of this prejudice have influenced theologians and Bible scholars to this day.

What did Jesus teach about women?

  • Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 offers significant insights.
  • Being both a woman and a Gentile she had two strikes against her, as Jews considered both to be inferior creatures. Barclay observes:

There is little wonder that the disciples were in a state of bewildered amazement when they returned from their errand to the town of Sychar and found Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman. We have already seen the Jewish idea of women. The Rabbinic precept ran: "Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no, not with his own wife." The Rabbis so despised women and so thought them incapable of receiving any real teaching that they said: "Better than the words of the law should be burned than deliver to women." They had a saying: "Each time that a man prolongs converse with a woman he causes evil to himself, and desists from the law, and in the end inherits Gehinnom." By Rabbinic standards Jesus could hardly have done a more shatteringly unconventional thing than to talk to this woman. Here is Jesus taking the barriers down.

The incident regarding Mary and Martha recorded in Luke 10 illustrates another aspect of how Jesus treated women.

  • Luke tells us that Mary “sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word. But Martha was distracted with much serving” (verses 39-40).
  • The prevailing Jewish thought would have accused Mary of the distraction, because of the belief that women should not study the Torah.
  • But Jesus said that “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her'' (verse 42, NIV). So much for tradition!

The main lesson of these examples is that Jesus treated women as human beings, not inferior creatures.

  • He conversed with them freely and without prejudice. He offered men and women, Jews and Gentiles, and people from all social levels the same opportunity to learn from Him.

Paul’s landmark statement in Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
perfectly summarizes Jesus’ example:

NKJ Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  • The fact that the Greek text reads “male and female” is taken by some as a reference to the creation account in Genesis 1:28 Genesis 1:28And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
    American King James Version×
    .
  • This is the identical expression found in Matthew 19:4 Matthew 19:4And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
    American King James Version×
    and Mark 10:6 Mark 10:6But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
    American King James Version×
    , where Jesus quoted from Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
    American King James Version×
    .
  • The Septuagint also uses the same wording in Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
    American King James Version×
    .
  • Since we know that Jesus “did not come to destroy the law or the prophets” (Matthew 5:17 Matthew 5:17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
    American King James Version×
    ), this cannot refer to a change in the roles God established for husbands and wives.
  • However, the Bible records examples of women who have served in a wide variety of ways, including leadership roles in other areas of life such as business and even governmental positions, while remaining faithful to their marital role in the cases of married women.
  • The Bible also speaks of widows and single women who have served God faithfully.
  • The principle of women providing complementary qualities that men lack is true in other areas of life as well.
  • What men and women can produce working together is like a stereo with two speakers.
  • A similar example is when a song leader asks men and women to sing separate verses.
  • It always sounds better when both sing together.
  • It is sad that contributions of women have long been unwelcome, but that goes back to the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned.

Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
speaks to the elimination of prejudicial discrimination and other divisive attitudes and actions based on ethnic identity, social class, and gender.

  • It refers to equal opportunity for all in light of the fact that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 Acts 10:34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
    American King James Version×
    , KJV).
  • Or as the Simple English version puts it, “God treats everyone the same.”
  • The ultimate goal of the gospel is spiritual unity of all mankind (Ephesians 2:14-16 Ephesians 2:14-16 [14] For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • So the apostle Peter writes:

NKJ 1 Peter 3:7 1 Peter 3:7Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
American King James Version×
 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

  • “heirs together” (Gr. sugkleronomos {soong-klay-ron-om'-os} = “joint heirs”
  • The apostle Paul explains in more detail in his epistles this and other principles that were introduced in Genesis.

Conclusion – The point of today’s Bible study is that the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostles Paul and Peter, and therefore of the true Church of God are all based on the fundamental principles laid out in the book of Genesis.