Rib2

(I wrote this in 2010. This morning, as I was studying Genesis, I remembered it and decided to share it. Enjoy!)

Genesis 2:22 says, “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man.” Have you ever asked the question, “Why the rib, Lord?” Well, I did.  When I read this verse, I began to ask the Lord why He chose a removed rib as the method He used to create woman. Why not an eye, a hand, or half of the heart? Why did He sovereignly select a rib? When I think of ribs, I immediately conjure up images of backyard barbecues and messy fingers. What does the rib have to do with woman and why did God, in all of His infinite wisdom, decide to use it as the foundational material to design Adam’s counterpart?

As I studied the rib and it’s role in creation, I noticed that the word “rib” is not a literal translation from the Hebrew. In fact, the original language does not ever specifically reference the “rib” as we know it. The Hebrew word for rib is “tsela,” which literally means “side” or “chamber.” This word is actually derived from a root that means “to limp; to become lame; to incline to one side.” However, as I researched the rib I became more and more convinced that it was an actual rib that God removed from Adam’s “side” to fashion Eve. The deeper I dug, the more revelation I received about the reason for this translation into the word “rib” that is found in nearly every version of the Bible that is in print. So again … why the rib, Lord?

For starters, did you know that the human rib actually regenerates? All bones can repair themselves, but the rib is the only bone that can regenerate itself. Removed ribs usually regenerate within 2-3 months of sectional surgery, as in the surgical procedure “rib thoracoplasty.” Modern day thoracic surgeons will sometimes remove ribs to be used as bone transplant donors for other body parts. If the periosteum membrane which covers the rib is left intact, the removed rib will grow back in a few months. Oh, the miraculous wonders of the human body!

Because of Genesis 2:22, many people have erroneously assumed that men have fewer ribs than women, but both men and women have 12 pairs of ribs. PAIRS. —– P.A.I.R.S. —– I love the way God works. He took one half of the PAIR to form the woman. Selah (think about it). God knew full well that the rib would grow back when He removed it. This was no accident.

Ribs also have several important functions in the body. As I educated myself on this unseen and often overlooked part of the human frame, I learned a lot about God Himself. The ribs are, first and foremost, part of the skeletal structure which is the foundation of the body. They assist in helping us to stand erect and move with ease. If you have ever had a rib injury, you know it is very painful. People who have experienced broken or cracked ribs say that it hurts to stand, walk, or breathe. It even causes one “to limp” or “incline to one side,” as mentioned in the description of the root word for “rib” above. Hmmmmmm. Do you think there is a message in there somewhere? Men and women were created to work together in unity and love as a PAIR. When one of them is cracked or broken, the other one will feel the pain and heartache. In relationship to one another and as corporate members of the Body of Christ, men and women are designed to come along”side” each other to perform a common function.

Other functions of the ribs include covering and protection. They insulate the heart and lungs, the very life and breath of our being. The rib is also one of the few bones that continues to create red marrow (and thus blood cells) in the adult. As far as I can tell, Adam and Eve were both created as adults … yet another reason to believe the word “rib” was used intentionally in translation. Probably the most interesting correlation in function that I discovered was that of “attachment.” The ribs are actually an attachment point, a point of connection and communion for chest muscles involved in respiration. Did you know that this is the very process that was absent at the Crucifixion?

When Jesus was crucified, His arms were stretched to the extent that the chest muscles connected to His ribs were pulled tightly. He could breathe in, but He had difficulty breathing out. It is fascinating to me that the ribs represent an area of the body where attachment, connection, and communion are necessary to sustain life. They function in tandem with the chest muscles to allow respiration to take place. This is a picture of the human body in action, but also of the “Body” of Christ in action. Comparably, Jesus’ crucifixion is a picture of the “Body’s” inaction. While He was on the cross, Jesus was unable to breathe because His ribs and chest muscles could not work together. This tells me that the “Body” of Christ can also be positioned in such a way that, even though all of the necessary components are present, it will prevent the parts from working together properly (as in the case of differing doctrines and denominations).

Isn’t this a beautiful picture of the Body, the Bride, of Christ? She was taken from His “side” as one half of a PAIR. Jesus functions as support, covering, protection, and insulation to His Bride. So a husband should reflect the nature of Christ in this way to his wife. Marriage is, after all, a symbolic representation of Jesus and His Bride, the church (the people, not the premises). His very blood flows in and through Her. She is the attachment, connection, and communion point of His life and death in the earth.

The word regenerate means “to form anew; to give new life or spiritual vigor to.” As God formed anew and gave spiritual life to a bride for Adam, He had in mind the Bride He would create for Jesus. Matthew Henry stated “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.”

As the Bride of Christ, Jesus created and called us to be by His side. What an honor! God so graciously allows us to see the beautiful union of Jesus and His Bride through the simple, yet inexhaustibly profound, creation of a woman from the “rib” of a man. As I was writing this, I imagined Jesus on the cross, His side being pierced. Because Jesus and His Bride/Body are ONE FLESH, She will also be pierced with persecution and even death. She will literally “feel His pain.” The last and most beautiful revelation I received while I was studying Genesis 2:22 was this direct Word from the Lord:

 “MAN IS MADE FROM DUST, BUT MY BRIDE COMES FROM MY SIDE. I DIED FOR MY BRIDE.”

Man here refers to the human race, and the Bride refers to those who say YES to God’s call and commit to a life of obedience and devotion to Christ. Jesus DIED for His Bride, for Her forgiveness, salvation, and redemption. And to think … it all started with a rib.

 – Genesis 2:18-24

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.