Genesis 2:20-22 - So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts ...

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. 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 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. (Genesis 2:20-22)

Did woman literally come from Adam's rib?

This verse, along with Genesis 2:19, have been widely misunderstood. Despite this, their allegorical, symbolic meaning can still be derived from the English assuming the context of the discussion is understood.

In other words, this is not a description of the creation of the first woman from the rib of the first man, as has often been portrayed by paid sectarian interpreters.

As mentioned previously, there are two contextual issues to remember about this section of Genesis. The first is that what is being discussed is the spiritual dimension, the creation of the spiritual living beings, and (later) how each of us fell from the spiritual dimension into the physical world.

The second issue to remember is that the spiritual world cannot be seen by the physical eyes. Nor can it be perceived by the physical mind - a memory bank of sensory events of the physical world. This makes the spiritual dimension a bit difficult to describe. Therefore, Genesis is full of symbolism and allegory. Jesus also used symbolism when describing the spiritual world:
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2)
We can see here that Jesus is comparing the spiritual dimension - the dimension where the Supreme Being is the center of love and activity - to a house that has many rooms. Both the use of "house" and "rooms" are allegorical and symbolic. Jesus is obviously describing that the spiritual dimension has many different sections or territories, much like our universe has many planets or our planet has many countries and environments.

Now, through allegory and symbolism, Genesis is discussing the concept of community within the spiritual dimension. God created living beings to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. He did not just produce one living being. He produced a community of living beings, who were all connected and related to each other. This describes us: God's children of related living beings.

These verses describe just how we are all connected to each other.

Are we not all family?

The Hebrew word translated to "Adam" or "the man" here is אָדָם ('adam), which can mean, according to the Hebrew lexicon, 'man, human being, man, mankind' As the context of this discussion is the spiritual realm being described allegorically, אָדָם is describing the spiritual living being - the occupants of the spiritual realm outside of God and His expansions.

The word "helper" is derived from the Hebrew word עֵזֶר ('ezer), meaning, according to the lexicon, 'help, succour'. "Succour" means to give assistance to. The better translation in this context would thus be to lovingly serve.

Remember from Genesis 2:15 we found that Adam - representing the living beings - was not put in Eden to become Eden's gardener. His purpose was to serve and care for God. This is the purpose of all living beings. Each of us was created to care for God. Each of us was created to be God's loving servant and exchange a unique relationship with Him. This is confirmed throughout the books of the Bible, inclusive of Moses’ teachings. Consider one of Moses' clear statements to his students:
"And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear [revere] the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 10:12)
Now the creation of a "helper" to the symbolic Adam is being described. Let’s delve further into this description and its meaning.

First God causes the symbolic Adam to fall into a deep sleep. “Deep sleep” is being translated from תַּרְדֵּמָה (tardemah) which means either ‘sleep’ or ‘trance’ according to the lexicon. What was this “sleep” or “trance”?

Then it states, “while he was sleeping.” This is taken from יָשַׁן (yashen) which means to be ‘asleep’ and ‘to remain a long time’ according to the lexicon.

What is sleep anyway? Sleep is a state of illusion or trance, as one focuses upon dreaming instead of the waking world. Now we could figure that Adam fell into a conventional sleep as we know it. But does God operate on people when they sleep? Don't be ridiculous.

Rather, God – who can influence our consciousness – simply encourages a particular consciousness among the living beings of the spiritual dimension: A consciousness of mutual love.

What does Adam's rib symbolize?

This encouraging of consciousness is very practical. Consider what happens at a concert. Here, the band is able to create a mood or consciousness among the audience by playing a certain type of music or speaking to the audience in a certain way. Skilled speakers and politicians can also do this, as they select words and speaking mannerisms that influence their audience's consciousness one way or another.

So while the spiritual living beings created by God – symbolized by Adam – are in this loving state of consciousness influenced by God, God takes a part of symbolic Adam to create the symbolic Eve. What is this part?

The word “rib” is being translated from the Hebrew word צֵלָע (tsela), which can mean 'side,' 'rib' or 'beam' according to the lexicon. The 'beam' usage is taken from shipbuilding, where a ship is made of beams that make up the central structure of the ship. The beams of a ship, in order words, give the ship its stability. Its beams give the ship its strength and foundation. "Side" and "rib" also convey this concept, as these are critical structural components of the body or any structure. What is being conveyed is a core element of composition: A critical part.

What is being described here is that a core element is being taken from one living being to create another. Are we really saying that some of us (notably those in female bodies) were originally created from ribs? Certainly not. This has no scientific or biological basis whatsoever.

In fact, what is being described has nothing to do with the physical bodies of men and women. These physical bodies are all temporary. They provide a vehicle for the spiritual living being for a few years, and after the living being leaves, the body begins to decompose. In other words, the spiritual living being has nothing to do with the sex of the physical body.

In the spiritual world, each of us has a spiritual form based on our unique relationship with God. In the spiritual dimension, God is the dominator and we are all dominated living beings. There is no room for male chauvinism in the spiritual world because the Supreme Being is always Supreme. But God's rule is benevolent. He is ever-loving and forgiving.

What Genesis is describing is the creation of community among the living beings of the spiritual world. Adam symbolizes each of us, but Eve symbolizes how we are all connected. We were each created directly by God to exchange a unique loving relationship with Him. But each of us also has a part of each other within us - making us each relatives - and each other's helpers. This is what the rib symbolizes: that we are all connected, part of the same spiritual family.

Why is our spiritual family so important?

This part we share is a piece of the main element of our composition: Our tendency to love and serve. We each were created with the natural tendency to lovingly care for and serve God. But this same element also relates to our spiritual relatives: we were also designed to lovingly care for each other in relation to our care for God.

This is why Jesus quoted Moses' teaching:
"And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:39)
after his most important teaching:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
"Like it" is derived from the Greek ὅμοιος (homoios), which means to be 'similar' or to 'resemble' something else. In other words, loving our spiritual relatives is inseparable from our love for God. If we care for and love God, we'll automatically care for and love our spiritual relatives, God's children.

This is because we are related to each other in the most intimate fashion.

We see a glimpse of this in the physical world, as we often feel an intimate bond with our physical brothers and sisters. Because we have a common bond of caring for our mother and father, we often feel intimate with our brothers and sisters. However, these relationships of the physical body are temporary. Once our various relatives' bodies die, and then our body dies, those physical relationships cease. We may still share a relationship with those spiritual persons, but after the death of our bodies, they are no more related to us than any other living being is.

In the spiritual world, we are feeling related with every living being - our true relatives. When we are loving God with all our heart and soul, we are loving others intimately as relatives that share a common Beloved - the Supreme Being.

This is why even the most wealthy person in the physical world is still empty even with all their wealth, yet they will gain a glimpse of real joy by serving others with their wealth.

This is the hidden meaning within this symbolic, allegorical discussion of Adam, Eve and the so-called rib: We each share a part of each other - that part is our tendency to love and serve. This is the key to the kingdom of God: Loving service.

But truly loving and serving others is incomplete without understanding who we are. We are not physical bodies. We are the spiritual living beings within these temporary physical bodies. Therefore, our love and loving service must be connected to and reflect our spiritual loving relationship and loving service to the Supreme Person, God.

Consider another translation of these verses in Chapter Two of the New Book of Genesis.