What does Genesis 2:21 mean?
ESV: So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
NIV: 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.
NASB: So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.
CSB: 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.
NLT: So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.
KJV: And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
Verse Commentary:
In verse 18, God declared that He would make a helper for the man, since it was not good for the man to be alone. Then in the following two verses, Adam goes through the process of naming all of the animals God had created. In doing so, he finds out first-hand that none of them can serve as a suitable helper for him.

Even as God creates, He often does so with the intent of modifying that creation later on (Genesis 1:9–12). So now God goes to work, taking action to complete his intended design of the human race. He causes a deep sleep to fall on Adam: the first anesthesia before surgery. While Adam is asleep, God removes one of Adam's ribs and closes up the place with flesh. It's amazing to think of the God who had formed Adam out of dust now performing surgery on the man's body of flesh, blood, and bone.

It's important to remember several things about this action. This surgery was not to remove an imperfection from Adam's body, but to add something essential and beautiful to Adam's existence. It also speaks powerfully of the symbolic connection between man and woman. God could have created woman out of earth, as he did with man, but chose not to. The exchange of wedding rings, circumcision, communion, and other rituals are real-world actions with symbolic importance. In the same way, God's creation of woman from the rib of Adam meant to be seen as both literal and figurative.
Verse Context:
Genesis 2:15–25 returns to provide details about the sixth-day creation of human beings. After being crafted out of the substance of earth, man is placed in a garden by God. He is then given responsibility to care for the plants and trees there. God's first and only prohibition to the man is not to eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, in the middle of the garden, on promise of death. Man is also charged with naming the animals, an act reflecting his God-given authority. God recognizes that it is not good for man to be alone and makes woman to be his helper, companion, and wife, establishing the pattern of God's design for human marriage.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 2 begins with a description of the seventh day of creation, in which God rested from His work. Then it returns to the sixth day and describes in more detail the creation of man, the garden God placed him into, and the work God gave him to do. God recognizes that it is not good for man to be alone and makes a helper for him out of his own rib. This woman becomes Adam's companion and wife, setting the original example of God's design for marriage. The two exist in pure innocence, naked yet unashamed before sin enters into the world.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 2 concludes the description of God's week of creation and then zooms in on the creation of man, his work, his perfect environment, and the creation of woman as his helper and wife. It is our last glimpse of the world before it is ravaged by human sin and death with the disobedience of Adam and Eve in chapter 3. Where chapter 1 gave a full overview of creation, this chapter focuses more on a few specific events. These are crucial to understanding the fall of man.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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