Woman, the life giver
How many times can you read a passage of Scripture and see what you have never seen before? This has been a pattern throughout my life, going deeper into a familiar passage of Scripture and finding new truths.
A simple truth on the surface of a text can unlock a profound truth upon deeper reflection. It’s like the difference between an apple and an onion. An apple is the same all the way through. An onion, on the other hand, comes in layers. As you peel off the first layer you find another. When you peel off that layer, there’s a third. When you think you have found the core, you discover another layer.
The study of Scripture is like peeling an onion; the more you reflect, the more you see and understand.
Recently I re-read Genesis 3:20: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” I have read that verse dozens of times, have studied it many times. But this time I saw something I had missed every time before.
Eve first appears in Genesis 2:21-23 where we find that she was formed, not like Adam, from the dust of the ground, but from Adam’s side, from his very DNA.
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. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
The woman is the counterpart of the man
The woman shares the man’s DNA; she is his counterpart. They are equal heirs of the Cultural Commission of Genesis 1:26-28, equally responsible to fulfill it. To fully represent the image of God requires female and male. Pastor John Angell captures this picture beautifully.
She was not taken from the head, to show she was not to rule over him; nor from his foot, to teach that she was not to be his slave; nor from his hand, to show that she was not to be his tool; but from his side, to show that she was to be his companion.
Eve, the crescendo of creation, is the coequal of man in every way, but she is not the same: she is his counterpart.
Adam recognizes this and speaks the first human words recorded in Scripture. He offers a play on words in the Hebrew: “she shall be called Õishshah [ish-shaw, woman] for she was taken out of Õiysh [eesh, man].” They are equal and alike, but not the same. They complement each other for the purpose of having children and stewarding the creation.
Pastor John Piper describes this moment:
These are the first recorded human words, and they are Hebrew poetry. What do they express? The joy of the first man receiving the gift of the first woman: “This creature alone, Father, out of all the others- this one at last meets my need for a companion. She alone is my equal, my flesh. I identify with her. I love her. I will call her Woman, for she came out of Man.” The man perceives the woman not as his rival but as his partner, not as a threat … but as the only one capable of fulfilling his longing within.
The woman is the mother of all the living
As Piper notes, she is not his rival, but his counterpart. They fulfill each other in bringing forth life and governing the creation. He completes her, she completes him.
Adam identifies his counterpart with the generic word “woman.” But he names his wife Eve.
The Hebrew word translated Eve is חַוָּה, ḥawwâ, the first woman, meaning “life” or “living.” Why this name? Because she is “the mother of all the living.” The man brings his seed to the intimate, holy moment, and the woman conceives the new life. She carries and nurtures that new human being through gestation, birth and early years to independence. Her womb is the place of compassionate formation. The mother gives her baby life and a voice.
And make no mistake, what the woman conceives is a new, unique human being. At the moment of conception, God imprints a unique human life, one who is the same person from that instant until death. That new life will be different from every other, and those differences exist from the moment of conception. They don’t suddenly appear at birth. They are established at conception.
What a woman carries in her womb IS NOT a growth, a cancer, a foreign invasion, a “product of conception,” something to be discarded. A woman has the privilege of conceiving and carrying a new human who will be born, receive a name, have a unique identity, and live for eternity.
Here is the going deeper, for me, as I reflected on Genesis 3:20. The name Eve in Hebrew is חַוָּה, ḥawwâ. The Hebrew root for this word is חָוָה, ḥāwâ, simply and profoundly, life-giver.
The woman is like God, the life giver
WOW! The woman, the counterpart of man, is named Eve, because she is the life-giver. Are you as astonished as I am at this?
Who is the first Giver of life? Jehovah God! He envisioned the universe, a universe that would not be empty: it would have life. So God gave life to plants, and a higher form of life, the breath of life, to animals. And finally he created the human, the reflection of His image. WOW! Amazing! Wonderful!
But then what did he do? He envisioned and created the woman to replicate what He had done. She was conceived, designed and purposed to be a LIFE-GIVER!
Oh, my dear sisters in both Eve and in Christ, do you stand in wonder over who you are? Do you understand that you are the mother of all living? Do you understand that life would cease without you? Do you realize that your call is not only to conceive life, but, as Lydia Sigourney reminds us, to light the lamp of the eternal soul?
To my dear brothers in Adam and in Christ, do you not realize that you would not be alive without the life-giver? Do you honor and respect women as your coheirs and coequals? Or do you see yourself as superior to women? If so, stop right now and thank God for giving you life through the life-giver. Thank God that He has provided the “crescendo of creation” to share your life. Be the husband God intended, one who honors the bride He gave you.
– Darrow Miller