Then Adonai said, “it is not good for the earth creature to be alone. I will make a fitting companion for it.” So from the soil Adonai formed all the various wild beasts and all the birds of the air, and brought them to the earth creature to be named. Whatever the earth creature called each one, that became its name. The earth creature gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals.
But none of them proved to be a fitting companion, so Adonai made the earth creature fall into a deep sleep, and while it slept, God divided the earth creature in two, then closed up the flesh from its side. Adonai then fashioned the two halves into male and female, and presented them to one another.
When the male realized what had happened, he exclaimed,
“This time, this is the one!
Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!
Now, she will be Woman, and I will be Man,
because we are of one flesh!”
This is why people leave their parents and become bonded to one another, and the two become one flesh.
Implied in this text of scripture, though often overlooked, is the assumption by God that the Sacred alone is not sufficient for human fulfillment. It is this concern of God to complete Adam that proves the impetus for the creation of the animals. Building suspense, each animal is brought to Adam, and each animal fails in the hope of bringing wholeness, here understood as companionship, to Adam. Poor Adam, the world is his alone, God is his alone, yet Adam is all alone.
What is the Creator to do with the prized creature? God has provided a garden, animals of the sea, land, and air. All this attention and Adam is still solitary. This is the point at which literal interpreters tend to run afoul of the passage. Either they make the binary gender model of boy-girl God’s only plan for coupling, or they turn the pre-Eve Adam into an androgynous, omnigender being, as the above citation demonstrates.
I have nothing against an understanding of Adam as the original hermaphrodite. However, it is the metaphors of relational dynamics with which the passage is concerned. Humans are not complete without other humans. We know how our fragile hearts yearn for intimate connections. How the heart aches when such connections are denied.
There is something in our deepest mystery which searches for others. God, we find, is helping us with this quest for completion. It is fitting that what completes and fulfills Adam comes out of his very being. Eve is not an afterthought, but rather Gods’ tender solution to Adam’s dilemma. Adam is made whole with Eve. It is implied that Eve is made complete with Adam.
The wisdom of the Sacred is touching – it is a terrible thing to be lonely. This passage does not celebrate Adam and Eve as an exclusive model of binary gender pairing, or even Adam and Steve as an exclusive single paring pattern. Rather it celebrates God’s recognition that humans need companionship in a world which is often a lonely place.