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Women of the Dawn
The story of the first woman begins with Eve in the Garden of Eden, where she first discovered that she bore a unique relationship to God, the supreme power in the universe. The great reality is not that she came from the rib of Adam but that God created her and brought her womanly nature into being.
The divine purpose relative to woman is found in the first part of the first story of the Creation: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27). Here we have warranty for woman's dominion. The fact that God did not give man dominion until he had woman standing beside him is evidence enough of her exalted place in the Creation.
Various theories regarding the origin of Genesis and of the story concerning, Eve, the first woman, have been evolved. Some scholars believe that parts of Genesis are based on myths and fables. Others call it a "legend wrapped around fundamental spiritual truths."
All Bible scholars concede that the story of Creation was conceived by an ancient people, to whom great truths about the spiritual universe in which they lived were becoming known. How these truths became known and why, scholars cannot answer. Nor do they try to answer all the questions concerning the creation of the first woman. The significant fact is that this first woman was set in a pattern of sublime religious truths.
The magnificent theme of the story is that God, seeing the incompleteness of man standing alone, wanted to finda helper for him. Not having found this helper in all created things, such as the birds of the air or the beasts of the field, God was obliged to make for man a helper who was his equal and who shared in the same processes of creation in which he shared. And so God created this helper Eve, whose name means "life,"not from the animal kingdom, but from the rib of Adam himself.
The symbolism of the rib is that it was taken from the place nearest to Adam's heart, thus indicating the dose relationship of man and woman. The real essence of the story is that man and woman were made for each other, that woman is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh; therefore they are not all that God intended them to be until they are together.
The oneness of man and woman in true marriage comes into its fullest meaning in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Marriage emerges, not as a civil contract, but as a divine institution. In this union of Adam and Eve all marriages become coeval with Creation, fully demonstrating that the laws of morals and the laws of nature are coincident.
Eve herself, like all of us, came into a universe that was immeasurable and orderly, and her creation takes on the same wonder as that of the stars, the sun, the moon, and all other things which God created and called good.
In the Genesis account Eve is elevated to ethereal beauty and lofty dignity. As a great sculptor might strike a beautiful figure out of Parian marble, Eve arises from the rib of Adam beautiful of form, and figure and with Paradise as her birthplace. Milton, in his Paradise Lost, has called her Queen of the Universe and Fairest of the Fair. By poet and artist alike she has usually been pictured with gleaming golden hair, with a face celestial in loveliness and a form strong and immortal.
All of the great epochs in a woman's life, her marriage, mating, and motherhood, unfold in all of their completeness in the Genesis account of Eve. The family, too, with all its joys and heartaches comes, into being, with Eve as the center of it. In Eve all the elemental questions of life, birth, and death, even sin and temptation, are shown in their human dimension.
When Eve listened to the serpent, representing temptation, she followed, not the will of God, but the path of evil. When she ate the fruit from the Forbidden Tree, she acted independently of God, in whose image she had been created. From God, who watched over her truest interests, she turned to a serpent, which distorted the truth regarding the fruit God had forbidden. The serpent beguiled Eve by telling her that if she would eat of the forbidden fruit she would gainfor herself new delights.
After she had partaken of the forbidden fruit, she also gave it to Adam, and he too ate it, thus sharing in her guilt. In this act we have, an excellent example of woman's impulsiveness and man's inclination to follow woman wherever she leads, even into sin. Eve with Adam "hid from the presence of God" for they knew they had done wrong. Afterward, when Eve told God that "the serpent of beguiled me, and I did eat," she displayed the natural tendency of woman to blame, not herself for her wrongdoings, but those around her.
Though Eve fell far short of the ideal in womanhood, she rose to the dream of her destiny as a wife and mother. Paradise had been lost. She knew that, but something wonderful, maternal care, had been born. In Eve, motherhood became a great sacrifice and a sublime service. The winged creatures and the animals of the Garden of Eden achieved their motherhood lightly, but for Eve, though motherhood often was achieved at the price of anguish, it became her sacred responsibility.