“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 which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:21–23).
This passage about Eve’s creation is beautiful when rendered in English. But we lose some of the meaning hidden in the original Hebrew text.
One Hebrew word can have many translations in English. Sometimes these multiple meanings are related.
The Hebrew word for the main support beams of Solomon’s Temple is tsela. The Temple is where the Israelites worshiped God. It contained the life-giving divine services that preserved the Chosen People’s faith.
The same word is used for the sides of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark holds within it — like a womb — the tablets of the Law, manna, and Aaron’s rod. Note that all of these are types pointing to Christ.
But here’s where it gets crazy. The word tsela is used in the Book of Genesis for the rib of Adam. This means that woman is made from tsela. Scripture compares women to the Temple and Ark of the Covenant.
Just think about what that says about the nobility of women! They embody the sanctuary that gives life to the whole universe. And given that Mary is called the Ark of the Covenant, women embody the image of the Blessed Mother, who contained within her the High Priest, Bread of Life, and fulfillment of the Law of Moses.
It goes even further. Remember that St. Paul says that the Church is the Bride of Christ, born from His side. This echoes Eve’s creation. Again, women are compared to a life-giving sanctuary, but this time it’s the Church itself.
And like the priestly Adam, a man is called to guard this lovely, life-giving sanctuary, which is his bride. This is why it’s so important that marriage remains a bond between one man and one woman.
When we defend the institution of marriage as God created it, we are not protecting an “outdated” understanding of human relationships. We are defending something full of rich theological symbolism.