Written: Spring 2013
In the creation myth of Genesis 1-3, God called everything into being. From emptiness, She created form. From dirt, She created life. God saw everything She created and called it good. And human beings—both male and female—she called very good. This first account of God’s creating is written in poetic form, as though She were saying: “You, man, are my poem שִׁיר. You, woman, are my poem שִׁיר. And together, you are my poetry שִׁירָה.” God made both male and female in Her likeness; only together do they wholly reflect the image of God.
The male gender reflects God’s wildness. Adam, the male, was created outside the garden, in the wilderness. He lived there alone and lonely, until God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18, The Message). God brought before Adam all the animals of the world, letting him name them. God knew that no animal would be fit for Adam; She knew Adam needed a עזר כנגדו, a protector, fighter, someone to save him from himself. So God created woman. The female gender reflects God’s intimacy. The woman was formed from the very side of Adam. She was like man ישא, but different אשה. She was to be a life-giver in a way Adam could never be. And he knew it—he called her Eve, “mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20).
When Adam first sees Eve—in a reaction already imitating his Creator—he rejoices in poetic form:
Finally! Bone of my bone,
flesh of my flesh! (Genesis 2:23)
Eve was to stick by her husband’s side, and he would need her there. In the beauty of the moment, the narrator continues the poetic form begun by Adam: “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25). And this is the שִׁירָה of God in its truest form: male and female before each other, naked, knowing each other, but having no shame.
As this creation myth continues, both genders are tempted out of their truest natures by a lie. For the woman, her intimacy with God is tested; for the man, his wildness. The serpent tells Eve that God is holding out on her: “God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on” (Genesis 2:5). Desiring intimacy with God, she eats the fruit. Desiring intimacy with her husband, she gives the fruit to Adam who is next to her. And Adam doesn’t do anything to stop it. He is passive; he refuses his wild nature.
Upon eating the fruit, nakedness is no longer safe. The two are shamed, knowing they are exposed to the other and to God. When God asks what happened, they grow in contempt for one another: she did it, he did it. So God tells them what will happen, not so much a curse as a continuation of what the two had started. Woman will experience pain in life-giving, desperation toward her husband, loneliness in intimacy. Man will never experience the fullness of his wild nature, working and toiling, but never feeling he had done much at all; always desiring more, but never knowing how to express it. So his wildness becomes violent (or violently passive) toward his wife and others. This is man and woman today.
God sees marriage as Her שִׁירָה, a balancing of sounds, rhythm, pauses, form—of wildness and intimacy, of distinctness and sameness. Through Her Genesis poem, it’s known that God wants marriage to continue as it started, as two humans living in the fullness of who they are, naked together, but not ashamed.