The Adam and Eve Story: Eve Came From Where?

Adam and Eve in the Bible

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2015.—Ed.

“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he 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.”
—Genesis 2:21–22, NRSV


ADAM AND EVE IN THE BIBLE. This mosaic from the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, depicts the creation of woman in the Bible. Eve is shown emerging from Adam’s side. Most translations of the Adam and Eve story say that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, but Ziony Zevit contends that she was created from a very different part of Adam’s body.

According to the Bible’s creation account, after making the heavens and the earth, God created humankind. The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 states that God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, and then Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs. But was it really his rib?

The Hebrew word that is traditionally translated as “rib” is tsela‘. Ziony Zevit, Distinguished Professor of Biblical Literature and Northwest Semitic Languages at American Jewish University in Bel-Air, California, believes that this translation is wrong, as do many scholars. It was first translated as “rib” in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible from the mid-third century B.C.E. However, a more careful reading of the Hebrew word for “rib” in the Adam and Eve story suggests that Eve was created from another, very different, part of Adam’s anatomy—his os baculum (penis bone).

Zevit carefully examines the account of the creation of woman in the Bible in his article “Was Eve Made from Adam’s Rib—or His Baculum?” which appears in the September/October 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

In the free eBook Exploring Genesis: The Bible’s Ancient Traditions in Context, discover the cultural contexts for many of Israel’s earliest traditions. Explore Mesopotamian creation myths, Joseph’s relationship with Egyptian temple practices and three different takes on the location of Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.

Of the 40 appearances of tsela‘ in the Bible, the Adam and Eve story is the only place where it is translated as “rib.” Usually it means the side of something. Zevit explains the nuance of this word:

This Hebrew word occurs some 40 times in the Hebrew Bible, where it refers to the side of a building or of an altar or ark (Exodus 25:12; 26:20, 26; 1 Kings 6:34), a side-chamber (1 Kings 6:8; Ezekiel 41:6), or a branch of a mountain (2 Samuel 16:13). In each of these instances, it refers to something off-center, lateral to a main structure. The only place where tsela‘ might be construed as referring to a rib that branches off from the spinal cord is in Genesis 2:21–22.

According to Zevit, “rib” is the wrong translation for tsela‘ in the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. Zevit believes that tsela‘ should be translated as “a non-specific, general term,” such as one of Adam’s lateral limbs, in the Adam and Eve story. Thus, it refers to “limbs lateral to the vertical axis of an erect human body: hands, feet, or, in the case of males, the penis.”

Which of these lateral limbs lacks a bone? Human males do not have a penis bone, but many mammals do. Zevit concludes that in the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, the woman was created from the man’s baculum to explain why this appendage does not have a bone.

To see Ziony Zevit’s full explanation of the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, read his article “Was Eve Made from Adam’s Rib—or His Baculum?” in the September/October 2015 issue of BAR.


BAS Library Members: Read the full article “Was Eve Made from Adam’s Rib—or His Baculum?” by Ziony Zevit in the September/October 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on September 15, 2015.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

The Creation of Woman in the Bible
Mary Joan Winn Leith takes a look at the creation of woman in Genesis 2

Lilith in the Bible and Mythology
Dan Ben-Amos explores the figure of Lilith

How the Serpent Became Satan
Shawna Dolansky examines Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden


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  1. dr howard says

    “”Then God said let Us [pl.]make man in Our Image, according to Our Likeness…” Gen.1:26;27

    Image is lit. cut out ; or tselem: phantom; form; to compare by resemble resemblance; represenitive figure.

    Likeness (drom dam or blow(flowing)to be like ; Demuth : pattern; resemblance ;effigy.
    So it says literally, ” Then God said ,We will make man to resemble Us in accordance with Our similitude.”

    So man was in Hebrew made in the spiritual (or phantom) likeness as well as form likeness and mental likeness. within the Hebrew word is dam or blood. So Adam was created in the ‘blood flowing’ likeness of God.” Now God says in Numbers,’ I am not a man.’ And Paul says flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom.’ This verse is predictive of the coming Messiah!
    ‘Adam was created like God would become’, that is, a man with ‘blood flowing'(lit.) in him. John 1″1;14 says the ‘Word” or Jesus was God and that the Word or Jesus “became flesh.” So god the Word became an man. In our passages in John was the fulfillment of these verses in. Gen.1:26-27!

    Note: Adam means, to show blood(face) i.e. flush or turn rosy,red ruddy. This reinforces the ‘blood flowing likeness’ we discussed.

    This tells us that Adam was ‘predictive’ ( Jesus is called the “second Adam” by Paul) as it were and though made or created in the’ image and likeness’ of God would fall and require that God would have to become a man and save him and the human race or those that accept His provision.

    So the famous passage in Genesis 3:15 after the Fall about the promised Redeemer -“her seed” or offspring – is not the first time as is commonly believed a Savior who would bruise the head of Satan/and his offspring the antichrist- was promised -it was in Gen.1:26-7!

    “Bruise” is shoof in Heb. :to gape i.e. snap at; overwhelm; break, describing Satans’ end as well the antichrist. Revelation 20:10;ll Thess.2:8

  2. dr howard says

    Since I dealt with Adam and Eve I would like to being out another in my view a fallacy, well not quite.
    It says,” And they both were crafty the man and his wife and were not ashamed.” This is another one of those’ tucked in’ predictions I have been posting about.
    Here is how it can be translated: “The man and his wife would both take crafty counsel together and would not be ashamed of it.”
    This is an historical point in past time prediction that Adam an Eve would conspire or take crafty counsel to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
    now the English word naked in in this verse. This is the word aruwm which has two meanings: nude and cunning or take or engage in crafty counsel.
    The same word is translated cunning or subtle in Gen.3:1 “Now the serpent [serpent-this was Moses’ (as well as John’s) description for Satan-see Rev.20:2-it was not a snake ] was more cunning[aruwm] than any beast of the field [a comparison not saying this was a snake …”

    So we have a prediction in point of time that both would’ lay bare'[aruwm) mentally what they they were going to do relative to that forbidden tree. And it says- in spite of God’s strict(Heb.stem of intensity) constant commands when He visited them they were not ashamed of thinking this way or acting crafty. I believe being of a very high energy field they had a glow or light (it says in Ps.104:2 “You are clothed with light as with a garment…”and “man was in the image and likeness of God” so man was, no doubt, ‘clothed in light’) around them and they lost this when they sinned by taking the fruit (a “fig” as they stitched ‘fig leaves’ together-Jesus cursed the fig tree in the NT) and they now knew they had been ‘cunning’ or took ‘crafty council together’ and could now see their physical nakedness or aruwm. So we see both meanings here; but physical nudity (aruwm) is secondary in this case being cunning being first cause.

  3. Johnna says

    God put Adam asleep and took from Adams side and created woman. God put Jesus to sleep on the Cross and His side was Pierced and Blood and water poured out and any who believes and is washed in the Blood will be spotless and your sins white as snow and you then become a member of the Bride of Christ. It was the Blood for the Blood connects the members of a Body so that each member is whole and lives. God said the Blood is the Life. In the beginning was the Word , and the Word was with God , and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And all things were made through Him… and in Him was Life , and that Life was the Light of men. The life is the Blood. The Spirit is the Life .The Blood connects the Body. The Spirit Connects the Body of the Bride. Eve was in Adam. We were in Christ. Adam was formed from the clay of the Earth and was brought to Life from the Breath of God , the lowest substance combined with the Greatest eternal Being and came forth Life and out of that Life was brought forth His Bride as Jesus would be put to sleep and His Bride would be brought forth from His Side , the Right Side , the Spirit that holds all things together with Life as the Blood holds all body members together with life. God even told us all through the scriptures He was going to have a second Son whom the Elder would serve. This began with Able bringing the accepted sacrifice above Cains. Isaac was preferred over Ishmael. Jacob over Esau. Ephraim over Manessee. All these were actual events that were prophetic foreshadows of the future telling us Jesus would be created not of a man ,but a virgin and the Spirit , as Adam was created of the Earth and Spirit . And Both at God’s command .Both men’s wives brought forth from their side and the side let out Blood.That which is the Life. Bone Marrow is made from the spine , not the ribs , so life could not come from the ribs .Bone Marrow creates Blood and Blood is the Life . It is to be poured out , never eaten. ( The Bride of Christ is also the Temple and is almost complete.

  4. Jay A Tompkins says

    From reference combinations of the Kline’s Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language plus the Artscroll Interlinear Chumash, I conclude something that sounds gruesome. The Almighty cast a deep sleep upon Adam, sort of like in surgery, and drew Adam in half. Then the Almighty closed Adam’s half (with ribs) then built Adam’s other side (with ribs) to form Eve.

  5. linda says

    Wat about the man’s missing rib?

  6. Jay says

    The “missing rib” in men is fiction and “rib” in Genesis 2:21 is only euphemistic for side, probably because of the form of punishment for heretics who were drawn, quartered and beheaded, not necessarily in that order, in the days of King Henry VIII.

  7. Red says

    Couldn’t Adam’s rib be referring to his DNA? We often talk of DNA as looking like ribs.

  8. Julie says

    not a fan of this article. Pretty sure the word of God saying FROM HIS SIDE, means his rib. Sheesh, why do intellectuals always try to make things more complicated then what they need to be???

  9. David says

    Adam was placed into a deep sleep, Jesus was placed into a deep sleep (Death)
    Their sides were opened up
    their bride was prepared
    Adam met his bride, Jesus will return when His bride is ready.

  10. Jim says

    Messiah Yahushua was “the last Adam”, fulfilling or completing what “the first man Adam” prefigured (see 1 Corinthians 15:45). With that type and anti-type firmly in mind let us read:

    John 19:34 (Expanded Bible): “But one of the soldiers ·stuck [pierced] his ·spear [lance; javelin] into Jesus’ SIDE, and at once BLOOD and WATER came out [ indicating his death as a human being].”

    The Greek word for “SIDE” is pleura which means “RIB”. According to the Manual of Surgery Volume Second: Extremities–Head–Neck, Sixth Edition, by Alexander Miles, “the pleura may reach as high as the medial [‘middle, median, or intermediate’] border of the RIB.”

    The BLOOD and WATER shed by Messiah Yahushua fulfills the typology of the Brazen Altar (fig., His BLOOD and body sacrifice on the cross) and Brazen Laver (WATER of His submergence / burial > His reemergence / resurrection / rebirth / regeneration), both pieces of furniture found in the Outer Court of Moses’ Tabernacle as well as in the Outer Court of Solomon’s Temple. In the New Testament these two furnishings represent the regeneration process.

    Mark 16:15-16 (Lexham English Bible): 15 “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the GOSPEL to all creation. 16 The one who BELIEVES [i.e., in the BLOOD sacrifice of the GOSPEL] and is [WATER] BAPTIZED will be SAVED, …’ ”

    What is the “GOSPEL”? Does it involve the BLOODshed of Messiah Yahushua? It does; it includes His BLOODY death, His burial, and His resurrection:

    1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (Lexham English Bible):

    1 Now I make known to you, brothers, the GOSPEL which I proclaimed to you, which you have also received, in which you also stand, 2 by which you are also being SAVED, if you hold fast to the [GOSPEL] MESSAGE I proclaimed to you, unless you BELIEVED to no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ DIED for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that He was BURIED, and that He was RAISED UP on the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that He APPEARED to Cephas, then to the twelve, 6 then He APPEARED to more than five hundred brothers at once, the majority of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep [in death]. 7 Then He APPEARED to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all, as it were to one born at the wrong time, He APPEARED also to me… 11 Therefore whether I or those, in this way we PREACHED [this aforementioned GOSPEL of Messiah’s DEATH, BURIAL, and RESURRECTION], and in this way you BELIEVED.

  11. David says

    The word “Tsela” means in Hebrew a “Skinny Fleshy Irregular Angular Organ”. Even in Hebrew to what this is referring to is unclear. Most scholars have come to the conclusion that it must be referring to a man’s rib or his side but exclude any possibility that it can be referring to man’s cellular organs. Scripture gives us a clue to which many have overlooked. At the end of verse 21 in chapter 2 the lord says “and closed up the flesh at that place”. Now these words are significant to the understanding of what has happened. This is man virtually giving birth to the first woman and from then on women give birth to all. The closing of the flesh in it’s place has to be a reminder that this once took place. When anyone goes in for an operation of such significance these days are left with a scar after the closing of the flesh. So the question is, if God opened man to which he tells us he did and then closed him again he tells us he did, then a scar will appear. But where is this scar? This scar has been passed down to all men and boys. The scar resides between the Anus and runs to the ball sack. Don’t believe me, then take a look. The scar is in the same area to which women give birth. This forgotten scar is carried through all generations as a reminder to what originally happened and how it happened. The part to which was taken from man to make a woman would be a part that has to do with child bearing. Not a rib or the side of man. When God made the woman and took the women to man the first thing that is recorded him saying is that “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
    This gave the desire for man to be attracted to the women. The attraction is to re-unite what was once his to himself, this is the meaning to the words “Because she was taken out of Man” The attraction between man and woman is to be re-united with what was his. This gives us the attraction. This is why men desire to be inside of woman, this fulfils God’s promise to man for both man and woman to go out and populate the earth. This is how it’s done. Man yearns to be re-united with what was taken from him. So it’s more to the verses than just giving a part to form a woman, therefore the part has to include the ability to re-produce and the attraction back to man. The part itself can’t possibly be a Rib of such but more to the cellular organs type that man has.

  12. J says

    Look at:
    and check all the occurrences of the word ‘tsela’ in the Bible. It is difficult to come to the conclusion that the word ‘tsela’ has to refer to something outside the main structure. e.g. 2 Samuel 16:13. Therefore, the critical assumption for this interpretation cannot be substantiated. My suggestion is to simply disregard it.

  13. dr howard says

    Literal from Hebrew expanded :” And Yahweh caused a very deep trance to come over the man and he went into a profound slumber. And Yahweh Elohim opened up the man’s entire side- head to foot -and reached inside to where She was stationed and then firmly grasped the Feminine One and quickly pulled her out from within his ribs ,and He sealed up man’s flesh so as to cease the flowing blood [dam Heb.]..Then Yahweh cleaned up[ a “river” then went into four rivers one of the’ four rivers’ there Gen.2:10] the Feminine One whom He had quickly seized from inside the man’s’ rib’ cage and conducted her to the man.”

    Even Adam understood this procedure as he exclaimed: “This is now a skeletal frame taken from inside of my skeletal frame and a flesh body taken from inside my flesh body. And this One shall be called isha-a feminine one.”

    Ish is male- isha is female. Rib Heb.dict. “a rib,as curved lit. (of the body) fig. (of a door i.e, a leaf) hence a side ,lit.(of a person)-in this case Adam ed. That which has form here and in the feminine gender, hence,’ feminine person.’ No scars they are not hereditary! It says Elohim sealed his ‘entire side ‘ Heb. What God does he performs well- no scar as an ordinary surgeon would leave due to the knife cutting the flesh!

  14. David says

    The book of Genesis works with figurative forms of language, Eve was not taken from Adam’s rib. Adam when associated with Eve in the text is treating about humanity and not to a single individual being.

    When the text comes to Adam [individual] he speaks of the first man “created” from the advent of Neshama, Adam was not the first “being-man” created.

    The word “Tzalá” was mistakenly translated by rib, the Tzalá Hebrew word just means “side”.

    Eve was “taken from the side” of Adam, reference to the same image. In the text it is not clear what exactly is this “side” that Gd took Adam.

    It is also possible that the author of the text just wanted to play with Tzalá words’ “side”, tzelah “fall” and tzelem “God’s image”, the same way that it infers that were generated as the “image/likeness” of Gd.

  15. Nasir says

    O People of the Book’ stop this! You have gone on like this for many millimiums as a people who strayed far from what God and His prophets gave them and in whom you never believed. Believe it or not, Islam is the only answers that most of you will never believe as hardened disbelievers. Open the locks of your hearts and read the Qur’an and believe in only one true God. Why don’t you all do this, why do you remain like this. Remember, you have been told and you will be asked by God on the Day of Judgement but that too many of you don’t believe in!! Muhammad has been told in your Scriptutes and so to all major religion on earth. Read theQur’an.

  16. bruce says

    I went to a church pentecostal, they prayed over me saying; we command all demons out of Bruce Taylor in the name of Jesus Christ, what happen after Mohammad couldn’t do. i shook violently,afterwards it felt like the weight of the world was lifted,and at the same time,i had so much peace in my mind,that my mind was full of clarity, and to top it off, i was smiling so much that my cheeks were hurting, THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE, WAS THAT DAY. IF I’M LYING LET GOD DESTROY ME RIGHT NOW!!!!! I have no reason to lie.

  17. simon says

    HIs pneuma is extracted out of his side, implying part of his make-up has been lost. It is why he calls her mother of all living.

  18. Tim says

    So, could Eve have been formed within man much as we now grow organs within animals? It would explain why ADAM was cut apart to harvest the female within.

  19. zekar-yah! says

    the first problem with all this is the word “Bible”. it should be a clue to most that this is not of YISRAEL or of YHWH but of pag-ianity (pagan christianity, sometimes also called messianism). however i am not saying there isn’t something to the concept of the original post. i will look into it.

  20. Katura says

    I thought the correct meaning was “curve” DNA helix curve

  21. Mike says

    The problem with all of these new theories is they simply ignore the text, the text says ‎ ויקח אחת מצלעתיו (Gen. 2:21 BHS) (he took one from his sides). It doesn’t say “he took from his side,” it doesn’t say “he took his side,” etc… As written it implies that God took one of something from Adam of which Adam had more than one.

  22. Robbin says

    It’s interesting that this article written by a recognized scholar, is then countered with comments by less informed… there is no ‘word of god’ – it was written by humans, and therefore subject to errors…

  23. Cliff says

    Just thinking out loud, but I am wondering if the original Man (Adam) could have been created with extra organs which no longer exist. God making man in His own image, implies that the man He created originally was at par (in flesh) with His own image and therefore had body parts superior to the man of today.

  24. Jerry says

    Robbin posted………..
    “It’s interesting that this article written by a recognized scholar, is then countered with comments by less informed… there is no ‘word of god’ – it was written by humans, and therefore subject to errors…”

    Hello Robbin do you thunk “recognized (so-call) scholar’s are much more correct in their understandings or more than contained within the Holy Bible, since recognized scholar’s are also mistake ridden human’s as well…? And I wonder, do these so-called “RECOGNIZED SCHOLAR’S” make no mistakes at all, as you are implying in you post…?

    Ouch……….just something to think about here.

    Perhaps you might ought to try reading just a little bit into “The Dark and Middle Ages” and learn a little something about how the Holy Bible (King James Version Traditional Bible) truly came into the modern-day hands of people today or these same 21st centuries RECOGNIZED SCHOLARS…? Robbin….the unbelievable number of true;y inspired “recognized scholar’s” have actually given up their lives throughout the years in church history….along with perhaps many millions of innocent Bible believing followers of Jesus Christ have been actually burned at the stake just to get that old “Traditional King Jame Version Holy Bible” in your modern-day hands of today…? Ever wonder how many “innocent” people today have given up their live for the N I V or for any of those other “man made” modern-day Bible’s out on the religious marketplaces of today…?

    O-Well, it just could be one very interesting literary journey for you if you wold just look deep into the one true “Godly inspired” Holy Bible, the same one many thousands of misinformed people are now rejecting today, simply because they say it was merely men who wrote it; but they always tend to overlook any possible notion that the men who wrote The King James Holy Bible were men who were Godly inspired by God Himself, nothing or anything such as the so-called “N I V Bible,” which (by the way) stands for THE NON INSPIRED VERSION.” What do you think…?

    O-Yes…by the way, I didn’t know if your post was referring to my posting here above or not, so I just wanted to see there are no mistakes here and let you know (just in case you were referring to me above) I do have a PhD and an advanced degree in theology, I also have written some 34 books on the very subjects discussed in many of these postings here. I’ve also spent some 40 very long (seemingly endless years) of extremely intense Biblical studies, constant research in Biblical homeostatic scripture definitions, and also many years in historical church related investigation, as well as years of investigations into general Christianity in America. Boy-O-Boy, Ouch,,,surely sounds like a whole lot here but within my seventy years on planet earth one would be surprised at what one can accomplish in such little time…..? Hope this helps brother…? God bless…!

  25. charles says

    Based on the fact that man doesn’t have a bone in his penis? If I lose my arm, my children will all have arms, so that argument is absolutely without merit…

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