The Hebrew text of Gen. 2:22 states,

כב וַיִּבֶן יַהְוֶה אֱלֹהִים אֶת הַצֵּלָע אֲשֶׁר לָקַח מִן הָאָדָם לְאִשָּׁה וַיְבִאֶהָ אֶל הָאָדָם

which may be translated into English as,

And Yahveh God built a woman with the rib that he took from the man, and He brought her to the man.

Most translations obscure the actual meaning of the verb וַיִּבֶן by translating it as “made.”1 But, the Hebrew verb meaning “to make” is עָשָׂה (asah).2 Instead of עָשָׂה, we see a conjugation of the verb בָּנָה (banah).

According to Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, the primary meaning of this verb is “to build.”3

Gesenius, p. 127-128

The translators of the LXX translated the Hebrew verb וַיִּבֶן into Greek as ᾠκοδόμησεν (ōkodomēsen), a conjugation of the Greek verb οἰκοδομέω (oikodomeō), also meaning “to build.”4 Moses certainly could have used the Hebrew verb עָשָׂה, but why didn't he? What significance is there in using the verb בָּנָה?


1 For example, ASV, ESV, KJV, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, RSV.
2 cp. Gen. 1:7
3 p. 127-128
4 (Wilke) p. 439-440


Gesenius, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm. Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Trans. Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux. London: Bagster, 1860.

Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.


2 Answers 2


The first two occurrences of 'made' in the Bible (עשׂה ‘asa) indicate that although similar to 'built' (בנה bana) it is more general with respect to the creation process. 'Built' seems to almost imply the gathering of pieces and joining them together as an architect would. 'Made' may describe things created but is more general to encompass virtually any work that produces something else.

For example the first two occurrences of 'make' is in Genesis 1:11 and again in 1:12 is talking about trees making fruit (bearing fruit). However 'made' also refers to God's general creation of everything he 'made':

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31, ESV)

The word 'built' first occurs when God made Eve from Adams rib and the second occurrence is here:

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (Genesis 8:20, ESV)

The next occurrence is when mention is made of the building of Nineveh in Gen 10:11

Therefore it seems 'build' is used as we use it in English, to make things out of other objects in a kind of construction and compacting of materials together.

There is the obvious suitability to the word 'built' with respect to Eve as God began the construction with a rib, which signifies the beginning of arranging and compacting materials together to form something new. However, in addition to this I would not be surprised if God already inlaid scripture with the notion of the invisible church as typified by Eve. As the church is thought of as a holy building , where as a temple made of various stones perfectly fitted together as a habitation of God, the building may have been prefigured in Eve. Also as a tree with the root of Jesse as its stump, the believing Jews as its trunk and believing Gentiles as grafted in branches, the rib could be seen as similar to the root used to build a unique and well cared for tree getting its life and nourishment from the root.

  • 1
    Very well done, especially your insight about the Church being a holy building (a spiritual house) built of living stones, perfectly fitted together.
    – user862
    Dec 24, 2012 at 16:40

Good answer above. The word is architectural, (it's also interesting that Solomon's temple had "ribs" of cedar. How cool is that?) but it also has to do with "knitting" things together in a miraculous fashion. Note that other words are used for this, but they are contained in the same pattern, which is one of tearing things apart (like Adam, like a sacrifice) and putting them back together in new ways.

We can see it in the construction of the body in the womb. We can see it in cooking a feast! We can see it in the Law, which divided Jew and Gentile, cutting humanity like a sacrifice. The Law was "elementary," that is, raw. Then the Spirit comes, who gives us all our amazing technology, and unites Jew and Gentile into one new Adam -- but only after He has constructed the Bride.

Of course, the "reassembling" of the sacrifice has to do with resurrection, a different kind of body, a transformation from natural to spiritual. All these things are prefigured in this single word in Genesis 2.

This also explains the weirdness of some of the holy things in Leviticus. Two fabrics could not be mixed. Two crops could not be mixed. Israel was to be "raw materials." The only person who could do holy miraculous mixings was the High Priest, who wore mixed fabrics, and animal, vegetable and mineral (the entire creation) and represented them before God. The holy oil and incense were also mixtures that were not be replicated.

Satan also mixes things, but they don't stay together. His first mixing was of a heavenly angel with an earthly one (an animal), a kinghood before God's time, a false "Shekinah" (note that the beasts in heaven are "mixtures" of earthly ones). Heaven and earth also prefigure man and wife, to be joined together by God. Satan "mixed" the sons of God (of Seth) with the daughters of Cain. Likewise, he attempted to mix Judah with the kingdom of Omri. The Herods also were "marrying and giving in marriage" with Gentiles (which is no sin) but with no reference to conversion or the Covenant. It is a yoking that cannot last. Where God joins man and wife, Satan proposes a one night stand - such as the friendship of harlot and beast, Herod and Pilate, Israel and Rome, against Christ and against the Church. This was a Jew-Gentile mixing that would fall apart like iron and clay. Where Paul was stitching Jew and Gentile together over 30-40 years by the Spirit's "technology," the Herods, as anti-Christ (worm-filled manna) were doing it through surgical butchery. They built a Temple on sand, instead of a living Temple, a new Bride.

Most of this stuff comes from James B. Jordan. If you interested, his amazing book "Through New Eyes" is a great start and is online for free at www.biblicalhorizons.com

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.