The Ribs Story: Learning and Unlearning What You Meant to Believe

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The Rib Story

So we begin our class today from this number 222. Simply put, Genesis 2:22 where the woman was made from man’s rib.

In truth, is there any man that has a missing rib in the literal sense of it?

Biologically, we know for certain that both male and female have same number of ribs. We also know that they are twelve pairs in which rib number 1 to 7 are true ribs attached to the sternum. Rib number 8 to 10 are considered false ribs because they are not directly attached to sternum but attached with the upper 7th rib. While rib 11 and 12 are floating ribs, not attached to any of the ribs.

Let us say it clearly now.

Everyone came with their complete ribs. No woman is holding a rib of another man. It is false to believe that the ribs of men are incomplete. The vast majority of people are born with 12 pairs of ribs, for a total of 24, no matter their sex. The exception to this anatomy rule are people born with specific genetic anomalies.

So, we ask again. . . Did God really took Man’s rib to create woman in the literal sense of it?

In extension, can we say that God, who is Spirit, literally came down and moulded man with clay using his hands? Can it be right to say, following the second creation story, that God originally never planned to create woman if we are to interpret the story literally?

It is too simplistic and indeed injustice to the text to teach that the story is merely literal. Even the church warns against just literal interpretation of it. Because in doing so, we invariably make mess of the depth of the message the authors are trying to communicate.

The story of Genesis is deep, one of the deepest stories ever. One can’t even exhaust its depth, this is why it remains fresh everyday. But literal interpretation alone makes mockery of the story because at best, it will sound like children’s “tales by moonlight.”

For example, using the rib story:

he depth and message of the creation of Eve from the man’s rib is coded in Genesis 2:23.

“And Adam said: “Now this is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called woman, because she was taken from man.””

It is in this single verse you will find the first ever love poem, the first words that were recorded as coming out from the mouth of any human being. Those were Adam first recorded words. That was Adam shooting his shot.


Note the preposition “OF” and not “FOR”.

She is not bone FOR his bone, so that he can use her and break her. She is not flesh FOR his flesh, so he can devour her, eat her and have nothing left. But rather, bone OF, and Flesh OF.

Adam recognized that she is part of him. It is like: there something of me living outside of me. In other words, this is me in extension. This is my flesh, this is my bone. This is me. We are made for each other. We are complementary.

The above still does not exhaust the depth in the rib story. Sometimes you pray with the passage, another deep meaning hits you.

By Fr Kelvin Ugwu

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