Read This Week’s Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:1–11

1+1=1

Rabbinic literature called the Midrashim contains discussions about the possibility that God’s first creation of humanity in Genesis 1:26 refers to the creation of an androgyne. The theory goes that God made an androgyne whom He later split into male and female in Genesis 2.

One clear assumption here would be that the accounts of the creation of humanity in the first and second chapters of Genesis are different, with Genesis 1 describing a step preceding that of Genesis 2. However, Genesis 2 is actually a repetition with more details on the creation activity of the sixth day.

Moreover, Moses seems to anticipate this misunderstanding of Genesis 1:26 and in the very next verse clarifies, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The use of the plural “them” is an argument against the androgynous theory since male and female here were two separate individuals, warranting a plural pronoun. One cannot simultaneously argue that Genesis 1:26, 27 comes chronologically before Genesis 2 and that Genesis 1:27 is a summation of the creation of humanity.

It is significant that when God creates humanity as a plurality of two sexual beings, He declares His intention to make them in His image. When referring to Himself, He uses plural pronouns: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). The mystery of the triune God is signaled: three separate Beings yet one God.

Having created humanity as male and female, God then establishes the normative marriage between one man and one woman. The Septuagint translation of Genesis 2:24 adds a numerical specification to the one flesh declaration not present in the original Hebrew. It reads, “The two shall be one flesh.” This editorial interpretation underscores the fact that the verse is referencing the union of one male and one female to form one flesh: 1+1=1. It is a simple formula with a myriad of implications that will be explored in the next few lessons.

First, it is two distinct individuals who come together to form the marital unit. This lesson will explore the significance of the number of components in the first part of the equation. A marriage is not composed of a singularity, nor is it composed of a nondescript plurality, but it is specifically composed of a duality.

The previous lesson addressed the second half of the equation, where two individuals come together to form one flesh. The two lessons after this one will turn to the nature of the elements in the first half of the equation and find that the two individuals are both the same and different. The sameness and difference are essential to the proper functioning of the equation. For the current lesson, though, we talk numbers.

Both Paul (1 Cor. 6:16) and Jesus (Matt. 19:5) quote Genesis 2:24 from the Septuagint, establishing that the addition of the word two in the Greek translation only served to clarify Moses’s point. That clarification will be the focus of this week’s study.