Is the Hebrew phrase, "formed from dust" a repudiation of normal childbirth for Adam?

Not in Job’s case, for example, who refers to both simultaneously:
" 'Remember now, that You have made me as clay; And would You turn me into dust again? ‘Did You not pour me out like milk And curdle me like cheese; Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit me together with bones and sinews?‘You have granted me life and lovingkindness; And Your care has preserved my spirit. - Job 10:9-12 NASB
Many scholars hold that at least some of the material in Job reflects patriarchal times (prior to Moses) and can be legitimately used, as it relates to ancient Hebrew understanding. to illuminate the meaning of the text in Genesis.
On this basis, we are not obligated to view the phrase “formed from dust” as describing the special creation of Adam. Nor are we obligated to construe the following phrase “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” as even happening concurrently with Adam’s “birth;” they may be included in chapter two to anchor Adam’s continuity with what had already happened in chapter 1:26-27.
See how the whole section works as a prelude to his story, before “Adam” is even presented as a named person:
"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. - Genesis 2:4-8 NASB
All of this fits nicely with an “imago Dei humanity, created by God, before Adam even comes into the story” view.
Comments welcome.

There is something to be said for a “plausible interpretation” either way.

Creationists are inclined to “there has to be a definitive answer.”
… that is until we show them a text that really does seem to be definitively opposed to them.
Then, they see the light … and say, well, it could be one way or another.

Considering the Old Testament is virtually free of any real discussion of the afterlife, or any of the
details that the Egyptians could have filled a book with - - but nary a word in the Old Testament…
I have a difficult time following the Rabbinical methodology, where there MUST be a definite answer
one way or the other.

Know what I mean?

Is the phrase a repudiation of normal childbirth for Adam?

If it is not, then the verses about Eve being formed from a piece of Adam’s side is certainly a repudiation of it for her. I just don’t see a way to “naturalize” the account without doing violence to the text. If 2:7 is not enough there is also 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Note that this verse uses different Hebrew language than Ecc. 3:20 where it describes all men as being “of” the dust. That same word is not used in 3:19 and in 2:7 it is only used to describe where the dust is coming from- the ground.

Regarding your comments about the afterlife, I think the biblical view of death fits well with the progressive revelation of God to man about his own condition…

I hear you, but the oldest material of the Old Testament is not, in fact, silent about the afterlife --nor of a clear exposition of the coming Redeemer (and maybe even resurrection):
" If there is an angel as mediator for him, One out of a thousand, To remind a man what is right for him, Then let him be gracious to him, and say, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’; ‘Let his flesh become fresher than in youth, Let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; Then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, That he may see His face with joy, And He may restore His righteousness to man. He will sing to men and say, ‘I have sinned and perverted what is right, And it is not proper for me. He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, And my life shall see the light.’ Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men, To bring back his soul from the pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life." --Job 33:23-30 NASB

Mark-- the “deep sleep” God puts Adam into is not an anaesthetic sleep for surgery (an anchronistic view), but actually a visionary state. What Adam perceives in this visionary state clears up just who the woman is --his “other half” (“rib” means “side,” not just the little bone), his “corresponding equal,” etc. His only real companion, other than God --none of the animals fully met that role. After this vision, God “brings” the woman to him --whom he does not name Eve, yet. Walton does a reasonable job going through the Hebrew on this. Look for the Hebrew word behind “deep sleep” for testing the idea.

Here’s the real irony. It’s not until after the Fall, when God’s consequences about them “dying in the day they eat of it” have already begun, that Adam, possibly in defiance, names the woman “Eve, because she is the mother of all the living.” The kind of "living " however, that sets Adam and Eve apart from the rest of humanity, is, in God’s assessment, a “death” from which they need to be redeemed. Ever thought of that as possible defiance on Adam’s part before? Rather than a validation of Adam and Eve as the first “imago Dei human couple” ever?

No. Its a deep sleep for surgery. Because the text says he had surgery. It doesn’t say he had a vision. Here is the text:

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

I just did. It refers to a “deep sleep” consistently. Usually it means a LOSS of perception. Only Job mentions that this is the state that some are in when they see visions. The other uses of the word make no mention of visions, including Genesis Two.

That’s not what’s happening in that passage. What is happening is glorious. And Christ-affirming. Here is the video I have posted here umpteen times before. I have cued it to the exact point I explain the glorious truth about what this passage is really saying.

What happened in the Fall, yes, God redeemed, and eventually turned to glory, but at the time, it was, at best, what might be termed “a severe mercy.”
Making Adam’s naming of Eve a faith gesture on Adam’s part, rather than a defiance, is possible, but so is the other proposal.
In either case, God’s merciful and glorious grace is needed.
And, at least we agree that her name is not a claim to a half role in a “sole genetic progenitorship.”
Thanks for the video. Marvelous how God works, even in the face of “competing” ideas.
We’ll simply have to agree to disagree on the “deep sleep” analysis.

Various passages which connect “deep sleep” with the receiving of revelation, instead of physical events, like “surgery:”
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” - Genesis 15:12-16 NASB
“Now a word was brought to me stealthily, And my ear received a whisper of it. Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men,Dread came upon me, and trembling, And made all my bones shake.“Then a spirit passed by my face; The hair of my flesh bristled up.“It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance; A form was before my eyes; There was silence, then I heard a voice:‘Can mankind be just before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?‘ He puts no trust even in His servants; And against His angels He charges error.‘How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before the moth!‘ Between morning and evening they are broken in pieces; Unobserved, they perish forever.‘Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them? They die, yet without wisdom.’ - Job 4:12-21 NASB
It will be as when a hungry man dreams— And behold, he is eating; But when he awakens, his hunger is not satisfied, Or as when a thirsty man dreams— And behold, he is drinking, But when he awakens, behold, he is faint And his thirst is not quenched. Thus the multitude of all the nations will be Who wage war against Mount Zion.Be delayed and wait, Blind yourselves and be blind; They become drunk, but not with wine, They stagger, but not with strong drink.For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers. - Isaiah 29:8-10 NASB
Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright.He said, “Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end. - Daniel 8:18-19 NASB

Just consulted Matthew Henry, which is of course a pre-deep-time and ergo Young Earth commentary. On the creation from dust, all his treatment is about significance, not “science”. He stresses the lowliness of earth over other possible materials like gold, pearl or diamond dust, but then contrasts it with the inbreathing, summarising:

Man consisting of body and soul, a body made out of earth and a rational immortal soul the breath of heaven, we have, in these verses, the provision that was made for the happiness of both… if he could have kept himself so and known when he was well off.

In other words, he thinks of the the raw material as “humility”, rather than “building blocks of life.” In this approach, surely he’s closer to the ANE than to us.

Matthew Henry is also, of course, pre-anaesthetic (but not pre-modern), and yet speaks about God sparing Adam pain. But here too he enphasizes the significance of Eve’s creation from his side rather than any other part. Henry would assume that Adam, too, realised that Eve was “not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

In other words, there is visionary teaching content - which, if you think about it, would be totally lost on Adam if he slept throughout, for this was miracle, not surgery, and we can scarcely think God left scars, any more than that Eve was the size of a rib. Whatever happened physically, it’s in the text to teach us something about male-female relationships, not ancient medicine.

Paul, for example, makes a point based on the derivation of woman from man and not vice versa. In evolutionary or natural terms that’s nonsense - it takes two, etc. So in some sense we need to see both Adam and Eve as expressing discontinuity with the usual process of procreation.

But is there any reason to think that a pre-surgery ANE readership (where any operations were limited in scope by pain) would even consider general anaesthesia, which didn’t exist, as an explanation? Certainly they’d be more interested in why woman came from man’s side than with why man was asleep at the time.

It should not be surprising that the scribe who wrote the scenario for creation from dust ALSO uses it to explain why humans are buried (or why they decimpose). One would be surprised if there was a variance.

But one might ask if the explanation made sense? The Persians had a creation story where humans were made from rhubarb!: rhubarb has red leaves that are deeply veined. If the Persian scribes then argued that eating convicted humans was because we are all made of rhubarb…that would ALSO be a normal attribution (whether true or not).


If Genesis was wrong about Adam being made from dust, do you think the deterioration of our corpses would be different?

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How does King James word that Job text? It doesnt seem to be of much help to explain Samuel’s dwelling in “the pit”. But let’s say it is a reference to the afterlife… why does Moses offer any comments about an afterlife? After a life of exposure to the Egyptian optimism about the afterlife, he seems completely uninterested in the topic.

Let’s suppose I’m right in my contention that Israel’s vision, following the story of Adam, was to transform the earth so that it was filled with the glory of God and eternal life.

But since it seems the concept of resurrection from the dead only begins to emerge in the second temple period, the first Scriptural teaching being in Daniel (and N T Wright has a great treatment of this in The Resurrection of the Son of God), then the “how” of that transformation may still have been entirely unclear to the biblical writers, but their hope was the hope for this world, not passing over to life after death.

As Wright says, the concern of the Jews by Jesus’s time was life after life after death. Maybe the earlier Jews glimpsed the same end point, but hadn’t figured out, or had revealed, how it worked out for those shades in the Grave.

Regardless of the perspective you offer, I’ll counter-offer with this…
The book of Job already shows a sophisticated understanding of bodily resurrection after death, as the result of the work of a Redeemeer.
“Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!“That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever!“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.“Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me! - Job 19:23-27 NASB
Now, unless you take the Documentary Hypothesis as valid, and haven’t noticed the trend towards its becoming discredited, the passage from Job can be associated with the patriarchal era, and Moses, who himself meets personally, face-to-face with this very same Redeemer, has every opportunity to “get it right.”

Probably not in its final form, but at least substantially, the book (stone tablet) of Job may have been available to Moses as among the possessions of the elders before the exile, and / or possibly among the tablets available in Pharoah’s library.


Since we learn from the New Testament AND Josephus that the Sadducees (the elite of the Temple priestly clans) opposed to the general resurrection, it seems likely that the general poverty of references to resurrection in the Old Testament is because the scribes (Sadducees or employed by them) didn’t write about it … and may have actually eliminated any of that content when they encountered it.

The few traces of general resurrection that we do find in just a few books, could be the subtle input by progressive-minded scribes, and/or from a fringe wing of the Sadducees, exploring those themes, as they were inspired to conceive of them.

I know you have no reason to believe me… but Job is almost certainly a Persian-era document.
The “resurrection themes” seen there were, like some Ezekiel themes, were triggered by the
Persian devotion to an afterlife.

You have not demonstrated that Genesis was written by “a scribe”. And much evidence to suggest that the first 36 chapters was edited (by Moses) from a series of tablets compiled by many of the patriarchs of the Bible. The phrase “these are the generations of” was a phrase used to title accounts on clay tablets back in the Mesopotamia during the time of Abraham. They brought their history with them.