Just One Rib?!
God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then God took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that God had taken from the man was made into a woman and God brought her to the man. – Genesis 2:21-22 (NRSV, adapted for inclusive language)
In this beautiful story of how isshah came from ish (or in English: woman came from man), there’s an interesting word I had to look up. That word is sela. (Not to be confused with selah, the word of praise found in the Psalms). No. Sela translates throughout the Hebrew texts as “side.” Like the sela of a mountain. The sela of town.
But here in the story of our origin – here and only here – translators have, for some reason, told us sela means: rib.
Why does this matter?
Consider Robert Townsend’s genius 1988 film, in which an up-and-coming actor named Chris Rock illustrated perfectly why this matters:
“Can I get just one rib?” the character asked. Which was a ridiculous question offered for comic relief. No one would go to a BBQ joint and order just one rib. When we eat (if we eat meat), we are going in for well more than that.
But that’s all these translators were willing to give isshah, woman.
Just one rib.
Imagine the difference in a tiny word: sela. Isshah coming from the side of ish is quite different from isshah coming from one rib.
Imagine the difference if the translators were willing to give isshah as much as God gave her. And us.
God, may we know on your abundance as we find people at our side. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.