Genesis 2:21-25: Woman From Rib and Mother Goddesses of Near Eastern Myths

This Article shows that in the second creation story in genesis the concept of woman made from bone, earth and antler pre-existed the writing of Genesis, spanned cultures and geographical boundaries and that Eve shares aspects of Goddesses in Ancient Near Eastern Mythology.

* This article and its predecessors in the series listed below are a collection of notes put together from sources that are represented by quick reference links to similar web pages to make it easy to get more information as quickly as possible. The original sources are listed at the end.

P1. The Interconnectedness of The Ancients - Demonstrates the robust ancient civilizations at the time and that Canaan, Israel and Judah were central to them. Discusses trade routes, seafaring, the link between whales and the Leviathans of Mythology and how long it would take to get from one civilization to another by sea.
P2. Genesis 1:1-25 Is An Amalgam of Near Eastern Creation Myths. Demonstrates the prior existence of key elements of the story of the creation of the Universe that appears in Genesis.
P3. Genesis 1:26-1:27, Creation of Humans in Near Eastern Myths And The Paleolithic Era. Demonstrates that the physical evidence contradicts the story of the making of the first humans in Genesis.
P4. GENESIS 1:28-2:4a, Be Fruitful And Multiply, Founder Effect and Genetic Diversity. This Article shows that even if the physical evidence didn't refute the special creation of the first humans, Adam and Eve, in Genesis 1:27, the problem of Genetic Diversity known as the "Founder Effect" would eventually lead to crippling genetic mutations or extinction.
P5.Genesis 2:4b-20 Man Made From Earth Is Folklore, Conflated River Elements and the Myth of Adapa. This Article shows that the concept of man made from earth spans cultures and geographical boundaries, the rivers are confused between geographical areas and has many elements from pre-existing Near Eastern Myths such as "The Myth of Adapa.
P6.Genesis 2:21-25: Woman From Rib and Mother Goddesses of Near Eastern Myths. This Article shows that in the second creation story in genesis the concept of woman made from bone, earth and antler pre-existed the writing of Genesis, spanned cultures and geographical boundaries and that Eve shares aspects of Goddesses in Ancient Near Eastern Mythology.

The criteria for Folklore as described in Alan Dundees book "Holy Writ as Oral Lit" are "multiple existence and variation" of a story.

In Genesis, there are two versions of the creation of Man and Woman. In the first story, the man and woman are created together, but in the second story, the male is created first, with the female made later from his rib.

Making women out of bone and other materials was common in prehistoric times. They are called "Venus Figurines"(1). The theory is that they were used in the practice of sympathetic magic(2) to influence the fertility of the earth.

Sympathetic magic is the practice of trying to influence outcomes using objects or techniques that have only an apparent similarity in appearance or relationship and is not based on any causal link at all. Examples of this can be seen throughout history with the possible inclusion of cave paintings as far back as 32,000 years ago, to belief that behavior of groups or individuals influence nature, to (though not exclusive to) pre-game rituals of modern day athletes. At its core it is a common fallacious reasoning scheme known as "confusion of correlation and cause". One relevant example of sympathetic magic is the Venus Figurine.

Venus Figurines are representation of women with large breasts and bottoms carved in bone, antler, stone or molded of clay(3). Coincidentally, tools in the prehistoric era were made of bone, antler and stone(4). Both were used to help bring about successful outcomes. Examples of them are on display in various museums around the world, but the earliest reside at The Hermitage Museum(3) in Russia.

Theoretically, over time, the concept behind the Venus Figurine came to represent a Mother Goddess(5), which later became represented in various near eastern mythologies as can be seen by the Ashera in the Bible. Similarly, the concept of a God fashioning a woman from bone or some other material has parallels in the East.

Humans originated in sub-sahara Africa(6). They migrated out and began to compensate for their environment and situations. This led to the making of tools, higher order organization, planning, development of agriculture and the establishments of settlements that developed into cities, populated regions and civilizations. The Near East was at the center of trade and conflict between established and robust civilizations all within 1000 miles or about two months march of each other. Egypt and Sumeria developed more or less simultaneously fighting and trading all the while. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle credit Egyptian thought as the foundation of Ancient Greek thought, so even the all-mighty ancient Greeks didn't live in a bubble and it explains their love for the culture.

GENESIS 2:21- 22

21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The following is a list of cultures where there exists a parallel story of woman being made from bone or some other material and is compiled from Sir James G. Frazer's book "Folklore In The Old Testament".

Origins of the people are ~60,000 BC or earlier
* Karens of Burma, pg 10.
* Bedel Tartars of Siberia,pg 11.

Origins of the people are ~18,000 BC or earlier
* Diegueno Indias Kawakipais, south-western California, pg 25.

The following list represent examples where Frazer believes that cultures have been influenced by Christian missionaries because of the similarity of the word for woman and rib, and some cases where the tribes trace their ancestry to Adam. The influence of missionaries does not necessarily mean that the whole concept of woman being made from a rib came from them but it is sufficient to add details to an existing myth.

* Tahiti - Taaroa the god, pg 9.
* Fakaofo Bowditch Island - Man made from stone, pg 10.
* Ghaikos Karens, trace their genealogy to Adam, pg 11.

GENESIS 23 - 25

23 The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,
for she was taken out of man."

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

For the following discussion I used Tim Callahan's Secret Origins of the Bible(8) pages 40 - 49 as a quick reference because it is a convenient "Handbook" collection of relevant information that I've found in other reference material and in lecture courses. This book has hundreds of references listed and I highly recommend it for anyone attempting a serious study of the origin of the bible.

- In Gen 3:20 Eve given the name "Mother of All Living". This is the concept of the mother goddess.
- Like the bible states that the Jews were trying to get rid of the Ashera, the story of Eve serves as a demotion of the Mother God, and a conflation of concepts and ideas circulating at the time.

- Reducing the Mother Goddess
- She was derived from Adam, therefore reduced in status, she was supposed to help him.
- From his side, she was equal to him, or supposed to be his partner

- The fact that ancient languages omitted the vowels creates a potential for creativity and relationships between concepts. In Hebrew, the reference to the first woman was written as HWH. HWH when pronounced is similar to Hebe, the greek goddess of youth, guardian of the cups and fruits of immortality. The sound and the ideas are similar to the Hurrian Goddess Hiba, Hebat, Hebatu, Hepatu and Khepat. The Hurrians were referred to in the Bible as the Horats, Hivites and Hittites (even though they preceded the Hittites). She was the consort of the Storm God Teshub. Teshub, like Yahweh and Zeus was associated with Bulls.

- In Sumeria and Babylonia Ashratum wife of Anu
- In West Semitic Ahserah wife of El
- The iconography (ancient picture representations) are essentially the same.
- El had a consort and when Yahweh succeeded him in folklore he kept Asherah as a consort. Subsequently the Hebrews tried to get rid of the Ashera from the pre-exile Jerusalem temple.
- Mother of all living associated with Hebat, Ashtart and/or Asherah
- in the Enuma Elish the goddess Ninti is created to heal the rib of Enki who has violated a taboo on eating forbidden herbs and has been punished. Nin-ti means "Lady of the Rib". In some variations of the story, Nin-ti is created from Enki's rib.

From Wikipedia
Cuneiform TI or TÌL (Borger 2003 nr.) has the main meaning of "life" when used ideographically.

With the determinative UZU "flesh, meat", UZUTI, it means "rib". This homophony is exploited in the myth of Ninti ( NIN.TI "lady of life" or "lady of the rib"), created by Ninhursag to cure the ailing Enki. Since Eve is called "mother of life" in Genesis, together with her being taken from Adam's "tsela"` (side, rib), the story of Adam and Eve has been taken to derive from that of Ninti.

In Akkadian orthography, the sign has the syllabic values di or ṭi, in Hittite ti, di or te.

Continuing From Callahan
- Athena breathed life into the clay men created by Prometheus, and she popped out of the Head of Zeus when he was in pain with a headache.
- In the creation myths in Atrahasis and Enuma Elish their respecitve Mother Godesses mold primordial beings (called the Lullu) out of clay under the supervision of a male deity. This is more relevant compared to Gen. 4:1b, Eve says "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the lord". This verse is evidently abmiguous and could be translated as "I, as well as God have created a man" or "I have gotten a man by the lord" meaning the lord was the father of Cain instead of Adam.
- In Gilgamesh, Aruru (a female deity) makes Enkidu out of clay to defeat Gilgamesh.
- A female Deity has sex with Enkidu to help him become more civilized, to help make him more like a civilized adult man.

Quick References

1. Venus Figurines
2. Sympathetic Magic
3. The Hermitage Museum
4. Prehistoric Bone Tools
5. Mother Goddess
6. The Genographic Project
7. Folklore in the Old Testament, Vol. 1 Online
8. Secret Origins of The Bible, Tim Callahan

Other Quick References
1. Creation Myths
2. Enuma Elish Text online
3. Prometheus
4. The Myth of Adapa

Further Study

* Early History of God, Mark Smith

* Magdalenian excavation
* Minnesota State University E-Museum

* Anthropology of Religion

* Sumerian Myths, Grand Valley State University

1. Human Prehistory and First Civilizations, The Teaching Company
2. Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World, The Teaching Company
3. The Book of Genesis, The Teaching Company
4. Great Figures of the Old Testament, The Teaching Company, (Discontinued)
5. Alan Dundees Holy writ as oral lit
6. Folklore in the Old Testament, Vol. 1 Online, Sir James G. Frazer
7. Ancient Near East Mythology, The Teaching Company, (Discontinued)
8. Classical Mythology, The Teaching Company
9. Great Battles of the Ancient World, The Teaching Company
10. Great World Religions: Judaism (2nd Ed.), The Teaching Company
11. Introduction to Judaism, The Teaching Company
12. History of Ancient Egypt, The Teaching Company
13. Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia, The Teaching Company
14. Great Ancient Civilzations of Asia Minor, The Teaching Company