for this shall be called woman because out of man this has been taken Genesis 2:23
Woman – There is something crucial happening here, deeper than we can see in the simple translation. It is connected to the formulation of the Hebrew words for man and woman. It tells us something important about roles and relationships, but to see it we will have to really dig.
Until this verse, the word for “man” is always the translation of the word adam. Adam is not only the name of the first person, it is also the word that signifies all Mankind, both male and female. It is directly related to the Hebrew idea of blood. The pictograph tells us that the word adam means first door of water, in this case the liquid called blood. The connection between adam and adamah (earth) is the compound picture “what comes out of the first door of water.”
But this is not the word used in this verse. In this verse, Adam (the person) names the female Woman. We don’t see the word play in translation but we do in Hebrew. The word for “man” is iysh. It carries the picture “the strong arm that consumes.” When Adam gives the name “woman” to this new human being, the word is ish-sha. You will see the phonetic similarity. The pictograph is actually explained in the text. The addition of the Hebrew consonant Hey at the end of this word reveals the meaning “that which comes out of.” Therefore, Adam says that this is woman – that which comes out of man.
But there is something else here that is not so phonetically obvious. The Hebrew consonants for iysh are Aleph-Yod-Shin. Notice that in the word for woman, the consonant are not what we would expect. The middle Yod is replaced by a double Shin before the Hey is added. Thus, “man” is A-Y-SH but “woman” is A-SH-SH-H. We would have expected “woman” to be A-Y-SH-H, but this isn’t the case. Why?
Eliminating the Yod removes the pictograph of the strong arm. Man is the strong arm that consumes, but woman is the strong consumer (doubled) who comes from Man. They are completely connected, in fact, identical in the picture of strength (Aleph = leader), but something changes after that initial identity. We know that the Scriptural explanation for the added Hey consonant portrays the created connection between man and woman (i.e., the woman comes from the man). But what about the doubled Shin? What does that tell us about the Hebrew concept of the woman?
Here’s a conjecture. It offers some explanation and some insight, but it is only conjecture. The letter Shin has multiple meanings, as do most pictographs. Shin means consume, eat and destroy. That makes perfect sense since what is consumed is destroyed. In this word for woman, is it possible that Adam’s name is prophetic, that in offering the name “woman”, Adam recognizes that she has both the strength to consume and to destroy? Remember that God does not name the woman. In fact, contrary to popular mythology, her name is not Eve. It is chavvah (see Genesis 3:20), a proper name that means “making alive.” In Genesis 2:23, Adam is not naming this person. He is designating the functional role that this new creation will play. He is pronouncing her identity, not her label. She is the one who is both potential consumer (along with him) and destroyer. Perhaps Adam sees the risk. Perhaps he is somehow aware that this one presents the possibility of choosing between her and God. Perhaps he already sees that her role as ‘ezer is fraught with danger because she is so much like him and, at the same time, so completely what God designed just for him. Adam’s aloneness is resolved in a way that presents the quintessential risk of free will. The one who would be his protector and provider (the ‘ezer) is also the one who can become his greatest dilemma. It is the same for us, isn’t it? Somewhere along the way, we must choose. Will it be the one perfectly made for us, or will it be obedience to the Designer?
It’s just a thought. Run with it. But if every letter is inspired, there must be something behind this unexpected double dose, right?
Topical Index: Woman