The Bible Says What? Adam is male and female in the first creation story

The Bible Says What? Adam is male and female in the first creation story

Rabbi Sandra Kviat takes a controversial topic from the Torah and looks at a progressive Jewish response

And God said, Let us make Adam in our image, after our likeness… And God created Adam in Gods image, in the image of God, God created it; male and female God created them Genesis 1:26, 27

It comes as a surprise to some that there are two creation stories in the Torah. Most remember only the second, which includes the rib incident. The first is intriguing and complex, as the language moves between singular and plural. When you read the text closely, it becomes clear that one option is to see the first person Adam (earthling) as both male and female,
a ‘they’ rather than a ‘him’ or ‘her’.

Transgender awareness has been raised recently and we are all trying to grapple with what that means. One of the outcomes of the debate is the questioning it has entailed for all of us, no matter where you stand or how you understand the issue.

To add to the complexity when looking at Jewish texts, it is worth noting that the ancient rabbis operated with seven genders – male, female, androgynos (both male and female sexual characteristics), tumtum (indeterminate or obscured sexual characteristics), aylonit (female at birth, but develops male characteristics in puberty and is infertile), saris hama (male at birth, but develops female characteristics in puberty) and golem(something unfinished or not clearly shaped, not to be mistaken for its later interpretation as a magic creature).

By engaging with this story of the first person, our ‘prototype’, we can see humanity as something multi-varied and complex. Perhaps the most important part of this story is that Adam was created “in God’s image” (bzelem elohim). We are all created in the divine image in all its complexity.

Before any classification or  differentiation lies a core of sacredness in us all.

  •   Rabbi Sandra Kviat serves Crouch End Chavurah
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