Many popular English translations say that God used a rib to make Eve. However, there is no Hebrew word for the rib itself and the word that is used in the Bible is, “Tsela`” It is used about 40 times in the Old Testament and they are all translated as “side, corner, chamber, or flank” except for this one instance in the creation of the woman. It is unknown where the rib idea originated, but nearly every commentary and Hebrew lexicon I have read on the matter has affirmed it. It is really unknown what part of Adam’s side was used, it is just known that God used Adam’s bone and flesh in his side to create woman. The significance of this is simply that God created woman from man and she was to be always at his side.
The use of the word rib is probably because Adam says in verse 33, “this is bone of my bone” and the bones within the side of the torso are the ribs, however there is nothing in its original context that indicates the location of the bone and flesh that was used to create woman from man.
I asked GotQuestions.org about the issue (because this is exactly the type of question they would have an answer to) but to my surprise, they really do not know the origin of the "rib" translation. Here is my question and their response:
Question 105235: The word Tsela in Hebrew is translated to `rib` in Genesis 2, but elsewhere in the Bible it is translated as `side, corner, flank, chambers` Why is it translated as `rib` in this particular section? How do we know that it was specifically Adam`s rib and not just his `side`?
Answered By: Harvey
"The point you raise is a good one, and serves to demonstrate that we often hold on to sometimes unwarranted understandings of the text without definitive or even proper understanding of the Hebrew words, the context, or the meaning intended.I kept searching for an answer and all I could really find was this.
There are many biblical commentators who take the approach that "tsela" does, in fact, refer to Adam's side and not his rib."
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says this:
(tsela‘, tsal‘ah; Aramaic ‘ala‘): The Hebrew words designate the "side," "flank," thence the "ribs." They are found thus translated only in connection with the creation of Eve: "He (Yahweh) took one of his (Adam’s) ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from the man, made he (margin "builded he into") a woman" (Ge 2:21,22). The Aramaic word is only found in Da 7:5.So it would appear that the word rib was used as a example of a part of Adam's side, however there is no definitive answer as to how the use of the word "rib" came about. Nevertheless, The Bible said that woman were created from part of man's side and really that is all that matters. I would like to eventually find out (if anyone knows!) where the origin of rib came from, it's very interesting!
Have any of you researched this?