By using these carefully chosen words, the writer emphasizes the special care God used to make woman the ideal companion for the man. Woman is such an important and indispensable creature that a part of the body which God originally formed for man was selected by the Lord so that she could be made from it.
The Hebrew text of verse 23 exhibits man’s excitement and inexpressible joy over finding a companion that suited him perfectly.
It seems that he had been searching diligently for a long time for a suitable mate, and when he found her, he burst out, This at least is bone of my bones, etc. Here, woman is not viewed first as a child bearer for man but is appreciated for her own worth as man’s companion and fellow worker. “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” is a popular Hebrew expression for the closest kind of kinship or relationship. As in English, so also in Hebrew, there is a pun on man and woman in this passage. Up to this time, the writer had been using the word ‘adham for man, but now he shifts to ‘ish in order to create the wordplay.
As is common in Old Testament puns, these words are not related to one another etymologically but simply sound alike. Since woman was taken out of man, she is dependent on him. And since man names his companion, he has authority over her (just as his naming of the beasts and birds demonstrate his authority over them). Of course, this is not a hateful or exacting or overbearing kind of authority, but an authority that woman naturally respects from the man who provides for her and gives her protection and security. We will discuss this idea at length this semester. It is no more offensive to a Christian woman than Christ’s authority is to the church. “False and sentimental notions of the equality of the sexes do not exalt but dishonor womanhood, which has its own distinctive excellence—and excellence that is different from man’s.”