22. Was God really hoping Adam would find a suitable partner among the animals?

In Genesis chapter 1, God created every animal with a mate, including man.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
~ Genesis 1:27 

But in chapter 2, God does something a little unusual, He creates a mate for every animal except man, and then asks man to choose a mate from the animals!

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man… but for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God… made a woman… and he brought her to the man.
~ Genesis 2:18-22

What the hell was that about!? The Bible doesn’t go into much detail, so I’m just going to imagine the story went down like this…

“Choose ye now a suitable helper from one of my many animal creations,” God ordered in a somber tone. At first Adam was a bit apprehensive. “Surely,” he thought, “This must be the first practical joke! Why else would God make a mate for everyone but me?” But Adam didn’t want to seem rude. After all, he was new at this, and God knew everything about everything.

Adam politely shopped around, inspecting all the animals, pretending to fancy some more than others. He paused for a moment by the horse, and pretended to be impressed by its smooth curves and flowing mane. He gave God a small nod as if only to acknowledge His fine work, and God felt proud (indeed, God had worked a second longer on the horse, and was pleased that Adam had taken notice).

As Adam strolled along, God leaned forward, intensely curious which of His creations Adam would choose to know (yes, in the Biblical sense). Finding no suitable mate, Adam returned to God and sheepishly said, “Uh, yes Lord… all these are really great… very fine work, indeed… but, um… I, I just can’t see myself being with any of of them. May I have something else?” “Something else!?” God roared, “How dare ye object to all I have set before thee! Is my work not sufficient for thee? Have I erred in my judgement? For this request I shall forever curse thee with a mate as demanding as thee, and she shall forever be your undoing.” And with that, Adam fell into a deep sleep.”

All kidding aside, this Genesis story is difficult to believe for several reasons:

    1. It stands in stark contract to Genesis 1, where Adam and Eve are created as mates from day one… er… day six.
    2. The idea that a perfect creator would, in His perfect garden, ask Adam to choose a partner from the animals, is just… bizarre.
    3. It’s difficult to imagine that God actually had an alternate plan for Adam had he actually chosen to propagate with one of the animals.
    4. The Bible says Adam was a man, so like the other male animals, he must’ve had male genitalia.  What was the point of making only half of a human reproductive system?
    5. It wasn’t fair of God to give Adam an order he knew Adam would have to disobey.

Apologetics meets bestiality

We could try to salvage the story by suggesting that God never actually intended Adam to choose an animal, but instead God wanted Adam to learn for himself that none were suitable. But this still puts Adam in the awkward position of having to question God’s wisdom and instruction (which God could’ve avoided by simply including a woman in the line-up). In fact, the next time Adam questions the soundness of God’s instructions, he gets evicted from Eden!

Perhaps, as Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he thought to himself “Well… God was wrong about the whole animal thing, maybe He’s wrong about this, too.”

A match made in Eden?

“Did you hear something?”  “Ya, it’s probably just God, He likes to watch.”

It does make me wonder… what would’ve happened if Adam had selected one of the animals as a suitable partner? Where would we be today? What would our children look like? Perhaps we men have made a horrible mistake by not choosing an animal helpmate as God instructed. Perhaps, if we had, we’d still be romping around Eden with a beautiful horse, or swan, or lioness!


I think the simple truth is that the storyteller wanted to emphasize how women are a unique fit for men, and that this event never actually took place… because… it’s just too bizarre.

But suggesting that this was not a literal event is a slippery slope; if we say this didn’t happen, then what about other bits? Like the talking snake? Or the 6 day creation? How much of it isn’t true? Did any of it happen at all? It’s safer for the believer to try and find alternate explanations for the story than to doubt its authenticity. But I have yet to hear an explanation that makes this story seem any less awkward.

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21 Responses to 22. Was God really hoping Adam would find a suitable partner among the animals?

  1. rautakyy says:

    There is a nasty taste of regarding women just as some form of animal specially made to serve man in the original text. It is obvious that the writer was reflecting his own cultural heritage where women were not as much human as men, but the whole idea of god being man (or two parts man and one undefined) reveals the cultural backround of the stories as less divine and more the result of human (man) manufacture. If it was just this one point that shows “who made who” we should ask ourselves, if a god is actually a man and woman is less of a picture of a god than man, but as the cultural relativism is thorough in the Bible, one has to be totally ignorant of how human cultures form or really pigheaded, not to find this suspicious.

    It is interresting how Mary the mother of Jesus got such a great role in the Roman church, while in the Bible she gets hardly to be mentioned a couple of times. Roman and Mediterranian cultural inheritance emphasized the role of women in societal, religious and cultural life totally differently from that of the semic people in Levant. A major impact must have also been the celtic and germanic peoples living and moving into the Roman empire when christianity was formed from a jewish cult into a state religion of the Empire.

  2. I suppose it would’ve been a very different story if God made women and then men.

    It reminds me of the story of Lilith. Apparently it was pretty obvious to some later Jews (around 500-700 AD) that the two stories of Eve’s creation didn’t sync up. So Lilith beccomes Adam’s first wife, but because she was formed out of the same dirt she considers herself equal with Adam (can you imagine!?) and gets evicted from Eden. Since Eve was made from Adam, she is clearly subject to him. I’m sure if this explanation was thought up 1000 years earlier, this is what would be believed today.

    • Zarie Andrei says:

      So god is a sexist? Or is Adam the sexist one?

      • Shannon E says:

        the passage of scripture is paraphrased that’s not what it means this is the whole passage:
        Genesis 2:18-22
        King James Version (KJV)
        18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

        19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

        20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

        21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

        22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

        • Hi Shannon E.,

          These are really the two key verses:

          18 “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
          20 “…but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

          God express a clear intent in verse 18: he desires to make a mate for Adam so he won’t be lonely. God’s solution is to create a bunch of animals, NOT a woman. We can infer from verse 20 that Adam is also well aware of God’s intent, Adam expects his loneliness to be resolved by the solution God has provided.

          If it was God’s intent for Adam to have a woman, then God should’ve provided a woman… NOT animals. (Which is what God actually does in Genesis 1:27, creating both of them on the 6th day). Creating animals instead of a woman is confusing and misleading. Why would God confuse and deceive? While the story makes for a more interesting read because its more of an emotional roller coaster, it’s not very becoming of the Creator to toy with Adam.

          • Shannon E says:

            That is only clear if you just read those two verses. God first noticed Adam didn’t have a mate but Adam didn’t. If God had gave Adam a mate and he didn’t realize for himself that that’s was what he needed Adam would not have understood Gods gesture, he would have treated her just like any other animal in the garden. By God having Adam naming all the animals and Adam seeing for himself that every animal had a mate of the same species it helped Adam to realize he was the only human in the garden, it helped him realize what he was missing. At lest that’s what I got from that. When your trying to understand and interpret something you have to take in account everything. You can’t break it up to get it to support your own point of view. That’s why there was and is so much death in the name of God b/c people read a holy book and just pick and choose verses to justify there actions. That’s what cults, governments, factions, terrorist etc do. They just pick out enough truth and one lie to get people to follow them and do anything for them. Not that I’m saying your a terrorist or anything or that I’m mad about the article. I find discussions like this stimulating and look forward to your response.

          • I agree with Shannon. I think you’re using selective quoting to read something into the text than it does not actually say or imply.

            The text isn’t suggesting that God was inviting Adam to select a mate from the animals. In the account, verses 19 and 20 appear to be merely parenthetical to the main story which is in verses 18, 21 and 22.

            It appears that verses 19 and 20 are there to give background information and justification for WHY Adam needed a help meet. His seeing all the other animals peering up would have caused Adam to be aware of his own loneliness – his own need for a mate. He would have seen that all the other animals had a suitable mate but he had none. That is all the text is trying to say as a way of expanding on the point in verse 18 about the man being alone and it was not good for him.

            I really enjoy your blog, by the way and want to encourage you to keep up the good work. Only, on this particular issue I think you have misunderstood the text.

            • Thanks guys,

              I’ll admit I’ve gone back and forth on this one, so I’ll dwell on this for a moment.

              I can certainly can see your point. It isn’t spelled out in verses 18 or 19 that Adam is aware that God is tasking him with finding a helper. We could argue that ONLY God was aware that Adam was lacking something, and that God created these animals purely as an exercise to help Adam realize what he lacked. But then we get to verse 20, which reads:

              “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

              We can interpret this verse in at least two ways:

              The first possibility (the one I’ve assumed) is that Adam didn’t “find” a helper but he WAS aware of God’s intent and so he was looking for one. God acknowledges the problem, gives Adam some potential suitors, and Adam fails to find one.

              The other possibility (which you’ve both suggested) is that Adam was possibly unaware that he needed a helper, and he was unaware of what God was doing. As far as Adam knew, he was just naming animals. By the end of this exercise, verse 20 has Adam suddenly realizing that he needs a helper.

              While the latter could be true, I’m still not totally convinced for several reasons:

              1) If this is what God MEANT, the Bible could’ve easily said: “After naming all the animals, Adam realized that he was without a mate,” instead of saying “there was not found an help meet for him,” which suggests he was looking for a helper.
              2) Translations like The New Living Translation make this idea even clearer, saying: “But STILL there was no helper just right for him” (emphasis mine). Adam was aware of what he was searching for while naming all the animals, and the problem God set out to solve STILL wasn’t resolved after naming them.
              3) Adam probably didn’t need a special exercise just to teach him he was alone. If we assume Adam didn’t know he was alone, then we’d also have to assume that this didn’t bother him, because he wasn’t even aware it was a real problem. We basically have God making Adam feel lonely, just so God can then make him un-lonely.


      • Shannon E says:

        Neither, women was pulled from mans side not his back. a women is equal to a man she is just submissive to him. submissive does not mean slave or underneath. in earl biblical times men respected women more than what’s being told. the ideal of women being under man is a concept that was developed over the years by mans on interpretation of the scripture.

        • MyAvatarIsAPygmyAtheistAlien says:

          How in the world is submissive NOT meant as being beneath another? The apologetic that things had different meanings “because it was biblical times” holds no water. The meanings are clearly written in the texts, there’s no “redefining” of submissive or slavery between then and now.

          Submissive = ready to conform to the authority or will of others.
          A slave doesn’t simply need to be “ready to conform”… They are required to conform.

          In WHAT way does either term mean equal?!

  3. Maybe God initially thought bottom up management was better and wanted Adam to conclude on his own that non-humans weren’t for mating. Maybe God was a jerk, doing a hazing ritual before making the girl. Maybe God was giving Adam a chance to have a sexual partner who wouldn’t eat the fruit.

    Either way, all human fetuses start off female and male is actually the variation on the template; so what’s yet another wrong thing in a flawed and inconsistent book of stories.

  4. Open minded says:

    According to Jewish folklore, Eve wad not the first female human. Adam and Lilith were created at the same time from the same materials, dust from the earth. When Adam would try to lay with her, he wanted her to to lie beneath him showing submission to him. She took offense and refused to lie beneath him since they were both made from the same dust and therefore equals. Lilith left Adam. Adam told God that Lilith left him. God sent angels to bring back Lilith but she refused. Seeing Adam alone, God made him another partner, but this time instead of the same dust, she was made from one of his ribs to make her more submissive to Adam. There is a theory that god told Adam to find a mate among the other
    animals. Some believe the word “animals” might refer to the earlier humans, or “cave people” as some say. Because those earlier humans behaved more brutish and wild that may be why they were seen as animals.
    Also take note that Enosh, son of Seth did not life as long as his Father and as Adam. Neither was it said that he was made in his fathers likeness as was Adam from god and Seth from Adam. This may be explained by Seth mixing his bloodline with an outsider. Enosh also means, “mortal”. Why would he purposely be named mortal as if differentiating him from the others.

  5. rejean says:

    ‘man’ was first created ‘male and female’. after a sense of lack or scarcity… within a ‘deep sleep’ dream of split. we are entities of this dream…. dreaming the ‘what is’ i was different than the way I was created?

  6. Anonymous says:

    This stuff is just gold. Thank you so much.

  7. Nancy Holyfield says:

    I think you misunderstood. God wasn’t wanting Adam to choose a breeding partner because he never intended for adam to breed. He wanted Adam to not be alone. He wanted Adam to have a companion, such as some single people have a dog to take care of and talk to and be their friend-or a horse to plough a field with as a helper in your work. If you go back and read the long version, which are the full books of adam and eve-the sin they did was have sex and bear children. God made Adam to be here to work for God to take care of God’s creations. He wanted Adam to have a peaceful life and peace on Earth as well. It pretty much states that Adam and eve were intended to be companions and not breeding partners. The sin was to have sex. They were not supposed to have that burden or trouble in their life. We already know that even though children are a joy, they are also a burden and many cause trouble in our lives if they don’t do right. In the long version he tells adam how angry he is about what they did-that he will have burdens now (meaning Adam having burdens) and sort of explains that he will have much grief and trouble. If the sin is sex (tree of life) and the trouble and burden they brought upon themselves was children (fruit of the tree of life)-doesn’t this make a little more sense.

    • Highlander says:

      With all due respect Nancy, Adam and Eve had perfectly compatible genitalia. Eve had unfertilised eggs and Adam had fertiliser. Really. What did God expect them to do? As 500 has pointed out before, an omniscient God would have known what was going to happen anyway. The idea that sex was the sin and the burden was kids just doesn’t add up for me. But it’s an interesting take.

  8. Rena says:

    Adam and Eve had 3 sons, Cain, Abel and Seth, who did Cain and Seth have children with if Adam and Eve were the first people on earth besides their own children? was it with their mother? where did Lamech’s wives come from Zilah and Adah out of the blue? Who were their parents. This so called book of GOD is a fairy tale, Full of errors and BS…..Am I wrong?

  9. Daniel Hobson says:

    It is my opinion that this story is not so much about Adam and Eve as it is about Moses and his pondering at the broken relationship between man and God. How can we repair or redeem the relationship, God? Are animals good enough to restore our relationship? God’s response: “Let me tell you a story of how I tried to create the first permanent relationship. When Adam names the animals it’s not about what he calls them, but what he doesn’t call them. He doesn’t call any of them Wife or even Woman. The wife (permanent relationship) only happens from a part (rib) of man. When the rib is separated from the man it dies then it is resurrected into a woman, who Adam accepts as his wife (“flesh of my flesh …).

    Now let’s reverse the roles. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, and even into the New Testament, man is seen bringing animals to God in order to recreate a relationship. Animal after animal for thousands of years. Does it result in a permanent relationship? NO

    Only when a part of God (His Son, Jesus Christ) is given up by God and allowed to die as a sacrifice to cover our sins, the sins that separate us from God. The Son is then resurrected and returns to God the Father. He is then presented as the Groom for His church bride so that the relationship is permanently restored.

  10. Odun says:

    You will get people confused with your insinuation, suggestions and the picture you are painting from the whole story.

    Verse 18…… God already knew and plan. To give Adam a suitable partner.

    Verse 19………. God only brought the animls for Adam to give names to and first part only summarizes how God made those animals.

    Verse 20………. Adam understands the kind of helper he needs to achieve the task God has given him.

    NB: Adam though was asleep when God did all he did but Adam still recognizes she was takin out of him.

    How did he know?

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